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Category Archives: Proverbs 31 OBS

Relax and Thrive on Crazy

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“The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have started to notice something about myself in recent years. Relax? It’s not necessarily something I know how to do. From one job to two, schoolwork to ministry, kids to housework, to being a wife…well, there isn’t much time to relax.

When I do find some time to relax with a nice, long, hot bath and a good book, I still can’t relax my mind, or sit still long enough to finish a page of any book. All the need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-get-dones all crash down on my time of relaxation.

And, if life does actually slow down for a while, if obligations, engagements, and deadlines finally become few-I quickly fill it up with something else. Telling myself I thrive on this crazy!

But, while I may-it doesn’t mean my family does!

Because the one place we should be able to relax. The one place my kids should feel safe and a little less crazy is at home.

The place that can often be the least relaxing.

Sure, the neatly folded blankets. The books and games stacked neatly in the corner. The freshly made beds. The neatly folded towels, and squeaky clean bathroom sinks. They may all look relaxing, but they came at a price.

They all happened while I was thriving on my crazy need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-get-dones. While I was making home the least relaxing place to be.

“The flood of demands will consume us if we don’t take time to let God right our perspective, reduce our stress level, and whisper His tender truths of love in our ear.” Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids?

And, in those of my kids.

“Mommy, will you play hide and seek with us?” Comes the tiny sing-song voice of a little blue-eyed boy.

And, I’ll admit-my first thought was-Oh, God. No. I have to cook dinner. I have to remember to send those cards. I must get that load of laundry done.

But, then it hit me. All those things. The crazy things I thrive on certainly don’t help my kids thrive. And, I made a vow.

I vowed to let the laundry go, and play hide and seek.

I vowed to forget about the blankets on the floor, and help make that fort.

I vowed to push the deadlines back a little to read one more bedtime story.

I vowed to forget the need-to-dos, have-to-remembers, and must-do-nows, to play another game of Memory, share a page in a coloring book, or help put up the dinosaur park fence.

I vowed to relax and thrive on their crazy for a bit.

“Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked “Who are these people with you?” “These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. Genesis 33:5

The three God has graciously given me.

And, even after I played hide and seek not once, but twenty times. I am once again reminded of this as I open my laptop and work on another assignment, and hear my husband say, “Are you going to go fishing with us?”

Thriving on their crazy. Even if it is a little late for a weeknight. Even if it means my crazy to-do list keeps me up a little later tonight.

Doing what they find relaxing. Doing the things that remind me my time is precious. That my children are a gift, and that sometimes relaxing is not doing all the things that drive my family crazy, but doing the things that they find important.

Relaxing in their world for a while. Thriving on their crazy.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in On Parenting, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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Being a Mom is Tough…Period!

“The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous.” Anna Quindlen

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Last week, I shared my heart about the struggles, heartache, misunderstandings, and even envy that can come with being the caregiver of an autistic child. While, I don’t regret sharing my raw emotions, my feelings, my hurts, my struggles (as this is the reason I blog), I do realize I missed one extremely important point…

Being a mom is tough…period!

 Just as there is not an instruction manual on how to raise a child with special needs, there also is not one on how to raise any child. Women all over the world prepare for childbirth, for each stage of development, for doctor’s appointments, and well-baby check-ups. Whether we are reading What to Expect the First Year or Aspergers and Your Child, it’s all the same. We are all flabbergasted.

Because in all those books, the ones that tell us how to feed, when our child should crawl, walk, talk, how to help the child who doesn’t crawl, walk, or talk; there is nothing that tells us how the same child who can evoke so many feelings of love, can at the same time torture us beyond belief.

How that as much as we think we know how to change a diaper, burp a baby, or warm a bottle, you are never prepared for the temper tantrums, meltdowns, and bad attitudes that can come from the same child who hasn’t gotten his or her way.

Flabbergasted. Not just mom’s of those with special needs. But, all moms.

Because being a mom is tough…period.

We all have children who have told us how much they hate us. Who have threatened to run away. Who may embarrass us in public. Who are 7 going on 37. Who come home with bad grades. Who come him in tears.

Those moments when we love them beyond belief, even when they have left us feeling tortured.

Tortured by our emotions. Tortured by embarrassment. Tortured by failure, and completely flabbergasted.

Every single one of us.

Because being a mom is tough…period!

Regardless of who our children are, what limitations they have, or their ages, every single one of us wants to desperately get this mom gig right. We want everyone to think we have it all together, when really much of the time our kids leave us flabbergasted and confused. Make us feel like one big, fat failure of a mother.

When our daughter yells that she hates us, we wonder where she could have ever gotten those words.

When our children’s grades dip, and we have to hire a tutor because this “new” math just doesn’t make sense to you.

When you thought you provided all the tools to equip your kids to make wise choices, and they still made all the wrong ones.

When these wrong choices leave you feeling defeated, disappointed, and crucified in a cloud of judgment.

When you are speechless and utterly useless because you have no clue how to handle those tears. No clue how to answer the questions. No clue how to handle and embrace the tough circumstances.

All of us. Every single one.

Because being a mom…any mom, is tough!

“Through all the pushes and pulls, stresses and strains, and triumphs and failures are perspectives.” Lysa Terkeurst

And, in the midst of my pushes, pulls, stresses, strains, triumphs, and failures, that is exactly what I got-perspective. One that reminded me, none of us have this mom gig all together, perfect, or completely “right.” All of us are trying to do this mom thing as best we can, with no instruction manual, often with little sleep, some times with a lot of caffeine, and yes, even unsolicited advice, judgment, and a dose of envy.

While we may not have the same struggles, we all still have them.

While we may not all have children who can’t go down a slide, or go to the grocery store, we have children who struggle with something.

While we all may have some nicely written instruction manual on our shelves at home, we are still flabbergasted, confused, and tortured.

We all want to do this parenting thing right. We all have worries and inadequacies we are trying to hide. We all have parenting moments we are not proud of, have been embarrassed, and even kids who may want to run away.

We all have a tough job.

Every single one…period!

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in On Parenting, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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What if Love is the Purpose?

“The clearer we capture the vision of our new identity in Jesus Christ, the more we realize that our deepest needs for security, significance, and satisfaction are met in Him and not in people, possessions, or positions.” -Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

I have shared previously how I have struggled on several occasions with my purpose at work. While I know that I am called to a different mission at some point in time, I find it hard to wrap my mind around the purpose for this current mission. While I continue to “make tents” for a living, I struggle with my attitude, with my ability to give Him the glory for everything in a given day, and to sometimes even seek His guidance in the midst of my tent building. Instead, I have one thing on my mind…

“Do we think God has given us the jobs we have simply to make money, pay off debt, and buy more stuff?” 

Honestly? Yes…

As I sat the other day sulking because I had been chewed up and spit out over something beyond my control? Yes, I am counting down the days until my next pay check. That reward that says this “tent building” means something. Some days my only mission is to get through 6 hours of work, so I can clock out, go home, and well…get a paycheck!

All while contemplating the purpose in it all. A purpose in what I do each day. A purpose to get me out of bed each morning. A purpose to get me through another day.

Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

Until I realize I already have one.

To be His child. To be His prophet. His Ambassador.

My purpose then is not in what I do, but how I do it.

Do I hide behind my office door hoping to cut myself off from the world? Do I sit and sulk because on any particular day I just don’t want to be in this particular place? Do I get instantly offended or angry over every little thing I consider to be a slight?

Or, do I show the love that God has shown me to others? To those at work? To those I meet in the hallways? Those that stop at my office door? Those that may be behind the computer screen of an angry email?

My purpose is to be loved by God and show this unconditional love, not only to myself, but to others.

“As ambassadors of Jesus, we see the entirety of our lives as His platform in which His kingdom is spread to every corner of the planet.”

As I thought all day about how to answer that one email, I remembered who I would be representing-Christ.

The one who endured far more condemnation and harsh words than could ever be spewed in a simple email.

Who loved me. Who died for me. Who calls me to be His Ambassador. Nothing more.

So today…in this place, my sole purpose was to simply be this: Love.

To send love and kindness across the lines of an email server to someone who needed it more than me.

And, that’s a reward no paycheck could ever replace.

 

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Loving Others, On Purpose, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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Offering Cups of Grace

“But as Jesus saw her walking toward the well where He was waiting, He saw what others did not see; a future trophy of His grace.” Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

There is often a common stereotype the surrounds the term “Christian.” Words like “hypocrite” and “judgmental” come to mind as those that are often thrown around. The very words that do not at all describe Jesus, are used to describe a throng of people who are supposed to be loving, kind, and forgiving.

And the fault is all our own.

Because, sometimes when we become Christians, we also inherit the false sense of responsibility to judge the actions of others.

That’s just not our job.

But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. James 4:11-12

Yet, often when we become saved ourselves, we think others will be too, but only once we point out all their flaws. Once we dole out our “Christian” judgment. Once we complete what we think is our job.

“Do you and I give people cups of grace to drink, or cups of judgment and condemnation?” 

What cups do we hand out? Do our conversations look anything like these?

“I can’t believe she wore that to church.” Because we think it is our job to judge the outward appearances of others.

“Oh my! Does she have any control over that child? Clearly all he needs is some discipline!” Because we think it’s our job to judge the skills of another mother.

“Did you see that picture on Facebook? I cannot believe he/she posted that!” Because it is our job, of course, to judge the actions of others.

“Why should a drug addict get out of prison early? They got what they deserved!” Because we think it is our job to judge the sins of others.

But, it’s not our job.

When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do the very same thing. Romans 2:1

And it means that I will be judged for all the times I have said something to condemn someone else (because, yes, I have said all of the things I mentioned above). I will be judged because I thought it was my job to condemn everyone who was not living the way “I” thought they should be.

It’s not my job.

No, my job is to give out cups of grace to everyone I meet. Just as Christ himself did. The Son of Man who never sinned. A man who could have easily judged and condemned the sin of others, but instead “humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8)

My job as a Christian is to show the love of Jesus, without condemnation. My job as a Christian is to remember that I was once a sinner. Once foolish and disobedient. Once mislead. Once a slave to many lusts and desires.

I was once the one who wore that to church. I have been the mom with the screaming child. I have also partied, and committed acts of sin that I would never want on Facebook.

And, I was also just like the woman at the well. An outcast. A teenage mother out of wedlock. A divorced woman living with a man who was not my husband. A girl, and a woman in need of grace. Not judgment.

It’s no longer my job to condemn those sins, but to proclaim to everyone how God made me new. How I was saved from my bad choices, my deplorable behavior, and how much I am loved unconditionally despite the things I have done.

It’s not my job to judge.

It’s not my job to condemn.

It’s my job to be Jesus in the flesh. To reach out to all. To offer them cups of grace. To believers and non-believers alike. Sinners and the righteous. The lost, and the saved.

It’s not my job to judge. It’s my job to love.

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Loving Others, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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Out of the Valley of Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1

Fear. It is the one word I said I was going to overcome this year. That one word I chose to ditch at the beginning of 2014. That one word I just can’t get over. That one word that keeps me from living the life God has planned for me. My purpose. My assignment.

Fear and courage. Two completely separate armies, and in between the two lies one deep valley. And, if I am going to get to the promised land. Live out the life God has planned for me. My purpose. My assignment. Well, then I have to be willing to get out of the valley. The Valley of Rejection. The Valley of Enough. The Valley of Failure. The Valley of the Unknown.

But, fear is the army I can’t seem to leave, simply because I am scared of most EVERYTHING. I have mentioned the typical fears like snakes, sharks, roller coasters, and spiders. Most of those I am happy to admit. I am not so happy to admit that the brave face I put on to hide my fears, really isn’t hiding a fear of sea and land monsters, but rather all those other monsters that have me reenlisting in the Army of Fear.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10

I’m terrified of people. I don’t have a social phobia or anything, rather, I am terrified of being rejected by people. Which means I am terrified of their feelings. Hurting them if I speak up. Hurting mine in the process. Afraid of what will happen when the words do come, and even afraid when they don’t. Terrified I will say the wrong thing. Write something too convicting. Speak the truth a little too harshly. Embarrass my teen. Expose myself too soon. And then watch people walk away. Bruised. Hurt. Confused. Ashamed.

I’m afraid of the “enoughs.” The good enoughs. The smart enoughs. The pretty enoughs. The fast enough. The enough of a mother, wife, friend. The Christian enough. The strong enough. And, even when God tells me otherwise-that I AM good enough, I still have this paralyzing fear that somehow, someday, and someone will find out that I just don’t measure up to be “enough.”

Failure? Oh yes, I frequent the Valley of Failure. It is this place in the valley where I beat myself up every time I get less than a perfect score on a test or paper. The valley I stay in when I pull an all-nighter because I can’t stand the thought of failing to turn something in on time. It is also the fear of failure that keeps me from facing my Goliath’s like David faced down his. That keeps me from taking risks. Taking chances. Making mistakes. Making a change. Because, what if I fail? Miserably? What if I have to admit, “Man, I really messed that one up?”

And, oh…the “what-ifs!” The fears of all of those unknowns. Those dark places in the valley that we just can’t see.

“God has a stunning vision for your life, but if He showed it to you all at once, it would be too much to handle. In His grace He gives small glimpses at a time, and His unimaginable vision for your life can only unfold as you have the courage, like David, to move into the unknown.” -Derwin L. Gray, Limitless Life

Small glimpses at a time. Glimpses I can’t see in the Valley of the Unknown. The Valley of What-If. The Valley of the Why. The Valley of the When, Where, and How.

Small glimpses of the army on the other side. The one I can only see if I get out of the Valley of the Sheep named Rejection, Good Enough, Failure, and Unknown.

A glimpse of my purpose. My assignment. What I was born to do. To be fearless. To step out of my comfort zone. Speak up. To have faith even if I cannot see the result.

To move from the Army of Fear to the Army of Courage.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in One Word 2014, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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This Is Just The Rehearsal, Honey!

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

I don’t handle inconvenience well. Or, let me rephrase that…I don’t handle daily nuisances well. And, of course-God knows this. I mean, he is all-knowing. He knows my every thought. He knows my actions before I act. He already knows exactly how I will respond to every situation that is thrown my way.

Usually it is not with the finesse, grace, and mercy in which I should respond.

And, this morning was no exception. See, I had big plans for my day off. Plans that involved that one selfish luxury I take glory in each month-a much needed haircut. Well, that is until my daughter started getting sick. Until my son lay on the porch kicking and screaming because he WAS NOT going to school without his sister. And, until after five minutes of wrestling, shin shots, and slaps in the face, I finally just got fed up, picked up the five year old from the ground, cleaned up the sick little girl, and gave up on doing one thing remotely “selfish” for the day.

Sounds like I may have handled this with a little bit of grace and finesse, but nope. Not.at.all. Truth is, as soon as my daughter made mere mention of the thought of needing to get sick, my thoughts and actions went into tailspin crazy! I yelled at my oldest to just get up already. I yelled at my youngest, because for once I just wanted him to pick this day to truly be “not autistic enough,” and to ride the bus alone. I cried because I knew that once again, the day would be filled with constant running back and forth to school due to said “bus” situation. And, darn it! All I wanted was a simple hair cut!

Grace? Finesse? Mercy? No. Not this morning. Anything but those.

Then I remembered a passage from the book by Wendy Blight, Living So That, one I am currently reading through Proverbs 31 Ministries on-line bible study. Just last night I had highlighted this message:

“How we handle adversity is an accurate barometer of where we are spiritually. When our barometer gives a low reading, it may be because we do not have an accurate understanding of God, or because we do not have a strong foundation in His Word. And sometimes the way God chooses to increase our barometer reading is through trials. Trials are often the only things that will drive us to our knees.”

Well, that’s a little convicting.

Because, where was I today spiritually? I think my spiritual barometer had stopped working-completely. And not once had I sought His guidance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

And, he expects this faith and endurance in even the smallest and insignificant of trials. When the kids are sick. Again. When one child has kicked you in the shin. Again. When your plans are ruined. Again.

How I handle these small trials are a test and a glimpse into how I will handle the toughest of trials, which are sure to come. Will I turn to Him in the tough times if I can’t even seek Him in these trivial ones? Or, will I continuously lean on my own strength?

Goodness knows, each time I do, I most certainly fail!

Because this trivial stuff-this is just the rehearsal, honey!

So, instead of complaining about what went wrong today, I can seek His guidance in order to get through the rough patches.

Instead of sulking in a corner, crying into my coffee, I can open my Bible and soak myself in His Word. His promises.

Instead of cursing the moments that are made up of fights, chaos, and screaming, sick children…I can remember to embrace the moments like the one below. The ones God gives in the midst of “rough” days to remind us of His goodness!

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in How Is Your Faith, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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So That My Pain Would Be No More

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2

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Why, Lord? So many times we ask this question when we are trying to make sense of our circumstances. We ask God why he would allow His children to suffer with pain, sorrow, and strife. I mean, the word says we have been made new. That the old is gone, and the new has come, so shouldn’t that be true for our struggles? Once we give our lives to Christ, shouldn’t EVERYTHING be shiny and new?

Unfortunately, this is often what we tend to believe as we begin our spiritual path with Christ, and I speak from my own experience here. We expect everything to be rosy once we become believers. Once we take communion. Once we get baptized.

And, I will admit. I still question God today. Why does he allow us to endure pain? For someone who has dealt with chronic pain for almost 20 years, I have asked this question frequently. I have had test after test, taken countless medications, and tried “holistic” treatments all in an effort to make my body “new” again. And, as I thought I was one step closer to finally getting some relief for the pain that has slowly been getting worse, I stumbled across a roadblock. A phone call from my doctor indicating my procedure would not be covered, had me questioning God’s purpose in all this pain once again.

“Why then does my suffering continue? Why is this wound incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” Jeremiah 15:18

And I felt just like Jeremiah. I felt like he was in no way helping me out here, providing a little relief, or assisting in making me “new.” Just like Jeremiah, I questioned God. Why? Is this how you want me to live my life? Is this how you want me to endure each day? Unable to sit comfortably through six measly hours of work? Unable to bend over a dishwasher? 

Then, I remembered what it really meant to be made new, after reading this from the book Living So That by Wendy Blight:

At the moment of our salvation, we, too, like Christ, die and are buried. But ours is a spiritual rather than a physical death. Our sin nature, our “old self,” dies with Christ. And just as Jesus was raised from the dead into new life, we, too, are raised from spiritual death to a new spiritual life.

A new spiritual life. Not a new life without pain. Not a new life without struggle. Not a new life without enduring sorrow and strife.

This “new” life also came at a price. A price that was far more painful than chronic back pain (despite, what I may feel when I bend over the dishwasher)

I certainly have never had to endure the pain of a beating.

I have never had to endure the pain of nail-pierced hands and feet.

While my pain may be piercing, I certainly don’t know the pain of being pierced in the side.

While my pain may be unbearable, it could never measure up to the pain of wearing a crown of thorns.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorry or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

So, in my pain I will remember the one who suffered immeasurable and indescribable pain for me. Who suffered pain so that one day I would be free from mine. So that my pain would be no more.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in On Purpose, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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