Your Steps Today

the_wisdom_path1

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!

 

 

 

Please Pass the Time, Thank You

 

 

14477058_s

Coffee, cream and sugar time. Playdate time. Park time. Cooking Time. Reading Time. Snuggle-up time. Hangin’ in-the-house time. Baking time. Some of you are in new-born baby time or sending your child off to college time. Prayer time. Exercise time.  Work time. Stroller time. Drive time. Email time. Cleaning/organizing time.  Changing your mind time. Time-to-go-on-vacation time! However you are spending your TIME this morning, may it be rich, meaningful or just plain pleasant…there IS pleasantness in the plainness.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecc 3:1  God knows all about your time, from what you need to get done to how you’d like to spend it. He has given us opportunities and circumstances with that time. People within that time. Love in that time. Yet, time has illusions and limitations.

Enjoy your time today–no matter how you spend it. Time is a gift that we have the luxury of opening.

Pull off the paper.

Cut the ribbons.

Tear open the package….while it’s in your hands.

 

(Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_14477058_a-female-hand-giving-a-silver-gift-box-to-a-child-hand.html’>tsekhmister / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)

Patience Perseveres

Patience and perseverance go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly, cream in coffee, cheese atop French bread.  You really need one in order to effectively (or in the case of food, enjoyably!) have the other. This could never be more true than in our roles as moms.

There is so much we wait for as moms, huh? We wait to get through difficult stages, phases and seasons but those times are as necessary as the wonderful times we relish in because we’re parents, and in our job, lays a mixed bag of challenges and joys that we experience, face, teach, handle, and yes, even put up with. Our bags may look very much the same in some ways yet contain things that are uniquely characteristic of our own lives. Sometimes the contents can feel like weights though they ought not to weigh us down. Ahhhh, big distinction, right?

When we look at the bigger picture of what our role is and what’s involved, we know that piece by piece, if we were to break down our jobs, that there are many facets to our parenting. Yes, there are days and phases we can’t wait to get through nor wait to witness change in.  First steps, sleeping through the night, temper tantrums, waiting for life’s lessons to kick in, understanding to resonate, responsibility to take shape. We wait for so much in our own lives and even more in the lives of our children. Not that we can control our lives, but dealing with ourselves seems so much easier since we are in control of our own selves but not so much in control of our children…especially as they grow older and form their own ideas, habits and practices. As a result, our jobs can sometimes feel tougher.

So where do we go with all this? Is this just good jargon for a journal entry or can we take something away to anchor into a little more deeply? How do we wait or endure through the various seasons that come with our roles? Some of us are dealing with some pretty tough stuff.  How do we wait with hope and expectation and not  anxiety, worry and fear?

We know that God has appointed us in our roles and like any boss, chief or commander, will equip us with what we need in order to do our jobs well. Part of doing our jobs well is believing and knowing that God’s plans for us and for our children are good ones, by His authorship. That doesn’t mean everything good will happen to them, but I think it means that everything necessary for His good within them will, and He has appointed YOU to guide them on their journey. And that, dear moms, is a perspective I think we have to have so that we can have the patience to endure through the challenging parts.

Your job is to deliver your child to the finish line of his lifelong race with discipline, love and instruction. If you keep you eyes on that “unseen” faith that the author of Hebrews writes about (faith being something that we believe and trust to be true though unseen), I believe whole-heartedly, that God will develop patience and perseverance in you so you can run the race well with your child. You are on the path that God has marked out for you and you have the child(ren) that He has given you. If you focus on Him, I can promise that He will develop patience and perseverance in you, and the chaos on the sidelines, all the things in those mixed bags, will become secondary. They will take their rightful place on the sidelines and remain there and won’t define your child’s path (nor yours). What will be defining is your faith, patience and perseverance in your child’s life as he/she runs the course. So keep running. Keep cheering. Keep patiently persevering. It will be the best gift you give your child and yourself.

Then celebrate with some milk and cookies.

Scripture References

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews, 11:1)

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1Cor 13:4

Always a Mom: Making Motherhood Moments the Best They Can Be – Guest Blogger, Author Cindy Sproles

By Cindy Sproles

If you’re a mom, whether by having given birth or by adoption, you are still a mom. And if you are a mom…you are always going to be a first-time mom. Day in and day out your children will tax you with situations you never dreamed – from fun and humorous to moments you are bursting from the seams with pride. Even to moments of great fear and trembling. They will challenge you physically, intellectually and spiritually because this is what children do. But your job above all else, is to not let yourself become overwhelmed or whipped but to stand firm and gently teach. Teach your children to fear God. Show them, regardless of their age, how you have trod the hard paths and found your way. Teach your babies that you make mistakes and you are not ashamed to admit them or repent of them. Show them how to pray and what to pray – when to pray so they will know what to do when the time approaches. Children learn from example. You will always be a first-time mom, always learning with each new adventure or experience. When you feel discouraged take heart. Rejoice in the Lord even in the moments of deep challenge and make every first-time moment with your children the best it can be.

Come, my children, listen to me;  I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 34:11

Cindy Sproles (www.cindysproles.com)

New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Sheets-Thirty-Refine-Woman/dp/1938499220/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Beginnings, Middles and Ends: New Starts Do Get Easier

I always tell my girls that starting something new is often like starting a book: you need time to explore it before you get comfortable. You need time to hold the book, look at the cover repeatedly, get to know the the characters, the story line and comb through the various scenes so you know exactly what is happening.   Once you get through the beginning, you reach the middle where familiarity and comfort sets in.  You know the characters involved and may grow to care for them (while others you could do without). You’ve got a grasp of the setting, plot and action. Soon, you become hooked and can’t put the book down.  Then you close in on those final chapters, the falling action and resolution. It’s time to say goodbye to the story but you don’t want to let go.

It’s hard to leave something that you have invested in, that has grabbed your heart, been exciting, joyful, bitter-sweet, made you cry or made you feel that you traveled through an adventure. And parting ways with characters whom you feel you have gotten to know as if they were real people can feel as sad as saying goodbye to a living and breathing old friend whom you rarely see.  Sometimes letting go of a good read is so hard, that some transition time is needed before starting a new one.

New experiences are no different.

One of you children may have started Kindergarten this month, elementary school or is switching schools.  You may have a son or daughter who left for college, is starting a new job or living in a new city. Your child could be participating in a particular activity or sport for the first time and you are trying to encourage him/her to step out of their comfort zone and give this new thing a try. Maybe YOU are going through a new season yourself….starting in a new job, pursuing a secondary degree and having to go back to school. Maybe you are taking up a new hobby or pursuit like preparing for a marathon or starting a new business from home or career.  Maybe it is a season of having to get use to not having someone special in your life. Beginnings can be exciting and keep us on the edge of our seats while we await the outcome of living out the details. Some people thrive on the process of fresh starts while others find them nerve-racking. Beginnings can be just plain old uncomfortable and some of us would do anything to get around them and hurdle over to the middle.

So what do we do during those beginnings?  We know the tried and true feel-good affirmations: “Face your fears,” You can do it,” “Just put it ‘out there’ and everything will all work out,” “Think positive,” “Picture it happening and it will.”

The one I’d like to add to the list may not be so conventional nor tossed around like veggies in a salad nearly as often:  “My times are in your hands.” This sentiment was voiced by King David to God when he was on the run from King Saul  and being betrayed by friends.  While fleeing from his enemies, David asks God to deliver him from those who are pursuing him. It would be easy for him to feel that his circumstances are in the hands of those who are out to get him.  If you read Psalm 40, you see that David doesn’t give his enemies control over his life even though he is on the run to save it (hopefully, this is not a challenge any of you are facing but there are times when we feel overpowered by people or circumstances outside our control.) David appeals to God for control because he knows God is ultimately the One  in charge of his life…not others.

While David waits, God is at work. Doing, preparing and developing so He can move David (and us!) to a place where He wants us to be or shaping characteristics He wants us to have. Where do you turn  in those new situations that may seem daunting? Do you take matters into your own hands and feed them with fear, doubt, worry, what ifs, and the voices of the world?  Who is really in charge of your beginning, middle and end and how can you be encouraged to rest with comfort when you are in any one of those places?  We can turn to God to give us what we need in each place by remembering that He:

Upholds us (“I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10)

Helps us (“I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13)

Has compassion on us (“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” Isaiah 30:18)

Gives us strength (“He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29)

Rescues us:  (“You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” Psalm 40:17)

Answers us: (“In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”) Psalm 5:3

Whatever new situation you may find yourself in or your child, remember that living out the beginning moments takes time, faith and patience before reaching that fabulous, comfortable middle.  Enjoy the process, for beginnings and middles become ends all too soon.

 

 

Proverbs 31 Woman: You May Be Closer than You Think – Guest Blogger: Alexis Hassell

Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_7559261_the-proverb-s-woman.html’>designpics / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The Wife of Noble Character: Wrestling with My Identity in Christ

If you have read Proverbs 31, then you might be familiar with verses 10-31, which are devoted to describing, “The Wife of Noble Character.” Even if you haven’t, you might have seen reference to it somewhere because this mantra for Christian women is literally everywhere. At some point in your life, maybe you have wondered: Who is this woman? Is she even a real person? Maybe you have tried to compare her with people you know or have encountered  in your life and even with yourself. I would venture to believe that most of us would think she is the “standard” of what a good Christian woman looks like. If that is true for you then this woman is everything you would want to be, hoped you could be, and is possibly the reason why you might have felt like you don’t measure up.

I can say that for me my journey with the Wife of Noble Character has been full of mixed emotions. Initially, this standard provided me with the groundwork of what a wife could be expected to do for her family and husband. In this department I need all the help I can get. So I got the crazy idea that I would write out this passage on my best paper in my best penmanship. I figured if I had it visibly as a constant reminder then maybe I would never forget what I should be doing. So I did just that. After I finished, I scoured my house looking for the perfect frame. None were good enough, so I vowed that I would buy one that was worthy the next time I was out running errands. I wish I could tell you that I had it hanging up in my home in no time. Unfortunately, my good intentions were short lived. I never bought the frame and there the paper sat. It sat just like my efforts to become this woman.

Years passed by and I pursued other avenues to assist me in becoming a better wife and mother. I went to seminars, took classes, consulted friends, and read books. You get the idea. I revisited the Wife of Noble Character from time to time, yet I didn’t find myself feeling that same enthusiasm. To me she had become the impossible standard, a nemesis actually, and a reminder that I didn’t live up to the expectations. The words of the passage that mentioned about getting up “while it is still night to provide food for her family,” echoed within, confirming that would never be me. I have always been a difficult riser and could never get up early let alone provide food for my family. My kids are very familiar with getting their own breakfast in the morning because Mommy has a hard time getting it together. Other words referencing “(that she) does not eat the bread of idleness,” only further highlighted my inadequacies. Forget eating an occasional slice of that kind of bread; I was probably eating loaves of it. Some days I would be successful but other days I was consumed by the weariness of responsibility. Many other verses in the passage condemned me as well. I felt like a failure. My heart sank and had convinced myself, why even try, this will never be you. I resolved to be good enough and instead, worked on accepting myself for who I was. So I prayed that God would do the same and resolve in me these feelings.

Months passed by and I grew discontented, I wanted more of myself and I wanted more than what I was seeing. At the very least, I wasn’t going to give up trying like I had wanted to before. And God was working inside of me. My heart was changing. I figured out a way to get up early; I was waking up at 6am every day.  I did see the value in waking up early, something that had been a mystery for so many years. This small act became a big miracle for me. I quickly realized it wasn’t ever really about me becoming an early riser because that was what the Wife of Noble Character did. God in His wisdom was teaching me something more important. God was giving me a victory and a glimpse of hope that things could be different. They could be better. Then a few months ago my eldest daughter had opened the Bible and asked my husband to read it. I had been sitting on the couch next to them with our youngest daughter. He read the words describing The Wife of Noble Character. Hearing those words read aloud that day, pierced my heart like a double edged sword. And without warning, my husband uttered the words, “That describes your Mommy” to our daughters. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing my husband say! I knew if he had taken a closer look at each of those verses, he would have known that that didn’t possibly describe me. They just didn’t. I mean how could they? But to him it didn’t matter if I did exactly what “she” had done. It was something he had seen inside “me.” It was the heart of the Wife of Noble Character. Again, it was the hope of something better.

My eyes and heart had been refreshed by God’s faithful work; I was convicted that the Wife of Noble Character represented something greater than a standard to emulate. Her greatest purpose is that she is and will always exemplify the woman who follows after God’s plans for her. These are her own individual plans that God had developed for her specifically. She isn’t following the way that she thinks she should because it’s what she thinks is best. What’s more, do you notice that it doesn’t mention that she is doing what everyone else is doing, or that she spends her time comparing herself to others, or that she is following a standard that society has set for her?  No, she is focused, driven and confident to stay on the path set out before her. She pursues it and doesn’t take her eyes off of the prize for one second. She knows what she has and is content but she also does whatever she can to keep it, to maintain it, to appreciate it. And something ahead of her is guiding her steps.

So I ask you, who is the Wife of Noble Character? It isn’t just her or someone else. It is YOU; each and every one of you has the ability to accept this identity in Christ today. I challenge you, if you already haven’t, to find your own path. Not in just any direction but the one that God has designed for you personally, the one that is the very best for you and your family. Don’t worry that it may be different than everyone else. Keep your eyes off of others and you will do just fine. The first step is taking one step and putting your foot right in front of the other. It might seem scary, but I promise you, it will all work out better than you could have ever imagined. And if you are looking for proof, take another look at the Wife of Noble Character.

Alexis Hassell is mom to two daughters, ages 6 and 4. She lives in Westlake Village, Ca with her daughters & husband, Kris. She has a strong passion for learning new things and a love for the Lord.  God has used this passion & provided the opportunity for her and her husband to homeschool their girls this past year…a journey to which they hope to continue on with in the years ahead.