When I Don’t Want to Forgive

Push-back.

Nothin’-doin’.

No way, no-how.

Alternatively, smooth sailing. As easy as  1-2-3.

The choice is ours.

To forgive another. 

Ouch. I’m sure someone comes to mind for you as it does for me.

A friend.

A colleague.

The parent of your child’s friend.

Even in our own trustworthy circles where offenses ideally, shouldn’t take place, they do, and we may find ourselves needing to extend forgiveness. Perhaps we’re holding a long-standing grudge over a conflict that has gone A-wall and left unresolved. Maybe it’s frustration at the driver who cut you off or the teacher who gave an unfair response to your child at school.

Sometimes I hold on to anger, especially when it is rooted in unfairness, betrayal or inconsideration because honestly, in some strange, crazy way, being steamed feels better than cooling off.  I guess I feel justified, after all, I was wronged! What’s there to forgive? What’s there to feel good about?

Jesus.

He sacrificed His life so I would not have to pay the price for my sins nor suffer through deserving judgment for all the days of my life, including, eternity.

Hanging on to anger is not God’s way. His way is opposite, based on right action, not poor-me, pity-party inaction.

A forgiven sinner forgives others–a truth not always convenient  to be reminded of because that means we have to be accountable and that’s not always easy but yet what the Prince of Peace calls those who have received and accepted His gift of peace and forgiveness to do.  In order to experience full freedom and model Christ-centered behavior as moms and as women, we have to give out in obedience what we have received in acceptance.

Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy.

It was given to us as quickly as 1-2-3.

God’s act of forgiveness to us by dying on the cross for our sins and mistakes is enough for us to act with the same kind of unselfish love. Even when it’s hard. I have to remind myself that my feelings about the person or situation will just have to catch up with my taking that  step of obedience to forgive and allow the offense to fall wayside not stay afloat in my spirit. I can’t wait for my feelings before I act  because truthfully, I may never act…those feelings may never develop and then I am following myself, not the LORD.

Jesus forgave so why do I have to? asks the child deep down in my spirit. That same one who finds it easier to hold on to anger as if it were melting ice cream that I needed to devour before gone.

We forgive so we can  live and benefit from the affects of forgiveness and be released from the power  that anger, bitterness and resentment holds in our spirits, hearts, minds and relationships.

We forgive to eliminate having divisiveness in our relationships. Jesus died to bring peace between Him and mankind. How can I act any differently? I am His child and that means irritation and anger have no lasting nor permanent place in my heart.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

We forgive to be connected to God, not separated from Him, for it is HE who commands us to forgive others and live a life where our relationships are rooted in love, mercy, calmness and grace.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

Not always easy to do. Jesus knows that.  What He endured was surely no picnic nor anything related to easy.

God will deal with all people accordingly and hold each person accountable for their actions.  Let’s leave the judgment of peoples’ hurtful actions to God and the choice to move forward, to us. God will equip and enable us to overcome the sorrow of anger when we invite Him into our angry mess that only He can clean up and restore to a right and beautiful condition.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8) We receive the power to forgive others through Jesus and only Jesus. His power to do so can be in your spirit as quickly as 1-2-3 when you call upon Him.

Who might God be calling you to forgive this week?  Can you make the process as quick as 1-2-3?

 

 

Focus High

Have-tos. Unresolved matters. The to-do list. Our children’s cares. Unfinished work. Interruptions. Lots going on that can feel like a brick has been put upon our spirits.

When your heart is heavy, keep plugging away at your prayer lives, moms. Keep talking to God, keep focused on Him, all the way.

When disappointment and frustration come on the scene, it is so easy for our eyes to stare at what’s before us and remain fixated on the problem…and as moms, we have a lot of concerns, questions, decisions, pulls and tugs—fix your eyes up above, pray and know that God will see you through the situation even better when your eyes are set on Him. For it is in that focus, dependence and trust where you will receive the strength, wisdom and encouragement you need instead of the discouragement and worry that comes from focusing on the parts of our problems.

Get on your knees.

Pray.

Talk to God.

He has a plan.

And it doesn’t include worry, fear or anxiety but peace, dependence and trust in Him.

If our circumstances create that greater dependence and submission, let’s thank Him. That’s a good thing because it is in those empty places of our soul where He fills us and where we experience His hand at work.

Real work.

True work.

Perfect work.

When you seek Him, the things above, you’ll experience His mighty power that will put those doubts and fears into a smaller place—where they belong, Mom.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Col 3:2

focus

Monday Start Up

It’s Monday Moms…again. How did it get here so fast?! Okay,  we talked about the morning launch off….how we are sending our kids off into their day (homeschool moms, this is you, too!) Here you are again. New day. New week. New opportunities. New moments to approach in a different way. Let’s try again, even if you are rushed, to read just one verse and pray for our day. If you don’t know what to read, head to the Psalms, a great place to pour out your heart. “Father God, help every mom reading to  smile at her children this morning and to be calm, encouraging, affectionate and present. Help us not make them crazy with our own anxiety….give us your peace, your patience and the strength and power to remain self controlled, to not get rattled despite what may take place, and to stretch our time as the minutes go quickly. Help us to fill their hearts and minds by praying for them so they know you are in control of all things and that they feel our love for them, not our stress. Thank you that you are God and we are not. You do things much better than we ever could and you equip us with your goodness and power…thank you for our children and for instructing us to encourage them in the way they should go. They are our heart’s desire. Our greatest blessing. Amen.”  Okay moms, have a good morning. “The LORD himself goes before you.” (Deuteronomy 31) You are good to go!

Your Soldier’s Story

During the military battles that King David was engaged in, much dependence was placed on the strength and speed of the chariots and horses that helped secure or weaken a soldier’s mobility during war. Ultimately, it was the strength of God and His resources that could be fully trusted and counted on as well as God’s plans for Israel. King David knew the size of a soldier and  number of enemies didn’t equal destruction. He knew that it was the size of His God that would weigh om favorably.  (And just a footnote, God’s plans for Israel always prevailed.) That didn’t mean that being prepared and suiting up for battle wasn’t necessary on a soldier’s part, it just meant that at the end of the day, God would overcome injury or death on the battlefield (much like the way He did on the day of His own battle, but that’s another story, isn’t it?)

What battlefield are you on today, mom? What is the chariot you are putting your faith in? The enemy of what you are up against may seem like its ruling the ground you are standing on, but it is God who will strike successfully and rise up. Like King David, when we put our trust in God over the chariots in our lives, we will experience His will and victory in unexpected ways.

Let go of your reigns mom, and trust God. Your chariots will be there, but God is the One you’ll be able to fully count on.

A truth worth riding.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

 

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.

 

 

Weary–Not!!

 

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For anyone who is feeling tired (ok, so you didn’t work out today), in need of grace (because even as moms, we blow it), longing to respond to circumstances in truth and with integrity (as we are often led by our emotions, feel pulled in the direction of what the world says we should be or swayed by the opinions of others), fighting for focus (we are sometimes scattered or distracted) and needing strength (we are at times, simply put, weak), God guarantees our success in all areas.  “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” Psalm 119:29-30

Oh mom, mothering is hard work. Where are you needing rest today? God really does want to partner with you and guide you in the journey. Look to Him and He will give you what you need to take the right steps.  Steps taken in His might, not your own. He is right beside you.

Where are you needing to depend on God today? One area at a time, one step at a time.

The Speech of My Soul

Image credit: ivaleksa / 123RF Stock Photo

Regret those words you just snapped? Frustrated over how you delivered what needed to be said? The tone in our voices can be as hurtful as harsh words. In the moments of impatience, we can easily blow it and we’ve then arrived at sorrow, shame and guilt. Despair can set into our beings but it needn’t stay there nor define us as moms. You are still a wonderful, well-intentioned mom!

Pray these intentional and beautiful pleas and truths at the start of your day and in the moments you desire the right response…we all need a little help with self control at times! God knows that.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O God.” (Psalm 19:4)

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Psalm 16:24

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.

 

The Song You Aren’t Singing

We are all singing different songs today, aren’t we? Perhaps you are far from feeling like you want to sing or your song isn’t very cheery. Some songs are more like cries or pleas that come from a scared, desperate or concerned place, either for our children, loved ones, or ourselves.  There are songs we can barely sing because we are just plain old tired or we maybe we have lost our desire, our passion, our light. We don’t want to sing. Maybe we are too busy to sing. Too worried to sing. Too weak. Maybe even sick. On the other hand, we have songs of joy and gratitude or blends and combinations of high notes and low. Maybe we are just bursting with songs of praise and thanksgiving.

For those of you who are not, you can sing a sad song.

That is okay.

If you can’t sing at all, that works, too. You are just not there. Many of us have days where we aren’t.

Where can you go for a song? For words and notes that are uplifting, that have meaning? Hhmm…I have a place. Yes, but I mean after Disneyland. And oh yes, after the chocolate cupcake with white icing and sprinkles. Actually, before.

Scripture. Prayer. One Another.

Will you let God put a new song in your heart, today through Him and through His vessels?

But you don’t know what I am dealing with. True. But God does.

But this is bad, things are SO bad.  God knows how bad. He has walked the bad. The ugly. The unthinkable.

But I just can’t get a grip…and I am worried, and scared and I am out of answers. God is powerful. Your Creator. He is involved. He already knows the outcome. He has the answers.

If you are awaiting results of something and are fraught with fear,  if you are worried about something with your child or are so doggone weary you don’t know how you are going to make it till 4:00 let alone 9:00 p.m., know this:

God can carry the tune when you can’t.

God hears the melody of your heart, the words to your desires, the inflection of your voice when you have a question that is circling about. You may not be able to give yourself a new song, but He can. He is pretty amazing that way. When you can’t lift your voice to sing, He can give you the ability and the means.  Your new song might not be void of pain but can be filled with direction, strength, focus, confidence, wisdom or trust.  Will you let Him give you that song to rest in the benefits? If you do, the tune you are humming might just take you through the day on a new, meaningful note.

And you can sing that truth all the way to Disneyland or to your favorite cupcake.

Scripture References

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love, for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3

“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” Psalm 96

 

 

Making a Way for Your Ducklings

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Having grown up in Massachusetts, the story of Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings is part of my genetic make up like the Red Sox, clam chowder and the understanding that the letter R carries little weight in the American alphabet.

McCloskey writes about a female, married duck, Mrs. Mallard, and the journey she takes in navigating her babies through the busy streets of downtown Boston amidst speeding vehicles and honking horns. Ahh, Boston drivers. But that’s another story.

Safety.

Mrs. Mallard needs to get her babies to their new home safely. Key word as she protects them through the obstacles of traffic and city life but sees to it that they arrive (ironically), back at their destination–the Boston Public Gardens (and with the help and guidance of a Boston police officer.)

As moms, we are no different…we may not blow whistles nor sport official uniforms (though it feels as if we might as well on some days), but we are in many ways, police officers.

We’re the authority.

Protectors.

Peacekeepers.

There are plenty of honking horns and speeding cars on our children’s path and we help our kids through the various traffic jams of life as Mrs. Mallard did for her babies (all 8 of them!)

We can’t necessarily protect our children from what they will see and hear along their journey, as there are plenty of obstacles to dodge and activity that gets in the way. There is noise. There are difficult people. Unknowns looming larger than life that can intimidate and cause fear. Bumps that broadside. Hard knocks that hurt.  In our leading, we won’t always be able to cross the intersections successfully, smoothly or quickly. We can’t just blow a whistle and make everything and everyone stop or slow down. Oh, how I wish we could!

We are going to make mistakes. We are going to fail. Stumble. Sometimes crash. Other times, we will get the navigation right and steer with little interference or proceed despite the interferences, teaching our children how to do the same, modeling how to keep marching forward when the odds are stacked high.  We are not perfect moms but flawed women with weaknesses, raising children who are also flawed and weak yet we support them where they are going with our unconditional love and the reminder of God’s unconditional love for them.

Right now, we have the time and opportunity to guide, instruct and encourage while they are in our safe keeping. We have the time and ability to keep learning, trying, and pursuing the chances to carry on in our commitment to their growth because they are our first priority and are following right behind us. (Maybe not in a line, but they’re there!)

They are our ducklings and we will do what it takes to insure they get to where they need to be spiritually, physically, emotionally and psychologically—daily, and in preparation for their future.

For the day our children set out on their own will come…will we stand before them wondering, “Was it enough? Did I do enough? Teach enough? Love enough? Did I prepare them fully? Build their foundation with everything that was needed?”

The answer will be yes and no.  You did. With perhaps some spots perhaps a little muddled or not crossed as smoothly  as you had liked.  You are currently making your own way for your ducklings each day with your special uniqueness, gifts and strengths that God has purposed in you and He makes up for the rest. As God delivers us to our desired havens, He will use you to deliver your children to theirs—to their public gardens.

Their everlasting home.

And He’ll be there on the journey.

Keep making the way, Mom. Even when you don’t know the direction, the hows, whys or how-comes. You have love, which drives you to go the distance.  You won’t do it half way. Through it all, your way is the best one for your child. You are their mother for a reason.  Keep forging ahead.

One day, they will make their own way, but for now, you’re still in front…depending on God with every step as you cross and lead.

Recommended Scripture:

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke their chains.” Psalm 107:13

“They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:27-31