Handling Nellie Olesons

Those of you might remember Nellie Oleson, the sassy, outspoken classmate of Laura Ingalls in the book and television series, Little House on the Prairie. She was ruthless, heartless, self righteous, lacked compassion and never hesitated to put down another. We’ve all had face to face tine with Nellies.

Talked with them.

Been in relationship with them.

Hurt by them.

Their names may not be Nellie, they may not have blonde hair nor the snootiness that went along with an ungrateful upper-class lifestyle,  but their spirit, demeanor and attributes might bear a close resemblance.

It’s one thing to deal with the pains from people in our own lives as grown adults, or be challenged in putting to rest the unwanted hurts that came from the Nellies of yesterday, but when it comes to helping our children handle the Nellie Olesons in their lives, how do we best encourage and direct them to be God-centered when dealing those difficult people?

Our teaching must first start with our own clean and solid foundation. Perhaps we need to ask, “What are my responses in dealing with difficult people? What are my children seeing and overhearing as they observe my reaction when it comes to dealing with the offenses from others? What am I carrying or what filter am I projecting a possible negative attitude through from my past?”

Ouch!

You mean FIRST take the plank out from my own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s? (Matthew 7:3-5)

Yes.

Do I have to?

Yes, mama.

God calls us to do that. First.

When we can clean up our personal grudges, bitterness, and hurts and release the Nellies from our lives into God’s hands, including the hurt and frustration or perhaps sin we have committed from those pains, we can better equip our children to take the same approach and action. Do we really want them to hang onto those hurts others have caused or allow the affects of painful acts from people to tear down their beautiful spirits and all that God has for them and created in them?

No.

But over time, that pain of rejection can tear down spirits and cause discouragement and despair. Time brings healing but it can also be the catalyst for a snowball of bitterness and resentment that leads to all sorts of negative voices that speak into our minds.  You don’t want your children to have that kind of echo playing nor the kind of life that has harbored anger from years gone by.

Neither does God.

If we have tension, anger, are reactive and angry, we may very well parent and coach our kids from the same foundation and our children will take our cues. If we haven’t released  our resentment, our instruction might very well be tainted with the emotional charge that comes from our personal pain. We may subtly be teaching our children that holding a grudge and hanging onto resentment is the way to react and the direction to go. Ultimately, their relationships could greatly suffer later in life, and their ability to resolve conflict, never attained.

So let’s move them and ourselves in another direction.

Easier said than done, I know.

But God enables us. His strength, not ours.

I had a few Nellie Olesons as a child who definitely left scars. I wish I had then, known a God who could help me process that pain and to show me who I truly was by His design. Better late than never, and thankfully, my children will have a different view of themselves other than the perspective of their own vision and the vision of others. As long as I point them to God, I pray that their identity and self esteem will be founded on who He is, not determined by someone else’s opinion.

How about you? If you take that past hurt or problem and process it with God, you may very well be surprised as to how He can empower you through those spots where you feel vulnerable, release you from victimhood and replenish you with His perspective on who you are and who He has called you to be. You are no less of a Godly person because someone mistreats you. Your identity is in His care…not the care of others. People, bosses, friends, colleagues didn’t design you. God did. How you handle that mistreatment may very well be make the difference between healing and suffering and taking in love while releasing hatred. You might teach someone about the person of God through yoru ability to forgive and you (and your child), just might be the light somone needs in their lives.

So now that we have you taken care, how about your children? Like I said, when you start with yourself, that’s the first great step because now you are a source of credibility in knowing and understanding their pain. The difference is, while being empathetic when your child shares with you his/her pain, you are going to take the high road in your speech and not react as much as it might be hard to resist.

How?

You are going to first, understand. When they start expressing their emotions, you will of course listen with empathy, compassion and understanding. “Tell me about that.” “That must have been really hard.” I would be so frustrated and angry, too!” Be real with them. They are humans. This is human, yucky stuff. Being a child of God does not mean we don’t experience emotions.

And then help move them forward.

You might:

Pray with your child about their feelings and ask God for His direction and counsel–together.

Offer to pray with your child for that person who has hurt them (a hard one but nonetheless that person needs the power of God in their lives, yes?) Your child’s prayers might be the best thing that ever happened to that Nellie.

Decide to read through God’s promises together as a reminder of who God is (He is “an ever present help in times of trouble,” for example, Psalm 46:1). In situations like these, we have to study the character of God and give Him the focus in our troubles.   In return, He gives us His promises of strength, power and wisdom. He gives us peace. God needs to receive just as much attention and focus from us if not more, than the Nellies in our lives. Afterall, He is worthy of our praise and focus. Nellie is not.

Read about God’s people who experienced suffering at the hand of others (age appropriate, of course.) There are people in scripture who are encouraging examples of how God used their pain for something greater and how He empowered them to overcome their hardships (for example, Joseph, Gideon, Moses, Mary, Jesus Himself and so many more who were ridiculed, hurt, ostracized or met with opposition from an unfriendly foe.) But God took care of them. He also took care of their enemies. He is the ultimate judge…and in His time, He will act justly and accordingly with all of us. Everyone gives an account. (Romans 14:10-12)

Pray and ask God to give you and your child insight and wisdom. A level-headed response and a pure heart are the ways of the Lord and ultimately, the ways that make YOU and more like HIM. And you are not a Nellie. (“Create in me a clean heart Oh Lord and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10)

Hopefully, our children will have more Lauras in their lives than Nellies, but when those Nellies do show up, they don’t have to tear down our souls. If they do, we need to ask God for His power and over our abilities and where we feel weak. He will equip us and strengthen us.

And that truth you can take to any prairie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, for a Little Truth

What “truth” are you listening to right now?

Something someone said or did that is hard to release?  Are you hearing  a voice inside that lures you to believe something discouraging about yourself or that pulls you in a direction you are not quite sure you are comfortable going in? Try not to be tempted to listen to those voices of negativity or doubt, but to God’s uplifting voice, truths and approaches.  And if in doubt, ask Him to show you.

He answers.

Whether it’s how to handle a difficult situation or an approach to take with your child, God does reveal His truth to us in so many personal ways (through pangs in our hearts, friends, a spoken word, circumstances, prayer and His word. He really does speak to us in ways that are meant for us to recognize.)

We don’t have to wrestle with…

Our thoughts.

Our doubts.

Our fears….or

Our own voices sometimes fraught with doubt, gloom and doom.

We can ask for guidance in the right and truthful ways in which to go.  “I, the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.”  (Isaiah 45:19)

As moms, it is not always easy to discern what is absolutely right when it comes to the little lives whom we are protecting and shaping…let’s pray and see how God directs us.  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ “ (Isaiah 30:21)

What truth might God be showing you today? Is it more tempting to listen to your voice rather than His? What happens when we do listen?

Purpose over Plans

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“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs. 19:21

Busy, busy, busy. Go, go, go. Plan, plan, plan. In the midst of your planning, what might God have for you today? A message? An opportunity? A conviction? A different direction? Perhaps it will be an encounter, an idea or an unexpected conversation.

Enjoy the fulfillment of your plans and intentions today, moms, and look for God’s purposes in them. You may be heading for fun in the sun at the beach, enjoying a hike, getting together with family and friends, hearing a sermon, serving or worshiping.  You have your ideas about what your plans look like and God has His ideas about what He wants to accomplish in your plans.  His purposes will prevail so be on the lookout for what might be happening in your head, emotions, relationships or home. And you might be surprised at what you discover your plans bring!

What purpose(s) may God be trying to accomplish THROUGH your plans today?

A Homerun from the Dugout

I have it on good authority that a lot of you are in the baby trenches or the baby dugout as I like to call it, anticipating a time when you can get up to bat and move around those bases.  Perhaps those white squares represent different seasons you are eagerly awaiting

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to land on with your baby or toddler, but for now, you are longing to get up to bat or just make it on deck and practice your swing. Practice anything.

While you are in the dugout, have faith that God is doing a work in you and in your baby, your time, your connection, the bonding and nurturing while the minutes tick on.  You may feel as if you are watching the innings pass before you with little action or zero runs batted in, but at the end of the day, you were in the game and my guess is, played it pretty well. And THAT mom, is a homerun you can feel good about hitting. Tag your bases, and keep running.  You are doing great. And if you can’t tag them quite yet, look forward to the time when you can and make the most of your time in the dugout.  There’s much to be gained while on the bench and you’ll be up at bat soon enough.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2

The Steps of a Mother are Many

May what you are trying to accomplish as a mom be accomplished one step at a time, bit by little bit. Teaching, instructing, leading and guiding as a mother is a process that we take on without having had preparation or very little at best.  We lead our children as well as we can while we are being led.  We arrive on the scene green and get practiced quickly till we feel blue in the face, or red, purple, just name your color.  At times, these teaching moments for us and our children take place while rocking in a glider, standing over the changing table or potty, while pushing a shopping cart at the store, driving in the car to and from activities, on the mattress’ edge, dialoguing before bedtime, or during a zillion other moments when we are mothering. Sometimes during the mundane moments, other times when we

A Regretful Miss, By Dana Joubert (Guest Blogger & Writer)

Today the first little person to steal my heart, leaves our home for good.  Raising him has been a struggle, from the custody and court battles in his early years, to the financial stress as a single mom, to the arrests and rule breaking that has plagued his young adulthood. In fact it is that very real issue of continually making rotten choices that led to this move today. While I had dreams that this day would involve a college degree, a wedding or a career offer, I have no regrets about my choice to tell him it was time to go. Discipline wise, my only wish is that I had been more consistent.
I have no regrets that once in a while I lost my temper and yelled, we are all human right? I have no regrets that I fed him processed crap in the early years, we do our best with the knowledge we have at the time, you know? I have no regrets that sometimes I couldn’t keep up with the laundry and he had to wear dirty clothing to school, or that the kitchen counter was sticky, although he complained about both. I also do not have any remorse over his journey with God. I have accepted it is his path to follow, and am pleased that he has worked out his doubts and is now a believer.
Yet, there are deep regrets. It is with sorrow that I remember how many times in exasperation, I ended conversations with him. I cringe when I think of how he must have felt when I brushed off his concerns, ignored his attention requests and expressed my annoyance.
Last night we played cards for hours. We giggled, we teased, we discussed everything. No topic was taboo in our random stream of consciousness conversation, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his thoughts on a wide range of subjects; WWII, math, comic books, and conspiracy theories were among the topics of the night.  These bittersweet moments only served to highlight the things I missed out on.
Yes, my regrets go much deeper than mismatched socks and arguing.  I regret allowing the day to day monotony get in the way of knowing this amazing young man. I regret lecturing instead of listening. I regret not putting our relationship as a priority. When I think of Jesus, who I want to shine through me as I mother my children, I think of his relationships.  He never lost one iota of his authority as he went about his ministry with his disciples, but he loved them as friends, he listened to them, he cherished them. This is evident throughout the gospels, but the Book of John displays this most dramatically, as John refers to himself as the Beloved Disciple.  I regret not being a friend to him.
So when you hear people saying that parents shouldn’t be their children’s friends, think about the time, energy and respect, that you pour into your friendships, think about the passion and love that Jesus showered on his friends, and make it your mission to not be a victim of regret.

Dana is a mother of four, parent educator and university writing instructor. In her free time she reads science fiction, writes, and runs.

Kaboom! The Root of Your True Strength in the Explosions

Isn’t it amazing how discouraged we can feel when an unpredicted, unplanned moment takes over our emotions, responses and entire being? Do you ever turn into crazy mama? I know I do!  Maybe you are trying to get out the door for school with your children and you are feeling hurried and rushed. Boom, or rather kaboom! Explosion hits–there is yelling, tears and frustration on both ends. There are flames, smoke, then ashes, and you were the source or contributing factor in the ignition. That’s the worst–knowing that I was the reason for causing upsetness within my child because I lacked self control, patience and couldn’t keep my tone of voice together.

I have found that dropping to my knees in prayer when I have the next free moment, before I do ANYTHING else (if I can), and asking God to help transform me when I get in my own way or in my children’s way, is not only calming, but truly TRANSFORMING. I can call a friend, drink my favorite blend of coffee to aid in the process of feeling better, but what I really need to do first, is go to God, confess my heart and seek His help. And then I need to ask that the discouragement and resentment that I have toward myself, gets taken and that He give me a new spirit, perspective and new opportunity to extend the same grace He gives me, to my children.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:7 Like King David when fighting military battles,  his confidence did not come from earthly resources, but from the power and authority he knew God had over his life. Do you believe that God has that kind of power over your life today? Are you needing His strength in a way that you can’t give to yourself? Our days are filled with so many details as we parent, work, run and take care of the home and ourselves. We can hike, take a relaxing yoga class, exercise and do all of those things that help us to feel better, and they are important to do because we want to be healthy, balanced and pursue what we enjoy. Let’s just not forget to go to God when we need to be filled in the right way.  For it is in those moments when we are truly depending on Him, when He will have the victory over us so we can not feel nor be defeated.

“May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.” Psalm 20:1

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

“My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

 

 

A Goodnight Message

The day draws to a close….tomorrow is a new day with more I love yous to be said, bigger hugs to give and lots of kisses to plant on those soft cheeks. Your children LOVE you, and for all the teaching, instructing and shaping we do in their lives, it’s quite amazing how much shaping they do in ours, isn’t it, moms? Pleasant dreams to all of YOU! What you do matters.

Hard Stuff Equals Good Stuff

Moms, I want to encourage you that the next time something happens that is distressing, ask God how He can use the experience to shape you. Shift your perspective. Usually, there is something going on where we can examine our hearts and take a look beyond the surface of the situation and go deeper into our character or motives and understand ourselves a little better. We don’t have to leave our plights or frustrations in the muck and mire. Take the frustration out to a meadow and let it lay in the sun.

Tonight, I did not react well when I was frustrated. Sometimes I wonder why God blessed me with this privilege of motherhood when I see certain traits exhibited in myself that are loathsome. But we have a second chance. And third, and fourth. With God, we get to do do-overs because He gently refines us and never shames us (we shame ourselves, but He does not).

You have a race marked out that is yours and yours alone and it contains the good with the not-so-good. You may share the road with others, but at the end of the day, God still has you on YOUR course, your own special course. What does it look like? Part of persevering sometimes means being stretched and pushed till it hurts. Some of you are dealing with some hard stuff. Your path might be bumpy. Rough. Hard. Fatiguing. As a mom, how might God be wanting to refine your steps today? Is He changing your course? Adding to it? Taking something off of it?  What areas of your course might be hindering you, weighing you down?  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1) Is impatience a hindrance in your parenting? Lack of self control?  Ask God to show you what is at the root of those parental moments of stress…He will reveal to you what He wants you to see when you humbly take your concerns and regrets to prayer. And then He transforms. For each one of us, that transformation looks different. It might be through a person, a book, a resource, a conversation, an experience, but He does it. He uses what He knows we personally need to get the job done. I hope I can be as good as a parent to my kids as God is to me.

If you are feeling discouraged today, remember that God is doing something wonderful even in the difficult places. And it’s in those difficult places that can often make us look back and say with joy, “God used those rough spots to shape me into something truly better and beautiful.”

Just like your kids aren’t done growing, neither are you. While you are shaping them, God is shaping you.

How is God shaping you in your role as mom?

 

Book Review: Praying Circles Around Your Children — by Guest Blogger, Crystal Scott Towery

 

Below is writer and blogger Crystal Towery Scott’s (http://agreateryes.wordpress.com) latest review, Praying Circles Around Your Children, By Mark Batterson — Join us at FB for a live discussion on praying for your children at: https://www.facebook.com/ShapingYourIdentityInMotherhood?ref=hl

I want to begin by saying that this little book will change the way you pray for your children. Mark Batterson says, “You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent!” Praying Circles Around Your Children will help you understand how important it is to pray for your children out loud. Pray where they can hear you and you will be truly amazed at how well they will remember the prayers and the Bible verses you said during your prayer time.

The five prayer circles, Circling the Promises of God, Making Prayer Lists, Creating Prayer Mantras, Forming Prayer Circles, and Praying through the Bible, are explained in detail, and Mark also gives examples from his life and the lives of others as to how to best apply and use these methods. It is interesting to read how these approaches to prayer have changed the lives of many and how others witnessed prayer’s effectiveness taking place in peoples’ lives.

One of the suggestions Mark suggests is to make a prayer journal for your children. That means to write down the prayers you pray for your children, and when they graduate high school, college or get married, present them with the journal. This is something that I am personally going to start doing for my children. I have always prayed for my children but not like Mark suggests. It is time for a change for the better and I am so glad I read this book.
Mark also stated, “Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen.” I am ready to start making things happen in my home and with my family. That begins with prayer. Prayer for my children, prayer for my husband, and prayer for everyone.

If you would like to purchase this book, you may do so by clicking on the link at the bottom of my page http://agreateryes.wordpress.com or by visiting your favorite retailer.  I have a copy of Praying Circles Around Your Children to give away–just visit my site and follow the steps for a chance to win.

Crystal is an inspiring Christian writer and speaker, who loves serving God by helping others learn to trust and rely on God. Crystal states,”I love being able to encourage women to trust God and to truly listen for His voice in their own lives, but I know I cannot do that on my own that is why I let God lead me and give me the strength to be able to carry out His will for my life.” 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13,  is Crystal’s life verse and lives by it.  Without the strength that God provides, Crystal on a daily basis, she would not be able to accomplish what God has called her to do.

Crystal is a stay at home mom with three daughters, Marissa 12, Rebekah 10, and Chelsey 7 and she has three stepsons, Aaron 23, Eric 22, and Daniel 20. She has been married for 14 years to Tim, and they enjoy raising their family in a loving, Christ-centered home. They enjoy family game nights, movie nights, and all other family activities and they enjoy monthly date nights, that allow them the time to focus on keeping the marriage alive. Crystal also enjoys co-leading her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and leading the 1st and 2nd Grade Girls in Action group at her church. She is an avid reader of any Christian fiction, non-fiction and Christian living books.

If you love to read but don’t have a lot of time to explore what’s out there, check out my friend Crystal’s blog at:  http://agreateryes.wordpress.com