Sunday, December 7, 2014

How Distracted Are You?

World hunger.  Disease.  Orphans.  Poverty.  Crime.  Abuse.  Disaster.  These are just a few of the billions of problems in our world today.  It doesn't matter what city you live in, just take a walk down any street and you will find SOMETHING that needs to be done.  Someone will need food, a new roof, the driveway shoveled, a tire changed.  Walk further and you'll find a woman who needs to get out of a dangerous situation.  You'll see children being mistreated.  Keep going.... what else do you see?

You might think that this post is going to be all about social justice, prodding you to do more to help all these people.  Get involved, join a cause, help everyone!  Well, I am sorry to disappoint, but what I have to say is quite the opposite.  Sort of.

Overwhelmed.  Scattered.  Disoriented.  Frazzled.  These words describe the person who is constantly busy "doing good" for others.  I'm talking about the "Martha's" out there.  Those women who work all day in the kitchen and then get mad that they didn't get to just "visit".  It's those who give a dollar at every bank, every grocery store, every gas station every time they have a fund raiser to help feed the starving children.  It's the mom who spends every second of every day doing things for her family.  "Martha's" tend to always be on the go, always busy, and most of the time they wear it as a badge of honor.  I'm not saying that it's wrong to give, to help, or to serve.  On the contrary, we are called to  give, help, and serve, but we are not called to EVERY need.

Before you quit reading, let me share what God's Word says and explain why this is on my heart.

Luke 10:38-42 "Now it happened as they went that He (Jesus) entered a certain village;  and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.  But Martha was DISTRACTED WITH MUCH SERVING, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.'  And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"     

I capitalized the words "distracted with much serving" because it's a tendency I have and that's what has spurred on this post.  Most women read this passage and relate themselves as either a "Mary" or a "Martha".  I believe that we should be both.  Jesus didn't tell Martha not to serve, nor did He tell Mary to get up and help.  He had to show Martha in this moment that she was DISTRACTED with her service.  She had let the kitchen work get in the way of spending quality time with Him. 

There are a lot of "service" opportunities in this world, but we have to focus on hearing from the Lord to allow Him to guide our steps.  He will call us to service, and we need to obey and follow His call.   Jesus does not measure our worth based on what we do or how much we do.  We were worth dying for while we were still living in our sin. (Romans 5:8)  If Jesus loved us enough to die for us, even while we were rejecting Him, then how could He possibly love us any more?  Nothing I do in service is going to add merit to my life in the eyes of Christ.  Because I have trusted in Jesus Christ as my savior, I am covered by His righteousness and that is how God see's me, regardless of how many "good things" I am doing.   It is very easy for us as Christians to fall into the trap of being "distracted with much service".  That's why it's so important to choose only what God has placed before us.  Let God make your schedule each day.  He won't overload you.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

I haven't posted anything since May.  God has been teaching me so much since He changed our lives this year.  I have had to adjust as He re-directed my life and priorities.  I was becoming overwhelmed by things that I never thought would bother me.  This is where I had to come back to: Balance.  Doing only what God gives me to do each day. Accepting that I can't do every little thing that I see needs to be done. I can't help everyone in every situation.  I have to trust God in my home, my church, and my career and follow only the steps He gives me each and every day.  When I sit at His feet to hear His word,  He shows me what He wants me to do. 

What are you distracted with that is taking you away from your relationship building time with God?  Are you overwhelmed with "doing good"?  When's the last time you simply sat as His feet and heard His word?   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

You Don't Need a Cape to be a SUPER Mom!

Why do we have this image of motherhood that requires a red “super-mom” cape to fulfill?  You know what it looks like:  Wake up hours before everyone else so that we can get our shower, get dressed, do our hair, put on some makeup and get breakfast started before the kids wake up.  Then, do the few pieces of laundry from yesterday because we can’t possibly let it get behind.  After feeding the kids the daily breakfast of champions we help them pick out their clothes so they match and look cute, then we do their hair up in curls and pins just perfectly.  We get the kids to school and begin our busy day of shopping, errands, cooking and cleaning all with the baby in tow.  You’ve cut every coupon known to man and ended up getting paid by the grocery stores to take their food home.  More laundry, vacuuming, dusting, clean the toilets, make the beds, iron your husband’s work shirts, feed the baby, change a dozen diapers, let the dog out, let the dog in, let him out again, cook up some meals for a few new moms at church, and get dinner prepped before jumping in the mini-van again to go get the kids from school.  Then it’s time to help with homework, kids chores that you already pre-did for them, cook supper, set the table, clean it all up, bring out dessert, give the kids a bath (Every. Single. Night.) read them stories, sing them songs, tuck them in, get them a drink of water, tuck them in again, let them go potty, tuck them in again, clean the house again now that they are finally asleep, set up your to-do list for tomorrow and fall in to bed exhausted MAYBE having time to ask your husband how his day went.
Does anyone REALLY live like that?

I think there are moms that truly believe that this is how they must live every day in order to be the best mom in the world and I blame it on social media.  Here’s how it works.  Your friend posts an image online with a cute little quip about motherhood.  The image looks like it belongs in a GAP catalog.  You assume that this one single snapshot in her life is an accurate picture of what goes on 24/7.  Suddenly, that off centered picture of your daughters homemade birthday cake you posted last night makes you feel a little second rate.  We start playing the comparison game and the “super-mom” cape gets heavier and heavier.  Before we know it, we’re doing all these cool “mom” things that look good online but we’re too exhausted to really enjoy our children. 

Ladies, it’s time to turn in our capes.  I am not a “super-mom”.  The cape is too heavy for me to wear.  I’m not strong enough to live up to the ideal in my head of what the perfect mom is supposed to look like, and neither are you.  I want you to take off the cape, roll it up in a ball, and toss it down to the ground.  You can’t wear that cape without eventually falling under the pressure of it’s weight.  I know.  I’ve tried.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9.  Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  I am not a perfect mom.  I make mistakes. Every. Day.  I could choose to live under the red cape, always adding more and more pressure to this already heavy job of motherhood.  I could let fear drive me to go overboard in every area of parenting.  OR I can trust that His grace is sufficient for me.  Because of HIS GRACE, I will not ruin my children.  Because of HIS GRACE, I can let the laundry go without feeling guilty.  Because of HIS GRACE, my meals will nourish my children even when they come from a box instead of the earth.  Because of HIS GRACE, my efforts to raise godly children will be blessed even when I make so many mistakes.  It’s because of HIS GRACE that I am a good mom.  It’s because of HIS GRACE that my children say I’m “super”.  It’s ALL BECAUSE OF HIS GRACE and has absolutely nothing to do with that big, heavy, ugly cape I tried to sport around for so many years.

Are you exhausted under the weight of your cape?  Do you know Jesus?  Don’t be discouraged! He’ll take your cape and He’ll offer you unlimited GRACE.  His grace IS sufficient for you!   

To moms of babies:  I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but diapers and late night feedings are only temporary.  Soak in the snuggle time while you can.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To moms of small children:  Siblings fight, it’s not just your kids.  Your efforts don’t go unnoticed, they appreciate what you do but don’t always know how to express it.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To moms of teens:  Hormones are rough, your teen isn’t trying to hurt you.  They really are listening so keep communicating.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To moms of adults:  You aren’t held accountable for their choices.  They still value your input and support even if they don’t always agree or follow your advice.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To working moms:  Don’t beat yourself up for not having the house clean all the time.  Your kids know you love them even when the laundry’s behind and you don’t make 4 course meals every day.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To stay at home moms:  You’re doing enough.  Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t do enough.  You do so much for your children, make sure you don’t neglect your own needs. It’s ok to take time out for yourself.   God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To single moms:  You don’t have to fill two roles.  Just be the mom God created you to be for your kids and trust Him with the rest.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To homeschool moms:  You’re giving your kids a great education.  Their grades are not a reflection on you anymore than my kids grades are a reflection on their teachers.  Some kids just aren’t scholastics and some are.  It’s ok.  Doing double duty as mom and teacher is especially heavy, but you don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standard.  God’s grace is sufficient for you.

To all moms:  What you do matters!  Your children love you for you who are, not for the images you portray to the rest of the world.  They love you for your hugs, for your unconditional love, and for your support of them.  Let go of the cape.  GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adolescence Times Three: A Mother's Survival Guide

I thought having three kids in diapers at the same time was going to send me over the edge of sanity into a deep dark abyss of nothingness....It took me close. Having those same three kids going through adolescence at the SAME TIME might just finish the job!! 

Ok, I know I'm being a bit dramatic, but seriously! My kids are amazing kids, and that's not just mama bear talking. Ask anyone who knows them, and they will tell you that my kids are truly great kids. But when the hormones are raging high in this house, watch out! My son is turning 13 in a month, and my daughters are 10 and 11. Yes, you can say a prayer for me now. 

For the last 16 years I have worked closely with teenagers in some way.  I don't consider myself an expert by any stretch, but I have learned a lot along the way about how to communicate and relate to this age group.  I'm writing this post primarily as a way to remind me of all the things I was able to glean from youth ministry from a rational, outsiders perspective, so that I can look to it as I enter the more emotional realm of parenting my own adolescence.  If it helps someone else, that's awesome!   

I feel very well prepared for the teen years with my kids.  What I wasn't mentally prepared enough for, was the reality of having all three of my children in the prime of adolescence at the same time.  Girls begin this process a lot earlier than boys do, and when you have your children as close together as I did and the oldest is a boy followed by two girls... you get the picture!

So, here's what I want to remember:

1.  Hormones are real and have a very real affect that sometimes seems uncontrollable.  I know that some people put way too much stock into hormonal imbalance, using it as a crutch or an excuse for certain behavior.  I in no way support that.  I do, however, feel that a lot of Christian parents ignore the hormonal side of things completely.  It's not only important for us as parents to understand and accept that hormones play a huge role in our emotions, it is also important for us to teach that reality to our children as they are coming into this crucial growth time.  When your 8 year old daughter is unrealistically overwhelmed because you said she couldn't have an extra cookie and she has no control over her tears and doesn't know why she can't just get over it, it's time to talk about hormones.  Explain to her that those emotions are a natural part of our existence, but that we have to choose how we are going to treat others and react when these emotions creep up.  If she needs to just go cry it out, that's fine.  Tears are healthy.  But if she is going to scream and be downright mean to her brother and sister or even her parents, then she's just crossed a line.  Teach them appropriate ways to get their feelings out during these hormone outbursts.

2. Teens need a godly outside influence other than the parent.  Please, don't misunderstand me here.  Your role as parent is of highest value and necessity.  My kids need us to be their primary go to for counsel and support.  They know that we are always right here with them and we have great communication with our kids.  That's vital.  However, there is something very special about the relationship with a teen and his youth leader.  Let's face it, teens go through times when they need to vent about their parents.  I want my kids to vent about me to someone who loves them, loves the Lord, and will let them vent without turning the kids away from me.  The youth leader guides them in their spiritual walk and gives them a fun and safe outlet for some of those emotions that they are going through. 

3.  Barriers and authority are still necessary, but they also need space to grow into adults.  This is a very tricky balance, but it is so important.  We always say that we're raising adults, not children.  If we never give our kids room to make some decisions on their own, then we're setting them up for a very frustrating life.  As they progress through the teen years, they need more and more freedom and space to grow and flourish.  However, don't think for a second that this means they have no rules.  There are still certain barriers that teens should have in place.  A major area I have seen over the years is the issue of church attendance.  I've seen many parents give their teens the choice of whether they want to go to youth group, and in some cases even the choice to go to church at all.  I've got to just be honest again here.  There are times even as an adult that I would choose to stay home if it was a choice for me.  Sometimes, we just don't feel like going.  (I know, I'm a pastors wife and I totally just said that.  I know you've felt the same way, so don't judge me. LOL)  :)   My point is, that during the adolescent and teen years it would take only a small hormonal outburst for a teen to decide they are just never going to church again.  The wise parent will make them go anyway.  As an adult I have a non-negotiable rule that I will be in church.  (and 99% of the time I definitely want to go, just FYI for the curious)  This is just one area that barriers are necessary, but there are definitely more.  For instance, barriers in dating.... but that will require an entirely new post, or three.

4.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13
    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  I Timothy 1:7
"Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14
"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble." Nahum 1:7
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15.  (Don't ever use adolescence as an excuse to not discipline.  Sinful behavior must be dealt with even during these emotional years.)

I am realizing that I have way too much to write for one blog post, so I shall stop here and wait for more discussion from all of you!  Just click the link below and we can chat more.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas for practical parenting from a biblical world view.   

P.S. My kids behaved BEAUTIFULLY tonight with no irrational emotions surfacing at all.  It was awesome!

Join the discussion:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why Are Kids So Mean?!

It always amazes me how mean kids can be.  They are just so cruel sometimes!  One of my children was very distraught again this week, over a "friend" that continues to make fun of them for their beliefs, personality, and even their parents.  (I don't know what that's about, they have awesome parents!)  ;)

The worst part about it for me is that it's a christian kid, from a good family.  Oh, I know better than anyone that kids will be kids and we can't expect them to be perfect just because they're being raised right.  My kids have their fair share of "childhood" that we deal with.  But, is it too much to ask that they be kind to each other?  I know, I am probably being too sensitive about this issue.  I instantly have flash backs to my childhood, where I didn't fit in at all and developed an almost defensive attitude toward those who relentlessly teased me.  I can look back now and see that the majority of them didn't mean anything by it, and I probably came off sounding just as bad at times.  I am just struggling to know how to teach that to my children.

Those of you who know me, know that I don't pretend to have all the answers.  There are times that I just need others to walk with me, just like you do.  So, I want to know how you handle this from a Biblical perspective.  How do you help your children cope with being made fun of?  How do you know when they are just being overly sensitive and when you need to step in and do something?

Share your wisdom HERE and thanks for allowing me to be real!  :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Transformed 2014: Do Desperate Times Really Call for Desperate Measures?

This past weekend, I had the privilege and honor of speaking to hundreds of women from Indiana at the Transformed Women's Retreat.  This was my first time teaching outside of my own church and I was quite nervous about going into something this big.  The voices in my heart that try to win me over tell me that I'm not mature enough for something this big, I'm not old enough, I don't know enough, haven't had enough training, blah blah blah blah blah.  I have to literally rip those voices out of myself and fill my heart with the truth of God's Word.

 "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." "Let no man despise your youth but be an example to the believers."  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." "You are My servant;  I have chosen you and have not cast you away.  Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." "Gods word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish His will."

This is the voice of Truth, the voice of God spoken through His Word.  So, I went and spoke God's words, not my own.  We talked about the things that God allows in our lives that we just can't handle on our own.  We looked at God's word to see how we can possibly prepare our hearts for those times so that instead of thrashing in the sinking sand, desperately grasping for something, anything to hold onto we can instead stand firm on solid ground and withstand the hurricane that roars around us.  Do you know, I think that I was blessed more by the women who came to listen than they were by me.  So many women who are hurting and came to me after to share that hurt with me.  What an honor to be able to pray for these precious sisters in Christ!  I wish I could minister to all of them every day.

I can't be with you all physically, but I do have a way that we can stay in touch and continue the conversation.  I have begun posting, in depth, the message God sent me with on my discussion board.  You can read the threads there and talk to me about what God is doing in your heart.  Let me know how I can continue to pray for you!

Just go to to get involved.

If you were at Transformed and came to one of my sessions, I just want to tell you what a blessing you were to me!  And for those that came to me, just hurting so much, please know that I am absolutely praying for you to know God in a deeper way as He takes you through your pain.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's Not Fair!

My kids and I had a conversation this week about fairness among siblings. They have a lot of friends, and they see that everyone has a different parenting style. One such difference are those parents who have to make sure everything is "even steven" among their kids. If one person gets a gift, then they all have to get a gift, etc. As we talked about that, I shared with my children why I don't play the fair game with them. In just a few short years, they are going to be out in the world, living an adult life. We only get "about" 18 years to get them ready for the next 80. I take that very seriously, wanting to make sure that my kids are very well prepared. When they get into their adult life, and they go to college or get a job, nothing is going to be fair. Their bum co-worker is going to get promoted because he took all the credit for their hard work. Somebody is going to cheat off of their paper and they will be the ones to take the heat for it. They will have to work very hard to pay the bills and put food on the table while others don't lift a finger and have everything handed to them. Life is not fair. If we don't teach our children this fact from the very beginning, we are setting them up for a life of discouragement and defeat. In our home, we have purposefully done things differently for each child from the time they were born. For example: When I am out running errands, I might pick something up at the grocery store for one of my kids because it is just a perfect and affordable "just because" gift for them. I don't get the other kids anything that day. Another example: We do not set age requirements for privileges. Peter got a phone when he turned 11. That does not mean that the girls will get a phone when they're 11. Bethany just turned 11, and did not get phone service. She did however, get my old Iphone when she was 10 because it's just how it worked out. Chloe has nothing yet. Life's not even, life's not fair. Is it difficult sometimes to teach this lesson? Absolutely! There are days that I want to cave and go buy Chloe an Ipod so she doesn't feel left out. But if I do that now, she will go on expecting people to cater to her and make things "fair" in her mind for the rest of her life, and I love her too much to let her go into adulthood with that mindset.  Life isn't about being fair.  Wanting things to be fair is a very self-centered way of looking at life.  

This satisfied my children's questions, until the next time they think something isn't fair.  I just try to make sure my children know that we do what we do for their good, not just to make them miserable.  So far, they seem to appreciate it as much as a 10, 11, and 12 year old can!

How do you teach your kids about fairness?  Join the discussion at:

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Need a Life Coach!

Have you ever felt like you need a life coach?  There are so many times that I have said, only half-jokingly, that I just need someone who will make all my decisions for me.  I can get very overwhelmed at times when I just don't know what direction I should go.  The sad thing about these paralyzing moments in my life is that I know the truth!  I do have a Life Coach, I do have Someone who will guide every step for me, Someone who I have relied on hundreds of times before to guide my next steps.  I was reading in Isaiah tonight and came across a verse that brought this train of thought into my mind.

 Isaiah 28:29 says "This also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance."

  The first thought that popped into my head was, "Duh!  God is always faithful.  God will always be exactly who He is, His character is unfaltering.  If God is 'wonderful in counsel' and 'excellent in guidance', then I am the one causing the barrier when I find myself overwhelmed with no direction."  As I pondered that thought, a few more verses came to my mind that broadened the scope a bit.

John 16:13, speaking of the Holy Spirit, says "He will guide you into all truth." 

Proverbs 3:5-7 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

  Well, I know I'm saved and on my way to Heaven, therefore I have the Holy Spirit living in me according to God's Word.  Part of the promise that comes with the Holy Spirit is that He will guide me into all truth.  I know God will keep His promises, so if I am spinning around in circles with no direction then I have to ask myself if I am really acknowledging Him in all my ways.  When I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and I let Him call the shots, then there really is no reason for me to ever be overwhelmed in the decision making process.  I need to spend more time in the Word, more time in Prayer, and zero time worrying about everything.

At this point in my life, I am in a stage of waiting, and I think that's the hardest for me.  My mind equates waiting with lack of direction, but I just don't think that's true.  Sometimes, God's direction for us is to be patient and wait on the next step.  He will reveal it at the perfect time, so there really is no need for me to fret over it.  I can wait with an excited anticipation, but leave the worry and frustration at the door please!

 Thank you, Lord, for your perfect Word and for once again hitting me right between the eyes with it!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snuggle Up! Abiding in Christ

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love."  John 15:9

My youngest daughter, Chloe is turning 10 years old this week.  She's having a hard time with the whole growing up thing, and tends to act younger than she is.  My other two are trying to grow up too fast, so I guess they balance each other out!  One of Chloe's "baby-ish" traits is she still demands a LOT of snuggle time.  All children of all ages need to have plenty of quality time with their parents, and I am all for that, but this is more than just your normal quality time.  I think she has a radar that gives off an alarm anytime I sit down in my chair, because she is right there ready to climb up in my lap for a snuggle.  I'm not always able to give her the amount of time she'd like, but I can't resist a good snuggle time with my kids.

As I pondered on last weeks Bible Study in John 15, this picture of Chloe came to my mind.  I wonder what kind of change there would be in our lives if we were like that with Jesus..... radar up and ready to snuggle at a moments notice, constantly desiring more and more quality time.  I'm only human and consequently can only give so much to my kids.  Jesus, on the other hand, is a never ending source of quality time.  He DESIRES that we would abide in His love.  He wants a day in, day out relationship with us.  You will never be denied snuggle time, He is always faithful to meet our deepest needs, and the best part about abiding in Christ is that we reap the benefits.  My life is radically different when I'm abiding in Christ.

 John 15:10 goes on to say that "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." Our obedience to God (or lack thereof) tells us where our love for Him is.  You cannot love God and live in disobedience.  The two do not go together.  The only way I can live a life of obedience to God is by knowing how He wants me to live and that can only be found in His word.  As I spend time in the Bible and prayer, He reveals to me areas that I need to repent and turn to obedience.

When's the last time you climbed up into the lap of your Savior for some snuggle time?  He's waiting, so grab your Bible and a cup of hot chocolate and settle in for some quality time with Jesus!