Immanuel, God with us!￼
God called me to begin sharing what He’s been doing in my life through a different outlet. It’s taking a lot of courage but here I go!
Hope = Power
God’s past faithfulness motivates hope for the future!
Do you ever wonder why peoples optimistic reassurance really doesn’t reassure you at all? Those optimistic well wishes are just based on what that person wants or what you want. But true hope is based on God’s past faithfulness.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
My encouraging friend, who lives out Proverbs 18:21, sent me that verse the other morning. Every morning I receive a nugget of wisdom from her. Because God has proven to me time and time again that nothing worth anything is ever by chance, I take what she sends me to heart.
For years, I have been aware of the power of my words. God began revealing this to me through Joyce Meyers TV broadcasts, where she openly shares her struggles with words and how through God’s Word and power, she has overcome.
I don’t know about you, but I have set backs in this area. I am not tempted to smoke cigarettes, overeat, or drink alcohol, but I am definitely tempted to criticize, especially those closest to me.
1 Peter 5: 8 tells us that the Devil is watching us, looking for what he can use to destroy us. For me, it tends to be my words. He feeds me the words to say, especially when I am tired, sick, discouraged, or just simply not alert.
But I am so tired of it. I am so tired of Satan having his way with my words. And, I am not powerless against him!
Some truths about taming the tongue (just in case you, too, struggle in this area):
- I cannot tame my tongue (control my words) in my own power. James 3:8
- My life will be happier if I obey God with my words. James 1:26
- My words can bring healing. Proverbs 12:18
- My words are powerful. James 3:5
- When my words are gentle, the can bring forth life. Proverbs 15:4
Practical ways in which I am obeying God with my words:
- Making sure my children are looking me in the eye when I give them a compliment. I don’t want my words to go unnoticed. I will say their name or something to get their attention, wait for their eyes, and then speak the words I want to say. I usually benefit by seeing their face light up in response.
- Keeping a list on my phone for both of my kids and my husband of compliments I want to give them. Often, I will think of good things about them when I am apart from them. I just make a little note on my phone and then I keep it there until I give them the compliment. Then I put a little check mark symbol after that particular compliment. Once, I am more fluent with my family, I want to add more people to this list.
- Making sure I am full of God’s truth about me, so that I am not running on empty and have nothing to give.
Dear One, how do you see the power of words at work in your life? I am praying we each see someone we can encourage today.
Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
June! The month with the longest day of the year. Days full of light. More freedom from routines.
I love this path photo above. Sometimes the Lord just lays out the path in front of us. He says, “You have been stumbling over the rocks, sticks, and waves long enough. I have set this path before you. Take it! Follow Me!” He cuts away what needs cutting away and reveals His perfect way. His way which may not feel perfect, definitely doesn’t feel easy, but nonetheless, it’s His sovereign, Holy, wise plan. When I follow it, His fruit is displayed and my heart is at peace. Oh, Father, you are so good!
Books I am reading (which are encouraging me to follow Him):
- Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson
- Anything by Jennie Allen
- Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner
Books I am reading with my girls:
- 24 Family Ways
- The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein
- The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Fox
We are participating in a reading challenge, which encourages us to read books from all over the world: Give Your Child the World. Some books we’ve thoroughly enjoyed during this challenge:
- Owen and Mzee The language of friendship. By Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu
- Off to class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes
- Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World by George Shannon
- A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World
A Summary of My Learning This Month:
Kids love traditions! They love having special things that are unique for our family. They love knowing they can count on the repetition of the fun activity or event or food. We have developed a couple of easy, new traditions which are helping to bring greater family connection. With our girls nearing the teenage years, we are facing a new dynamic…our kids don’t always want to spend time with us! It’s strange, new, sometimes nice, and sometimes a threat to our closeness. Traditions are helping to maintain some together time.
America’s Funniest Videos (AFV) in the big bed! We ALL load up in our king-sized bed. All the humans in the house as well as our 2 cats and we laugh and gasp at the crazy things people do on video. Fun, light-hearted time to relax and laugh together is a beautiful thing.
Visiting Tree Houses! Can a tradition be a tradition if it’s only happened once? I don’t think so. But, can we can count it a tradition if we plan to repeat this activity? I think so! My husband found us the most lovely “House in the Trees”in Tigard, Oregon where we played games, ate snacks, read books, watched Lassie and Little House on the Prairie, pretended to be pirates, slid down a slide to exit the house, drank coffee, and connected as a family. This activity is begging to become a tradition!
Sunday afternoon tea. We bake gluten free scones, put some cheese and fruit on a plate, and each get a warm beverage of our choice, and enjoy a little sit down, lovely time together before the busyness of the week takes off the next day.
Although my children fight the idea of using a schedule for homeschooling, we all breathe a sigh of relief now that we have made the adjustment to having blocks of learning times scheduled each day. I purchased some cheap, very basic planners from Michael’s. I have always resisted using any kind of planner or schedule book because I feel so boxed into the format they use. But, the planners I found have very little on them. On a two page layout for each week, they contain only 5 days of the week, Monday-Friday, and contain 6 boxes per day, as well as a notes section.
Sunday evening, I sit down and think through our week and each day. It takes a considerable amount of time and brain power, but it avoids so much conflict, anxiety, and debate throughout the week. We often make adjustments to our schedule. It’s all written in pencil. But, it’s working very well for us to have a general idea of what each day holds. It’s also giving us a chance to see how long things actually take and helping to provide necessary and important breaks.
Recently, while visiting a science museum, our children’s anxiety and moodiness heightened after we’d been there for several hours. No one was ready to leave, but there was so much talk about what we were going to do next. I thought of our planners and the boundaries they provide, and quickly and verbally explained a rough schedule for the rest of our time at the museum. Everyone let out a deep breath, and my one daughter looked at me and said, “Thank you, mom. I just needed to know what was coming.”
I pray you are learning, growing and seeking what the Lord has for you. I’d love to hear what new “take away” you have to share. Please consider sharing in the comments. Blessings, dear reader!
At the end of January, I set out on a quest. The goal? To instill kindness in our hearts, with the hopes of deepening my children’s love for each other and bringing peace to our home. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It sounds like heaven to me.
My vision: starting each morning by reading Bible verses about love and kindness. Journaling reflections about what God is doing in our lives to teach us about kindness. Each child writing a kind message to her sister every day.
Reality: Angry words muttered between children. Me, “Oh, yeah, please take out your kindness journals.” Must have kindness. Each of us sitting down to read our verses. Me coercing the children to write something kind about her sister. Them, briskly pumping out the words on paper, slamming notebooks shut, and then promptly getting annoyed with each other. Me, “Remember what you just wrote about you sister???” Repeat this 22 days in a row and you get the idea. My vision, failed. Well kind of.
In my quest for kindness…(hey, that has a nice ring to it…quest for kindness), I became more aware of messages about kindness. The King James Bible uses the word kindness 73 times. A quick search on Amazon reveals book titles such as, The Power of Kindness, Each Kindness, The Hidden Power of Kindness, and Kindness Counts.
I picked up the book The Kindness Challenge: 30 Days to Improve Any Relationship. There were daily assignments which focused on avoiding all criticism and instead looking for the good in another person and saying it aloud, writing it down, and telling others.
These exercises were beneficial for me. I was completing the tasks with my husband in mind. Sending him an encouraging, thanks-filled text each day, telling others what I appreciate about him and making a genuine effort to avoid nagging and criticism. I began seeing him in a more positive light. It became noticeably easier as the month went on. I’d see things he had always done: take out the trash, hug us when he got home from work, remain dedicated to his work, make his health and the health of our family a priority, etc.,etc.,etc. as things I was incredibly thankful for.
But, the hearts of my children…hmmm…I saw little change in the first 22 days. On the days in which they remembered to write down an action step, a specific step they would take to show kindness to each other, there was sometimes an outward sign of kindness. One girl would play what the other one chose. One girl would help the other girl with her math. One girl would make breakfast for the other girl. This was nice. This was really nice. But, was it producing a heart change?
On day 22, the clouds parted and God shed His understanding on our need.
We need thankfulness first. Sometimes there’s an order to these things. I think about the Bible reading we talked about that morning, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4. We talked about how each trait is like a rung on a ladder. Each step necessary before ascending to the next step.
This exercise in noticing good things and kindly stating them was working for me because I had been practicing thankfulness for years.
Years ago, during a particulaly uncertain time in my life, the Lord began working in me to find things to be thankful for every day. Every day includes both the good days and the bad days. I began listing 5 things I was grateful for at the end of the day. Somedays it is easy. Children are learning, the sun is shining, energy is flowing, and the gratitude list practically writes itself. Other days, I sit like a stubborn child, blank mind, sour attitude, refusing to acknowledge there would be anything to be grateful for that day. But, it’s on those days that the list is more important than ever. It’s those days when my heart has a chance to soften as I note the goodness in what the Lord allowed into my life that day.
Thankfulness changes hearts. Thankfulness is changing my heart. Thanking God in the midst of the trial is what changes my heart. I start to see what the Lord has for me at the moment.
When sharp words war between my children, I can look for God through thankfulness.
When lab results return, I can look for God through thankfulness.
When the day drags on, I can look for God through thankfulness.
Ann Voskamp, in 1000 Gifts writes, The only way to fight a feeling is with a feeling. Feel thanks and it’s absolutely impossible to feel angry.
Yes, it’s thankfulness we need. Giving thanks in ALL things will bring heart change. Words of kindness will flow when our hearts are softer from accepting what God allows into our lives and responding with gratitude.
My girls and I have been on a journey. It’s been a journey to reconnect. To regain the closeness and relationship we had when they were little. To establish a regular time each day to spend individual time together. Talk Time.
To say that we love it is an understatement.
I try to begin each Talk Time by asking, “What was your favorite part of the day?”
I cannot count the number of times the answer in reply has been, “Right now.”
Me too, Dear One, me too.
I love the slow pace of Talk Time. The lights are low. Just a corner lamp on. Soft music playing in our oldest daughter’s room. Nothing to do. No list. No stuff. Nothing in our hands. Nothing but time to talk.
If you have met my children, you know they love to talk. If you have met me, you know, I do not love to talk. God has such a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
So, in order to meet all of our needs and allow for a reasonable bed time, I set a timer for 10 minutes. It may sound cruel and controlled. Maybe it is. I don’t know. But, it works for us. The first few times we heard the timer beep, I heard each girl groan…”Not yet, the time isn’t over yet, is it?” A twinge of guilt lingered for a moment, until I realized that we were truly on to something. Obviously we needed this time together. The sadness we felt when our Talk Time was over was just the motivation I needed to continue this new routine.
But, just to make sure we were on the same page, I decided to check in with each girl.
“How are you liking Talk Time?”
Leaning in close, reaching out her arm to place around me, “I love it,” Abby simply replies.
“It’s great,” states Mikayla. She continues, “It’s weird. It makes me feel less fighty the next day,” giggling as she finishes her observation.
Less fighty. Yes, less fighty. Me, too. When I am sitting close, enjoying the ones I love. Just looking at them in the eye. Listening to their thoughts. I feel less fighty. And, yes, even the next day, the less fighty feeling continues.
When I walk in obedience with the Lord, I am less “fighty”.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.