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The Tongue

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In our small group Bible study, we are covering the book of James. We have covered more than half the book now, and I just love it. James is such a practical book, with a TON of things we can all apply right now where we are in any stage of life. I have really enjoyed working through it, learning some of the background of the author, and really just seeing how I can be better in my Christian walk.

The things we are discussing and learning about in our small group I have learned since I was very young. Growing up in church means you hear many of the same lessons from the Bible over and over. As a kid, this can seem boring and cause you to daydream and not really absorb much. Then, fast forward to my adult life as a Christian, and I really have not applied anything I have been taught or read, which means I don’t have much to strive to work on. And then I think I am doing ok

Until…

I am a mom and realizing I have never really gotten a lot of my vices under control. I won’t go into detail on how ridiculously sinful I am, I do want to share something I have never truly worked on and have (yet again) begun to regret.

My words.

If we have never talked in real life, you may not know this. BUT, if you have ever spoken with me, you probably know I am no good with words. I speak faster than I think, I am not really witty, I often make jokes at others’ expense. I have never been great with words. Encouragement is NOT my spiritual gift, and I think that has caused me to never really focus on controlling my tongue. My gift isn’t in encouragement, so it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it. I would never come out and say that, but that is pretty much how I live. I have worked on how I speak to my husband, and I feel like I am growing in that area. I have worked a little on how I speak and what I say to the kids….aaaand, I still need to be working on that one.

The one thing I have not ever focused on is how I speak to other people. I just say things, and then I regret them. This past weekend, I attempted a joke at one of my sisters and it was horrible. First, it wasn’t even funny because….I am awful with words. Second, it struck a nerve with her and caused her to cry. I cannot remember the last time I made one of my sisters cry. (Mom, no need to jump in here with the date. I am aware I did it a lot when I lived at home.) 🙂

I felt so bad as soon as I saw her face. Thankfully, no one around even understood my attempt at the joke; I guess I can be thankful that words do not flow well out of my mouth. But, the point is, I said something stupid and hurtful without even realizing it while I was saying it. I apologized, and she forgave me….but, I can’t go back and put a filter on my mouth. I can’t go back and stop myself from sounding stupid.

James tells us in chapter 3 verse 8 “…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” 

Proverbs 21:23 says “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” 

Proverbs 18:21 states “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

There are many passages in the Bible that talk about our tongues, our words, what we are saying. Obviously it is a serious matter if the Bible has covered it so extensively. I searched online for verses about the tongue, and one of the results showed 84 verses! Clearly the tongue is a challenge and something I need to pay better attention to.

I have a desire to be liked, and one of the ways I find people like me is if I am funny; however, I am not great at being funny. My mom and dad are funny. My siblings are funny. Me? Not so much. I am better at cleaning and baking than being funny. 😉 I should probably just stick to what I am good at, honestly.

So, while I have heard and learned about the tongue many times growing up and even as an adult, I still am so awful at doing it. No filter. No thought before I speak. No control.

James says no one can control the tongue. He says it is like a small spark that sets a whole forest on fire (3:5). Think about that – one small spoken word can ruin someone. One lie. One mean statement, whether true or false. One word to describe someone. The tongue is powerful enough to ruin someone’s entire life. Bullies use words to demean and ruin their victims. And here I am using words without thinking first, which I guess makes me a bully by default.

After starting this study with our small group and now the incident from this past weekend, I have learned a couple of things:

1.I need to STOP and think before I say anything.

Giving myself some time to think through what I am going to say, BEFORE I say it, is always a good thing. I can decide if it is even worth saying.

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2. I need a filter.

We have a sign posted in our kitchen to remind us of what to consider before we speak. Apparently, I need to pay better attention to it!

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3. I have to remember the power of my words. I can either build someone up or tear them down.

There is no point in trying to be funny if it is going to hurt someone’s feelings. I have heard “your child’s inner voice will be whatever they hear from you, the parent.” That is kind of scary, when I think of how hurtful I can be with my words. And when James compares the tongue to a fire, it is a strong reminder (ok, slap in the face) that our tongues can literally ruin a life.

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While I cannot go back and un-say all the stupid or hurtful things I have said, I can go forward and work on stopping myself, filtering myself, and reigning in the power of my words. Obviously, this will not be something I can do on my own. I will need to go to God for overcoming this. Here’s how I plan to stay on top of it:

1.Be in the Word every day and work to memorize more Scripture.

Knowing what God’s Word says about my words and my tone and my tongue are a good start. How can I know how to act if I don’t know what HE says?

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2.Share my struggles.

Whether I talk to my husband (which I usually do first) or my mentor or my mom or my sister….I need to share what I am struggling with to have some accountability for my actions and words. I am really good at assuming I will figure stuff out on my own; I don’t like to be told what I am doing wrong or how to fix it. That is not a good way to live. Marriage and mentorship have really helped me start to correct that. I tell you what, my mom is full of wisdom…but for the longest time I just viewed it as something moms say. Then I grew up 😉 and realized she really does pray for us kids and is pretty wise when it comes to the Bible. The things I used to see as her just telling me what to do were, in fact, godly counsel. It just took me foooorrreeevvverrr to realize it. If you struggle with something, tell someone. Find a godly mentor and share your struggles. They can steer to you Bible passages to help you curb a bad habit or get control over an area in your life with the Lord’s help. They can also pray with and for you, which is such an encouragement to me personally.

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3. Put it into practice…NOW.

I have this habit of reading something in the Bible, thinking of ways to apply it to my life…and then never applying it. Knowing what I know about the tongue and my words really makes me responsible to APPLY it. I can’t say I didn’t know. I can’t say I have never heard of controlling my tongue. I know it, I have heard it, I have studied. I must DO it. I can’t wait for the perfect setting or a calm moment or a sunny day. I have to get into the habit of stopping and filtering and praying and controlling this tongue. I have to make it a habit to rely on the Lord to help me….starting this next time I open my mouth. Waiting til my kids’ runny noses are gone or until I have had a good 8 hours of sleep just won’t do. Putting it into practice should start as soon as I learn it. Reading the Bible and sharing my struggle should propel me into action now. So, I need to get to it. Hurting my sister’s feelings this weekend really opened my eyes to how much I slack in that area and really how much more I need to be aware of my words and the power of them. I have the tools to do it; I just have to use them!

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Do you struggle with your words? Do you have trouble with stopping, filtering, and understanding the power of your tongue? Please tell me I’m not alone! 😉 

Consistency….

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that my word for this year is CONSISTENCY. This is my first year to pick a word and really focus on it. This word, though, has been hanging around for several months.

At the end of last Summer, I was really starting to feel overwhelmed. We had just come off of a crazy tax filing debacle (thankfully, it all worked out…just a huge lesson in patience!). We were in the middle of schooling year round for 2016. I was trying to plan for a trip to the Creation Museum and Ark we took in September – our first family vacation. My husband was starting up another semester of Bible school online. And after a nice Summer break, AWANA (kids’ Bible program) was about to start up again on Sunday nights, and I was a group leader for the 3 & 4-year-old kids. All of it was exciting…except the tax filing…but I was just feeling too busy.

I also taught the 2-year-old Sunday school class at church every week at 9:00AM (which actually means we were there around 8:30 every Sunday… and every other Sunday my husband works, so it was just me and five kids rushing to get there by 8:30). I had been really enjoying teaching the kids, but felt a little burnt out with it. Didn’t really feel like I was doing my best or giving 100% at it. On top of that, I was ramping up to be on the steering committee for the mom group at church, as well as continue to meet twice a month with my mentor from our Titus 2 program.

My husband had made a comment about me doing too many things. He didn’t mean anything by it, but I took it to heart. I started thinking maybe I was doing too much, and maybe that’s why I wasn’t really enjoying too much of it anymore. I started thinking about how hectic it was trying to get lesson plans done and how we had been winging it the past few months because I just didn’t have quiet time to set aside and work on them each week. I started thinking about how busy Sundays had become and how challenging it was to finish teaching and then gather my own kids and find my husband and get everyone home in time for naps before coming back in the evenings for AWANA. After talking with my mentor about the busyness, she had me write down all the things I was committed to in a given week. Every group, class, study, whatever. After writing it all down, I couldn’t really see how homeschool fit in there at all. There was something almost every single day! She then had me write down the things I needed to be doing or be a part of and the things I could let go of and let someone else do.

After a lot of praying, worrying about other people’s perceptions 🙂 , and talking with my husband…I decided to let go of some things. I UN-committed to be an AWANA leader – hardest thing to do! One of my dear friends is the director, and I felt awful for having committed and then backing out. I gave her a ridiculously huge explanation, and she was so gracious and understanding my reasons. I then emailed our Sunday School director to let her know I needed to move to only teaching every other week; God was so awesome in filling that position just a few weeks later with a friend of mine. We now rotate every other week with teaching, and it goes so smoothly!

Things changed with my Titus 2 mentor, and she now goes to another church. She and I both discontinued going to the Titus 2 program, but we are continuing our mentoring. It has worked out beautifully, and she is such an encouragement.

As I let go of things and said “no” more to things, I could see where I was able to be more consistent in the activities that God was directing me to be involved in. Homeschool become a much bigger priority (as it should), and I started using Sunday nights as my planning time, while the kids were in AWANA. If Arthur is working, I just lug all my books to church and plan in our little cafe area. If he is off, I stay home and he takes the kids (he is a sub for the older kid groups). I feel so much more prepared and able to be consistent on Monday mornings with getting our lessons started by 9:00.

So, before I chose the word CONSISTENCY for this year, God was already moving me in that direction back in August. I am very thankful He patiently waited for me to get it through my thick skull that I can’t volunteer for everything just because there is an opening. I just can’t. It isn’t fair to my family or to the position I am filling.

I have noticed myself saying “no” a lot more since the start of the January. I was asked to fill a really awesome homeschool co-op director position for this coming Fall, and I just had to turn it down. I knew right away that it would be too much for me, with Ethan not really schooling yet and having four older kids that are.

I am able to be more consistent with our meals because I have more time to plan and execute the menu. We are able to do a 4-day school week, with a flex day for errands or library visits or whatever. If we were still doing all those other things, I probably wouldn’t enjoy our school time as much because I would still be overwhelmed. And with my husband in school, I work to make sure he doesn’t feel like there is anything he needs to do around the house, so he can focus on his readings and writing his papers.

Consistency is very important. Boundaries and limits are, too. Knowing where to draw the boundary or where to set the limit is key. Prayer and Bible reading are the biggest keys in all of this.

I write all of this to share that God is so wonderfully patient. And His desire is for us to know Him and follow Him. Without prayer and Bible reading, though, I am unable to know or follow Him because I won’t know anything about Him or what He has to say. Really studying what I am reading and not just reading to check off my to-do list is something that is new for me, too. I tend to rush my Bible reading/study in the morning, completely forgetting what I’ve read just 10 minutes later. I am learning to take my time, read and reread the passage and pray over it. That helps me a lot with understanding and applying the truth in the passage.

So, this post wasn’t really a well planned post. Just some thoughts in my head about how God has been working me to be consistent in specific areas of my life even before I decided to pick a word for this year. And that the only way I would have come to this conclusion and really focused on this word and these areas is through prayer and Bible reading/studying. He is changing me, and I can see/feel it. I pray my husband and kids can see it, too.

I also pray that I continue to let Him change me.

 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Psalm 37:4-5

My Word for 2017

I have heard, for the past two years or so, about having a word for the year. I read through a few blogs posts a few Decembers back, and most of the ladies writing were talking about deciding on their word for the following year. Not sure what exactly they meant, I read through and saw they explained that they would pray and think about focusing on a word (or words, for some) for the following year – a word that would embody all they planned to focus on, work on, pray on, and live out. It seemed pretty interesting, but I seemed to forget about it until mid-February or later. So, I’d just put in the back of my mind.

Well, here it is December, and I am actually remembering to do it! I have been praying this week and looking up Scripture about certain words or themes. There are so many words I could focus on in my life to really draw my attention more to the Lord. But, after several days of serious prayer and reading, I think I have settled on my word for 2017:

CONSISTENCY

It isn’t a very exciting word. Doesn’t really catch much attention. BUT, it kept coming up in my thoughts and as I would one moment be in prayer and the next yelling at one of the kids. Yikes. Not very consistent.

Dictionary.com defines “consistent” as

adjective
1. agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory: His views and actions are consistent.
2. constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.: a consistent opponent.
3. holding firmly together; cohering.
4. Archaic. fixed; firm.

For me, the word consistency is going to be for focusing on all areas of my life – my role as mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and so on. I am so skilled at hiding my emotions to those around me, yet unleashing them on my children and husband at home in private. It is super ugly. I have cried many times about it, repented, and then fallen right back into the trap of anger, bitterness, resentment. The really ugly part is that the moment I walk out the door of our house, I slap a smile on and am the nicest lady to those around me. I will go out of my way to help a stranger in the grocery store parking lot or help a gal pay for her purchases when she realized she had no cash on her (true story). But, should my ten-year old act immature at the store…..boy, my eyes become darts headed in her direction. I have no patience with my own children, but have no problem waiting ten minutes on the person in front of me in line. It is a shame. My actions should be ‘not self-contradictory’ as the dictionary defines.

I want to focus on being consistent in my behavior and any other area I am convicted in. I just feel very disjointed – acting one way at home and another in public. Another area would be in my testimony – I want to be consistently sharing the Good News of Salvation with others. I am very irregular about witnessing, unfortunately. I like the fourth definition of consistent above….”fixed; firm.” My faith should be fixed and firm, which then makes me assume it will pour out of me more among others. If I am firm in my faith and the work the Lord has put me here to do, my testimony to His goodness and salvation would be much more evident.

A few verses I looked up (all in ESV), knowing they deal with consistency, are:

I Corinthians 15:58 – “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Titus 2:7-8 – “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”

James 1:4 – “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Hebrews 10:23 – “ Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

That last one is so comforting. No matter how much I fall short in having consistent faith, Jesus is always the same – the perfect example of consistency!

I know it is a busy couple of days that we have left to 2016, but I would encourage you to think of a word or words to focus your heart on this coming year. Just planning and praying about it has been so encouraging. I look forward to a whole year focused on it!

Do you already have a word for 2017?? Would you care to share it and your reasons for choosing? I would love to hear!!

Silence and Struggling

I have, obviously, been quite silent on here lately. I shared about our exciting month of May, but beyond that I have just been kind of stuck with what to write about. Menu plans get old after a while, especially when I am not really mixing it up with too many new recipes. And then no new recipes on the menu means I don’t have any new recipes to share in a post.

I am reading (and it is taking me forever – finding quiet time to read is hard!!) Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life. WHAT A BOOK! Never have I felt such conviction while reading a book (outside of the Bible, that is). Sally shares, chapter by chapter, about “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love.” It seriously has gripped me on several occasions…almost like a smack across the face would. 😉 She really gets real about cutting the crap, not feeling sorry for ourselves, and getting out their and living Christlike.

Throughout the year, I have ups and downs (as I assume all moms do). Motherhood can almost make you feel crazy at times. You get into a good rhythm and feel great about your schedule and the kids’ behavior and all that you can accomplish in a day (which probably isn’t that amazing compared to most people, but still…).

Then you have an upset – someone gets sick. A child, for no apparent reason, acts out in the most annoyingly ridiculous way. Your husband has a bad day at work and it spills over into home life. Plans get cancelled. Last-minute plans or appointments come up and you aren’t all that thrilled with it. And a hundred other scenarios you can imagine…

Life just goes nuts.

And I just can’t recover.

I try the old routine – doesn’t work. I try a new routine – doesn’t work. I try reading other mom bloggers’ ideas and implementing them – doesn’t work. I completely shut down and then blow up on anyone that ticks me off – that works, but ends up making it all even worse afterward!

And I am led back to my Bible and the reminder of contentment. Philippians 4:12 says “…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,…” and then following verse (13) goes on to say “I can do all things through Christ…” Obviously, contentment is only found in Christ. Duh! Somehow I forget that every.single.time. And I also forget that contentment does NOT equal perfection. 

God has NEVER promised this life would be a breeze, that motherhood would be overflowing with amazingness 100% of the time (if only!!), that marriage would be completely fulfilling every second of the day, or that we would ever have it all figured out! In fact, I can guarantee we will never have it all figured out. Only God will. While that should make me content – I don’t have to figure it all out!! – I find myself frustrated and unfulfilled when I cannot figure it all out.

Thankfully, each time I fall into one of these ruts, I am drawn back to God. It is like He taps me on the shoulder to ask “remember Me? I’m still here.” I don’t have to keep going on my own – in fact, I shouldn’t have ever been doing it on my own. Those routines, or lack of, was all me trying to just carry on as if I can do life by myself. When things are going well, I forget that it is because of God – HE is guiding and leading and directing. And I get all caught up in my awesomeness….and then I fall hard, and it hurts. A lot. And then I remember I can do nothing on my own but “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

NOTHING amazing in this life is because of anything I have done. I simply have to lean on God, follow Him where He leads and HE brings about amazing things. And sometimes things aren’t amazing. And it isn’t necessarily because He is punishing me (unless I have made a poor choice…not that I’ve ever made a poor choice or anything…), but He is refining me. He is leading me through the struggles and the challenges to help me to learn to rely on Him.

Life can’t be all roses and sunshine. How would we learn anything?! We would never know what it is to fully trust in the Lord. Sin exists, so life will have bumps and valleys and tough times. But God is faithful and will ALWAYS be right where we need Him to be. I can lean on Him. The struggles and challenges will still be there, but I won’t have to go it alone! He carries me through it. I will still experience the challenge, but I have the ability to experience peace and contentment throughout the difficult time. A peace that is ONLY available through Jesus.

And, let me tell you, it is AMAZING peace. I don’t think I would be writing all this if we had not gone through all the financial stuff last year. What a year! So many times we could have just put our heads down and quit. Just given up. But God, in His awesomeness, kept providing and showing us He was there. Each time we thought it was too much or too awful or too embarrassing, God would shine a little light on the situation and show us a blessing. He continued to provide and answer prayers (not always what we asked for, but turns out it was much better that what we thought would be best!). He continued to show us He was in control. And here we are, a year later….and so much wiser in our faith. Arthur and I have grown closer to each other and the Lord. I love being able to be one of those people who says “let me tell you about the time the Lord provided…” I love hearing those stories from people, and now we have a story! It really was not pleasant to go through, but I am grateful for the perspective and experience it gave us.

I feel like I am rambling now. 🙂

I just haven’t had a whole lot to say lately. I was in a rut with the kids. Kinda still am. I lose my patience ALL THE TIME with them.

We have a chore system (finally!) that seems to be working; we’re only on week one, so these nice feelings may change in a week or so. 😉 My husband is almost done with another online Bible class (praise the Lord! that was a challenging class!!). And I am finding my groove as a homeschooling mom (only took me like five years).

Life is good. Yes, there are still challenges and a lot of not-so-great days with my temper, but life is still good. God is good. He is refining me, working on me to make me pure, wanting me to reflect Him in my reaction and give Him praise in every situation. “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:7 NIV)

If you know Jesus, then you know how good He is. No matter what the trial, He is still good. And He will carry us through it – yep, we’ll still go through it, but we are not alone.

If you don’t know the Lord, I am praying that someday you would. (Today’s a really good day to meet Him, by the way!) He did so much for you and I. And He wants you to get to know Him. So, let me tell you about the time the Lord provided…

 

May’s Adventures!

Well, well, well. Long time, no see. 🙂 SO much has happened in the last few weeks; blogging has really had to take the back seat.

My husband was in a car accident in early May. His car was  not repairable, and we had to deal with that whole issue of total loss and settlement. Thankfully, the insurance of the gal who hit him took care of everything and very kindly gave us a wonderful settlement. So, then we had to get him a new car. Again, thankfully, we found a really great deal and were able to put down more than 50% of the purchase price. We haven’t had a car loan in over 5 years, so we were hesitant to get into that again….but, since we were able to put quite a bit down, the monthly payment was not awful at all.

We got about two weeks out from that and our van (that I drive) started acting up. Braking sounds, shifting sounds, stalling when parked. No bueno. We had taken it in once right before the accident, but the car guy couldn’t hear anything and didn’t see anything wrong. So, we kept driving. Last week, as the kids and I were driving to go get some flowers for our front yard, the car stalled. Thankfully, I was able to pull off the busy road as it was slowing. I waited a few minutes, and it started back up again. I dropped it off on Wednesday at the car place and went two whole days without it! Stressful! The weather was beautiful, though, so the kids and I just played outside and had no appointments or anywhere to be.

God has really been so obvious in all the details of the crazy happenings last month. He has shown Himself in so many ways in each situation. My husband’s accident happened just up the street from our house. His destination was about an hour away, but the accident happened close to here. Our neighbors were just about to leave but were so gracious in cancelling their plans to help us out that night (picking up Arthur from the hospital, helping me with the kids, etc). Had they been gone already, I don’t know what we would’ve done. And if his accident had happened further away, that would have been even more scary and challenging.

The other driver’s insurance responded quickly and politely. I used to work in liability claims; I know the kinds of claims adjusters out there. 🙂 We were able to work with one who was on top of his company’s best practices and really hustled to get it settled. We had to pay out-of-pocket for a rental initially, but the timing worked out for my husband to take the van a few days to work and the rental was only needed for 2 days. We incurred ZERO costs after all was said and done!

Usually, I feel like we have a million appointments (doctor, dental, or others) or places to be. Both the week of his accident and the week of my van troubles, we had nowhere to be. Any other week, we would have been scrambling to find a car or a babysitter or help, but God’s timing is always perfect and He helped me see how He is always in control.

Honestly, I don’t think I will ever understand how people go through life without the Lord. There are no coincidences. There is NO WAY the universe aligns just so, in order to have all these things come together.

At our moms’ group at church, we revealed our Secret Sisters (we have a name for someone to pray for or give little gifts to…in secret, from September to May) and the gal praying for me ended up being the woman who mentors me in another program at church. She was given my name by the person in charge of the Secret Sister program….someone who had no idea that Karen and I were connected through another group. 🙂 Karen already knows a lot about me and was able to pray for specific things and situations; her little gifts were absolutely a blessing and perfect for the challenges we faced this past year. To say that her getting my name was a coincidence is just crazy. God knew how much I would need her, and He placed us together for a second time. She and I have really grown a lot closer and have such similar stories right now in life.

Life is not perfect because I believe and trust in God. Challenges still happens. Loss still happens. Financial struggles DEFINITELY still happen. 😉 Kids still misbehave (I have a little boy yelling “stupid” upstairs right now). Dinner still gets burned from time to time. I am still grouchy occasionally (yes, I am going to claim it is just occasionally) and fly off the handle with my kids.

BUT, here is what is different: I have God. I have the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE with me. He is in control – knows all, sees all, and is everywhere. He offers me a peace that I absolutely cannot explain and have never received from anything else in this life. He offers a promise that no one else can deliver. He offers a salvation that required so much on His part and so little on mine. He tells me that there is nothing I can personally do to earn His love and an eternity in Heaven with Him. HE handles it all. My only job is to believe and accept it.

I have had this discussion several times in the last month….

So, if I believe and trust in the Lord. If I live my life morally and according to the Bible – full of love, hope, and peace. If I enjoy life, with the hope for an eternity with my Savior. If I die and find out I was wrong….what have I lost? Absolutely nothing. I simply lived a great life full of love and peace and hope.

If you do not believe or trust in the Lord. If you are not filled with the love, hope and peace of God. If you then die and find out YOU were wrong…what have you lost? Absolutely everything. You missed out on the best life here on earth. AND you have lost the best life in eternity.

So, while the month of May might have been a struggle for us….it was definitely full of peace, knowing the Lord was in control. I worried so much less because I knew that regardless of how hard it got financially, He was in control. He is going to take care of us. Will it always look like I want it to? No. Will the timing always be what I expect/hope? No. Will it work out like I imagined? Not always. That doesn’t mean He is a mean God or that He can’t handle it. It means His plan is not the same as my plan, and that is totally ok. He sees the big picture, so I would rather go with His plan that my own. 🙂

 

Goodbyes

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We say goodbye a lot in life:

Goodbye to loved ones gone way too soon.

Goodbye to loved ones we’ve had for a long time.

Goodbye to friends that move away.

Goodbye to TV shows we binge watch on Netflix and then feel so alone when it’s over. (I never do this, by the way…. 🙂 )

Goodbyes to work friends when we move on to staying home with our kiddos.

Goodbye to a home when we move.

Goodbye to bad habits we kick.

Goodbye to our sin when Jesus saves us by His grace.

But I feel like there is one thing we forget to say “goodbye” to. We don’t always consider the need to say Adios because we don’t always pay attention to their presence.

Expectations.

We all have them – for everything and everyone.

We expect friends to always be loyal. We expect family to always be around (thankfully, mine always has been…but I realize that isn’t always the case for others).

We expect the coffeemaker to start brewing at 5:00AM like we set it (or maybe thought we set it to 5:00AM but actually set it PM!).

We expect to finish our checklist, our kids to behave, our husbands to come home, and so on.

 

One thing I have never really considered was how “goodbye” and “expectations” can go together. As in, saying goodbye to our expectations.

 

I have been reading A LOT about children and personalities and homeschooling and love languages. After all my reading, I feel like I had no clue who my kids were until recently! 😉 One thing that consistently jumped out at me from all those books was that parents have expectations…from the time they find out they are having a baby! I kept thinking “no, I didn’t have any. I just was excited to have a baby!” And then I started thinking about how many expectations I had.

I expected to have a smooth pregnancy and easy delivery. I expected the baby to breastfeed and do it well from the get-go. I expected each baby to sleep through the night in the first few months (you’d think I would have let go of that one after my second loved-to-nurse-all-night baby, but nope!). I expected them to self-soothe. I expected them all to potty train when I was ready tired of diapers. I expected them all to listen to Mom and “obey right away.” I expected them all to love school and learning and books and listening to Mom for lessons and excel in every single subject. I expected them to learn a certain way, to receive love a certain way, to give love a certain way, to respond to things a certain way, etc.

The reality was I had a TON of expectations. And I do not think one of them was realistic…at all. They were lovely dreams, but I made them into goals and obsessions and then disappointments. And I became an angry mom. None of the kids behaved. None were doing well in school. None cleaned their rooms well. None of them listened to a single thing I said. None of them brought me joy. (yikes! yep, I said it.)

Just being honest here…

Everything I expected of them became exactly who I thought they should be or what they should be doing, and I started letting my emotions lead. I was just angry that they weren’t who I thought they should be. People at church or family or friends would speak highly of my kids, but I couldn’t see it. Oh sure, they behave in public. But have you seen their room that I asked them to clean 10 times? Or have you seen how poorly they listen at home??

I was totally missing the fact that it is not I who determine who my children will be. GOD created them and put in each of them a desire for Him – it is up to my children if they will follow His leading. It is up to HIM who they will be. And whether or not they met my expectations was totally irrelevant. (“The only thing our kids need to know is to follow hard after Christ. Who cares if they go to Harvard if they are going to Hell.” – Shelene Bryan)

“God uses children not because of who their parents are but IN SPITE OF who their parents are.” I laughed when I heard that. It isn’t me that determines how effective my children will be for the Lord. God uses them in spite of me and my ridiculous expectations! Of course, I should be leading them to God by way of my parenting but ultimately their effectiveness for Him is not because of anything I have done. That is all God!

Unfortunately, I had gotten a big head and assumed I was responsible for my kids’ failures or for them excelling spiritually.

Don’t get me wrong – I have a HUGE responsibility as a parent to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6)! BUT, I am not the one who determines the outcome. I am not responsible to get my kids to obey every word that comes out of mouth. I mean, have you heard some of my demands?? They can be quite ridiculous! It isn’t ME I am teaching them to ultimately obey – it is God! I don’t think God has ever told me to “just be quiet for a minute, I need to post this response!!” 😉

I have been learning to SAY GOODBYE TO EXPECTATIONS. In the end, my expectations are what ruin me. My expectations aren’t godly (they could be, but most of mine are not). My expectations rob me of my joy. They put a barrier between me and my kids. They give me anger toward my husband. They create a jealousy when I see other kids being more well-behaved. They bring massive disappointment when my expectations are not lived up to, when (really) it is impossible for my children to ever meet my expectations!

Saying goodbye is hard, but it is totally necessary. I cannot hold onto these ungodly expectations.

I cannot expect my kids to be the best in every subject.

I cannot even expect my kids to love schoolwork.

I cannot expect my kids to listen to every single word and obey every single time. They are sinful humans (we all are!). Do I listen every time? No. Do I obey right away every single time? No. I cannot expect children to do it if I, as a seasoned Christian, do not do it?!

I cannot set adult expectations on children. For example, I often expect my three-year old to carry his plate to the sink without dropping crumbs. Or for him to sit perfectly still at the dinner table while we all eat in silence. HAHA! Have you seen my husband and I eat?? He taps his foot on the floor, I am up out of my chair a million times, and we chatter on like little girls the whole meal!

So here I am, saying goodbye to my expectations. And saying hello to God’s will.

I can expect God to have His will. (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11)

I can expect Him to guide us in our schooling choices, our parenting challenges, and in our desire to see our children come to know Him. ( “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…” Psalm 32:8)

I can expect that I will ONLY find joy if I am seeking His will. (Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” Psalm 119:111)

And just like that, I feel a million times lighter. (ok, not just like that….because in true Angie fashion, I have been trying to hold on to a few of my expectations. so, the joy is coming back, but only as quickly as I am willing to let go!)

I cannot control the future (“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT) – I can barely control how frizzy my hair is each day!

I cannot control my children’s every action – I am lucky if my three-year old gets his pants down far enough not to pee on the back of them!

I cannot control how well my kids hear – unless their ears are clogged with wax,… THAT I can get taken care of.

I cannot control everyone else’s mood – I can control how I react to situations, Who I trust with the situations, and my example to my children during the situations by not displaying anger all the time. (James 1:20ESV – “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”)

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 ESV)

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

Just a couple of verses there that I have been remembering. I can control nothing EXCEPT whether or not I will rely on God. 🙂

Goodbye expectations! Hello God’s Will!

Absence

The last few days have gone by so quickly.

My in-laws were here Thursday night through Sunday, and we had so much going on. Thursday started my husband’s nine days of being off of work, which means lots of things will get done around the house. 😉

Friday we spent the day outside, pulling weeds in the garden and fire pit area. My husband spent the day taking apart the fire pit and redoing it because it was not level (and you know how men are about constructed things being just so). He did an awesome job! It was also our eleven year anniversary that day, so my in-laws stayed here with the sleeping kiddos that night and we snuck out for an hour for dessert and a drink downtown. It was nice enough to sit outside at the restaurant. It was perfect! We really enjoyed just hanging out alone for a bit; we never have a lack of conversation and we enjoy people watching, which makes for lots of laughs (not laughing AT people….well, ok, that is a lie. sometimes people just choose the funniest clothing options or do the goofiest things when they think no one’s looking!).

Saturday, my in-laws took the kids to the park at 9:00 in the morning, and I got to ride to the hardware store with my husband (reminds me of my parents and all their trips to the hardware store together on a Saturday morning….pretty sure they still do that!) at which time I remembered Buddy and I had a birthday party to go to at 11:00! Haha! So, the morning was cut short for Buddy and I, and we rushed to get his party-appropriate and over to the bounce house party. The girls went with my in-laws to the children’s museum, and Ethan had some alone time with Dad.

By Saturday night, EVERYONE was exhausted. Being outside for several days in a row (after being stuck inside with winter weather) made for some tired kids…and parents! But, we went to our friends’ house for a cookout Saturday night and enjoyed some quality time with great, Christian friends. The kids ran around til they could run no more, and totally crashed as soon as we got home!

Sunday, we spent the day at church, as usual. It was a great, relaxing day (except the running around to get in and out of the car and to church on time. ha!).

Yesterday, I had to report for jury duty. My FIRST time! I found out Friday that I would have to report for sure, and I had anxiety all weekend over it. It was our only week off with Dad, and here I thought I was going to get stuck on a case that would last all week. I prayed and prayed to get out of it, but I had to go. So then I was praying that God would just help me accept it. I realize it isn’t a huge matter, and it was totally unnecessary to be upset over it but I really just wanted to be home with my family while my husband was off.

I reported at 8:30AM and sat, even when they read the numbers for people to go into the courtroom I didn’t get to move. Just sat and sat. I got A LOT of reading done and a little crocheting, before the judge came in around 11:00 to say the defendant waived his right to a jury trial and we were all FREE TO GO! I was pumped. Got home before lunch and spent the rest of the day outside with the family!

We ended last night perfectly, by enjoying roasted hot dogs and s’mores out in the newly renovated fire pit. 🙂 It really was perfect. After the kids went to bed, Arthur and I got to sit out there some more talking and laughing. We do A LOT of laughing. 😉

I worried for nothing about jury duty. God totally answered my prayers about it, just in His time. And I should have just fully trusted Him with it from the beginning, but like I always do I carried it around myself for a while before just giving it to Him. One of these days I will learn!

So, here we are, I’ve got nothing scheduled for the blog this week. We have our week off from school. Dad is home. It is going great! And now, we are going to head to Chik-Fil-A for a free breakfast and to play in the play area. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!!