Monday, February 24, 2014

Keepin Your Cool and Choosin Your School

Hey! I'm glad you're here joining us for another week of the Women Living Well book club!

Chapter 14 I’m Gonna Blow My Top! I love the quote this chapter starts off with.

                The secret of healthy conflict resolution isn’t taking a you-against-me stance, but realizing it’s all of us against Satan- he’s the real enemy.” Lysa Terkurest

Ever been there? Your frustration gets the best of you and you find yourself yelling at your children. Again. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to lose our temper with our children at times. Frustration is a daily emotion we moms have to battle. Why won’t they listen?.... I just want some peace around here! …We’re running late, and you lost your shoes again?! ….Why do you always have to fight with each other?  We feel the weight of running a home, caring for kids, balancing the checkbook and cooking, cleaning, laundering- all part of an unending list. At times the emotions just boil over and we respond to our kids in less than kind tones.

We so easily get the battle confused, we end up fighting our comrades rather than the enemy. It is not a battle between us and the little ones. We are on the same side. We know this in our minds.  It is a spiritual battle fought in the heart. To be fought alongside our family and against Satan. 

He wants you to see your children as the problem. He wants you to feel justified in using unkind words and a harsh tone. He wants you to believe you deserve well behaved kids, to be on time, to have peace and quiet. He doesn’t want you to see your selfish motives that creep out in daily life.  Most of all, Satan doesn’t want you to guide your children down the path towards relationships with God.

So when we find ourselves steaming from the ears during a long day and reacting rather than acting right, let’s be honest with ourselves and call it what it is. Sin. There, I said it. That’s actually the only way to freedom. If it is my fault, I am the one who can change it. The ball is in my court and I get to choose how to deal with it. Oh! But how to change! It’s so hard!

The good news is that God doesn’t leave us hanging here, girls.  He gives us very practical, doable steps.

Ephesians 4:20-24 Put off the old self, be made new in the attitude of your mind, and put on the new self

Ephesians 4:29-32 Use no unwholesome words, instead, use words that are helpful and build up
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger and be kind, compassionate and forgiving

Galatians 5:22-23 Grow the fruits of the spirit: patience, kindness, gentleness

Romans 12:2   Be transformed by renewing your mind

Galatians 6:9 Do not grow weary in doing good, remember that this will all be worth it in the future

So next time you feel frustration welling up inside, stop yourself. Mentally put off the selfish desire in your heart. Pray and ask God to help you put on gentleness. Kindness. Patience. Ask Him to help you make your words helpful and kind to your little ones. Most of all, don’t grow weary. It will be worth the work and time you are putting in. Then do this over and over and over. Repetition renews the mind.

Ch 15 Schools of Thought There are many different choices in schooling your children. And I am a firm believer that there is not one way that every family should choose. In fact, we did not choose only one for our family. We have sent our children to Christian school, public school and have homeschooled. Why did we switch? In each season of our life, we chose the best school arrangements for our children considering certain criteria. The criteria we used to make our decision included the location we lived, the job my husband had and our goals for our children.

No matter how you school your children, it is work. You are still the parent. You are still ultimately responsible for them before God. It is your job to be sure they are learning all they need to, academically and spiritually. You cannot count on the Christian school to teach all the biblical knowledge your children need. You cannot count on the public school to teach them all the phonics they need. And in homeschooling you are solely responsible for it all, but you can tailor each subject for each individual child. There are benefits and drawbacks to any of the choices. So choose the one that fits your family the best.

I personally loved homeschooling because it provided an awesome opportunity for to really build strong relationships with my kids, especially in the younger years. It provided opportunities for my kids to learn self-discipline, time to work on hobbies, and freedom to go to the jobsite with their dad, or to lunch with Grandma.  Things we would not have had time to do if they were in school all day.

Schooling is not really the issue. It is a necessity in the midst of training and teaching them. As a mom, the main goal to filter all decisions through is raising them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind. Raising our kids is serious business and there is no room for fighting over which schooling option is better than the other. So no matter where your kids learn phonics or algebra, lets join forces and pray for those kiddos. There is a battle for their souls raging all around them no matter where they take their spelling test or eat lunch. Let’s lift them up in prayer every day so they will have the spiritual strength to fight the good fight.



Mamahood Messups

Welcome to the Women Living Well book review!
I missed a chapter last week - oops! So I thought I would do a quick catch-up right now!
Chapter 13 Mamahood Mess-Ups
Ever feel like a failure? Like you are the only one who doesn’t have it all together? Wonder how all the other moms do it all when you can barely do much right? Feel like your kids are the worst? Why won’t they sleep? Or eat their veggies? Or refuse to keep their clothes on? Or get potty trained?
Ever feel like giving up? Wishing for your old life where you got to sleep through the night, only had yourself to get ready in the morning and never stepped in mac and cheese on the floor or spilled grape juice? Some days mamahood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We get disappointed and discouraged. We wonder if we will ever have a normal life again.
When you brought that little bundle of joy home from the hospital, you envisioned happy days filled with laughter and love. You wanted to be a happy family. Then the sleepless nights started. And next the terrible twos. This mamahood thing isn’t all you expected it to be.
Key word: expected. Expectations get us into trouble. They set our hearts up to be disappointed. They set our minds up to be frustrated. Struggles and hurdles will happen. That’s just life. But they aren’t all for nothing. God can use the struggles to grow us. Just as that little bundle grows and matures. So are you. As you parent your child, God, your heavenly Father, is parenting you to mature. And He uses the struggles to do it. Consider them opportunities to grow. Divinely designed opportunities.
As your children grow, you see more and more the character in their hearts. You see areas in their lives, attitudes in their hearts and viewpoints in their belief system that need removing, refining or redirecting. You are training little hearts to have a God-oriented world view. And it’s a process that takes much time and slow progress. Progress. Look for progress, don’t expect perfection. Just like God parents you.
Don’t let your heart get discouraged when it seems you’re making little to no progress. Ask your Father how He wants to grow you through this time. It may be that He is growing you more through a particular time than your children. Keep on keeping on, Mama. You will see the progress down the road.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Are You Using Your Gift?

Welcome back to the book club! We are reading through the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph.
This week we're reading chapters 11 & 12

Chapter 11 The Influence Of A Mother The first paragraph contains two very good questions that each mom should sit and ponder over a good cup of coffee. (Especially on a cold winter day!)

                “Do you know how powerful your influence is?”

                “How do you use that influence?”

As a woman, you have a gift of influence. What you say and do and how you say or do it makes an impression on those around you.  It’s an awesome thing. But it is essential that you use it to influence others in a Godly way.

Those little people living in your home – the ones who don’t sleep through the night…put their shoes on the wrong feet….and have messy rooms… they are greatly influenced by you. What you do and say to them and around them matters. Big time.

This influence you have will do just that – influence- whether or not you have a plan. You need daily input from God to be able to have output that will lead those little ones toward a relationship with God.  Think of your children like sponges. Soaking in whatever is around them. This leads into another question in this chapter.

                “What are your children soaking in from you and from the music, television or friends you choose to bring into your home?”

Take time to really inspect what you do. What you watch. What you listen to. Who you hang with. Does it show your young ones that God is most important in your life? That the best part of life is your relationship with Him? That honoring God comes before anything else?

Chapter 12 is right on the heels of 11. Parenting In The Digital Age Just like what you watch and listen to affects your kids, what you allow them to listen to and watch also affects them.  Satan has so much opportunity to get into your children’s lives with all the sources of media available. It is a huge responsibility as a parent to monitor the input into their lives.

Another good question is posed:

                “Will the world change your children or will your children change the world?”

You want to raise your kiddos right. You want them to follow God. To put Him first in their lives. Satan desires exactly the opposite for them, and he puts up a good fight. One you have to engage in daily.

Set standards for your kids. Biblically based and with an attitude of love. Then enforce them. Don’t be afraid if you are not popular for this. That’s ok. You’re not parenting to be popular, you’ve got a serious job with eternal impact.

Know what they are watching. What games they are playing. What they are listening to. What they are saying. Who they are talking to. And how much time they are spending on mere entertainment. How is it affecting them now? How is it affecting their attitudes? Their outlook on life? Their view of God? Their relationship with God? Their work ethic? How will it affect them down the road?

Is it encouraging selfishness? Allowing laziness to grow? Lowering their standards? Making sin seem normal and ok? Feeding an appetite for the world? Choking out a hunger for God?

Teach them how to be wise with media. Don’t just make rules. Don’t just tell them. Teach them why. Help their hearts to grow discernment so they will be able to guide themselves when you are not around. Teach them the reasons some things are not good for them to see…hear…watch…play. Teach them not only the difference between right and wrong but also between profitable and the things that waste their time or stunt their spiritual growth. Teach them to be wise in how they use their life…for self or for God. Equip them for life. For a life that honors God.

I sit here thinking how to end this in a catchy way. But my heart wants to keep writing. The importance of this can’t be communicated enough in one little post on one little blog. Prayer. That is how this should end. Prayer is your greatest weapon of defense against Satan’s fight for your children. Pray. Pray. Then pray some more. They are really God’s kids after all. You are the one He chose to raise them. To teach them. To point them back to Him. Pray that He will give you wisdom as you model and teach. Pray that he will show you how to use your gift of influence in the lives of the young ones you tuck in each night.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

All I Wanted Was Happily Ever After

Welcome back to the book club! We are reading through the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph.

This week we’re reading chapters 8,9 and 10. “Banishing Bitterness to Find Happily Ever After” and “The Completing Him Marriage Challenge” (part 1 and 2).

Happily Ever After…. Who doesn’t want that? We dream of it, we long for it, Disney has made millions off of that desire. And it’s what filled our minds as we said “I do.” At least that’s what I had in mind. I thought marriage would be wedded bliss.

But the fairy tale dreams in our eyes sooner or later wake up to reality. Prince Charming isn’t really so charming after a while. And, well, if we have to admit it, we aren’t so much Cinderella-like all that much anymore either.

But wait. You married that guy because you thought he was The Man. You giggled when he grinned at you. You wanted to impress him, to help him, to attract him. Somewhere in the daily chaos of life that gets lost, especially when you throw a kid or 4 into the mix.

We forget that guy is so great because it is easier to see the underwear left lying on the floor, or the dirty dishes left on the coffee table, or that he forgot to feed the dog… again.  But a question we should be asking is: What is his side of the story? Does he still see that wonderful girl he married, or is she often overtired, disheveled and critical?

Often, marriages look more like tug of war than teamwork. Competition takes the place of complimenting. Critical attitudes take place of caring. And is seems we aren’t even on the same team most of the time. How did we end up this way?

Marriage was invented by God right there in the Garden and designed to be a blessing in our lives and a picture of Christ and the Church. I want my marriage to be a blessing in my life and in my Knight’s. I know you want the same for yours. But if we don’t work on keeping it that way, it will turn out very differently.

Let’s say you wake up tomorrow and your head will barely lift off the pillow. You. Are. Dead. Tired. Ugh. You think to yourself: “I’m so tired…. I can’t make it through the day… The kids are going to drive me crazy…. I need a nap…. I don’t have the energy to clean…” and so you drag through the day just barely hanging on to existence.

Now let’s say that when you wake up groggy and dead tired, that you choose a different approach to the day. Mentally. What if you thought to yourself: “I can do this…. It’s only one day… I can make it… I can get moving and enjoy the day… I can do this and tonight, my bed is going to feel oh, so good!”

We both know that the day would indeed go better than the first scenario. Attitude is everything. Attitude steers your actions. Attitude steers your moods. Attitude steers your motivations.

What if you approached your marriage that way?  It makes a difference if you wake up next to Mr. Not So Charming or if you wake up next to Mr. Charming. It’s the same guy, but the difference is in your attitude.

Push aside negative and critical thoughts about Prince Charming and focus on his good qualities. Can’t think of any? Think back to why you married him in the first place. Build appreciation for him in your heart. Build respect for him. Build closer intimacy with him. Build a life with him and share his priorities. Wedded bliss may not always be so blissful, but when we change our attitude, bliss will show up among the chaos of reality.

Chapters 9 & 10 are filled with a 10 day marriage challenge. I have read many wife challenges and truth be told many are sappy and not anything my husband would even like (like taking him on a picnic – just not his style). The 10 challenges presented here are good. They are aimed at your heart and attitude. Aimed at growing respect for your Mr. and putting him first. It’s a challenge I actually recommend if you’re up for it – let me know how it goes!