From Pity to Gratitude

Groggy, quiet, and contemplative I enter my prayer closet this morning. Holding my hot coffee in one hand, I open the closet door with the other hand. Upon opening the door, I am filled with defeat from a night of tossing and turning with doubt and hopelessness.  Yet at the same time, I remember Hopeful Expectation, the promise the Lord keeps whispering.

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I enter the closet, overcome with envy, self-pity, and discouragement. Envy over the moms who have children that can get themselves ready in the morning. Envy over the children who got ideal starts in this world. Envy over kids who are able to hold two thoughts in their minds and complete those tasks. Pity for myself for the elaborate measures I take to help my kids follow simple routines. Discouragement over the lack of progress seen.

Stepping into the closet and then plopping down on my pillow, I begin my seeking. Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  

I come filled with ugliness, but seek the Beautiful One. I come filled with doubt, but seek the One filled with answers. I come full of myself  but leave filled with His Spirit.

As I begin my study and prayer time, I am reminded of how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

I remember my Father in heaven who leans in to listen to me, who meets me there before I even awake. I remember my need for Him and His ability alone to meet my daily needs. I remember His heart to forgive me (even my stinking pity party) and my need to forgive all those around me. I remember to seek Him to deliver me away from the temptation of self-pity.

This morning, He changed my pity into gratitude. This morning, I entered my time with the Lord covered with stains. This morning, I left my time time with the Lord with one last whisper, “Lord, that I’d stay connected to you all day today, that this wouldn’t be the end. That it would just be the beginning of our day together.”

Thank you, Lord, for these children that keep me at Your feet…keep me coming back to You. Keep me seeking You for wisdom, peace, encouragement, and hope. Amen.

What I Learned in September

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.

Sept Path

Here we are wrapping up September. This is year 3 of homeschooling for our family and it’s been the smoothest transition thus far. I attribute it to several things. One being that we continued some schoolwork all summer, but never missed anything fun that came up. Two being that it’s year 3 and in my experience year 3 is like a magic year. When I was a public school teacher, I found that year 3 of teaching the same grade level or same curriculum really finally came together for me. And, three, many of the changes we have made to handling discipline in our family, have brought about greater peace for us all. Amen to all of the above!

My Reading this Past Month

  • Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio
  • When Parenting Isn’t Perfect by Jim Daly
  • Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (I try to read this once a year!)

Our Reading this Past Month

  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  • What to do When It’s Not Fair by Jacqueline Toner
  • What to do When Mistakes Make You Quake by Jacqueline Toner
  • Story of the World Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer

Back to school 2017

1-2-3 Magic (123 Magic)

A very wise counselor shared with me the idea of utilizing the 1-2-3 Magic approach for stopping negative behaviors in my children. Think of any lower level behavior you want to stop: arguing, whining, badgering, and complaining, etc. There are many short youtube videos you can watch to learn more about this approach.

Here is how we are using it and finding it successful in our family:

First I set up the plan with the kids. I explained to the kids that we have been allowing behaviors such as arguing and complaining to ruin perfectly good days for us. We want to deal with the behaviors in a quicker way so that we can get back toward whatever God has called us to for that day. I told them that if they argue (complain, whine, badger), I will say, “That’s 1” and hold up 1 finger. They have a choice to make. Stop or continue. If they continue, I will say, “That’s 2” and hold up 2 fingers. If they choose to continue, I will say, “That’s 3” hold up 3 fingers and say (as unemotionally as possible), “It’s time for a break.” I will designate a spot for a break and tell them I will let them know when break is over (5-10) minutes.

After the first explanation of this plan, one little darling almost immediately thought she would test it out! Okay, here we go! Help me, Lord!

Darling child, “Can I have a snack?”

Mom, “No, it’s 30 minutes until dinner.”

Sweet, darling child, “But, I am HUNGRY. I haven’t eaten for 10 minutes! Why can’t I have a snack?”

Mom, “It’s 30 minutes until dinner. And, that’s 1,” holding up 1 finger.

Dear, sweet, darling child, “But, I am so hungry! Why can’t you tell me why?”

Mom, “That’s 2,” holding up 2 fingers.

Lovely, dear, sweet, darling, child, “Oh great! So you can’t even tell me why!? I just want a snack!”

Mom, “That’s 3, time for a break. Please go sit on the stairs. I will tell you when break is over.”

Precious, lovely, dear, sweet, darling, child, “Why did you have to talk to that counselor!” stomping off to the stairs.

I am not worrying about the behavior on the way to the stairs because my goal is to quickly and unemotionally stop the badgering and to reset. We are doing that by taking a break.

I set a timer for 10 minutes and then call to the child, “Break is over.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the child returned in a pleasant mood, ready to find something to do until dinner.

Flash forward to the next morning. Darling child, “Can I make pancakes for breakfast?”

Mom, “That sounds good, but we have to leave in one hour so there just isn’t time today.”

Sweet, darling child, “But, why can’t I make pancakes?”

Mom, “We are leaving soon. And, that’s 1,” holding up 1 finger

Child sulks off grumbling something under her breath, all the while developing self-control.  We move on with our day.

For more serious infractions such as physically hurting someone, damaging property, or aggression, you go straight to 3 and the child takes a break. Usually a more serious infraction also involves some sort of restitution in our house…fixing what they broke, mending the relationship, doing something physical to get the aggressive behavior out appropriately.

Be Your Own Health Advocate

At age 25, when I first became ill with an ultra rare disease, aHUS (atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome), doctors had little idea of what was going on or what to do about it. And, I didn’t know that when a doctor said, “Let’s try XYZ to treat you,” I should say, “Why? Explain this to me.”

I didn’t realize the doctor was not my boss. The doctor is not all-knowing. And my life is not in the doctor’s hands.

In a healthy patient/doctor relationship, the patient is free to ask questions, seek clarification, share about their own research, and discuss concerns. If a doctor does not accept this from you as the patient, you should strongly consider finding a different doctor.

I have had a few wonderful doctors over the years. Besides accepting questions and thoroughly listening to me, the wonderful ones are those that admit when they don’t know something and then they seek to learn.

What about you? What did you learn this month? Is that a tough question to answer? Don’t worry! God has an answer for that. James, 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Need wisdom? Need to learn something? Need to see a breakthrough in a certain situation in your life? Need greater understanding?

ASK GOD, the one who gives it to you liberally!

 

 

Feeling Forgotten

As a mom, wife, woman, do you ever feel forgotten? Like everyone else is out doing the important work and you are just left blending in with the pile of laundry on the couch and the stack of dishes on the counter?  Ever have a day of just wanting to escape that blending in? Just wanting to be noticed for something other than meeting a need?

Those days usually hit me out of nowhere. They usually follow a day filled with highs. Then out of nowhere, I am found focusing on myself and my need to be noticed.

Picking up my pen today, I begin to write words of truth.

You see my pain. You see my loneliness. You see my frustration. You see my broken heart. You see my hurt feelings. You see my longing for more in this life. You see my need for rest. You see my need for contentedness. 

You see me making ME the center of my world. 

Oh, it’s the last line that stops me in my tracks. It happened again. I got stuck in emotions that began and remained with ME at the center. But, that realization leads to a clearing of my heart and mind and the beginning of the Lord’s answer to me.

You see me and You say, “Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

You see me and You say, “I am your shepherd, you shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

You see me and You say, “My compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

You see me and You say, “Abide under my shadow. I am your refuge and fortress.” Psalm 91:1-2

You see me and You say, “I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

Let His Word wash over you today. Let Him see you. Let Him fill you. Let Him remind you that you are not forgotten. Let Him remind you that you are His.

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What I Learned in July

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.IMG_0018Beautiful July in the Pacific Northwest. Hikes, the beach, overnight camp, parks, swimming, reading in the backyard. Love, love, love!

Our Reading

Admittedly, we haven’t been reading as much as I’d like. Both of my girls are participating in a writing contest and it seems like any spare time we’ve had has been spent working on their writing. I am so excited, as they are both doing a fabulous job and will have really nice historical fiction masterpieces when finished.

We have two ocean beach trips planned this summer so we decided on a read aloud with a setting at the beach:

  • Pagoo by Holling C. Holling

And, we have continued our Old Testament reading through:

  • The Child’s Story by Catherine Vos

My Reading

I have continued my reading with our women’s group at church in the book titled:

  • Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson

Audiobooks I thoroughly enjoyed this month are:

  • When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story
  • No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

My Learning

My learning this month originated with my children. How did I ever learn anything before they came along? The growing, refining, stripping away, changing, and learning that happens in parenthood is exhausting but, oh, so good.

Never Say Never

My youngest daughter went to overnight camp. 4 nights away at overnight camp. This doesn’t sound amazing, but let me tell you, it was. Years ago when we brought my oldest daughter to camp, Abby, our youngest looked at me and said, “I never want to do this.”

“You never want to do what?” I naively asked.

“This. I never want you to leave me here overnight,” she replied with a straight face, looking me in the eye.

“Okay. Camp isn’t something you have to do. If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to go. But, you may change your mind when you are older.”

“No. I will never change my mind.”

Okey dokey. Count her out!

But, about 6 months ago, out of the blue, Abby began talking about camp. “I want to go to camp this year.” This same statement or some variation was repeated weekly up until the day she finally got to go to camp.

She did suffer some homesickness while she was away at camp. But, she made friends, had fun, and learned to rely on God while away from the comforts of her home!

This process for my sweet Abby, reminded me of myself with God. “I will never have peace in situations like that, God.” “I will never speak in public, God.” “God, I will never make it through this trial.”

He says to me, “Today is not the day. But, one day, with my love, refinement and Spirit, YOU WILL!”

Interruptions are Ministry Moments

Our church, Calvary Chapel Marysville, has been going through a parenting video series by Paul Tripp on Wednesday nights. I have had so many take aways in the 4 episodes we have watched so far. But, the biggest, life changing take away so far has been viewing interruptions from our kids in a different light. 

Paul Tripp told about the importance of seeing our children’s interruptions as ministry moments rather than interruptions. When our plans are interrupted by our children, rather than being annoyed and angry, we can see it as a God appointed opportunity to listen to, possibly counsel, and love our children.

Immediately after learning this new thought process, I was put to the test. During my quiet time, no less! My sweet child knows not to interrupt my quiet time, but nonetheless, the knock came.

The words were on my lips to say, “Not right now. Just wait!” But, then the message from the night before flashed in my mind, and I asked, “What is it?”

She entered my prayer closet and told me of her need for which I couldn’t meet. Then she said the sweetest words, “That’s okay, mom. But, will you pray for me?”

Yes! Yes, sweet girl. Take your every need to Jesus. Let that be your first thought…pray for me.

Can you view changes in your plans today as “ministry moments”? Can you look for what God is doing in the interruptions? Can you open your heart and mind to the possibility that you are not to be annoyed but instead interested in what God is doing?

Lord, you are King and Creator. Help us today. Help us to have your eyes and heart during the interruptions. Soften our hearts and minds to look deeper at the people you place in our lives. Amen. 

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New Patterns of Grace

Mother’s Day. An opportunity to remember the effort, love, and sacrifices my own mom made for me. A chance to be thankful for the brave birth mothers who helped make me a mother. A day to look on my children with love and awe and marvel at the reasons I am allowed to partake in this day.

me and the girls

Looking upon the year leading up to this day, reflecting on the changes, the growth, the disappointments, the trials, and the joy; my heart feels both heavy and lighter at the same time.

A day to reflect. How am I doing as a mother? The most important role I will ever fill. Am I still stuck in some of the patterns of the year before? Or, am I moving toward what the Lord has for me? Am I pushing past old destructive ways? Am I looking for patterns which lead to life for my family?

lake padden

These questions fill my mind and to be honest, they’ve been keeping me awake at night.

As moms, we are so hard on ourselves. Second guessing decisions. Replaying scenarios in our minds. Beating ourselves up for our shortcomings. Allowing guilt and sometimes even condemnation to steal our days. Comparing ourselves to others or to some ideal we hold in our mind. Seeing our children’s behavior as a reflection of our own failures.

These are patterns which lead to death for ourselves and our families.

The Lord is revealing a different way to me.

It begins with grace.

Grace: Favor or goodwill. A manifestation of favor. Mercy. Pardon. Unmerited favor and love of God. The influence or Spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Ahh..Just reading the word grace, followed by the definition is like a deep breath. My body loosens. My shoulders drop. My breathing slows.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 4-10

Oh those words, the Lord’s words to us, well up in me like an everlasting flowing river. A river of grace and mercy. His love for me was alive and well when I was dead in my trespasses. 

On your worst day. He loved you.

On my worst day. He loved me.

Am I loving that way? Am I loving my family when they behave well? Am I loving them when they are acting in an undesirable way?

Are my facial expressions conveying love and grace?

Is my tone showing love despite their behavior?

Are my words leading to life for my family regardless of how they are acting?

Through His grace and love pouring into me, He is showing me how to extend grace to my family. He is reminding me to be patient with myself. He is showing me when I just need to breathe. He is showing me how to love my children and care deeply for them, while still separating myself from their choices. He is opening my eyes to what a heartfelt apology can bring to my loved ones. He is lowering my shoulders and filling me with His breath, His grace, His love.

3 grace-filled statements for mom’s this Mother’s day, taken right from the Ephesians 2 verses above:

  1. We are no longer dead to our sin. We are made alive by Christ. I can breathe easier and become unstuck because He has freed me from my sin.
  2. We are saved by faith, not by our works. I am not saved based on anything I have done or anything I will do. I am saved based on who He is and what He has already done on the cross.
  3. We were created by God to the good works He prepared for us to do. No longer do I need to strive in my own power, my own wisdom and knowledge. He has gone before me and prepared the way.

This good, good news of the cross and His love and grace over me, frees me to rest. Rest in Him.

by the lake

Dear momma, find your rest in  Him. Allow Him to reveal His grace to you. Be filled with His unconditional love. Rest in His everlasting river of mercy. He loves you so much. This year, begin your new patterns of grace.

Caught Between

She’s caught between being a teen and being a kid. Truly a tween. And, truly unknown territory in our life as a family. She’s caught between fierce independence and seeking shelter by way of a hug from her mommy. She’s right in the middle of knowing all the answers and seeking prayer about a recent bad dream.

During this trying, growing, in-between stage, I am seeking the Lord and all He has for us  in a new stage in our life as a family.

color family standing

As is God’s way, I received an email just days before my daughter’s 12th birthday. The title read, 10 Verses to Pray for Your Daughter. The mom who wrote the article expressed her desire to be a prayer warrior.

Yes, Lord, make ME a prayer warrior. I long to fervently pray for my family. Diligently wearing and utilizing the armor God has given me: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Word. Never ceasing to thank God for all He has provided and always remembering my deep need for Him. 

The author of the article categorized her prayers for her daughter in the following way:

Her Salvation

To Find Her Identity in Christ

To Walk in a Manner Worthy of Her Calling

To Have a Love for God and His Word

Use and Cultivate Her Spiritual Gifts for God’s Glory

To Have a Desire for Wisdom

Healthy and Godly Relationships with Family and Friends

Her Future Husband and Marriage

To Value Her Role in the Home and Family

To Train Her Own Children to Love the Lord

Sitting down to my strong coffee and overflowing journal, I begin mediating on the prayer from the above list that is stirring in my heart this morning. Healthy and Godly relationships with family and friends. The verse which follows reads, Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:2-3

I attempt to focus on my in-between daughter, the one seeking independence, discovering her place in our family and the world, still in need of parental guidance, the one whose power sometimes seems to frighten even her. The Lord, then, redirects my thinking right back to me. The Ephesians 4 verse is staring me in the face, transforming itself into questions. During this trying in-between phase which we are embarking on, am I humble? Gentle? Patient? Bearing with my tween in love? Making every effort to keep unity?

In all honesty, the answers to my questions are all no. Of course, I will fail. God knows I am human. But, when time and time again, I am forging ahead, making my own path into this unchartered territory, I am sure to fail.

When I humbly seek the Lord for gentleness, patience, love, and unity, I am moving forward His way.

When I clear my mind and see how He deals with me in my stubborn independence, power house manner, know-it-all way, I see His gentleness, His loving redirection, and His patient whispers. Thank you, Lord.

Another author, I recently read discussed mirror neurons. Cells in the brain that cause us to mimic the behavior of those around us. These neurons aid in learning new skills by imitation. The science behind that intrigued me, God’s incredible planning and creation captivated me, but mostly, this concept caused me once again to return to the Ephesians 4 passage and examine my own heart.

I desire for my tween daughter, who is figuring out her place as a young woman, to be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and peaceful. When I turn those traits back towards myself, I am aware of improvement in those areas, but am also very aware of the need to seek more through the Lord.

While reading about Jesus in the book of Mark, I see His heart. I love to come back to the gospels and read directly about the one I aim to mirror.

Oh, Lord, that I would mirror your actions of love, kindness, and long-suffering. 

Are you in an in-between stage with a loved one? Are you, yourself, in an in-between stage? Caught between where you are currently at and where you know the Lord longs for you to be? Dear one, let’s look to Jesus and mirror His love. Let’s allow Him to examine our hearts and to reveal His heart to us. As Christians, we are “little Christs”. Ask Him. Seek Him. You will find Him.

Piano Praise Beauty

 

Something about the piano praise medley on Pandora brought much needed inspiration this morning. There were no words playing from my speakers, but the words played in my heart. The words echoed,

beauty

beauty

beauty

On a dark, dank, wet day, there is beauty.

The melody repeated and the Lord highlighted the beauty all around. Temptation to go looking for His beauty filled me, until He pointed out that I didn’t need to move from the spot where I was perched at our paint stained kitchen table.

The words from Philippians 4 flooded my heart,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

My pen began to slide along my journal, pouring out beauty.

Beauty in the sounds.

Beauty in the breath.

Beauty in the light.

Beauty in the soul.

Beauty in the raindrops.

Beauty in the squirrel discovering the feed.

Beauty in the shine off the wind chime.

Beauty in the Easter garden awaiting the sun and warmth to aid the grass in growing.

Beauty in the empty cross and tomb reminding me death has no sting.

Beauty in the mound of soil ready for it’s plants.

Beauty in the Easter egg project my 9-year-old left strewn about the table waiting to bless her cousins.

Beauty in the school posters hung on the wall signifying learning happening within these walls.

Beauty in the stack of books laying horizontally longing to be read.

Beauty in the mud covered boots reminding me of the tromping my 11-year-old did the day before.

Beauty in the signs of life all around.

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