Hope in the Dark
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 The world watched with anticipation last week as 12 Thai soccer players and their coach were heroically rescued from the cave which held them captive almost two weeks. The entire story is nothing short of miraculous as the valiant rescuers raced against time to bring each boy and their coach out of the cave and into safety. It certainly tugged on every mother’s heartstring

I couldn’t quit thinking about what it must have been like for the team to be trapped 9 days in darkness as they waited and hoped for help to arrive.

At the time of this writing, we don’t have all the information about those dark days, but we do know they survived by drinking water dripping along the walls of the cave and eating birthday snacks which they had just purchased for one of their teammates. The coach, a former Buddhist monk, led them in mediation which helped to keep them calm.

I started thinking, how would I handle days of complete darkness, not knowing if you would be rescued?  How would I keep hope alive?

We all go through dark days in our lives, whether it is a grim cancer diagnosis or a discouraging job situation or a difficult marriage. Hope may be impossible to see, but that’s the nature of hope. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers,  “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although we may not be able to see the outcome, we can trust that God sees our situation. Paul wrote these words of encouragement, “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  By the power of His Spirit, we can begin to experience abundant hope in the midst of the dark cave, along with joy and peace.

When you find yourself in a dark place, here are three practical principles to help you gain hope:

Stay Calm – The soccer team may have sought peace through meditation, but we can find it through prayer. Prayer is a calming factor because we are bringing our cares to our loving Father and seeking His help, comfort and guidance. Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule (referee) your heart.”

Consider What You Do Have – The Thai soccer team didn’t have a banquet of food, but they did have a birthday snacks. They had fresh water trickling down the walls of the cave. In a similar way, we must turn our focus on the provisions God has given us. Let’s take time each day to thank the Lord for His provisions and the helpful people He has placed in our lives.

Ask for Strength – The Bible reminds us that those who wait on the Lord gain new strength. Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let us not think that we fight our battles alone. Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to make it through the night. He gives strength to the weary.

We may not be able to see hope in the midst of our darkness, but we know that God sees our situation no matter how dark the night. Let us say with the psalmist David:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.

 My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
 O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:5-7

Positive Life Principles for Moms
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As moms, we can easily feel discouraged. Whether it’s endless piles of laundry or potty training or simply trying to get out the door on time, it’s easy to lose sight of hope. How do we pick ourselves up again and keep going? Here are a few life principles to adopt as moms:

Take small steps. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming, so let’s learn to take incremental  steps forward and celebrate the little victories along the way. Create a few simple daily goals that are doable and move step by step in a positive direction.

Change the focus.  Life looks pretty bleak if we only focus on our problems. Let’s stop looking at what we can’t do, and consider what we can do. There is always a bright side, but we must be looking for it. Let’s make a deliberate effort to concentrate on what can be done and the possibilities ahead of us.

Be flexible. When we are fixed on only one outcome, we open ourselves up to defeat. Let’s be willing to adapt and adjust to Plan B for the day. Could it be that “B” stands for Better? Considering a variety of scenarios allows us to adjust our goals and broaden our horizon.

Ask Questions. Discouraging situations also bring opportunities for growth and learning. We can ask questions such as, “How can I do better next time?” “What can I learn from this?” “How can I help others as a result of this?” “Are there other people I need to seek out for counsel or help?”

Have patience. Let’s face it, waiting is hard, but if we persevere we will find that we become stronger and more courageous as we wade through deep waters. Victory, success and change take time. Hang in there and remind yourself that most things get better or easier over time. Even if our circumstances seem like they won’t change for a while, the good news is that we can grow and become better in the process.

Most important, let’s remember that we are not alone. There are other moms who have gone through similar tough times. We can reach out to them for advice, and we can find encouragement from their example. We can also find strength and hope in our faith that God will give us the courage we need one day at a time.

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For more on overcoming challenges, check out Karol’s updated version of The Power of a Positive Mom, Including QR codes with video messages from Karol.

Photo by Danilo Batista on Unsplash

Closing Out a Star-Spangled Week
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As we close out the week of Independence Day, let’s take some time to reflect on what it means to live in a free country. Truly we are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy –  the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But with freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility to live with:

  • Integrity to do the right thing.
  • Wisdom to always tell the truth.
  • Compassion and kindness toward every person.

Our society functions best when we choose to live respectfully and responsibly in regards to others. Ultimately, the greatest statement of respect and responsibility was spoken by the One who sacrificed His life for our freedom. Simply put, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Life tends to fall into place when we have these priorities in place.

My fellow writer and Baylor Bear, Ben Hagins, poetically put it this way:

This week we celebrate

The Fourth of July

To enjoy our freedoms

But let me ask why

 

Did so many go before us

And serve the country they love?

To protect our liberties

So we can worship the One above

 

Who gives us a choice

To pursue any quest,

With a mission and a goal

Of having happiness.

 

Now the privileges we have

Mean we can’t do just anything.

Put your God first, and others second.

You’ll be happy when freedom rings.

Ben Hagins, Woodway, Texas

 

May each of us live with love, joy and passion as we enjoy freedom and embrace responsibility.

Be sure to check out books at the library for the kids which teach about our country’s heritage.  One of my favorite books is The Light and the Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea  both by Marshall and Manuel.  Excellent books which teach about our true beginnings as a nation.

 

Of course there are also wonderful riches about freedom found in God’s word.  Read in Exodus about the freedom the Israelites experienced from Egypt.  More importantly teach your kids about the freedom from sin which we experience through Christ.  If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.

Feeling Scattered?
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Do you have days when you run in twenty different directions, yet never seem to accomplish anything on your To Do list? Every mom knows that feeling. Between the distractions on our cell phones, interruptions of the unexpected and overloaded schedules (both kids and ours), most of us find it difficult to simply move from Point A to Point B of our daily tasks.

One way to help us stay focused and on task is to apply what I call the “Principle of Three.” Generally speaking, our brains find it easier to remember things in threes. In writing, the “Rule of Three,” suggests that a trio of three characters or events are more satisfying, effective and even funnier than other numbers (The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Three Blind Mice). And of course, every preacher knows the power of a 3-point sermon. The Principle of Three is seen throughout nature: three primary colors, three parts of a human (body, mind and spirit) and three beings in the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit).

If we apply the Principle of Three to our daily life as a mom, it can help us to feel a sense of accomplishment in our day. As you write out your To Do List each morning (some prefer to write it out the night before), choose 3 priorities from the list. What 3 things are essential to accomplish for the day? Use a highlighter to designate your top 3 priorities and work steadily to accomplish them. With a focus of 3, you are more likely to remember and accomplish the essentials for each day.

Take a broader perspective for the week. On Sunday afternoon, consider the week ahead and write down three priorities for the week. Maybe it is to get the kids new bathing suits, enroll them in an art class, and get the laundry done. As you move through the week, keep your three priorities in focus. This will help you decide what’s important and what can wait. You will also be able to look back on the week with a smile and realize – I Did It! I accomplished 3 things!

Another way to apply the Principle of Three is to prayerfully think about  three character qualities you want to see growing in your kids’ lives. Write them on an index card and place it where all the family members can see it. Words such as kindness, honesty, thankfulness can serve as an inspiration to everyone in the house.

There are many other ways to apply the Principle of Three to your personal life. Start each day with this combination of 3: pray, read, and count your blessings. You will find that your perspective is clearer and your outlook on life is brighter.

In what ways can you apply the Principle of Three to your daily routine?

 

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

The Comparison Trap
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Many years ago I coached high school track. One important lesson I taught to my sprinters was to keep their eyes on the finish line.  If a sprinter takes even a second to glance at the runners on either side of her – she’s lost the race. In running as well as in life, we must learn to keep our eyes on the race we are running and not become distracted by comparing ourselves with others.  Easier said than done, right? As women, we so quickly begin to compare with the other women around us. All it takes is a quick glance at Instagram and our mind starts rolling. She’s prettier, she’s better, she does it all, I’m a nobody, I’m a failure….

It’s a trap we can easily stumble into, and in the process we become dissatisfied with who we are and what God has planned for us. We tend to lose sight of what our purpose is in life.  Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul, with his powerfully purpose-filled life, was able to say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God is calling me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Just as a sprinter keeps her eye on the goal or the finish line, so we need to keep our eyes fixed on the purpose God has given us and not be distracted by envy, jealousy or comparisons. True maturity is when we can look with joy at how God is blessing others and sincerely be thankful for the way God uses each one of us in a variety ways and in different styles.

There is only one you. God made you with a unique set of gifts and talents and with a distinctive purpose in this world. When we keep our eyes on the fact that God is at work in and through us to accomplish what He put us on this earth to do, we begin to feel a joyful confidence. We can rejoice in our assignment in the big scheme of life. On the other hand, when we start looking at everyone else and begin to compare ourselves with others, we either become prideful or we become jealous. Comparisons tend to zap us of our strength, distract us from our purpose and throw us off course from our goals.

Positive Life Strategy

Positive Truth

God has a unique plan for each one of us which He carries out

using the gifs and talents He has given us.

 

Plan of Action

  • Guard your mind against comparing with others by turning your focus upwards.
  • Ask for God’s help and direction as you use your unique gifts and talents.
  • Open your eyes to the blessings that God has given you right now.
  • Thank Him for His unique plan for your life every day.
  • Rejoice in who the Lord is and the work He is doing in your life as well as in others.
  • Be happy with others for the good things happening in their lives.

 

Pay it Forward

Celebrate someone else’s success by letting them know that you are rejoicing with them. Write them a note, bring them flowers or do something kind for them as you give thanks for the wonderful and unique plan God has for their life. Consider someone who has recently experienced a blessing in their life, whether an achievement, an honor or a promotion. Maybe it is someone who has just gotten married or had a new baby. You may even want to consider someone who has sparked a slight bit of jealousy in your mind. Determine to be truly happy for them and honor them for the good that has come to them.

This is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women  https://positivewomanconnection.com/books/#encourage

 

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

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