Monday, December 10, 2012

What is giving all about today?

Gift #1 - Christmas

"I don't mind Christmas.  It's just all the shopping that makes me crazy!"

"Well, we didn't want to worry about celebrating during the crazy time with all the parties and concerts so we are planning on our Christmas party some time in January."

"I don't think we can give extra because we have all the gifts to buy this month."

These are the things I have heard from friends, neighbors, co-workers. 

And don't think our family is immune to the lack of Christmas spirit.  Oh, I thought we were when I heard this:

"I don't want any gifts this year," 

Oh, what a sweet sound to a proud mama's ears, but wait for it...wait for it...

" gifts, just money!"

Of course you do.

I know Christmas is about giving gifts to celebrate the most awesome gift of all, but why do we think it has to be the all encompassing part of Christmas.  Is there another way?

When I was a kid, I got one big gift that was actually usually from Santa (Why my parents let him get the credit for the good ones, I still wonder) and several smaller ones.

We had simple requests because we had less of a chance to compare with others.  Of course I might see the new purse my friend got, but there was no internet to see the hundreds, no thousands of purses I could be asking for.

 We were not lacking, but yet, we never I felt got too much. 

(Of course I didn't...I was a kid and probably still wanted more).

But today, it just feels all wrong.  Something is off with the heart of Christmas. 

When people are complaining of celebrating because of too much time spent on finding gifts, too much money spent on getting gifts, and too much time spent actually spent celebrating Christmas, something is lost.

I want to blame it on technology, but technology just helped me this evening find several facts about Woolly Mammoths for a report for my daughter so I can't shoot the messenger.

I want to blame it on the schedule we keep in order to keep up with sports, dance, church, serving.  But the truth is we all have the same amount of time.  It is just what we do with that time.

So, I need to blame it on myself.  What I have allowed giving to become in my heart.  I have allowed the fleeting happiness of a Wild West Sharp Shooter to replace eternal joy that my children might experience because they have sacrificed for another.

I have not given them enough credit to thoroughly approach the subject of not giving gifts to each other and instead use that money for others in need because really, those are the gifts that we can give to Jesus.  We have mentioned it before, but not really decided to have a paradigm shift in our family.

To give a family in Africa a flock of chicks for $20.00.  To give a child in the apartments your dollhouse.  To give a child his food for a year.

These are the catalogs we need to pour over:

the Compassion Catalog, Samaritan’s Purse Catalog, Partner’s International Catalog, World Vision Catalog

What will they say?

What will you?

My readers, will you pray as we search for what giving instead of getting means in our family?

It will be a tender lesson for us all. 

For the first time I casually brought it up, I heard,

"No presents, that is okay...Santa will just give us stuff." 

Clearly we have not gotten the message of  Biblical giving quite yet...

Stay tuned for the results of our family meeting.

And as I think of this,

I know gifts are not wrong.  God is the giver of perfect gifts.

I will start  counting my gifts of which #1 is our Christmas.

I look forward to naming to even more...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crazy Little Thing Called Dinner

We recently went to an instrumental concert that played synthesized music incorporated with the Christmas Choruses that we love to hum, sing, and whisper quietly at night to sleeping babies.

This particular concert also had a video accompanying the music in order to (I guess) enhance the music.

Some of the videos were beautiful: candles lit on a dark night and one by one lighting up the room with the flickers of fire, snow covered trees with ice skaters gracefully moving while we swayed with them.

Some of the videos were a little more random: the sad drummer boy that never came back from the war, the psychedelic wisps of smoke that looked more like the lawn of a Woodstock concert. Groovy!

But there was one video that actually kept replaying throughout the concert.  It was of a medieval feast and it showed the men and women greedily eating the food all the while entertaining themselves with the artists of that time.  And I realized during that video, that really, my dinner is not much different.

We have the same cast of characters, just a little different attire:

Joker: Jumping into the feast with his flips and juggling act, I think of my child who loves to make us laugh, gets up during the meal in order to show one more trick he has learned that day. I thank God for his smile.

Dancer: Gracefully moving while her beauty is beheld, I think of my child who is growing more in ladylike beauty and gracefully guides little ones in her life. I thank God for her love.

Knight:  Quietly sitting back and yet will come to the dance if needed, I think of my child who sits back to speak his word and yet all the while encouraging the others with his laugh and encouragement. I thank God for his kindness.

Sword Swallower: Defying all sense of what is real and courageously goes on his own, I think of my child who lives in the light of pretend where kisses and Mickeys still exist in a little boy's heart. I thank God for his goodness.

And then I move on to me...what character do I play in this musical?

Sometimes I am the princess, on those days when I remember that I am the daughter of a king.
Sometimes I am the cook, feeding my little ones goodness.
Sometimes I am the gymnast, juggling carpools, homework, and my patience at times.

But sometimes, I do not want to be a character.  I don't want to enter the dance.  I don't want to eat the food.  I want to stay up in my high tower and be alone.  Waiting for the King.  My time to hear his whispers of how much He loves me.  And from that high tower, I will see a little baby being born. Crying in the night wrapped in a rough cloth and in the still night.  And if I listen hard enough, those cries of life will turn into cries of death for soon that baby will die for me.  The rough cloth being torn.  And the feast will be over.  The night will be still.

But then...

 the music plays and the light shines on for the Son of Man will rise and live again.

And I will join that dance, for he died and rose so I could be a part of that dance.
That feast.
This life.

What character are you in this feast of life today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Second Call from the Lord Jesus

Many people between the ages of thirty and sixty - no matter their place in the community and no matter their personal achievements - undergo what can truly be called a second journey.

In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning describes this second journey.

A person gets to this stage in life and looks at all he or she has done and asks, "Is it all worth it?"

A dear friend of ours realized this with a health scare that brought him face to face with the possibility of meeting his Creator sooner rather than later.  It does not have to always be a life threatening event.  It can be good or bad.  A mom turns into Grandma and celebrates this gift. A thirty-five year old teacher gets smashed in a car wreck.  A fifty year old man decides to choose a church position over the offered, coveted CEO position. After retirement, a sixty year old woman finds herself living with a man she loves yet never had to spend this much time with.

Brennan Manning sums this up, "These people are dragged away from chosen and cherished patterns to face strange crises.  This is their second journey."

He goes on to describe the wisdom that comes from a person expereiencning the second journey,
"It is a wisdom that gives some things up, lets some things die, and accepts human limitations."

And for Christians, this journey can often start with a second call from the Lord.  In the examples above, our friend found saving grace in the love of his Savior.  The fifty year old man was my father who gave up that CEO position in order to be the Church Chairman of the Board.  These second calls summoned both of these men to a deeper commitment of faith.  And I love this part of Manning's description:

      "The call asks,

Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you?"

That is what the second call is asking me now.  DO I really accept that message of love and grace?
Oh, I can say it and even tell people about it, but do I believe it? Do I embrace that love?
The confidence that the same God who raised Jesus can raise me?

Manning says that Faith means you want God and want to want nothing else.

And with a faith like that, every day will be new because God will show me in amazing ways his love for me and I in turn will desire to live out this crazy love for Him in order to bring Him the glory He intends for us to give Him!

I will have more joy filled MOMents as a mom because I will radically love my children.  I will let go of the little things (like the Mickey Mouse Lego set we lost) and focus on the big thing of God.

I will rest in these sweet times when my children are home and trust in the times when they are away from me.  Without fear.  Without despair.

I am starting to hear this call.  Oh, I plead with Him to allow me to hear and follow.  May I feel His love penetrate to every part of my soul so that with every breath, I know that God can scarcely be without me his love is so great!

Are you hearing the second call? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When you were a child, did you see in color?

"Mama, when you were younger, did you see color like all of this?" my son asked as he waved his arm motioning towards the outside of the car towards the setting sun against the backdrop off the Lutheran Home.

"Do you mean, did I see color when I looked outside?" I asked, wondering where this question stemmed from in his sweet mind.

"Yes," he said simply. No more. No less.

And then it dawned on me.  There are photos of days long ago, years past, farmers who stood tall and men who dressed up for church.

Photos of great Grandmas and Grandpas on refrigerators.  He knows they are old and they are in black and white, and he has not seen many pictures of me when I was a child, so he is wondering, did I see color.

"Do you mean did I see color because some old photos are in black and white so you think they only saw in black and white?" I ask with a smile looking back at him now looking out the window of the car.

"Yes, because the black and white," he nods his head smiling because he is understood.

"Yes, I saw color..." and I go on to explain the best I could how photos were developed with only black and white at first.

"Because they had no ink?" he asks innocently, most likely thinking how often our printer is out of ink these days.

"Well, is was different back then," and I want to go on to explain the advances in photography, transportation, technology, and medicine, but all I can focus on is the question of color.

We might have those advances from generations past, but the fact is with each of those major breakthroughs came a price.

A price of less time to be outside in order to take photos, less freedom to just walk with a friend, less  words because of the chopping down of real communication, and more stress ebbing the life away from every day.

Did I see color?  My room was a bright yellow. Mac, our dog, was a brown, golden brown, white mix. Cissy, our cat, was grey and black.  Our first van was maroon with a yellow stripe.  My parents'  bedroom carpet was blue. The water I had swimming lessons in was blue from the high dive. The fire when we went camping was red and yellow. The pebbles at Pebble Beach were white and grey.

Yes, my child, I saw color.  But sadly, with the hurry of my life, I tend to not see it as much anymore.

I rush my kids in the car and not see the sunlight hitting their hair.  I gulp the smoothie down and not see the specks of God's creation in the mix of strawberries, bananas and spinach. I jog down the sidewalk without noticing the many shades of green found around me.

Oh Lord, may you help me to slow down and really see color today!  Your color.  Your gifts of life, grace, and love.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Compassion Blogger - Peru

Sweet smiles.
Hopeful hugs.
Dusty days.
Dark nights.
Tired legs.
Rough hands.
God's grace fills the place.

 Oh, how I wish I was there...

Check out more stories of amazing grace from some of the Compassion bloggers who went to Peru to share time and love with the children in Peru :

Click here for Grace in Peru

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Minute Friday

A weekly challenge by Lisa-Jo Baker. We all write about 1 word for five minutes.

Today's word is:  STAY


A Papa's hand.  A boy's sweet smile.
Looking into the eyes that he finds hope comfort, delight, and most importantly love.

The whisper of wisdom of a Grandfather's love.

"Stay young."

Stay young, my son.  Keep looking for frogs in the lake up north. 

Stay innocent, my son.  Keep believing in magic and dreams. 

Stay sweet, my son.  When you asked me today, "Has anyone told you that you are beautiful today?  You are," I knew once again that you took after your Papa. 

My Daddy who told me I was beautiful just as my Heavenly Father tells me in His love for me.


  To write your own whispers...Click here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fear Versus Panic - Chasing Mavericks

I have written a few posts on fear because I feel it is so prevalent in our lives as mothers.  Fear for what will happen to our children on the playground, fear with what will happen at college, fear with what will happen if we, as moms, don't teach everything we need to in the short time we have.

After watching an amazing movie this weekend with the family, I have found a new appreciation for fear.

The movie is called Chasing Mavericks and it is the true story of Jay Moriarity, a teenage surfer who surfed one of the tallest waves in history. Reviews found here.

The story line is similar to The Karate Kid where boy meets mentor, mentor helps boy, boy conquers fear.  In this movie, Jay was not really afraid of the waves...he wanted to surf them, but in a letter to his mentor, Frosty, Jay opens up about what he is afraid of...losing Frosty, losing his first love, etc.

One moment in the movie dealt with more than just a list of what you could be afraid of.  In fact, this moment was a paradigm shift for me as far as how I relate to fear:

Jay and Frosty were diving in the water practicing holding their breath ( Jay needed to get to four minutes to even consider surfing the Mavericks) and as the were about to come up for air, a great white shark swam above them (Mini Sploiler Alert: They make it out).  When they get to the boat, Frosty asks Jay what happened.

     "I was afraid," Jay answered visiably upset about the incident.
     "Yeah, well fear is healthy, panic is dangerous," Frosty wisely teaches the young man.

Fear is healthy...panic is dangerous.

Now, I know that Jesus says, "Do not fear, for I am with you,"  but we are also taught to, "Fear the Lord."

So instead of going into the theological definitions of this fear and that fear, I am going to stick with what Frosty said:

Fear is healthy, panic is dangerous.

My child might be afraid to ride his bike in the road rally, but he finds the courage to do it anyway.
My daughter might be afraid to stand up for herself to a bully, but she has the courage to stand up for Jesus.

When you are in the water and a great white shark is swimming above you.  You are going to feel fear, but if you panic and thrash about, you will draw attention to yourself and the end will be near.  If you control your fear and do not panic, the shark will swim away ( hopefully...).

What areas in my life cause me to fear ...and what throw me into an unhealthy panic? What about you?

I can fear my words might do harm (because they will) to my children if I am sarcastic or harsh, and in response that fear can turn into a prayer of, "Please, God, soften my words and fill me with your peace."

I can get myself upset about my circumstance, but when those emotions turn to a panic, when I feel so out of control and thrash about, I am not trusting in God to give me more give me His breath, His patience, His wisdom.

I pray that today you will be able to spend a few minutes with Jesus and allow Him to help you catch your breath.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What to do with fear? Pray Big!

Dear Lord,

You have called me to be a mom.
I delight in the joy.
I am thankful for the jelly kisses and
cold toes cozy between my legs.

My heart is content with playing "Babies,"
reading to a wide eyed wonder in bed,
shopping for jeans for a sweet tween,
practicing a speech on how to download Talking Tom Cat.

Yet, sometimes late at night,
it hits me...
It hits them.

Coming at me when I am weary from the day
Whispering lies of  darkness,
pride, jealousy, worry.
There is no tangible cause...
for my blessings are too numerous to count.

And it comes for the little ones:
darkness, needing happy thoughts, promises unkept
And it comes for the bigger ones:
peer pressure, new wonders, the questions of tomorrow

And I tell myself, You have already won.
The battle is yours to fight.
My children are yours to grow.
They are mine for but a moment
And even in that moment, they are really not mine at all...

They are yours.
And all you ask me to do...
Is to love
pray big!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Woman in the Mirror


I had lunch with a dear friend and the topic of how some people can change for the better and yet there are others in life who have all the right intentions, yet they stay exactly the same.

exactly. the. same.

We mentioned a certain conference that we used to go to, but actually stopped attending because we went home feeling guilty and less than refreshed at all the things we knew how to do, but did not do them!

Side Note:  We did actually both try the "Go home and have sex with your husband every night for seven straight days" tip and that has pretty much allowed me to go to any conference I want to from now on...

But most of the sessions were filled with strategies, charts, and procedures that I just never got around to doing.  It was not that I didn't know what to do.  I am fully aware that if I put out clothing for Sunday church the night before, my morning will go much more smoothly.  I guess I just enjoy the rushing around looking for socks, Bibles, offering, and underwear that hide in the piles of unfolded laundry!  Yes, even the offering and Bibles have been found there!

And healthy eating.  I understand that my late night snacking is taking a toll on my body.  I am not in college anymore.  I cannot down a personal pan pizza in my bedroom like I used to do in my dorm room and not see it on my thighs in a few days.  But, I really like my TV treats after all the kids are in bed and I can actually eat without having to think!

But the one that we really talked about..the one that really hits me in the heart is our personal life. Our spiritual life.  The place where God is whispering to us and we hear Him and we know truth, but we cling to what we want.

I don't want to just forgive my husband.  I want to hear him say he was wrong, I am usually right and he will never use that exasperated sigh with me again.  I want him to admit that this whole argument was his mistake.

I don't want to show mercy to my children.  I want them to know that they disappointed me when they used that tone of voice or acted as if they were entitled to getting only what they want even though there are other people in this family.

I don't want to get up early to read the Bible.  I want to stay in bed just a few more minutes, one more snooze, and one more dream. I want my special sleep time.

I want my own way. Every. Time.

Every. Single. Time.

The Bible says that those who listen to the word, but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like (James 1:23-24)

That is what I do.  Except for I will take it a step further...I will put on glossy lipstick, sparkly eye shadow, and a touch a plum blush. And THEN, I will forget what I looked like.

Meaning, I will take the extra time...I will read the books that tell me how to pray for my children, read the articles on what the lies are that face us in today's world, and hear the message on how the gospel can truly change a life, and then just go on and not DO anything about it!

It pains me to write that, but so often it is true.  

"I don't want to!" I shout like a two year old asked to put on his shoes for school.

And you know what?  God knows that!  The fact is, that without His Holy Spirit urging us, encouraging us, and using his power to change us...we would never ever want to.

But it is because of his grace, his amazing grace, that He gives us the ability to forgive, gives us the mercy to give, and grants us the desire to grow more and more in His word everyday so that our actions may bring glory to Him. 

You see, it is He who brings passion to our relationship with Him which gives us the hunger for His Word and wisdom.

And when we abide in His Word, He gives us the strength to not just read about the change Jesus can have, but to actually experience changeLive life for Him.

Use the opportunities that he gives us for growth and change. 

A change only found in Jesus.

And when you have that, everything else will fall into place.  And you will not be just hearers of the Word, but doers.

When conflicts arise, like my friend reminded me, we will be able to see Jesus through our situations, and be able to grow in Him through the difficult times.

And then, through you, He will do mighty things!

May you have mighty MOMents today! 

Newberries and Reflections

The quote was hidden in the many words that filled the page.  It was actually used more as a description leading to the result of a mind free from financial stress, but it meant more to my heart today, when I read it.

It is a quote from the book, The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth and it received the Newberry Award in 1990.   For any of you not having to take Children's Literature in college, you might or might not know what the exact wording for that award is.  It is awarded each year to "the most distinguished contribution to literature for children in the U.S."    Caddie Woodlawn, Call It Courage, and one of my favorites, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, are all examples.  Literature classics that leave you with deep truths.  Not so much with the book: Everyone Poops.  Although that one might have won the Caldecott Award for best pictures, but I am not sure...

But this particular quote was said in regards to a priest paying a poor artist in advance for a  painting for the temple.

He said, "Hearing something of your circumstances, I have brought a first payment with me so that you may relieve your mind of worry while you work.  Only a clear pool has beautiful reflections."

That last line hit me:

Only a clear pool has beautiful reflections.

What kind of a reflection am I?

I think about how muddy my mind can get with the distractions of the day or the constant thought of the "should haves beens and not yets."

That is certainly not clear and my first reaction to life's bumps are often not very beautiful.

Lost shoes lead me quickly to impatience.
A messy unfinished basement sends me into an ugly world of jealousy.
Tired days find me spent and stubborn.

Not very beautiful.

Yet, God promises to meet me in these MOMents and make me new ( Revelation 21:5).

And when I am made new,
when I give Him the firstfruits of my day to cleanse me of my impatience, jealousy, and sinful pride,
I am made clear.

And then, I can be a beautiful reflection of my Jesus!

Now, when I starting writing this, the Holy Spirit revealed something else to me.  I love how He does that!  I originally just had the "clear" sentence, but I had to actually add the line:

"Hearing something of your circumstances, I have brought a first payment with me so that you may relieve your mind of worry while you work."

Because it hit me...He hit me...with the truth that God knows my circumstancesYour circumstances. Everything we deal with every. single. day.
every. single. moment.

And even more...get this now,

He has brought the first payment...

The payment of his life!

His life.
His death.
And His amazing ressurection,

so that we "may relieve our mind."

He had made our souls clear and our minds clear SO THAT we can be a reflection of something beautiful:


Dear Jesus,

Please clear my mind of today's distractions of what I need to get done.  Allow me to rest in the knowledge that you know my circumstance and will grant me whatever I need for each trial or victory that may come my way today.  May I be a constant reflection of you.


May you be blessed in your MOMents today!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Are You the Same or Different?

Here is a great topic from a great link up:

And one from a fellow blogger and friend that made me laugh so hard, tears almost ran from my legs!

And for me...I had to think a bit on this one...





                                                    THAN MY YOUNGER SELF

1. I still hate coffee, but now I sometimes drink it at  weddings.  Last time I drank it with the most dense flourless chocolate cake baked (or not) and ended up vomiting until late in the night.

2. I still love to read.  Still read classics like Anne of Green Gables, From the Mixed Up Files..., Where the Red Fern Grows, Where is Spot?  You know. Classics!

3.  Now, I want to learn more about the Bible.  In college, I had all these chances to take cool theology classes and I slept through Biblical African History on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Almost. Every. Class.  Why create a class that starts at 8am? Passed it with a...

4.  I now like being in quiet closets.  Once, when I was younger, my mom was working at our school library and I got locked in the closet.  (I went in there to act out some movie I saw)I screamed so loud, some guy wet his pants in front of her.  Now, I would just 
stay in the closet and enjoy the quiet.

5. I still have a crush on my husband.  Did back in grade school.  Still do.

6.  Still love playing school.  Only this time, I have my four kids as students and not imaginary ones.  I have to say, the imaginary ones sometimes listen better, but are not as fun!

7.  I still wear my hair the same way.  Except for maybe the super high bangs back in the eighties, it has not changed too much.

8. I still wear flip flops all the time.  I used to do it when I was younger because I was on the swim team.  Now, they just seem to be the closest shoes to the door.

9. I still have to eat at the movies.  I have to eat A LOT.  Twizzlers, popcorn, Raisinettes, and a Coke.  The problem is now, when we go to the movies as a family, it costs us about $436 to go.  

10. I still love to sleep.  My mom said I slept 20 out of 24 hours when I was first born.  That would be delightful right about now...

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Will Follow...

I watch him go and I want to follow,
yet I don't  want to disturb his walk
His tender tiptoes
With frequent stops to pick up an unusual leaf,
a misshapen rock
a treasure of wood
watching, wondering, waiting 
for the next grace filled moment to capture his heart.

They come quickly 
for he has no expectations,
but only delight.
He has no hidden agenda
no wishes beyond today
and in this moment,
this moment of peace 
on a walk with his Daddy.

Oh, to have that peace,
that little expectation, 
yet finding blessing beyond
that wish for a simple walk.

And then there it is:
that talk with a friend,
a hug from my child,
a promise kept,
a dream come true.

And I am brought back to a time 
when that was all I needed,
that is all I do need
to inspire,
to encourage,
and I realize that time is now.

All I need 
to hear that love whisper in my heart,
is a walk with my Daddy.

Thank you, My Jesus.

Where you go, I'll go 
Where you stay, I'll stay 
When you move, I'll move 
I will follow you 
Who you love, I'll love 
How you serve I'll serve 
If this life I lose, I will follow you 
I will follow you 

~Chris Tomlin

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Friday Letters

Friday Letters

Dear Special Blessings,

You make my life more fun. More complete. More tiring. More surprising.  I can't imagine any MOMent without you. All the joy that Daddy and I have is doubled, no, quadrupled because of you. I love the way you laugh together. I love the way you snuggle during family movie night. I love the way you play together.  
We love you so much
Now which one of you put all those leaves on the trampoline?!

Dear Broken Monkey Pillow,

I am sorry about your arm.  You were just loved way too much.  Well, that or whipped around too much. Or flipped too much. If we stick your fingers to the velcro patch, it helps a little, but then you kinda look like you have an arm coming out of your ear. 
 I will see what I can do tonight to fix you up.  
At least you still have the other arm. 
For now...

Dear  Magazines,

Why are you so tempting?  Each of you promises change, hope, and a new way to create the perfect Thanksgiving.  Plum and Sour Cream Stuffing.  Who knew? I want to read you, but time slips away and you are only taking up prime real estate on my bedroom floor.  
You must forgive me.  I must say good bye soon.  You will be gone. Well, you will not be totally gone.  The Bug Whisperer wants to make an animal collage.  I am so sorry...

Dear Honey Pie,

Thanks for taking the day off today.  I love to see you do everyday life with us.  Wouldn't it be so fun if we were rich and you were retired and we could stay home together with our Blessings.  Or we could go to the Shedd Aquarium and visit the American Girl Store.  We could ride our bikes around our neighborhood?  What am I saying...if we were rich, we could go to Hawaii, the Holy Lands, Culver's every night! But I really am happy with today
No, really, I am. 
I am...

Dear Jesus, 

Thank you for these MOMents.

Super fun up here

Uh Oh...Mommy's Losing It... Three Tips to Tame Your Temper

"Now get in your rooms and clean them," I heard myself say in a voice with that high pitched sound that is a cross between not wanting to scream and a sickly, syrupy sweet tone to get my point across:  I won't yell, but my kids always know I am close to losing it...

Please tell me that I am not the only one who feels this.  It creeps on you when you least expect it.  But when it comes, things fly out of your mouth before you realize it and there are hurt feelings.  It could be an offhand remark about not having time for the library even though you promised to go.  It could be angry words to your husband over the unfinished swing set.  It could even be a less than patient response to a complete stranger who disciplines your child for going through the revolving door at Panera more than once even though it was the first time he had ever been in a revolving door and you told him he could go twice! ( Wow, I think I need to let that one go...)

We all experience times when we get frustrated, hurt, and angry.  The actual emotion of anger is not the wrong thing.  

In fact, God knows we will be angry sometimes.  He got angry.  There is a story in the Bible where He got so angry, He messed up the Temple and overturned tables of the money collectors. You can read it by clicking here.

So God knew we would become angry.  "In your anger do not sin." Ephesians 4:26 NIV  

It was not if you get angry, it was when.

So, how can we overcome our anger?

In our house, we use the STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

I know...I am stealing that from every fireman talk you have heard, but it is so easy to remember.  And to put out anger is like putting out a fire that will consume you if you do not get it under control.

Ready to get your anger under control?

Start by considering these simple steps:

STOP and Take a Time Out

Time outs are not just for kids. Counting to 10 isn't just for kids, either. Before reacting to a tense situation, take a few moments to
breathe deeply in and out. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Oh wow, I sound like my lamaze instructor. But it works. I still use "cleansing breaths" even though my babies now range from 6 years to 12 years old. Slowing down can help not only bring your temper flare ups down, it brings necessary oxygen to the brain for proper thinking. You can also take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.

DROP to Your Knees and Pray.

You need to think before you speak. In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything.  Pray to God to give you patience.  Ask Him to give you clarity of the situation.  He created you and desires to give you power through the Holy Spirit in order to give you words and wisdom.  Call on that power.  The time talking to Him will only bring it into perspective so that you can continue to model calmness instead of angry outbursts to your kids.  

Ask the Lord to give you clarification on whether this is a moment of rebellion or something unique your child struggles with and needs your grace.  In the book Grace Based Parenting, Ted Kimmel describes the ability to talk about grace, sing about grace, and have our children memorize verses about grace – but not give them specific gifts of grace – is to undermine God’s work of grace in their hearts.  Grace not only means that God loves them even through they are sinners, but that He loves them uniquely and specially.” (p. 141)

ROLL With it by Understanding It

You need to indentfy the reasons why you are getting angry and possible solutions. Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Does your son refuse to wear a button down shirt for picture day? Get him a nice Polo. Take time to figure out what is really important in the whole realm of life. Is your husband late for dinner? Schedule meals later in the evening

Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything, and will only make it worse.

When the temper trials do happen, there are things to do in the situation which will help:

Forgiveness.  Ask the other person to forgive you if you lose your temper.  Forgive the other person for the action that caused you to lose your temper.  Remember that the person is most often not trying to get you mad.  My son is not purposely trying to irritate me by saying his underwear is too tight even though he said the same kind fit yesterday! In fact, I did go apologize to the lady at Panera.  I felt much better.  And after my son went through the door a few more times, I felt even better!

HumorLightening up can help diffuse tension. Laugh more and anger will not have a hold on you as much.  But, don't ever laugh at the person to try to help them laugh. And never use use sarcasm. Sarcasm is a thing that becomes a habit and it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

and the greatest of these is...

Love.  Remember to try to treat one another as you would have them treat you.  Behave to your family like you would if company were over.  Deal with situations regarding your children with the same compassion as you would another child.  

And always know that you were created with love by God and He gave you these moments to enjoy.  Anger will happen, but I pray you can step back,

DROP, and

and have many more happy MOMents instead.

Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Steps to Achieve Your Dreams

I know what you are thinking...

I sound like a life coach.  (Man, I wish I had thought of that job! )

But I mean it,
Only 5 Steps to Achieve Your Dreams

We tell our kids all the time that they can do whatever they set their minds on.  Dream Big!

The only catch is that the dreams that you might think are theirs or yours may be just that.  YOUR dreams.  What you desire to do might not be what God has in store for you...  
His Dreams. 
His Plans.

That being said, I believe God instills in each of us a desire and enjoyment of a certain activity that combines with talents or gifts He has given us.

God tells us in Romans 12:5-7 that He gives us different gifts and talents.

And with those talents, those natural bents, you tend to want to do something. Be something.  Write something. Teach something.  Serve people. Decorate homes. Care for the elderly. Guide people. Do something. Create something.

Have you achieved all that you want?  All that you think you can do for Him?

If you are still breathing, He still has work for you to complete.  He is still working on and in your Heart. Your HEART.  That is where we will start:


H - Hurt

What?! What kind of beginning is that?  Yep, I said it.  Step one is being okay with not being where you thought you would be.  It is being okay with feeling disappointed enough to do something.  It is okay to hurt.  It is being okay with the fact that the book you have been wanting to write for five years, and had an outline for, but you had all these kids that needed your attention and time and you had to work so you never got to write it, and someone else just published a book with the same idea...or something like that. (sigh)
It is okay feeling a tinge of sadness when you see a house that is organized and clean and all the kids there wear underwear.  Because I guess to some, that is a big deal.  Our household, not so much...  It all depends on the never-ending laundry situation...
It is okay if your child cries over not making the musical.  Let her cry. Cry with her, but then tell her there is hope.

Be upset, be bummed, be disappointed.  But then...Be done.


E - Endure

This is where your hurt turns into work.  Yes, you have to endure and persevere to make your goals happen.  Success does not come overnight.  I should have written that book then. Someone else should have taken that extra class in college.  Another should have trained a little harder.  But all these "should haves" need to be turned into "will do."  You have to set your mind on the fact that anything takes work.  Be prepared for a few sacrifices.  Even the whole world took six days.  Did you really think you would get your closet organized in one Saturday afternoon?

Remember, your children will look to you to set the tone for these MOMents.  Will you encourage them to keep practicing for the recital? Will you write out a list of college grants to apply for and help them check off each one?   Do you sit with them as they practice their audition song?  And then, do you spend that much time on your dream? So now, you know what to do.  But how?


A - Act

This is the most detailed step as far as the planning that goes into it.  This is the part where I sound like a life coach again.  I wonder how much they make?
This is where you act on your dream.  Make an action plan.
First, write down your dream. His dream.
You need to set goals.  Little goals.  Day by day goals.
For example, I cannot just say,"I am going to write a book today" (because that one author already wrote it...) :)
No, I need to break it up. I am going to do one blog entry.  This week I am going to send out one proposal.  This week, I will write 1,000 pages.

For someone else, it could be, "Today, I am going to clean my junk drawer. This week, I will switch out my clothes for winter."  Or it could be, "Today, I am going to find my old resume.  This week, I will rewrite it.  Next week, I will send it to three employment offices." Or, "Today, I will write out a daily reading calendar for the whole Bible. Tomorrow, I will start on Day One."

You have to act on it.  Make lists.  Check the list. Double check the list.  Start simply, but simply start!


R - Reach Out

This is one of the most fun steps for some, but could be terrifying for others.  You need to reach out for help.  It could be as simple as asking someone to proofread an article.  Have a friend go through one bin of summer clothes with you. Meet with an advisor to evaluate your spending budget.  OR it could mean a little more.  Set up a time to see a counselor on a weekly basis.  Meet with a mentor. Contact several communities to get connected.  A little networking goes a long way.  And keep track of those networks.  Be organized with each step.  The worst thing I did was lose the name of an editor that said I could send him a manuscript of a book.  Lost chance. Lesson learned.

People want to help.  Especially your friends.  They are there to support you when it is hard and to celebrate when things do start falling into place.

and STEP 5:

T - Thank Him

This is the most important.  Thank God for what He has done so far.  Celebrate the little things in achieving your dreams.  Throw a mini party with the kids once the whole basement is clean.  Do not agonize about the whole house.  Be thankful you have a home to live in, and celebrate that fact.  Go out for ice cream when you memorized the book of James or maybe even just the first verse.  Write a letter to your grandchildren (that you have or that you  might have someday) and record all the details of running the marathon.  Not just when you finished it, but even the training.  Life is made up of the training.  Each step will be a celebration of what God is doing so far in your story.  Teach your children to be grateful for the little things in their lives.

A friend shared a great idea: Make a backward bucket list and list all the things you have done.  You will see that He has already given you more than you could have asked or imagined.  And He will continue to give you gifts.  Gifts to use for Him.

He gave you your talents, your being, your HEART.  He came to live in your heart.

To love.
To live.
To love. YOU.

I pray as I write these words that you might give your heart to Him.  HE is the one who gave you this MOMent.

How will you use it?