Your Steps Today

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One step at a time, moms. Much awaits our children but we don’t accomplish teaching them everything they need to know in a day nor even a week but over time. Lots of time.

Through do-overs.

Repetition.

Mistakes and mishaps.

Lots of repeats in this business, huh?

And….through joys and fun times, laugh-outloud comments and silliness….let’s not forget those. God works the same way in us. There are hundreds of steps we are climbing in the course of a lifetime….we don’t climb the whole staircase ourselves. If we were to, we’d be overwhelmed and probably run back down…to the basement! There are days I am sure we all feel like doing that, just like there are days when it’s hard for a kid to be a kid (even in Australia, right?!) but we hold our children’s hands through those days just like God holds ours. And He doesn’t ask us to endure those days alone. He is with us and provides support.

Through His presence.

Through His Word.

Through the Company of others.

He brings back-up. Support. Faithful friends and family. He is God and can do all things. And wants to do those things for you.

Where is God bringing you as you parent in this season of mothering? What small step is He asking you to make?

A step of trusting in Him?

Waiting on Him?

Changing?

Getting rid of something undesirable?

Stepping out of your comfort zone?

A step of change?

A step of attitude or adjustment (or an attitude adjustment?!)

Whatever staircase you are climbing and stepping on (and even if you are stopping for a bit before having to take the next step), God can be trusted on the way up, the way down (if need be), and even on the landing if you are between steps. He is our faithful guide and protector who won’t let us fall. He has has a plan, remember?

Of all the steps you are taking, be sure not to lose sight of that one, mom.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Keep climbing, mom. You are doing great!

 

 

 

So Long Dry Bones

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The BIG deals we make about little things can stay with our kids forever….let’s be dead to the small things that rattle us, including fatigue, the temptation to yell, the moment that we already yelled, where we blew it, where we are feeling frustrated and be alive to giving grace to our children just as we have received grace from the Lord. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a mama who dries up her kids’ bones.

And it’s so easy to do.

Our tone of voice. Our words. Our demeanor can be deflating to those around us.

Drying.

Hit the pause button before reacting and pray. Pray for self control. Pray that if firmness is needed, you’ll be firm not angry. Pray that if you need to sit down, that you can steal a moment to regroup. Pray that if there is an opportunity to smile, that you will soften your cheeks and communicate joy with the motion of your lips.

Let eye contact and sweet tone of voice prevail in your demeanor so your children can be filled with the love and warmth you feel for them that may not always surface among the day’s running around and to-dos. We live by the list, don’t we? We are always on to the next thing. Rushing. Running.  I know you are tired. I know you are stretched. Early days of mothering (and the ones that come later) can be fatiguing.

You are pushed.

Pulled.

You just want a break.

Let’s take our days and the power of God available to us and receive His mercy, strength and love so that we can pour those very same attributes into our children and give them good, moist, strong bones. Regardless of our moods, they are going to grow and have memories of their home. Memories of you. A relationship with you.

Let’s make their bones strong with what we can deposit. 

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13

Let the truth of God nourish your bones today, mom.

 

 

Pencil, Don’t Pen,Your To-Do List

The end of your year will be history in a matter of days; the newness of a future year lights up the December corner.

If it were one year ago, and someone had told you exactly what was going to happen this past year, how would you have responded? Had someone told me what my past year was going to look like, I would have checked myself into the Four Seasons…in Hawaii!

What was ahead would be agony over a decision to switch schools for one of my daughters. Was I really going to uproot her from a place we both loved? Yes.  Personally having to undergo significant surgeries in response to a pathology report that came back with results one doesn’t want to hear….I have to walk that road? Yes. Miraculously getting hired back at my old job after 10 years only to have it fall through at the last minute. Sorry, did that really just happen? Yes. The shocking news of a friend who would be diagnosed with a tumor….please repeat that. I am sure I misheard those words. You didn’t. Nor would I mishear the news of other friends who would be burdened with health-related issues.  Them too? Yes.

I had PLANS for this last year. Hopes. Goals. I had my “to-do” list.

What happened?

I was re-directed.

So was my time.

My energies.

I had no say. No input.

Different priorities, people and needs took their rightful place at the top of my “to-do” list.

Items got re-shuffled.

But for the better.

Twelve new months are before you, Mom.  A year from now, you will know what took place in the year to come. Of course, you have no way of seeing what each month will bring in your life, the lives of your children and in the lives of those close to you.  What’s going to come up? We don’t know, but we can know the One who holds whatever does come up. There’s a bigger picture in what’s happening.

What are you hopeful for, mom? Are there goals you want to pursue? Things you haven’t gotten to that will get transferred over to the 2014 calendar? Are your intentions specific? They might be crystal clear or murky. That’s okay. Very often, we are not clear on a lot of things.

But God is.

He doesn’t need us to be clear about our goals in order to work.

He IS always clear on what is best.

Even when we have a different opinion. I know, because I have often disagreed and had my own say as to how I think things should go. But He is patient and merciful, and allows me to have my pity parties until I am ready to come out from my crybaby corner.

Once again, perhaps like you, I will start the year with a list of goals that are meaningful and that I want to attain for myself and for my family but I know that I have little control over how far I’ll get. I think I have control, but as I live out each day and days turn into weeks and weeks turn to months, I look back and see that I am SO not in control. Just as I set-out in one direction, God often takes me in another.

Has this been true for you?

The desires of my heart can only be met by a God who has created me and who has specific plans and purpose(s) for my life, including work, ministry, my health, friendships, my husband and children. God has a to-do list for them as well as for me and I may very well be a vessel He uses in their lives to help accomplish His purposes. If I don’t pray about direction and priorities and submit my goals and hopes to Him, I don’t think I can receive the best He has for my life, nor can the people in it receive their best, and “my plans” will take shape very differently. There is His best and my best, but I’d rather have His best, or at least pray for the desire to want His best during those discouraging times when all I want to do is retreat back to my list.

Yes, my list.

But it’s not about me. It’s about bringing glory to God and to His to-do list.

I have learned that God is patient and not nearly as much in a hurry as I am in moving on to the next agenda item. He’s more concerned about our process through something than our reaching the end of something.  I have also learned that the parts of  life that I thought defined me, really don’t.

So the bottom line?

Write your to-do list in pencil and set it aside (the list, not the pencil).

Pray. 

Wait.

Trust and watch…

…how God directs you through your list. No matter what the next year brings, you can have hope that He IS your hope in all new things to come, including leftover things or things that are pending; the unexpected news, the beautiful joys and the surprises.

He is the One “to do” you can count on and you’ll be amazed as to how your list looks when He heads the top.

 

Morning Glory: Not

And then there are the mornings…..unbelievable how some of them go….how we go. Okay, how I go. I shouldn’t throw you into my mix.

We can plan how we are going to handle a situation (determined, fierce, go into whatever it is we are facing like gangbusters) or equally, be impulsively reactive. Guilty! I admit it, I am a huge reactor. I need a human, built-in “pause” button app. Come on Apple, can’t  you craft one of those?

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12-14)

I think when we pray for God to change our hearts and attitudes, the words we speak, the tones we use and the responses we have are calmer, purer, firm yet still loving, patient, steady and just plain old pleasing…to everyone and to the One who has HIS hand over our lives. Our emotions. Our fears. Our anxieties.  And isn’t everyone happier all around? Don’t we spend less time apologizing and more time conveying truth yet without the harshness, hurt and defensiveness that causes others to have pain? The pattern can create a vicious cycle.

Yes, things are going to aggravate us. People are going to hurt us and treat us and/or our kids unfairly. Should we pray for people to change and for their hearts to be softened? Sure. But more important, we need to pray for our hearts to be changed because the world is full of pain, unfairness and problems and we need to live with some of that muck and live with it well and righteously. Our right, Godly response is a far greater tool to have in our arsenals than the elimination of the problem in some explosive way. Let’s pray that God would shape our hearts since everything we are about comes from its condition. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:22)

We do have power, we do have control and we do have the ability to take the high road when life presents the low ones. Why? Because God can take our hearts and molds them to be pretty awesome, and that’s because we are pretty redeemed.

And then afternoon will come with a fresh, new start….

The Shaping Challenge — Patience

Good Morning Moms! So happy you are here. For those of you who expressed interest, we are starting our shaping challenge–that one thing we want to be to our kids and developing it on a daily basis. So introducing our first guest attribute….patience…ta-da!  It seems to be a popular condition we moms struggle with not having enough of, yes? So grab your journal, a piece of paper or even a sticky note and just quickly jot down the situations or the times of day when you are needing patience or when it seems to be riding at really low tide on your beachfront property (we wish, right?) Go ahead, I’ll wait. I think seeing an area you want to be strengthened in written on paper in your own handwriting is effective and makes us more aware and mindful of those traps we fall into.
Now look at what you wrote down. Is the time or situation typically the same? Is there a pattern or does impatience strike at any time? What are your triggers? What works against you? If you are comfortable, please share, we are all in this together and there is no judgment. You can also go to my Shaping Your Identity in Motherhood FB page and see that live discussion. Either way, I hope you will be encouraged through prayer, the support of others and God’s hand as He actively works to help shape this quality in your life.

Settling

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“Settled” is not something we always feel yet there is lots of settling we do in our roles, huh mamas? Perhaps you have to settle for feeling tired all day because it was a hard night or settle for just not having the laundry folded, dishes washed or dishwasher emptied.  You may have to settle for the disappointment of  not being able to purchase something you’d like for your children because money is super tight, or settle for another evening putting the kids down yourself because your husband is working. Perhaps you are a single mom and have to settle for doing everything on your own.   Maybe you have to settle for an old car that is just not running the way it once was, or settle for a meal that came out just so-so. Then there are the diagnoses we have to settle for when the test results are back from the doctor.   Sometimes we settle for unfair treatment or someone’s best effort that we deem as merely standard. I am sure you can think of dozens of things you settle for in the course of a day.  If we have a heart of gratitude, are we settling as much? If we focus on what we have, is that feeling of settling as strong? “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)

Where do you need to settle today in order to feel guided and at peace? How might God be calling you to settle where you are and what might He be asking you to trust Him with? An outcome? An answer? Peace of mind? May you settle well today, mama, and may you be held fast and guided so that settling takes on a fresh foundation.

In the Meantime…

I know some of you moms are needing help in some specific ways today. Will you remember this promise?  “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Is 41:13) Sometimes the help God provides looks different from how we would provide it to others or ourselves and we often pray that God would solve our problems according to our desires. How many times have we asked God to work His power into what we feel is best and how we want things to go? Guilty!

If you pray today, will you ask God to give you the help that He deems best according to HIS plans for you? Can you trust that He DOES have a plan for the outcome, even if you are in the midst of waiting and can’t see how the questions will become answered? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11)

In the meantime, as you wait, you can trust that God is at work in both you and your situation, accomplishing His very best. The result may end up having more to do more with your character and what He is shaping IN you, rather than how He is shaping your circumstance. My prayer for you today is that you will seek, depend and trust–a lot can happen in those meantimes!  “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.” Is 12:2

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

 

 

It’s Okay If It’s Not Perfect

Yesterday when I spoke at a MOPS group, a mom shared the pressure she sometimes puts on herself with having to have a clean house before someone comes over or having to______(you fill in the blank–we all have those expectations we put on ourselves!)

As moms with busy lives and with the priority of taking care of our children, we do what we can. How great that even if your furniture isn’t dusted, that you made a friend feel loved and welcomed when they walked through your door. That the hospitality you offered by making a pot of coffee, putting on the kettle, the acceptance they felt by your warm hug and how they were treated by you, is really what counts.  (And hopefully, our friends aren’t that judgmental–it’s the expectation we put on ourselves to have everything just so!)

So tell yourself it’s okay, that you not be able to get to everything and things don’t have to be perfect. Even Author Jill Savage says so. Read below from her book, No More Perfect Moms.

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Are there areas that you might need to let go of having perfection in? Leave a comment below or share in the conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/ShapingYourIdentityInMotherhood

 

 

Because I am a Mom

There are moments when I feel more like a mom than others….like when I desperately want to end the day and go to sleep but can’t. Why? Because I am a mom.

Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday and I am baking brownies for her to bring into school. Unfortunately, the mix I chose serves only 16 brownies, so I had to go back to the store to buy a second box. I realized this, of course, at 9:00 p.m., just after I had put the kids to bed, finished washing dishes, preparing next day’s lunches and launching one batch into the oven. Have you ever had to gear up to do something when all you wanted to do was collapse into a horizontal position?

When I am tired and longing to end the day by dropping my head onto the nearest pillow, I have to remember to thank God for the gift of motherhood He has bestowed onto me…it’s now an integral part of who I am. Motherhood doesn’t completely define my identity but brings definition to how I spend my time and prioritize responsibilities. And I have responsibilities that I didn’t have before…because I am a mom.

There are moments when it’s natural to feel tired…tired of having one more thing to do and feeling as if  you can’t possibly add one more task to the nearly-toppling-over pile on your plate. We add and add and by God’s grace, we are able to take away from the pile and reduce its size.  But in that adding and removing, we must pray for wisdom and  discernment and ask, “Do I really need to get this particular job done or can it wait? Does doing that task mean that I won’t be able to spend time with my child in a meaningful way or perhaps nurture my soul in a meaningful way?” Maybe the task at hand is truly time-sensitive, in which case, something else has to wait in an effort to prevent your day from becoming a jog-a-thon through the to-do list. God knows our abilities, what we can handle, what we can accomplish and gives us His strength to draw on in that process. We have endless responsibilities because we are moms, and we are moms because we have children.

The next time I am longing to put my head down when I am trapped in a kid-related task, I need to remember that the task is at hand because I am a mom. Then, like in the case of waiting for a dozen brownies to finish baking at 11:15 p.m., wait for the oven timer to go off with a yawn and a smile.

Recommended Scripture:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29)