Monday, January 28, 2013

Be My Valentine Challenge - Week 2

Alright ladies, how are we doing???  Have you embarked on the challenge?  I loved how some of you, right away embraced the challenge and stated you were in.  So, let me know how it went.  I really am curious.

As for me and my lovely family, I was presently surprised as to the results.  I began the week praising him in front of our children, and it hit me in a "God-sized way" that I NEVER do this.  I felt convicted and a bit guilty, but blessed that God had opened my eyes to my negligence.  My daughter rarely hears me praise my husband, but often hears us in our dealings with day to day life.  Don't worry folks, I'm not over here beating myself up, and neither should you, but the results of such praise, was my silent stirring that I can do better, we all can.

The coolest result that came about was our 3, almost 4 year old, joined in.  She even declared one day, after he walked out the door, "Mommy, daddy loves when we kiss and hug him."

Another result was a change in MY heart.  I was conscious of what I was trying to do, and although I had meltdowns, I tried NOT to say negative things, because I knew it would be harder to say positive things when the appropriate time came.    

Last week, I called us to take on this challenge so that we can silence the nagging enemy and have marriages that glorify God and change the people around us.  Has your week of praise caused Satan to worry that he can no longer have a foothold in your marriage?  Is he trembling?  Marriage is one of the most powerful relationships we embark on.  God can use our marriages in huge ways when we let Him, OR we can allow Satan to meddle and use our marriage relationship the way HE wants to.

So, week 2 is upon us.  The challenge this week is very similar - Praise your man, but strive to do so in more creative ways.  Last week, we got our feet wet, and got used to the idea of consciously thinking of ways to incorporate this activity into each and every day.  Over at Women Living Well, Courtney gives us some great ideas.  Go check them out, and try to have fun!  If you are like me, I sort of cringed when I saw crafts and cute hearts.  Ughh.......who has time or energy for this?!?!  Certainly not me with my growing belly, busy babies, and crazy schedule.  I am a pinterest junky because I like to live vicariously through these crafty women who are kickin' butt and takin' names.  I am going to try though.  My husband appreciates when I try, and I am sure yours does and will too; even if the small construction paper hearts are not even close to what they call symmetrical.

Anyway, go for it!  Be creative.  Be encouraged that God is at work when we are conscious of how added love and praise improves this powerful, God ordained relationship called marriage!

Please chime in below and let me know how it goes.  
We can all benefit from your ideas, successes, and encouragement!       


Monday, January 21, 2013

Be My Valentine Challenge

Valentine's Day seems to always sort of sneak up on me.  I don't like the hoopla of the holiday and I think the commercialism has taken us by storm.  Perhaps my complacency is directly linked to my secret boycott of a holiday that has become an isolated day to show our spouses, significant others, etc., how much we love them in the form of chocolate, flowers, candies, jewelry, or other material things.  I find it annoying and ridiculous.  I almost want to skip it, but I won't.  I concede and buy something or do something nice for a very deserving man that I love very much.  

This year, in a season where our lives are swirling around us, preparing for a new baby who will be 15 glorious months younger than the last, I want it to be meaningful.  I feel that far too often, we imagine a love that will sustain any challenge without any work.  I think we say things like, "We will reconnect in a few months when things slow down," or "He knows I love him," or even worse, "He isn't trying right now either!"  More than anything, I feel that I (and perhaps I am in a lonely corner on this one, though I suspect that is far from reality), have the propensity to believe dry spells in marriage are sustained by good thoughts and false hope.  I want a marriage that overcomes challenging times, but if that is what I want I need to fight like I mean it.             

Women Living Well is hosting a 4 week challenge for Valentine's Day that has caught my eye.  There will be 4 weeks of similar challenges - to praise, encourage, inspire, admire, build up, thank and appreciate our husbands - that I believe are worth our time as wives.  

I am giggling a bit as I write this because on a day like today, I believe that I can do this!  I think my husband rocks and I love him to miniatures  and he is so cool and calm and collected.  We woke up laughing about something our Nora was doing, and shared a nice kiss goodbye.  Life was happy and calm and good.  Buuuuuuuuut, and this is a BIG BUT, this challenge goes for days when I find his dirty socks around the house, have to clean up after something I think he should have really taken care of himself and/or take up for where he is lacking.  This challenge goes for the days where I feel like I have done a great job keeping up despite all the glorious symptoms of the 8th month of pregnancy, and feel he hasn't met my expectations, and I refuse to offer grace or mercy in his direction.  It goes for days where crabbiness wins and, because of my poor attitude or his, he is difficult to live with, and all of his shortcomings are magnified.  Yup, all of these days too.  

I am up for the challenge.  Are you?  Let's join together and work on our marriages this month.  Let's show Hallmark how it's done and glorify God with marriages that make the enemy tremble with despair.  

Pray for me as I embark on this challenge.....and let me know if you're planning to do this too in the comment section below.                  

Week 1 January 21st - Look for ways to praise your husband verbally. Praise him in front of the kids, friends, family, co-workers, on facebook, tweet it – get praise out anyway you can! Try to mention something noteworthy he has done – in his role as provider, father, husband, lover, or friend. If the thought of trying to come up with one terrifies you, then pray right now that God will give you new eyes to see your husband as God does. Then open your mouth and say something kind and uplifting to your husband today and tomorrow and the next day until Valentine’s Day arrives!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The green eyed monster...

There is a person in your circle, or outside of your circle, or in your life who has just received something you want, or someone you want.  The person is receiving accolades by the double digits and there is not a person that doesn't seem to fall all over them.  The person almost glows with excellence.  You know along with everyone else, that they have achieved success, even if only for a moment.  
You decide they are annoying and everyone is overreacting.....  

Has the green eyed monster ever paid you a visit?  Of course it has.  Who am I kidding, Of course she has.  The green eyed monster is a woman, I am convinced.....  

To be jealous means to be "resentful against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself."

Let's face it, we've all felt that little green eyed monster arise quietly within us, when we hear of another's success or even when we see someone who is close to us, receive an award or a new material object that we were yearning for.  We might not acknowledge this feeling to ourselves, or to anyone else for that matter, but the telltale sign that we are feeling jealous of that person's good life or good thing is that we can't wish them well or congratulate them.  Or if we do, we do it with a feeling that there's something about them that is a little bit annoying to us... or something underneath that we don't quite like about them.  We start looking for character traits in them that we don't like and start picking at them.  Perhaps, we will just subconsciously begin to distance ourselves from them or talk about them behind their backs, to make ourselves feel better and elevate ourselves above them.  It's not pretty.  In fact, I cannot think of anything else that makes a Christian woman more unattractive, than envy.

I have sat among groups of women many, many times.  I love hanging with my girls, especially other mothers.  It is one of the best gifts of having friends.  You can share with each other the deep dark sins and no one gets hurt, right?  Well, sort of.  I guess it depends on what sins we choose to unveil at these gatherings.  Think about it, moms, how many times have you sat among friends and shared how you occasionally yell at your husband, yell at your children, lose your patience, spend too much money, etc.?  How much easier it is for us to share these sins with our friends.  To admit to feeling jealous towards another woman and what she has, and we don't?  It sounds dreadfully petty and spiteful.  Yet, it's running rampant through our churches and our homes, and spreading like wildfire.  

The bible tells us "Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?" Proverbs 27:4.  This is actually saying that it is easier to deal with a problem that is clothed in anger rather than jealousy.  Jealousy is secret, it is conniving and silent.  It tears at the heart of the possessor.  It slowly begins to cause strife and stealthily create problems in a relationship or friendship, eroding away the intimacy you once shared.

It's ugly, and it must be stopped.  The only way, sisters, that we can stop the monster, is to not invite her in when she comes for tea!  Know who YOU are in Christ.  Jealousy stems from the insecurity in our lives and the feeling of being threatened in whatever position we want to be in.  I will illustrate with an example that NEVER happens in church - MUSIC MINISTRY.  If you sing on the worship team, or just enjoy singing in general; are a minister of music or run the choir; or play and instrument; and, suddenly another person comes along who may get more attention, more compliments, and has more musical gifts than you, you may begin to resent them and envy what they have.  The green eyed monster roars her ugly head, and instead of acknowledging that you wish you could sing better than you do, or play better than you do, or know more about music than you already know, you begin to dislike her and problems arise. 

Sisters, knowing that you are beautifully and wonderfully made will aid you in knowing who you are in Christ!  God has given you a unique set of talents and gifts to use for His kingdom.  Coming to terms with who God has made us to be will propel us into a wonderfully celebratory time of  being able to rejoice when others accomplish something cool, be happy when they get something new, or celebrate when something fantastic happens in their lives.  We can be sisters in Christ in the true meaning and actually express happiness towards them and for them for who God made them to be, even if it means they may shine a bit brighter than you here on earth for a time.

Can all of you ladies imagine what kind of adventures God has in store for us if we could just uninvite the gnarly monster and form meaningful relationships with other women God has placed in our path, even those who may be better at something than YOU???

I challenge you, today, to evaluate all of the ugly feelings you have towards that sister in your circle.  Take those feelings, dissect them, and make sure they aren't a visit from that sneaky, beastly green-eyed monster.  Confess the jealousy, and move on with you life, watching God do things in you that you thought were impossible!    

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What is your value?

As a stay-at-home-mom, I sometimes struggle to find worth in what I am doing.  I struggle to find myself valuable.  I went to school for many years.  I have a degree in Elementary and Special Education and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  I have passed tests, earned honors, and accomplished the ability to posses certifications.  And guess what.......MY KIDS DON'T CARE!  I spent about 8 years studying and providing myself the ability to work in a certain field, and then God called me to work AT HOME!  

I remember during the first few years I stayed at home with my children, people would ask me, "What do you do?"  For some reason, after I provided the "I stay at home with my children" response, I would swiftly include, "But I used to be a teacher!!!"  It was obnoxious, and kind of very prideful, but I felt like they should know I used to do something "worthwhile".  

For me, some of the comments were quite difficult to stomach.  I would hear family and friends say things like, "You learn to appreciate your children more when you are working."  OR "A child needs the social interaction of daycare, and to not provide that is just bad parenting."  OR, my personal favorite, "You really should be using your degree and helping your husband by providing financially for your family."  Perhaps I didn't hear this as much as I thought it.  Now of course, in my logical mind, I heard these comments and thought those thoughts and knew they were flat out ridiculous, but the depth they made to my heart was unmistakable.  I felt...worthless.  It felt as if (and sometimes still creeps in) that I perhaps didn't hear from God correctly.  

......Maybe we were too hasty in our decision for me to stay home.  
.......Perhaps I am being selfish.  
.......We could be paying so many bills faster. 

The thoughts, the comments, the feelings took over my thought life and soon the voices of negativity were louder than God's.  This is when I realized that the message was not from God, but from the tricks of Satan.  I began to resolve to discover why God found me valuable rather than the world.  

It took a long time and is still a work in progress, but understanding the difference between feeling valuable and being valuable are two very different things.  At the end of every day, I am covered in snot, spit up, and/or other matter.  I don't always accomplish what I have set out to do, and some days all I can put in my hat is that I picked up some toys and had dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.  I consider it a success when I am able to get the laundry folded and put away before it takes on new form in a wrinkled ball, and accomplishing showering before noon, at times, is a feat.  

The truth in all of this - my value is not found in laundry, or clean clothing, accomplishments, or dinners I create.  My value is not found in the job I have outside of my home, even if I had one.  My value was never and still is not found in degrees or certifications.  

My value is found in Christ alone.  My value is found in the fact that I am trying my best to follow His plan for my life, even if it includes living with less money.  My value is found in how I use my time.  My time that I have been given with my children and my husband,          

I have learned and am still learning that home is where my children will learn who they are.  Each of us has been created uniquely by God.  We all have talents, gifts and treasures to offer the world.  Home should be where we learn what these are and celebrate them.

Home should also be where our children learn whose they are.  They are Christ's children and were created to journey through life growing in relationship with Him.    

Home is our children's base camp.  This is where they should be able to rest and re-boot.  A safe place where they can be themselves and ask questions.  A place where they can cry or laugh, or both, and not be judged.

My job is to take care of my family and this is valuable.  I have learned that this gift is fleeting and if I do not allow myself to enjoy it, not only will I miss the blessing, but I will mess up the job.

So, in the year 2013, I have resolved to change a few things within myself.  I have felt the pull of the Holy Spirit towards modeling this around one specific scripture,  

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:19-21)

 - I will work to hold my tongue and be slow to speak.  Proverbs 18:2 says "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."  While reading this scripture, it propels me to strive to supply words to others that will be a "fountain of life".  Though this does not mean that we, as Christians, are not called to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ wrong doings', it does mean that our words should be life giving in God's eyes, whether that person wants to hear them or not, and even when our target is truth!  The first thing that comes to my mind is not always best or of God!  God's timing is the best kind of timing.  Lord, give me patience to wait on your timing and not trust my own.            

- I will be slow to anger, giving my children an opportunity to explain themselves and their thought processes.  After teaching for so many years, I believe that children often think the impulsive choices they make were, at one time, really good ideas.  After all, they thought of the ideas, and don't we all think our ideas are best?  Asking a child, "What were you thinking?" is not a healthy way to help them understand their impulsive act was not such a good idea out loud as it was in their heads.

Being slow to anger will also apply to the way I respond to my husband.  Every hill is not a hill worth dying on!  I must remember that he is not perfect and NEITHER AM I!  I will work harder to offer the grace that I want when I make mistakes or bad choices.  Every offense is not worth an argument or correction.  He is good to me, and we are partners.  I will work harder to remember this in the New Year.

- I will work to rid my life of any moral filth and evil.  When I hear the words "moral filth", I cringe.  It sounds so harsh.  I think of picket signs and angry faces telling me to repent or die!  These are the bible verses that make me cringe because it calls me to do an inventory.  Ask any retail specialist and they will tell you how much they HATE inventory!  However, I believe that if I am going to take hold of what God has planned for my life, I am going to need to rid my life of anything that influences my inability to follow after God's plan.  This includes ridding my life of things not pleasing to God; evil talk, negative discussion, TV shows that fill my mind with images not pleasing to God, books and stories that are not pleasing to God, etc.  I think sometimes I forget that Satan slips in slowly.  Watching TV shows and reading things that have immoral acts seem like no big deal at the time because they all seems so small, but the small amounts to the big and the big affects my relationships with my children, my husband, and most importantly, my ability to discern God's will.

Some more resolutions that I have include:

      - Read and study more about God.  I have become pretty good at doing my devotion time because when I don't, I am falling apart!!  However, everyone can use more time in the word of God, and with God.

      - Improve my prayer life.  I will do more praying for my church family, my family, and unsaved loved ones and friends.  I want to begin to pray more specifically for people around me.

So, that it!  What are your resolutions????  I would really love to hear them.  We could keep each other accountable!  Accountability improves our chances of succeeding!!!  God Bless you and Happy New Year!

 Linking up with:

The Warrior Wives