Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

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Family Friday – Keep Your Marriage Safe

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Recently in the late hours of the night, while a subdivision of residents was fast asleep, a thief entered the quiet of the street and began making his way up driveways looking for unlocked cars. All he was interested in was cash, and any he found was taken.

What the thief didn’t know was that a security camera was right on him, taking footage of his sinful deeds.  Aside from seeing him enter unlocked cars, one thing noted on the security tape was that when he approached one vehicle that was locked, he simply moved away from it. There was no attempt at breaking in.  The security of the car door locks, kept him from taking what was not his.

As I thought about the crime, the Lord brought a truth to my mind about my marriage.  No one can steal away from our relationship unless we leave areas unlocked.  So then, we must check to be sure that we’re keeping our marriage safe.  Here are some security locks that need to be checked regularly:

  • Keep your marriage vows.
    • Love
      • Love is a choice, not a feeling. If you’re not “feeling it,” pray and ask God to help you love your husband – He will. Keep praying about it and don’t quit!
      • Love him thoroughly, the way you want to be loved. Accept him and don’t have any expectations of what he should be or should do.  Would you and I want to be held to our husband’s list of expectations?  We must accept him in the same way.
      • Love him physically. Don’t withhold your physical love as punishment.  Doing so could cause ramifications that could cause the thief to come in and steal what is supposed to be only yours.
    • Honor
      • This is the same as respect. A husband doesn’t earn it as the world says he must – you give it because God commands you to.  Eph 5:33 Honor him as unto the Lord, or as you would the Lord!  Your words, your reactions, your decisions – your whole married life is to show the man you married honor – the highest esteem.
    • Obey
      • He has ultimate leadership for your home. Whether you like his decision or disagree, God says the husband is the head, and unless what he is asking is sinful, then you must come under his authority. Period.
    • ‘Til death do you part
      • Never should we use the word, “Divorce.” Nor should we threaten to leave.  Marriage is for a lifetime.  Considering divorce is leaving an open door for the right situation to enter so we have an out.  (I realize divorce for fornication is allowed, but often lesser things cause those words to be spoken.)

So, how secure is your marriage?  Are you leaving an unlocked door in any of the areas above?  There are many other safeties we could discuss, but I believe if we’re  honoring our marriage vows, most of the other scenarios will be safe from danger.

Marriage is a gift from God that is a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ.  He keeps us secure for eternity.  I’m pretty sure I know a subdivision of people who will now be locking their car doors at night.  Don’t you wait until the thief comes to steal from your marriage before you do what is wise!  Keep it secure all the days of our life, “so long as you both shall live.”

Happy Easter!  Rejoice; He is risen, and that makes a difference in every area of life – even your marriage!

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A Telling Beauty Mark

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I confess, I enjoy watching make-up application videos.  It’s really enlightening (no pun intended!), and it’s also transforming in incredible ways!  The “before” and “after” pictures are pretty amazing!  The ladies doing the videos show how to apply, how to smudge, and how to make the most of every beauty mark on your face!  Their instructions tell you how to look your best.

But as I was reading the book of John recently, I came to this verse and I thought this is the best description of a “beauty mark.”  It says,

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,

if ye have love one to another.

This is the Lord’s instructions to us as to how to be the most attractive Christian. It’s wrapped up in one word in verb form – LOVE.

When you’ve been hurt – LOVE.

When you feel neglected – LOVE.

When you’re misunderstood – LOVE.

When you are mistreated – LOVE.

When you don’t know what else to do – LOVE.

Christ’s love, shown in His strength gives glory to Him, because we can’t love like that in our own flesh.  Think about all the places we could apply this beauty:

  • At home
  • At work
  • In the grocery store
  • In traffic!
  • In political situations
  • On Social media

It might be easier to get up and head out the door without applying makeup, but it’s not very pretty, is it?  On a higher plane, we need to stop and take time to apply Christ’s love to every situation so that we represent our Savior well.

Get in the Word – Learn of His love
Pray – Ask for His love
Go – Look for ways to demonstrate His love!

Will you wear the beauty of His love today?  Who needs to see it most?

Lovingly,

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Put Some Hope In Others!

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My husband went through a month-long series on Sunday nights of this past month entitled, “Be a Hope Put’er In’er and Not a Hope Take’r Out’er.”  All his messages were to put hope in marriages.  It was so practical and good!

As I went through my week after those messages, I thought about others who need hope. Everyone is going through something difficult from time to time.

We all deal with:

  • Illness
  • Personal trials in relationships
  • Financial struggles
  • Heartaches
  • Dealing with others’ sin that affects them
  • Death
  • Current events

So how can we put hope in and not take it out of folks?

You know how you pull up to the gas station and insert the nozzle into your car and then pump in the gas?  That’s how we should be spilling into others’ lives and giving them hope!  Pull the trigger and pour it in!

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Romans 15:4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

What a good Father we have, Who gave us the Scriptures so that we could live lives that are hope-filled!  We look in and we find promises that we can claim.  We read psalms and we are comforted.  We learn of people in the Bible like, Job, David, Jeremiah and Peter who went through hardships and we are encouraged by their lives and victories.  Jesus is all through the Bible, and we remember that He came to live, die and rise again to give us the best kind of Hope!

So when we bump into others who are going through a difficulty of small or immense proportions, how can we put hope into them?

  •  I think the best answer is pretty clear – give them God’s Word.  Any hope I can give is temporal  – but God’s Word will be lasting and it will give hope that meets the soul’s need.
    I’ve found that giving my human input, my stories of similar trials, my humanistic opinion, are empty and can even be hurtful. When I don’t know what to say, I can open the Scriptures with promises that will be just the balm that will instill the hope that is necessary.  I do that for my own heart, and I must learn to do the same for others.
  • After the Scripture is given, and you pray with that person, touch them.  Put your hand on their arm, or around their shoulders.  Human touch  is comforting.
  • Look for a need that they might have.
    •  A meal
    • A load of laundry done
    • A caregiver for their child for a couple hours so they can nap
    • A gift card for coffee
    • A change of scenery.  Invite them out!

Let’s be on the lookout this week for times when we can pump Hope into others, rather than draining it out of them!

Maybe you’re one who needs some hope today. Let me remind you that God sees.  God is bigger than your trial.  He is at work even when you can’t see it.  Keep your eyes upward at a God Who is your hope!

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Good Gracious – How To Develop a Gracious Spirit

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A woman had been standing in a long line at a busy grocery store. An over-worked cashier rushed in to open another check-out line and totally overlooked this woman, but instead pointed to another customer who had just walked up and said,”Sir, if you’ll come over here I’ll check your groceries for you.” How did the first woman respond?  She simply shrugged her shoulders and continued to wait.  She was gracious.

My husband, a huge fan of keeping up with the news, went out early several days in a row to find NO PAPER in the newspaper box. He wasn’t  too happy, so what did he do?  He called the office to calmly explain he wasn’t receiving a paper.  He learned that a new carrier was now delivering to our house.  She said,
“Sorry this has been a problem! You’re a paying customer  and you deserve to get a paper.” “Oh, it’s totally fine.”He responded, “The truth is, I don’t deserve anything but hell. It’s all of God’s grace and it’s totally fine.”  What kind of response was that?  Gracious.

A teacher at church was in a hurry to get things prepared for her Wednesday night class.  In the last precious moments, a child came skipping into the room to give her a hug and “chat.”  The teacher stopped, as though she had all the time in the world and gave that child her complete attention.  How very gracious she was!

Graciousness is a trait that seems to be slipping by the wayside. It seems everywhere we see people that are demanding their “rights.”   Here’s what it means to be gracious –

Gracious – pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.

It’s times that you can’t really can’t prepare for that require us to show graciousness.  You cannot anticipate the situation, but it requires a pleasantly kind response.  If you can’t prepare for it, how can you be sure you’ll respond in a gracious manner?  You realize and understand every day that you don’t deserve anything.  Our society shouts otherwise, but it’s not true. Because we’re all sinners, our sin deserves hell, but Christ paid the penalty, and it’s by His grace that when we trust in Him, we are saved from eternity without Him! We’re promised heaven and a relationship with the God of the universe!  That salvation, and everything after that is an unbelievable gift of His grace. As we walk under the control of the Holy Spirit, we can be gracious, as we witness in the life of Christ at every moment of His life, and even in His death.

I wonder if it would even be helpful for us to look at that situation that we think should have had a different outcome, and mentally, and maybe even verbally, say,

I don’t deserve ____________!
(the next place in line, a newspaper, time alone…)

Graciousness is developed with a keen sense of gratitude for what we do have.

You and I can respond graciously even at times like these…

  • At a restaurant, even though my steak wasn’t cooked exactly the way I wanted.  Respond graciously
  • Another birthday, even though no one remembered to send a card. Respond graciously
  • A few minutes in a hot bath, even though a child is knocking on the door the entire time. Respond graciously
  • A trip,
  • a cup of coffee,
  • a spouse,
  • a child,
  • a computer,
  • a bag of groceries,
  • a day of vacation,
  • a home,
  • a dishwasher,
  • a job,
  • a friend,
  • a church…

you add the “even though’s” and then add “respond graciously.”

Let’s live a gracious life – one that realizes that everything we have, are, enjoy, get to do or experience, are all grace gifts that are going to be touched with something that will require us to respond with a kind, courteous spirit.  You’ll be a blessing to be near, just like my examples above.

Have you witnessed graciousness? I’d love to hear about it!  And if you leave a response, I’ll promise to respond graciously.  =)

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Spend It All On Others

I am married to a man who has taught me so much about building relationships with people.  He’s always on the lookout for how he can make someone else’s life better, sweeter, or closer to God.  He does that with me, he does it with his friends, and he does that with strangers.  When you spend time with someone who has a large heart, the time goes so quickly.  They welcome you into their life.  They look you in the eye.  When you speak, they listen with their ears and their heart.

When I recently read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, it is obvious that he also had a magnanimous heart towards others.  Here’s what he said about his time spent with these people:  II Corinthians 12:15 –

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…

In other words, I will gladly spend whatever is needed for you.  That would include:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Energy
  • Effort
  • Thought
  • Preparation
  • Resources
  • My very life

Think about those with whom you’ll be spending time with today – your mate, your children, lost co-workers, a friend.  Will you GLADLY spend yourself for them?  What would that look like if you did? When you’re with them will you be “spent” when you are together?  Will you allow yourself to be so connected that you’re “spending” while you’re listening?  Will you let your heart love them so deeply that you’ll gladly give whatever it is they need – your full attention, time to pray for them, or even something tangible?

Selfish people really don’t know the blessing they’re missing when they are only concerned about their needs.  Let’s be like Paul today and determine to “be spent” with the kind of love that sent our Savior to the cross. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for His friends, giving us the premium example.

Spend for others today and watch for the blessing that will come to your own life!

With love,

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Consider Their Bonds

Making critical assumptions comes all too easily for me.

I see.

I assume.

I criticize.

Over and over the Lord makes me aware that I’ve done it…again.  How thankful I am for grace that forgives, but when will I Iearn???

Recently I heard about someone who wouldn’t be participating in something awesome. Immediately my mind began making its ascent up Mount Critical, stopping to take mental photographs along the way. The next day I was in another conversation and someone else casually mentioned the same person (the one I’d criticized) and a need in their life.  My heart ached for them – then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind that this was the reason they weren’t able to participate!  They were suffering in a way that I had no idea!  Instead of criticizing them, I should have automatically assumed there was a reason, rather than assuming they were slacking!

This morning in my Bible reading I came across a simple phrase that Paul said to the Colossians –

Remember my bonds.

Paul was suffering for the Gospel’s sake.  He was patiently enduring while he was imprisoned.  What would it do for the Colossians if they would remember Paul’s bonds?  The same thing it does for me when I wisely consider another person’s trials, known or unknown:

  • It would make us compassionate
  • It would drive us to pray for that person
  • It would keep our heart tender
  • It would keep us from criticism
  • It would cause us to be understanding and magnanimous

We don’t always know what’s going on in another person’s life.  If truth be known, I’m sure we usually don’t know what others are dealing with.  We all have trials and would appreciate others being thoughtful of them, right?  Perhaps like me, you need to be reminded of Paul’s bonds, and those of the people that you live with, live next door to, work with, or those with whom you attend church.

Less criticism, more mindful of their bonds

that’s my new motto!

What does “Remember my bonds” say to you?

Refresh others by your loving consideration,

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