The Life of Surrender

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

Month: August 2016

Having the Courage Not to Fight Back

Yesterday was one of those days.  I am sure you know the ones.  It seemed like Peter and I were carrying one kid off to time out on repeat and then when one would settle down, the next one started in.  Ugh!  There was lots of disobedience, whining, crying, and just general anger/crabbiness.  I felt like I held my cool for awhile and then I came unglued and was crabby, whiny, and angry.  I didn’t deal with my children’s disobedience in the way that God is calling me to deal with it.

When my children are having rough days with their behavior I seem to end up sinning by acting in anger, expecting my children to behave well and stay self-controlled when I am not, and not taking a break and praying before dealing with their behavior.

Then I feel the shameful thoughts and fears and worries rush in:  I am a terrible mother, I am worried about my children’s souls (Thanks, Mom, for that line!), and I just feel like God is ashamed of me and I am a failure to him.

I have been trying to surrender my emotions to God but sometimes it feels like he is so far away.  I think after days like yesterday it is easy to slip into guilt and shame.  I know that God does not want me to run from him.  I know that he wants me to repent and draw near.  So that is what I am doing.  I am laying down my sins and my fears.

This world teaches that we need to fight to get ahead, take what is ours, win at all costs, and make sure that our children submit completely to our wills.  I know that God has another stance on this.  I started thinking about the movie 42 all about Jackie Robinson’s life.  Branch Rickey was telling Jackie Robinson that he couldn’t say anything when people were discriminating against him because they would make him out to be the enemy.  Jackie Robinson replied with, “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?”  Branch Rickey answered very wisely, “No, I want a player who’s got the guts *not* to fight back.”

I thought just how much that applies in parenthood as well.  I think that I need to fight my children’s behavior to keep them behaving.  In all reality, I think that God is asking me to have the guts to not fight their behaviors with my worldly ideas and submit my worries about their behavior to him.  He is not asking for perfection, but faithfulness.  No, I did not exhibit faithfulness when I lost my temper with my children, but I do feel like I express faithfulness when I repent of those sins and entrust my children’s behavior and my parenting to God.  I know that God’s mercies are new every morning.

Episode 6: Just the Way You Are

In this episode we will discuss how God loves us just the way we are and how we need to be proud of who God made us to be.  Also, we will discuss how as parents, sometimes we can make our children feel invalidated in who they are.  We want to build up our children to be the people that God has called them to be.
Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com
Books
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
  • Chapter 13 See Your Children

 

The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman
Blog Posts
www.5lovelanguages.com/blog
Are You a Dream Giver or a Spirit Breaker? by Michelle on Quad City Mom’s Blog
Crib Notes on This Life I Live by Rory Feek
Bible Verses
Psalm 139:13
1 Corinthians 12
Romans 12

Episode 5: Back to School Anxiety

Whether we are ready for the back to school season or not, it is upon us. We know that this season can mean different things to different people. Some may be ready to say goodbye to summer and jump into the new school year and others of us are dragging our feet. We will discuss some practical ways we can keep anxiety at bay as well as how we can give this anxiety to God.
Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com
Bible Verses

One of the best chapters in the Bible to read about anxiety is Matthew 6.

  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Blog Posts

The Danger of Protecting Our Kids from Unhappiness by Kristen Welch

The Art of Letting Go by DesMoines Moms blog

How to Combat the Icky Days by Krystal Kolb

How to Combat the Icky Days

I get them sometimes, the icky days.  I know that it is a part of living on this Earth in all it’s broken glory.  The icky days usually don’t announce themselves until they arrive and I often feel frustrated with these uninvited guests.  Sometimes they come from a failure to plan, or when I feel like I have nothing to look forward to, and sometimes I just wake up feeling icky.

Usually when the icky days come, my first instinct is to call survival mode and break out all of my comfort items.  It does feel nice in the moment to eat junk and watch way too much television, but it does nothing for the long term.  It doesn’t fix the underlying problem in my heart and it usually leaves me with guilty feelings that aren’t nice to fight off.

When I say icky days, I am referring to days that I feel “off” or just not awesome about life in general. I am not referring to depression and severe anxiety that I know are real in people’s lives.  I know that those are things that can’t be just shaken off and may need more help than what I am suggesting in this post.  Here are a few things that I have been learning lately about how to care for myself on days when I feel icky.

1.)  Talk to God about it.  I know that God already knows how I feel and my day was written in His book before I even had the icky feelings.  I do think that just having a chat with Him about how I am feeling gives me courage and makes me feel less alone.  Before the icky feelings have a chance to take over, talking to God helps us to combat them and put them in their place.  Satan would like for us to let these feelings take over and cause us to sin.  We know that we serve a God who can help us through anything and also cares for us deeply.  What a wonderful gift that we can turn those feelings over to Him and not be stuck in the lonely icky feelings by ourselves.

2.)  Make Good Choices.  Like I said earlier, when I feel my day starting to feel yucky, my first response is to want to eat a bunch of junk food and sit on the couch watching TV.  While this may feel good in the moment, in the long term it is really hurting me.  Instead of letting our feelings rule us and in turn feeling worse later, we can make the choice to eat foods that are going to make us feel good and be present with our children rather than watching TV.  We can make the choice to get the laundry and dishes that we don’t want to do done and we will be so thankful that we did later on.

3.)  Plan.  I think sometimes my icky days come from lack of planning.  I feel that looking ahead to potential problems in your schedule is a good way to combat having off days.  If you see that your schedule is too packed or too wide open, you can look ahead and do something about it before a problem arises.

4.)  Look Heavenward.  I also feel like these days can come after I have been doing something I enjoy and it ends.  For example:  My husband and I are huge Olympics fans and our favorite thing to watch has been the swimming.  We have pretty much lived and breathed swimming this past week and when it ended, I felt a little bit of a let down.  I felt like there is nothing to look forward to and I then felt that I had to fill the void I felt with something else.  What really should have happened was that in these moments when I am making something way too important, like swimming, I need to take a step back and realize that there is way more to life than watching swimming on television.  Yes, it is fun and we sure enjoyed it, but my response when it was over tells me that I was making it an idol in my life.  Recognizing these times before they end is a great way to combat those feelings when they are over.  We need to have spiritual tunnel vision and know that all the things on this Earth will pass away and we have Heaven to look forward to.  When we focus on God and our eternal home, the little nuisances here on this Earth don’t seem as hard to deal with.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
 
So the next time those icky feelings creep in, let’s trust God to take care of us and give those feelings back to Him!

Episode 4: Fighting Fair in Marriage

Marriage can be a hard and lonely place when couples choose to fight unfairly. This episode will focus on fighting fair and getting right with God and your spouse. Being in a marriage where you are able to be heard and you can listen to your spouse is a very comforting thing to have here on Earth. You only get one life, so let’s make the most of it and experience relationships in Christ’s love.

Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Books on Marriage

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

How To Save Your Marriage Before It Starts by Les and Leslie Parrot

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Kim Kimberling PhD

Blogs on Marriage

Marriage Wisdom for the “Small Children” Season of Life on
A Mother Far From Home

Marriage 101: How to Win Every Argument With Your Husband on Scottsdale Mom’s Blog

The Real Threat to Marriage on We Are That Family

How To Love Your Husband (Even Though He Can’t Find the Laundry Basket)
on Mother’s Niche

Family Favorites on We Are That Family

Bible Verses

  • For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12
  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
  • Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
  • In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

Programs, Schedules, and Parenting Resources are Good; But God is Better!

Parenting recently has been a little bit brutal.  I have one child with emotional breakdowns and some attitude flaring out of nowhere, I have one child that likes to attack the youngest and has some passive/aggressive defiance going on, and my youngest abounds in energy and is into EVERYTHING!  It is easy to feel deflated at the end of the day thinking that our parenting is getting nowhere.  Usually I will then turn to my parenting resources.  I absolutely love reading parenting books and moms blogs and getting tips on how to combat bad behavior.  While I love getting a new tip and having it work, usually it is short lived.  I think I can get lost in all the parenting resources and become very confused on what I should be doing for discipline.

Yesterday was pretty rough.  I would like to say that it ended wrapped up in a pretty bow and we all had feel good feelings at the end of the day.  That is not what happened, but I felt less pressure and stress on myself because I spent the morning throwing my hands in the air and saying, “God, I can’t do this alone.  I have no idea what to do with this child right now and I am turning this situation over to you.”  I don’t feel like an answer came floating down from Heaven and I don’t feel like I am on top of my parenting game, but I do feel like the situation is out of my hands.  (Which it is anyway!)  I feel so much better when I place my children’s lives into their creator’s hands.

Parenting has been something that I will occasionally turn over to God and then I will get a little too self-reliant and take it back.  It is very illogical to think that I can do better for my kids than God can, but I think that is what I am saying by my behavior.  By taking back my parenting worries, joys, concerns, etc, I am taking God out of it and setting myself up for failure.

I am not saying that having a program, schedule, or using parenting resources is a bad thing.  I believe that God sends us these things for support in our lives.  What I am saying is that we need to relinquish our illusion of control over our children’s lives to God.  After we have turned over our cares for our children in prayer, then we can listen and see how God wants us to proceed.  God may then have us implement a schedule, program, or use a parenting resource, but we can’t replace God with these things.

When I think about my ultimate goal as a mother, it would be to have my children come to know Jesus and love him with all their hearts.  I pray this over my kids mostly everyday.  I know that only God is in charge of what my children believe.  When I turn them over to Him daily, then I know that they are in His hands and he will bring them to Him.  No parenting book, diet, family rule book, or schedule is going to enter my children’s hearts like Christ can.  I need to remember to go to Him before anything else, and that is the best parenting tip I could give to anyone.

Choosing to Take the Hard Road

I have been thinking recently about my sinful nature and how it manifests itself in my life.  I believe that we are all programmed to sin in a certain way.  For me, I put comfort in front of Christ.  I will go to great measures to make myself comfortable.  In fact, I sometimes think if I could lay in a nice comfy blanket all day everyday I would have it made!  The truth is, I wouldn’t have it made.  While it would feel great to lay in a blanket all day, at the end of the day I would have feelings of guilt for not getting anything done in my day.

I feel like God has been telling me recently to take the hard road instead of the easy one.  I know the easy road looks really appealing in the moment, but it will end up leaving you with feelings of emptiness.  Taking the hard road can look different for everyone.  Taking the hard road could look like doing that good deed even though you know you aren’t going to get the credit for it, sacrificing your own comfort to help someone out, forgiving people for wrongdoing, and a million other examples.

In my life, I feel like taking the hard road looks like not drinking 700 Mt. Dew’s per day to combat tiredness and my artificial feeling of comfort.  Being a mother of 3 there are not as many times in my day where I can kick back and relax like I was able to in the past and it can feel really hard to stay present and in the moment with my children when I want to take a few minutes to myself to kick back and relax.  The big thing I have been working on this year has been to surrender my feelings over to Christ.  When I start to feel jealous, angry, lazy, self-deprecating, or filled with worry, I think the hard road is to surrender those feelings to Christ rather than to wallow in them.  There are many times in my day when I don’t “feel” like making a meal, doing the laundry, or playing with my kids.  I do know that I will benefit from fighting through those feelings in prayer and just doing them.

Taking the hard road has one huge advantage and that is being connected with our Lord and Savior.  I believe that Jesus is still with me when I take the easy road, but I need him way more when I take the hard road.  When we face challenges of any sort, he is there to work through it with us and his power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 2:9)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3   
 
Jesus’s life was anything but comfortable and there are so many Bible verses stating that this world is not meant to be comfortable.  We will receive that reward in Heaven.  So, while on Earth, I want to take the hard road more than the easy road.  I want to make a mess cooking in the kitchen with my kids and use my energy to help others instead of protecting my body while laying under a comfy blanket.  I believe that Jesus will meet me in the hard places and he will be my comfort.

Episode 3: Complacency vs. Works Based Faith

episode3
In Episode 3, we will discuss complacency vs. works based-faith.  We both fall on one end of the spectrum and we both can see how we are not doing what Christ would want us to do in each scenario.  When we are complacent, we will often have feelings of guilt that we haven’t done what we need to do.  When we are all about the works, it can seem like we can work and work and work and never feel filled.  In both cases, we need to remember that God is in control of our lives and we should be wanting to work for Him and give the glory to Him!

Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

 Blog Posts on Complacency
The Life of Surrender by Krystal Kolb
Choosing to Take the Hard Road
We Are That Family by Kristen Welch
Christianity Isn’t Supposed to Be Cozy
We Are That Family by Kristen Welch
Don’t Let Anyone Tell You It Will Be Easy
We Are That Family by Kristen Welch
A Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp

How To Stop Procrastination

Blog Posts on Works Based-Faith

How to Be the Perfect Christian Parent on Facebook  (A silly blog post)

The Deyounge Life by Liza Deyounge
Sorry Not Sorry

We Are That Family by Kristen Welch
Parenting in the Age of Awards (And Why We Are Holding Out for Awards)

Sara Mae
Trading One Mess for Another

Bible Verses

Works Based Faith
  • I Corinthians 3:10-15
  • Matthew 6:5
  • Matthew 6:1
Complacency
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9, 13
  • Colossi ans 3:23

Episode 2: Family Mission Statement

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We wrote our family mission statement about a year ago in the hopes that it would steer our family towards Jesus.  We found four points that we want our family to follow throughout their lives.  If you are looking for direction for your family, a mission statement is a great place to start!  Start brainstorming and praying about what you want for your family and then put it into words.


Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com

Our family mission statement:

To seek and follow God’s will for our lives as individuals and as a united family by:

 

  1. Humbly acknowledging our brokenness and relying on His strength;
  2.  Being grateful for what we have and what Christ has done for us
  3.  Graciously giving our time and resources as God leads
  4.  Courageously living counter-culturally

So that each of us can have a real relationship with God and respond obediently to His calling

Resources:
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
—Chapter 8 talks about family mission statements

1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp