Friday, March 18, 2016

Seeing myself as God sees me

I really blew it this morning.

My youngest son's school occasionally provides the opportunity to "buy" an out-of-uniform day by giving students the option of donating $5 toward the big 6th grade trip to Washington DC.  So I set the informational form and a five-dollar bill on the kitchen counter.

In the mere minutes after that action, as my sweet little 2nd grader fumbled around trying to get his things ready for school, he suddenly discovered that the $5 was missing. 

"Well I'm not giving you another $5," I snapped. "You'll have to figure it out yourself." And I walked away.

Seriously?  What kind of mom does that?!

Wow.  Where does that kind of stuff even come from?  My mom wasn't like that. At. All.  She was always so patient and gracious.  (At least that's what I remember.)

I mean, I wasn't even feeling angry at him.  And then it dawns on me:  that's how I would speak to myselfYou dummy. How could you lose $5? You better find it.

So God nudges me.  Sara, that kind of self talk is a lie.  You need to replace those antagonistic thoughts about yourself with the truth of what I think about you.

Negative self talk has plagued me much of my life.  And it never really occurred to me until today that when I allow myself to mentally speak those destructive thoughts to myself, I am reinforcing a lie from the devil about who I am.

Here's the truth about what God says about me (and you):

I am an image bearer of God—made in His image!
[Genesis 1:27]

God knit me together, and I am wonderfully made!
[Psalm 139:13-14]

I am God's masterpiece!  (Not a dummy!)
[Ephesians 2:10]

I am God's child!
[John 1:12]

I am loved!
[John 3:15, John 15:9, John 17:23]

I am forgiven!
[Romans 5:8, Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:12]

God sees me as being without fault—because of Jesus!
[Colossians 1:22, Hebrews 10:17]

I am so thankful that not only am I forgiven for my unkind words to my son, but also that God doesn't think I'm a dummy, or worthless, or any other negative thing my mind can conjure up.  I am God's child—lovingly and thoughtfully created by Him for His good purposes!  (And the same goes for you!)

Incidentally, I asked my son to forgive me (he graciously did) and the I asked for a "do-over" (which he gladly performed with me).  I'm thankful for that too. :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Where's the joy?

Peter asked Jesus, "What about him, Lord?"  Jesus replied, "What is that to you? As for you, follow Me."  (John 21:21-22)

Lately I've found myself muttering, "Lord, how am I supposed to be joyful in these circumstances? with these disappointing elements? and these joy-sucking factors?"

But what I realized is that my mindset is all about pleasure and how things affect me—instead of a mindset fixed on God's perfect plan for my life and doing His will, no matter how unpleasant it may seem.

I spend too much time looking around and comparing my lot in life with other Christian women I know.  "What about her, Lord?  It's easy for her to be joyful because her husband is like this and her children are like that." 

We can debate about what 'her' life really might be like behind closed doors... but whether or not my observation is true, I need to focus on God's plan for my life—run the race that God has set before me. (Hebrews 12:1)

Do you think it was easy for Corrie ten Boom to be joyful in the concentration camps? Her positive perspective was a choice, based on her trust in Jesus.   Her joy wasn't in her circumstances, but that she had a loving Savior and that her name was written in heaven! (Luke 10:20)

God has a specific purpose and plan for my life.  I have the opportunity to impact the people around me by how I choose to respond to it.  My glum or joy-filled response affects my husband, my children, my friends, and even unknown onlookers.

When the circumstances of my life seem unpleasant, will I choose to look to God for guidance and comfort, trusting in His Word and His ways?  Or will I wallow and grumble about how it's all my fault—or someone else's fault—and obsess about how different choices might have made my life easier??

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

God can take something that appears unpleasant, or even unbearable, and turn it into something life-changingly beautiful!  We need to trust in His goodness and His love!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Worth the Dedication of Years

This is a snippit from Diana Waring, inspired while touring a castle in Toronto. She writes:

>> This spectacular building had equally spectacular furnishings, the work of many master craftsmen who had labored long and lovingly over wood or stone or canvas. In a later blog, I wrote:

". . . as I considered the rare beauty of the handcrafted piece before me, the Lord gave me a precious insight--this was a marvelous depiction of what homeschooling is all about! Our children are NOT taught in a factory-type environment when we homeschool. Neither are we looking for "instant" results. Instead, we have taken the stand that this child and that child are worth the dedication of years of our lives. We have committed ourselves to patiently handcrafting their education and their character training. We carefully seek to discover the giftings, talents and passions of our precious and unique children. We prayerfully consider the right path to take with each one. Just as the master craftsman works with the individual strengths and weaknesses of a piece of wood that he is fashioning, so we work with the individual strengths and weaknesses of each of our children, lovingly building them up as we recognize and work with their uniqueness." <<

A well-stated mission statement for home-educating!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stop the negative thoughts!

I strongly believe that one of the biggest/worst ways a woman can "tear her house down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1) is through her thought-life.  Dwelling on negative thoughts is acidic, and it will rob your joy and destroy your view of your husband, your children, and more.  (Trust me, I know this from experience.)

It is so much better to take our negative thoughts captive and replace them with God's life-giving truths!

Here is a snippit on this topic from a three-part series called "Are They Fighting?" from the Titus 2 blog, written by Teri Maxwell.*

>> What you do with your thoughts can make all the difference in your responses to your children when they are not being nice to each other. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ.

That means you can think, “I hate it when my children fight with each other. They know better. I am sick and tired of having to deal with them time after time, day after day.” Or you can think, “Lord Jesus, I am so blessed to be the mother of these children. Thank You for entrusting them to me. Help me, Lord, to direct their thoughts and their behavior to express the love You want them to have for each other. Lord Jesus, I know You are working in their lives, and You are working in my life. Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus.”

Which thoughts do you believe will help you have a patient and loving attitude toward your children when you correct them for wrong behavior? Which thoughts will give you stamina and determination to be consistent in working with your children? Which thoughts will allow you to put a smile on your face and move on with your day positively after a situation with the children?

I can attest to having done it both ways, and I was way more successful and way happier with myself when I took the route of the second set of thoughts. The first set hurtled me into a pit of self-pity from which it was almost impossible to climb out. The second set put my mind on the Lord Jesus, the gratitude He tells me to have, and the possibility of a brighter future. <<

* Teri Maxwell is the mother of eight children, grandma of seven, and she began homeschooling in 1985. All of her children have graduated from homeschool, and three are married. Teri is blessed to be able to share her heart at homeschool conferences and has been writing monthly articles of encouragement for moms since 1990.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Life is hard, but God is good.

When I think too much about what I perceive are my life's hardships [i.e. become too introspective] this is where my thoughts go:

Why is this so hard? 

What did I do to deserve this? 

If I had made this choice differently x number of years ago, would I have avoided this hardship today? 

If I dwell in that place too long, it is damaging to my joy.

Well, here is a thought-provoking excerpt from a blog called Compared to Who? written by a Christian gal named Heather Creekmore. This is from her post, What Do You Do When it Hurts?

I love the Olympics. I am amazed by the participants. Watching the gymnasts, swimmers, divers, runners, rowers, and athletic powerhouses in every category of competition is impressive. It’s thrilling to see them make it to this moment and, in many cases, to watch them win.

But, I wonder. Could they have ever made it to that medal stand without pain? If they had trained “hurt free” for decades, would they have ever had the opportunity to compete for gold? How many times did those gymnasts fall from the uneven bars? How many years did those swimmers’ arms’ ache after nine hours of training in the pool? How many missed twists off the 10 meter caused a sting to the diver’s body? How many times have these athletes been treated for torn ligaments, strained muscles, or even broken bones? How many times has it hurt SO bad that they questioned whether or not they should continue?

My thought for the day is that working out, if done well, is not pain-free. If you want to succeed as an athlete. There will be pain.

Same with life. Somewhere, somehow, we got the impression that because we are Americans life will be pain free. As Christians we take that one step further, believing that because we have God on our side we are even more immunized from hurt. If it makes you say “ouch” we quickly search for an escape. We assume we should be able to get away because, surely, that’s not what God has for us. We “claim” the Bible verses that speak to God’s protection as our shields against enduring hardships. We ignore the verses that promise things like, “we will be persecuted” (John 15:18-21) or you, “will have trouble” (John 16:33). Even the oft-quoted 23rd Psalm mentions going through the “valley of the shadow of death.”

What we miss is that the promise is that God is with us through the hurt. It is not that life will be pain-free. The promise is that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) That He will be with us as we walk through that dark, dark valley. (Psalm 23:4) The promise is that we have no reason to fear because we know God is in control.

I'll be honest.  I want my life to be pain-free. Without annoyances.  No inconveniences. Where everything goes my way.  And since it's summertime, I'll say I'm tired of pulling weeds! both literally and proverbially.  *wink*

But Heather Creekmore is right—do I/we ignore the Bible verses that indicate we will have troubles in this life?  In fact, 1 Peter 4:12 says, "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you."  (That whole chapter gives excellent perspective and encouragement, by the way!)

But she is also right as she points out where our hope needs to lie: in God's promises (especially the ones in bold print above).  He will not leave us!  I love John 16:33—"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world!"  Our Savior, Jesus, cares for us—and He wins the battle in the end—and you can take heart in that! :)

(There's also the aspect that troubles and trials build character— halleluiah! our trials are not wasted!— and for that, I call God the Great Recycler!  But that's another post....)

Friday, June 19, 2015

When you just want to quit...

I don't necessarily agree with all the viewpoints presented in the Huffington Post... but I thought this post was particularly grace-filled!

When You Just Want to Quit Being A Mom

Don't give up, Mama.  It's gonna work out alright.  Do the next right thing, and trust Jesus...

"We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan."
~Romans 8:28 (The Voice)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thinking long-range...

" In our hurry to solve the crisis of the hour, we often fail to consider the long-range consequences of our short-term solutions."

-Liz Curtis Higgs