October 16, 2016
Life is a process.
To God process isn’t a means to an end; it is the goal.
Whatever sends us running to Him, makes us embrace Him,
causes us to depend on Him, is the best good in our lives.
You can label me a certified zoo-aholic. I love to visit the zoo and observe God’s amazing creation in the animal kingdom. My girls, on the other hand, were zooed-out by the time they were seven years old, because I insisted on dragging them to every zoo in every city we ever visited. Now that my daughters are having kids of their own, I have the opportunity to take my precious grandbabies to the zoo! I love it!
What do you like most when you visit the zoo? Personally, I take great joy in observing the newborns: the baby chimp playing with its mother, the sweet little lamb standing next to the wooly ewe, the squealing piglets snuggling up against the big mother sow. Not too long ago a baby elephant was born at our local zoo. Watching the super-sized baby lovingly interacting with its ten-thousand-pound mother was an amazing sight!
I think the most precious scene anyone can observe is that of a mother and child, snuggled together and resting peacefully. I’m not just talking about animals. Do you remember those wonderful, peaceful moments when you held your own sleeping newborn in your arms? Could there be a more beautiful picture of calm and comfort?
Let’s go a step further. Have you ever pictured yourself nestled in the divine embrace of your Heavenly Father? The Bible says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” Isaiah 40:11. Isn’t that a wonderful picture of the tender love and care God wants to demonstrate toward us and our families? As a mom, I often feel frazzled, worried, and worn; yet when I take my cares to my Heavenly Father in prayer, I sense His loving arms wrapping gently around me, and I hear the beat of His heart.
Jesus said to His followers, “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light” Matthew 11:28-30. I believe Jesus is saying those same words to you and me today. We can find our rest in Him. He provides calm in our lives, even when our circumstance may seem a little less than calm.
My hope is that as you turn your heart toward Him in prayer and reading the Bible, you will sense the nudge of God’s presence in your own life. I encourage you to invite God to join you each step of your day as face the joys of motherhood. Ask Him for His help and guidance as you seek to create a calm environment and strengthen your family relationships. My prayer is that you will know God in an ever-increasing, more personal way, as you accept His great love for you, and recognize His hand in the details of your life.
May God bless you with his special favor and wonderful peace
as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better.
2 Peter 1:2 NLT
This blog entry is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm Less Stress
October 9, 2016
Enjoying our families can be one of life’s richest rewards for us as moms. But unless we’re deliberate in choosing and embracing that enjoyment, the cares of this life are likely to choke the joy away. The choice is like a coin with two sides. We must choose to take joy in our families—which means choosing to be less annoyed by individual family members. Easier said than done, right? Allow me to share a simple plan to encourage more enjoyment and less annoyance in your home. Just remember these three words: stop, look and listen.
First, stop expecting your family members to be just like you. Each person in your family was created by God to be unique and special. If you have ever studied personality traits, you know that some personalities are naturally driven to succeed; others love to have fun; others are worker bees behind the scenes; and still others are easy going, without a care in the world. Most of us are a combination or blend of two or more personality traits.
The problem arises when we don’t understand that our sons or daughters (or spouses, for that matter) are different from us. They’re bound to react differently to situations and feel differently when circumstances change. We begin to experience true enjoyment, however, when we stop being annoyed by these differences and begin to appreciate each person’s uniqueness. God made us different for a purpose. Let’s rejoice in the differences and appreciate the fact that God intentionally blends different people together to form unique families—each one collectively beautiful in God’s sight.
Second, look for the good qualities in each of your children (and your spouse too). Focus on their strengths, not just their weaknesses. Imagine an invisible sign on each person’s chest that reads, “I want to feel important.” Make it your job to help them feel that way! Build up your family members and help them see their own good character qualities. Thank the Lord for the gift those qualities are to you.
As you do these things, you’re bound to find that you’re enjoying your family immensely. Why? Because you are seeing them as a treasure, and you are blessing them in the process. There is great joy in helping others be the best they can be—especially when they live under the same roof with us.
Finally, listen to your family members. Get to know them by really listening when they share about what makes them happy, as well as when they share their frustrations and anger. Study your children by truly hearing them. Be attentive to their hearts as you listen for the message that’s below the surface level of words.
Your teenage daughter, for example, may lash out at you for not being allowed to go to a certain party; but if you really listen, you may hear the sound of an underlying loneliness in her heart. You can respond, then, not to her harsh words, but to her heart’s cry, helping her to understand that going to the party will not bring her the good, long-term friendships she seeks. You can also offer positive suggestions for developing new friendships. The result: She still can’t go to the party, but now she feels heard and understood, and she can begin to move in a positive direction toward alleviating her sense of loneliness.
When we demand a behavior without giving our children an opportunity to feel heard or understood, we open the doors to defiance and rebellion—and annoyance. Stopping, looking, and listening, however, lead to enjoyment of our families and of each family member individually. Why? Because joy develops when we appreciate, encourage, and understand one another. Let’s start enjoying, not annoying! The following verses by A.F. Bayley can be our prayer:
Help us, O Lord, our homes to make
Thy Holy Spirit’s dwelling place;
Our hands and hearts’ devotion take
To be the servants of thy grace.
October 3, 2016
When was the last time you had your day all figured out, but then circumstances completely reshuffled your plans? Maybe a child woke up sick and had to stay home from school; a friend called needing to talk through a difficult emotional issue; a repair man showed up late and took too long. Whatever the case, something unexpected happened, and your best-laid plans went right out the window.
Or maybe you’ve had to deal with more than a few messed-up days. Maybe the circumstances in your life have reshuffled not only your plans but your dreams. A child with a long term illness, a divorce, a financial crisis that forced you to go back to work—whatever the circumstances, you feel as if life has thrown you a major curve ball.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could spend our days walking down a clear, straight path toward our life dreams? Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. In real life, change happens. I wish it didn’t, but it always does. That means if we want to lead lives of more calm and less stress, we need to learn to adjust and adapt. More than that, we need to learn to be flexible and leave any tendency toward grumbling behind.
When I was a junior high math teacher, I taught my students that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I taught equations with numbers that fit into perfect formulas. In life, however, God rarely takes us on the shortest path from A to B. His equations don’t always fit into a perfect A + B = C formula. Why? Because He has a bigger overall plan for our lives than we know, and His equations serve a greater purpose than simply solving our day to day problems.
God says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9). Whether our plans change due to circumstances beyond our control or because of choices we make, we can rest assured that God’s has a greater plan and purpose for our lives—and it hasn’t changed. He will use all the complex variables in our lives to create a unique and beautiful formula that is sure to complete His perfect plan.
The fifth-century Greek historian Herodotus wrote, “There is nothing permanent except change.” Change is inevitable. The question is, how will we handle it? Will we adapt, or will we fall apart? Will we find joy in the process, or will we grumble and complain, making everyone miserable along with us? The choice is ours. Being flexible means more than just adapting or adjusting; it means adapting or adjusting without grumbling, complaining, or losing our tempers with our families. Flexibility begins in our minds, moves to our hearts, and flows out through our actions. As William J. Johnson said, “The most significant change in a person’s life is a change of attitude. Right attitudes produce right actions.”
This week, let’s thank God for the twists and challenges, and teach our kids to do the same.
This is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress
September 20, 2016
You will find as you look back upon your life
that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived,
are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love.
If you want to have a happy, almost euphoric feeling inside, go do something for someone else. That’s right! If you are having a bad day, lift someone else up and you will be lifted up as well. It’s one thing to read about the joy of showing compassion to another person, it is another thing to experience it yourself. I can tell you from personal experience the best way to get rid of the grumbles (whether it’s yours or your kid’s) is to reach out in love and serve another human being. As we learn the joy of service we can teach it to our family.
Not too long ago on a Saturday morning I was wishing I had not signed up to serve at the local Special Olympics Soft Ball and Bocce Ball tournament. Oh yes, there were about 20 million other things I needed to accomplish that Saturday morning, but I had signed up along with my teenage daughters, and we had to keep our commitment. They weren’t so thrilled about our obligation either. As we arrived they assigned us to three different Bocce Ball games. Of course we had a little bit of a learning curve because we had never even heard of the game, much less played it and now we were helping to score!
The more important part of the job was to encourage, hug and help the participants. We learned, we helped and we cheered. We were surrounded by simple and loving people of all ages, sizes, races and degrees of physical challenge. The precious joy and enthusiasm of the Special Olympics participants was contagious. Soon we were all smiles as we opened our loving arms to our special new friends. The car ride back home was filled with a different emotion than when we drove to the event. Our spirits were jovial as we shared stories of the precious people we had encountered and how they each enriched our hearts.
I wouldn’t trade that Saturday morning for the world. Money can’t buy a life lesson like this one. We experienced the true joy which comes from giving, not from receiving or taking. As a mom, I could have told my daughters until I was blue in the face, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But they got the message loud and clear by doing it. As a family we have taken other opportunities to feed the homeless, work at the Angel Tree at the mall and visit families in need, and we have been enriched with joy every time.
Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you where to serve as a family, and then keep your eyes open. God will show you and direct you in the joy of serving, loving and giving. Several years ago, God led me to start an organization called Engage Positive Parenting Initiative, reaching into the lives of men and women in impoverished communities throughout Dallas. To learn more about how you can touch the lives of other parents, visit www.EngageParenting.com
We are participating in North Texas Giving Day on Sept 22 (that’s this Thursday!). Here is the link and be sure to choose Engage Parenting in the Organization box. http://womensnpa.wpengine.com/donate/north-texas-giving-day/
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue,
but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:18
September 13, 2016
What kind of glasses are you wearing right now, figuratively speaking? In other words, how do you choose to view your circumstances? Every day we have a choice: Will we look at our lives through the dark glasses of despair, or will we see our world through the bright glasses of hope? It’s so easy—even natural—to put on dark glasses and view our troubles with worry, pessimism, and despair. It takes faith, patience, and strength to remove those dark glasses and put on brighter ones.
When we do, though—when we view our world through eyes of hope—we see things a little differently. We recognize that although our circumstances may be difficult, God has not left us. We understand that He will hold us up through our struggles and strengthen us through the dark times.
The early Christians of the Bible lived in uncertain times. Many were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ. But Paul gave his fellow Christians a message of encouragement and hope. He told them where to put their focus:
So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever. II Corinthians 4:16-18
The bright glasses of hope help us to focus on the possibilities of what God can do through our circumstances. Hope reminds us of the strength He can give, even when we feel weak. Hope reminds us that there is a bigger picture – an eternal picture. The dark glasses of despair, on the other hand, lead us to focus on the temporary situations, circumstances, and annoying people right in front of us. Difficulties come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all. One woman may be struggling with a difficult marriage, another with inadequate finances, another with a rebellious teenager, another with a physical disability. The question is not, what are you going through? The question is, how will you choose to view what you are going through? Hope looks past the circumstances and sees the possibilities!
After I presented the glasses analogy to one group of ladies, a woman came up to me and said, “I’m going straight to Walmart, and I’m going to buy two pairs of glasses, one bright pair and one dark pair. I’m going to put them by my kitchen sink to help me remember that I have a choice every day as to how I will view my world and my circumstances.” Not a bad idea!
This is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress