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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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A “Quick to Listen” Call Out

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) What a great truth to start off our days embracing…God, may each mom reading be quick to listen to the people in her life, especially her children, slow to speak and slow to anger today. We know that you tell us, ‘in your anger, do not sin.’ Help us not to hurt, over-react agitate nor bring about discouragement in another, particularly our kids. Help us to have patience, self control and to not be led by our feelings but by your truths. Let your principles dictate our behavior and the instruction we are giving out to our children. Have a great day moms!

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!

Need a Crossing Guard?

Going somewhere, mom? Need some assistance crossing a dangerous intersection or slippery slope?  “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)

What encouraging words to hear from Moses as he addresses the Jewish nation prior to his death and just before they are going to head to the Promised Land God has prepared for them. But Moses knows the people are fearful, anxious and worried.

Sound familiar?

As moms, we know these feelings fully.

Moses tells the Jewish nation that they will not cross the Jordan but that God himself will cross “over ahead of you.” (Deut 31:3)  In other words, God will do the crossing for them. Then Moses told Joshua to be strong and courageous as he takes the people into the new land. He is the one for the job and he is the one God will accompany.

Joshua just has to be obedient, trust and show up for the call.

What job is God calling you to do today? Can you trust that He will accompany you as well?

The same promise holds true for us when we have to venture out into the unknown, into that seemingly “scary” place or take an action that makes our knees buckle. The unfamiliar. The unwanted. The “really, do I have to do that?” situation or place. We do have to do it.

But not alone.

Are you able to take these words in from the same God today, Mom? Wherever you are stepping, wherever you have to go, know that God goes before you and you can trust Him through the entire journey to see you through to the other side.  With God, you have no reason to fear and plenty of reason to cross.

Once you get to the other side, you have no idea what He has waiting for you.

But first, you have to cross.

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)

 

The Ultimate Quick Fix

Where do we place our comfort and trust? Quick-fix, feel good outlets? Been there, done that. Friends, parents, colleagues, bosses? Yup. Don’t forget coffee…how can anyone truly get going without it?!  But humans aren’t perfect, “things” are temporary. God is immortal, trustworthy and a safe haven who can outlast, outnumber, outcomfort and outdeliver anything and anyone. When times dish out discouragement, disheartening news, or we’re in a tough or trying situation, we need to remember the true place where permanent trust and lasting comfort can be found. “The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread and he will be a sanctuary.” (Isaiah 8:13) Mama, I hope today, you find lasting peace….not temporal.

Your safe haven awaits and it’s more than a quick fix.

Where are you looking for lasting peace?

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!

 

 

 

A Better Way

 

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We trust our cars to start when we turn the key, that our loved ones will come home safely and that our friends will remain faithful. We trust that our children will be protected out in the world or at school, that our health will be “good,” or that we’ll get better if we are ill. We trust our doctors, children’s teachers, favorite magazines, radio programs and blogs to help us figure out how to be better moms,  better stewards of our money, better problem solvers. We may even trust the Food Network to provide dinner suggestions, and home decorating publications to direct us with style tips and organization ideas. We trust that a class will educate us, a movie will entertain us. All great resources.

Are we first trusting in the Lord? Trusting Him to:

Redeem us?

Restore us?

Change us?

Renew us?

Build us?

Re-develop us? 

Sound too hokey? Sound too weird to put that much trust into God when we can do it ourselves or seek what the world has to offer in terms of its solutions to fulfill and gratify? We are capable and self-reliant, right?

Do we trust that God might be bigger than our attempts? Do we trust that He is in control, unchanging, stable, reliable, all-powerful and dependable in ALL circumstances, ALL the time?

Maybe we should just cross our fingers and hope for the best. That takes faith too. 

I’d rather put my hands together and cry out to a God who hears. A God who cares. Who has my best interest at heart. Who will never leave me nor forsake me. That’s His promise to me and that’s His promise to you.

You don’t have to have hope in hope.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” (Jeremiah 17:7)

There’s really no down side in putting your trust in the Lord, is there? Think of all the places where you have put your confidence.

Do you have anything to lose?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

But you sure stand a lot to gain.

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.