Should We Demand Obedience From Our Children?

God has really been laying on my heart how important it is to teach our children obedience. That may seem silly to you because, well duh, of course you want your children to obey, right? But how many of us truly require that our children obey? And I’m not talking about obeying after you have asked three times for them to do what you have asked. For that is in fact not obedience. I am talking about insuring that your children listen and do what they are told the first time. Why is it so important? Is it really such a big deal when you have to repeat your request 3 or 4 times? I mean, eventually they do it so what is the big deal?

Everywhere I look now a days it seems that children are no longer required to listen or obey their parents. We are told not to stifle their creativity or crush their spirit. As if requiring obedience is cruel and un-loving. How could wanting good things for our children be unkind? I believe it is more selfish than loving to not demand obedience. We would rather our children like us than lay down authority. And yet the ironic thing is, children rarely like or respect a parent that does not set boundaries or require obedience.

The world thinks that children thrive better with NO boundaries and are better off running free. That could never be farther from the truth. Boundaries help a child feel safe and loved. Boundaries and rules helps a child know they are cared for. It helps them know that they are not alone. They are reassured that they don’t have to figure this whole ‘life’ thing out on their own.

We know obedience is good for our childrens physical well-being but what about the spiritual and the state of their heart? Perhaps I am a bit slower, but I honestly only just came to terms with the part obedience took on the spiritual well-being of my children. Shamefully I confess, I just wanted them to listen so they wouldn’t drive me bonkers and wouldn’t make me look bad in front of other people. Selfish, right? Majorly selfish! I knew that the bible told children to obey and honor their parents but realizing how important that was for the hearts of my children didn’t happen until this past year. Now, with God showing me the error of my ways, I have come to terms with how important my job is to teach and train my children in obedience. If I fail at that, than I may as well have failed as a mom.

(Does this mean I am a perfect mother and I have wonderful children that obey 100% of the time? No. Big NO!!! My children are human beings that sin and fail just like me. But when it comes to learning the art of obedience, I want my children to always be getting better and moving forward in the right direction. So with that being said, lets continue.)

Now, I am speaking of obedience in the physical sense but also in the spiritual. We can train our children obedience but if they have an attitude of defiance while doing what is asked, then their is still a seed of rebellion in their hearts. That must be addressed as well. Outward and inward obedience is what I am writing about today. Both are of equal importance. You can really not have one without the other.

What does the bible say about children being obedient and why do I believe it is fundamental in the training of our children?

Firstly, it is one of the commandments of God. So I figure, it must be pretty important. Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with on the land which the Lord your God gives you.”    *Paul also mentions this verse in Ephesians 6:1-2 telling children to “obey your parents in the lord for this is right.” This is the first commandment with a promise. I beautiful promise that shows us that God wants to give good things to his children. He wants us to live well. But that can only happen when we are obedient. Why? Why is being obedient to parents so important to God’s heart?

I truly believe that it is so important to God for this reason- If a child never learns to respect, honor and obey his/her parents than they will lack the discipline to honor and obey God. If a child is never trained to trust in the word of authority how will they ever trust the authority of God. When God asks them to do something that doesn’t make sense, will your child obey, trusting the authority of God, or will they shrug off God’s commands not wanting to do it for lack of wanting to know ‘WHY’?

Doing as God has commanded and listening to His word is of utter importance to God. In Deuteronomy 12: 28 God says, “Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in sight of the Lord your God.”  And farther down in verse 32 He repeats himself, “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”

Jesus also states int he New Testament, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me….If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and my father will love him…”  John 14:21 & 23

Another excellent point, “If you love me you will do what I command.” When we obey, we show our love for God. When our children obey it is a way for them to express love. Love for us and love for God. That is the greatest commandment is it not? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5.

When our children obey, they open a door for God’s blessing to overflow on them. (Look at Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 to see the wonderful list of blessings that God promises to Israel if they kept his commands.) They please God and God’s love is able to overflow over them. I don’t know about you, but I want God’s blessings over my kids. I want them to dwell in the presence of God and I want the love of God to overshadow them. And if teaching them obedience is what can help that happen, than I want to do my job well and not give into laziness and passivity.

There is also a fine line that us a parents need to make sure we do not cross when demanding obedience from our children. Paul goes on to mention in Ephesians 6, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” verse 4. I believe Paul mentioned this because we as parents can over due the demand of obedience. Everything we do must be done in love. Do not demand the impossible from your children. Know that mistakes will happen. Use those times to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Never demand perfection. Never expect your children to want to lovingly obey you if you show little to know interest in them. Training our children in obedience takes a lot of time and a lot of love. Fellowship with our kids is vital. Make them want to obey you. If our children do not find great joy in us they will not find great joy in obeying us.

This idea of obedience may seem over bearing and impossible. Perhaps you are thinking I seem like a nasty dictator. I promise I am not. Merely, my main point is: As parents in our lazy, passive culture, we are in danger of failing our children. We are in danger of not training our children in one of the greatest disciplines they can ever learn in their life. All because we are too tired and sick of dealing with it. May we pray for new strength and perseverance so it may never be so.

How Training in Obedience changed my Parenting:

Looking at obedience in the light of God’s blessings over my children has completely changed the way I approach my children. It has given me a more loving, tender heart towards them as I discipline them. Instead of taking their offenses personally I can now take their disobedience and find ways where I need to improve my training. These revelations have also given me new strength. Mothering is daunting and exhausting but when I see how important my role is in teaching them obedience, I don’t want to get lazy and slack off. I don’t want to just let that bad attitude slide or that lack of obedience go unchecked. This job is much too important to give into the lie that I am too tired and I can’t do it anymore. I want the best for my children. And many times, their best comes at a high and inconvenient cost to me.

God bless. And I hope that this article can be an encouragement to some of you.

**What creative consequences do you give your children when they are disobedient? I would love to hear what works for other moms out there. I am always learning and love advice.***

 

 

 

Why I Spank!!!

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This past week I had a major mom moment. You know what I am talking about? That moment when we moms lose our cool and become Mr. Hyde and strike terror into the hearts of our family.

Well, I lost my cool in a major way and actually yelled at my little boy. (I say that shamefully and hope that some busy-body doesn’t turn me in to the authorities for being a horrible mother.) I’m not usually the yelling mom. It has happened maybe twice before in the past 4 years. But let me tell you, it was a good yell and I could see the hurt in my son’s eyes when I did it. He was scared. And I was mad!!

Why was I mad? Well, in all honesty, it was my fault for the chaos of the morning that made me boil over with frustration and anger. My little man had been whining and crying and throwing major fits for nearly 2 hours straight. And it had been like that every morning and afternoon for nearly two weeks. He was doing so because I had decided to try out a new parenting/training technique, hoping it would make my children perfect angels and allow me to give up on the spanking technique I normally use. (If I am being honest I wish I never had to spank. I have a bit of what you would call ‘a tender heart’. And the world has begun telling us moms that if you spank then you are abusive. Never, ever, ever would I want to be an abusive mother. The thought makes my heart ache.)
Yes, I am a spanking mom!!! Oh the shame!! How could I? Well, these past 2 weeks of chaos and major fit throwing is why? The past weeks have shown me that the power of the ‘rod’ really does hold great power. Not power in the sense of lording it over our kids and beating them into complete submission. I mean power  as in the amazing work of transforming the heart of my little boys.
Allow me to explain and give some stories to illustrate:
First off, I decided to try the time out/go to your room method that “Love and Logic” speaks of. It sounded like a great idea. For some children I am sure it works wonders, for mine, it was horrible. At first I just thought it would take time to make the method effective but I tried it for over 2 weeks and saw no improvement. In fact, it made matters worse. My little boy would have a moment and I would send him to his bed. He would cry and then slowly build into a major fit. Then he would start yelling, “Mommy, please give me a spanking!! I need a spanking!!”
I ignored him and eventually he would calm down.(After a 25 minute cry session, mind you.) Yet, every 20 minutes or so this would happen. With my usual method of instilling the rod a few times while lovingly telling him the reason for it, he would get right back to being happy and move on. The time out/bedroom method just seemed to make him angrier and angrier and was doing nothing for mending his heart.
And that is how I ended up having a horrible mom melt-down. I could not take the fit throwing any longer. It was driving me crazy!!!!!!! Instead of this method helping both of us, it was creating chaos. (I like many other methods from “Love and Logic”. I just found that this idea did not work for me.) So, moving forward in wisdom, I went back to the use of the rod. Peace and joy began returning to our home and the fit throwing subsided. As usual, we occasionally had a fit here and there but it was nothing like those 2 horrible weeks.
I share this story in hopes to let other moms realize that spanking our children is not a hateful or abusive method of training our children. If used in the wrong way and enforced in anger and frustration than yes, it can have a negative outcome. But when given in love, spankings can help our children realize that choices have consequences and sometimes those consequences can be very painful. I would rather my child deal with the pain 0f a swat on the butt now than going through the pain of a horrible decision that could ruin his life when he is an adult.
Another example: When my son is dealing with anger, I will tell him that the anger in his heart is like a horrible monster that needs to get out. I ask him if he needs me to hug it out, kiss it out, squeeze it out, tickle it out or spank it out. Sometimes he merely needs me to tickle him to help him get happy again. But there have been many times where he has actually told me he wants me to spank him.
One morning, he awoke in a foul mood. He was lying in bed, moping and crying for no reason. It was ridiculous. I just ignored him and told him he could not get out until he decided to greet the day with a smile.
“Mommy, can you give me a spanking?” He asked.
“Do you need me to get the anger out?” I asked.
“Yes.”
“Ok. Two spankings and then we will see if that helps.”
I spanked him twice with our “spanker” and after that he was fine. He got out of bed and smiled.
“Better?” I asked.
“Yes.”
The whole ordeal amazed me. Never had I thought my child would tell me he needed spanked. Yet, he has done so on several occasions. As he gets older I can see the work that the ‘rod’ is doing. He now tells me he doesn’t want to be rude or angry or mean. I can see that there is a struggle going on in his heart. A struggle that I, as his mother am to help him overcome. And many times, the rod is the tool we use to overcome.
I have found that the consistent and loving use of this tool brings peace and joy into my family. All the ‘spanking haters’ out there are probably thinking that I’m lying. But I am being 100% honest. My children are content and more joyful when I spank rather when I do not. My boys are happy, laughing, beautiful people. They know the boundaries and they know the consequences. Instead of striking terror into the heart of my children (as so many seem to think spanking does) it brings peace. I truly believe it is because I no longer have to be on edge. I don’t have to tell my children over and over to listen. I am a happier mother and so my children are therefore happier. * I find it necessary to state that I spend time every day in fellowship with my kids- Building blanket forts, pretend hunting, tickling or reading books. The use of the rod must be counter balanced with sweet fellowship with your children. Without fellowship, you are a spanking dictator. They will not find the love in you discipline if you show no interest in them.*
 Finding Joy in a Bad Experience:
I am glad that I had such a bad experience with a different training method. It reiterated to me that the word is true. God is right when the bible states, “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul….” Proverbs 23:13.  I have found that when I am consistent and apply the rod in love and gentleness, the heart of my son begins to mend.
Now, I do realize that for some children, the rod may not need to be used as often. My younger son is a gentle soul and I only to flick his bottom once and he usually moves forward in obedience. Yet, with my older son, he has a strong-will that seems to be molded best by the heavy use of the rod. It is the training tool that has helped bring peace into our family. For when our children listen and obey, peace is bound to follow.
In fact, if we are not training our children in obedience than we have failed miserably. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother(which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may go well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-2.  Teaching our children to obey brings blessings into their lives. God honors obedience and I don’t know about you, but I want good things for my kids. And if teaching them obedience will do that than I better do my job and train them. Our children will not learn obedience unless we train them to do so. May we as moms fulfill our God given rules and not be in fear of using the ‘rod’.
*I want to take this time to say that I believe other forms of discipline are indeed effective. I do not think every child should be treated the same. Every child is unique and must be handled with God’s wisdom and guidance. For me, I prayed and took advice from seasoned mothers. Using the rod was what worked for me and my family. Always use discernment and seek God’s help when training the children God gave you*
Methods that have worked for me:
1. Spank for wrong attitudes-disrespect, meanness or disobedience.
2. Ignore whining or  tell them you will not speak to them until they have spoken in a ‘big boy’ voice.
3. If boys are fighting in car or grocery store or even at home- I will tell them that I charge for fighting. They can pay me with chores, toys, or money they have saved.
4. Let their choices make them wise- Examples: 1. When my youngest kept taking his shoes off in the car after I told him ‘no’, I would flick his feet with our ‘spanker’. He wasn’t getting the hint. So the next time he did it, I made him walk barefoot to the house. It was cold and rainy. He did not like it. (Your children will not die being a little cold and their feet will not get frost bitten. 😉 ) 2. My oldest didn’t want to wear a jacket. I allowed him to not. He got cold. Now he knows to wear a jacket.
The two books that have helped me tremendously as a mom and given me good ideas are: 
“To Train up a Child“: Now, this book is met with a lot of controversy and I do not agree with Michael Pearl’s theology at times but his knowledge on child training is wise in my opinion.
“Love and Logic”: This book has so many examples on how to handle different problems. I really liked this book. But as I mentioned before, not all methods worked for me. Many of the ideas are brilliant though. 🙂
May God give you strength and bless you in your Ministry as Mothers.

“You’re Loved No Matter What” Book Review

Today I am struggling with another form of a stomach bug. I have been having writers block, not knowing what to write and not feeling at all like wanting to write a blog post. In all honesty, sometimes getting the gumption to write for an audience of a handful of people can be discouraging. Yet, God reminds me that this blog is more than just a platform for writing, it is a way to be a witness and an evangelist to the world. It is more than just words. The way I feel like I could do that today is by giving you my honest opinion on something.

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading the book, ‘You’re Loved No Matter What’, by Holley Gerth. I finished it and am ready to give you all a book review. Hopefully the opinion I give will encourage you to read it. It is a much needed message many women need to hear.

I first bought this book a month or so back because I could feel the dissatisfaction bubbling up in my soul. I couldn’t figure out why I was so glum and borderline depressed. Everything my kids did irritated me and my husband was driving me bonkers. Can anyone relate? No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. I was so frustrated with myself and wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep for a very long time.

By God’s grace I skimmed over a book review on a fellow bloggers site. She was reviewing Holley’s latest book, ‘Fierce Hearted‘. The book was not what I wanted to read at that moment but I decided to look up Holley’s other writings. When my eyes fell across the title, ‘You’re Loved No Matter What’, I knew I had to read that book. Because in all honesty, I read the title and doubted that to be true. How could I be loved no matter what when I was grumpy and inadvertently failing at life at the moment. I doubted God’s love everyday. And I knew it was not supposed to be that way. The doubt was eating at me and stealing my peace.


To say the least, I loved the book. It started out a little dry and at first I wasn’t sure if I should keep going but I believe the Spirit kept tugging at my heart to go on. I am so glad I did. The first part that struck home for me was her discussion on guilt. We all deal with it and those of us wanting to be perfect mom’s and wives, we struggle with it a lot. On page 50, she talks about a discussion she has with a friend that helped her battle with the guilt she kept experiencing….

‘..I asked her, “What replaces guilt?” She answered with one simple word: gratitude. Huh. That’s not what I expected. I was thinking more along the lines of my usual ”try harder.” But the more I pondered in the coming days and weeks, the more what she shared began making sense to me. For example, let’s say I go out to eat with my husband and feel guilty for spending money (even though it’s a special occasion and the meal fits our budget). That guilt keeps me from saying, Thank you, God, for my husband. Thank you, God, for this delicious food and those who prepared it. Thank you, God, for the blessing of this amount that we can set aside for celebrations.” Every time I make a list of all the things I feel guilty about, I discover each one offers ways to be grateful instead.’

That really spoke home to me on so many levels. If you are like me I can feel guilty for the silliest things. Yet, it is so true that there is more to be grateful for than guilty.

Holley goes on to speak more about grace. Saying on page 55, “You go to bed knowing that you’re are cherished just as much as when the day started.” Speaking about how everyday, when lived in grace rather than guilt, can be lived well, even though the mess ups and bumps along the way are still there.

Why is it so hard to believe that God cherishes us? I even feel guilty for thinking like that because maybe that’s pride creeping up in me. May be it is better to think that God merely tolerates me? It’s not!!!!! I’m sure it breaks His heart when we doubt him day after day even though His love and care are never failing.

God’s love. What a wonderful gift!!! And it’s not love that is from obligation. It is love that seeps from the very heart of Him. I love how Holly put it in chapter 4. – ‘We are born into families, but we pick our friendships. When God says you’re his friend (John 15:15, John 15:13), he’s saying he wants you. For many years I thought what God felt toward me was obligation. He had to love me. He had to put up with me. But when he calls us “friends,” it changes everything.”

I could continue on and give you more and more excerpts of the parts I liked about this book but I would rather you read it for yourself. If you found my review helpful and end up buying the book because of my review I would love to know about it in the comments below. Thank you all for reading and I hope God’s love is a truth spoken to your heart today.

~Shiree

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Does God Really Love Me?

Has anyone heard of choosing a word for the New Year?

Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions you pick one word that embodies the the work you most want to see God do in your life the coming year. I heard of the idea from Margaret Feinberg in her book, Fight Back With Joy. A book I strongly recommend along with the bible study. 🙂

I haven’t found the need to choose a word for the new year until this past week when I started reading the book, “You’re Loved No Matter What” by Holley Gerth. (I will do a book review for all of you when I finish it. 🙂 )

This book is about escaping the need to be perfect. Almost everything Holley has talked about in this book has been extremely helpful and spot on. Yet, the part that really started working in my heart the past few days has been the part on how much God really loves me.

That might seem ridiculous considering that as a Christian it is pretty much a no brainer that God loves us. Yet, I seem to struggle with this concept more than I like to admit. When the times in life are bright and good and nothing painful is going on, I bask in God’s love, content, feeling as if I have finally begun trusting. When the times become heavy and heartbreaking, however, my faith in God’s love begins to falter and I begin to doubt. And to top it all off, there is always this aching thought in the back of my mind that keeps me wandering if God is really disappointed in me… I know He is mad at me. He has to be. I’m mad at myself. 

To my shame, I actually asked God if he was giving me and my husband such a hard time this past week because we were doing something wrong.

“Are you punishing us?” I cried, “Do you just not care? What is the point of praying to you because I’m continuously praying for peace in all of this but it never seems to come?”

And then it hit me. I don’t actually believe that God loves me!!!! When bad times come, my true colors shine through and they reflect a heart that doubts God’s love.

I believe He tolerates me. When I am doing well and not failing miserably he smiles and gives me a pat on the back, glad that I’m not screwing up…for now. But when I’m not doing things right… When I’m angry at my kids, impatient with my husband and mad at life, God is bitterly disappointed in me. Forget about actually loving me, why would He?

How can you have joy when you don’t believe in God’s love? That is the whole essence, the embodiment of the Christian life. God’s love is the reason for everything. God’s love is why Jesus came. God’s love is why we still wake up every morning. Joy is the byproduct of that love.

I have been longing and practically obsessed with the working of joy in my life. Joy has been my word, more or less, these past 5 months of my life. Yet it still seems to elude me. Sure, I can write a good blog article about it but I still have yet to grasp it. It has frustrated me to no end. And now, I feel a sense of relief. I know now. I lack joy because I lack the knowledge of God’s love.

I understand now why Paul wrote his often qouted text to the Ephesians- “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that He  would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you, being rooted and ground in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul knew that without a real knowledge of God’s love for us, we would never change. God’s kindness/love is what leads us to repentance and pushes us on to be who He created us to be. (Romans 2:4) Without love, all that we do for the kingdom of God is folly. We are a noisy gong or a clanging symbol if we don’t have love. (1 Cor. 13:1)

We have no power to love others if we have not first come to the full knowledge of God’s immense and over-powering love for us. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

To put this into the reality of our life we must first dig deeper into our own hearts and search out our minds. Trusting in and believing in God’s love is much easier said than done. So many of us are believing the lie that in order for us to keep God’s love we must perform. We must do ‘All The Things’ in order for God’s love to be ours. If we don’t measure up we can never truly be in God’s good graces.

This is my problem. I have never come to believe God loves me because through the years I have been told what a good Christian should do and how they should act and what they should say. The ‘Do Not’ list is extensive as well. I am incapable of measuring up. I have unconsciously believed that Jesus died for me and I am saved, but it is now up to me to insure God loves me. I must be and do better for Him to accept me because He saved me out of pity and obligation. Right?

Wrong!!! God loves me when I am good. When I am bad. When I am angry. When I am glad. When I am kind. When I am mean. When I do not pray. When I do pray. When I am excelling and when I am failing. He loves me everyday-Despite what I do or do not do. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

If you are like me and lack joy in your life, perhaps it is a time to dig deeper and admit to yourself that you need to find hope and trust in God’s love again. You don’t need to be better, or do better, and get it right all the time. Stop trying to do what God’s love must do for you. No wonder so many of us deal with anxiety today. We are anxiously trying to be ENOUGH. So stop trying and just abide. Abide in God’s love.

I pray that we as women of God would come to the full knowledge of how much God loves us. I hope and pray that the pain of trying so hard and never measuring up comes to an end. May we trust that God loves us. And may it change us.

So as you can guess, my word for the coming year- LOVE!!! 

~Shiree

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The Loss of a Mother


A personal friend of ours asked us to write about a topic that is a little close to home. She wanted to know about how growing up without a mom has affected us as mothers. We agreed wholeheartedly without realizing what a tough topic this would be.

As I began to think about it, I wasn’t at all sure about what to write. I hadn’t really thought about it in great detail. How did I feel about it? How has it affected my mothering? These questions have rolled around in my mind the past few weeks as I pondered writing this article.

Today marks the 21 year anniversary of my mother’s death. On Dec. 5th, 1996, Sara Nadene Hill passed away from cancer. That is a long time when you really think about it. She has been gone longer than the length of time any of my siblings even knew her – longer than my father had been married to her. Twenty-one years! A lot can happen in twenty-one years – for example, myself and three of my other siblings getting married and becoming parents ourselves.

So much is missed by someone who should be here to enjoy it with us.

I still cry at times when I think of her. Even though I was only seven years old when she died. The sad truth is, I barely even knew who she was. I believe that is the most painful part of losing her. Someone I should know so much about, I know very little. How I would have loved to get to know her over the years of growing up. How I would have loved to hear her tell me the story of how she fell in love with my dad. How I would love to call her and ask for advice when I’m struggling with how to parent my children. How I would love to see her hold my boys and rejoice in the grandchildren she has.

As I ponder and cry over our loss of her, I begin to realize something – I remember her as a beautiful, loving mother! The memory of her is good, and lovely. When others share the memories they have of my mother, they are that of a woman that people loved and admired. A woman that loved Jesus and loved others.

But here is the shocker. She wasn’t a perfect mother!

This truth opened a painful spot in my heart and started to help me heal from the emotional scars I have inflicted upon myself. I began to heal from the shame and guilt I felt of messing up as a mom.

You see, I remember some not so great times with my mom.  Allow me to share a personal memory…..

The whole of the memory is foggy. I don’t even recall what caused my mom to get so upset that day. My sister’s and I were probably fighting and being little stinker butts like young kids can be. We ended up pushing my mom over the edge. Maybe she was hormonal or perhaps she was stressed or sad. Either way, she was not happy with us.

“Sometimes you guys make me want to get in the car and leave!!” she said with a loud and emotional pitch in her voice. 

She went into the bathroom and closed the door. After that, I remember my older sister, Raquel, and I began to cry. And behind the door of the bathroom, my mother cried too. 

Eventually, we braved it and walked into the bathroom. We hugged our mother. We cried some more. “I’m sorry,” my mom said minutes later.

I have done this! I have told my little boy that I wanted to leave. And when I did it, that memory flooded back to my brain like a frightful tsunami taking out an entire country. I did exactly what she did. I even went to the bathroom and cried.

I see a lot of my mother in myself. Even though I barely knew her she still has etched herself within the layers of my life. I am passionate and emotional like she was. I’m quirky and fun and love Jesus. My mom was able to make an impression even in such a short time.

You are probably thinking that the whole point I am trying to get at is how us as parents pass on parenting techniques and how what we do will affect our children later on down the road. That is true but surprisingly, not my main point.

What I want others to realize is that I still think of my mom as a wonderful mother. Even amidst the not so lovely times. I still see beauty and joy when I think of her. I knew she loved me and my family. I know that she loved Jesus. Mess ups on her part did not change that.The best photo editing features for free.

You see, even though you may have messed up with your kids, or raised your voice or got angry at something minuscule, you are still a good mom. If you are leaning on Jesus, and working to be the best mom you can be, then you are doing well. Jesus has so much grace for us. It is sufficient.

My memory of my mother is good. Was she perfect? No. She was human. She loved us with the love of an imperfect human being. And for that love, I am ever grateful. I hope that as my boys grow into adulthood they will realize that I was an imperfect woman doing the best I could. I hope as I did with my mother, they will remember the joy and the good times. The bad memories will still be there but I hope they remember them and show me grace.

Many other parts of me as a mom have been affected by the lack of a mother in my life. There would be a large list. But I will allow my other sisters to share their point of view so I don’t steal all the thunder. In the articles to come, my sisters, Caylen and Raquel will share their stories as well.

A Special Thank You

To end this article I would like to say thank you to so many women who did step up to the plate and helped me mature as a woman and a mother even after mine left this world. Without these women, I would not be who I am today. These women showed me the heart of Jesus and showed me the love of a mother.

First and foremost, my sister Raquel: Without your love and care I don’t know where I would be. You cared for me as a mom for so many years. For you I am ever grateful.

Aunt Juanita: You loved us with such intensity. I knew you felt protective of us and cared for us. I still remember you making the sacrifice to come be with me at the Mother’s Day Tea party I had in 2nd grade. I will always remember that.

Grandma Mollie: Though you are no longer with us, I still remember you and feel the love you had for me. Your lovely songs and warming hugs will forever be with me. As well as your beautiful garden –  forever etched in my mind.

My mother-in-law Pati: You have been patient with me as I have taken so long to be confident enough to ask your advice and share intimate conversations with you. You are a beautiful woman and I am so glad I married your son.

Angie Steffen: Oh what a joy you are! You loved me in all the awkward stages of life and made me feel important. I remember you curling my hair and having fun sleepovers. I will always love you. (I still sing the “Bed Bug’s” song we made up. I sing it to my boys when they go to sleep 🙂 )

Maureen Palmquist: I know now how important is to be polite and say ‘thank you’ because of you. I was always glad to come to your house. I felt loved and safe there. You hold a special place in my heart.

Jane Otott: If ever there was a woman who showed me the heart of sacrifice, you are the one. You are such a kind and faithful women. The fact that you came every Friday for so many years and asked for nothing in return amazes me. I think of you and think of Jesus.

Thank you to all the beautiful women who love as Jesus loves. Without joyful, Godly women this world would be a sad and lonely place.

~Shiree

 

Have You Lost Your Joy?

Losing Joy:

I have a confession to make…..

I have not been a joyful woman lately. I’m sure that when you read my posts you think I’m a joyful, smiling mommy that is thankful in all things. But guess what? I’m not!!! Much of what I write is what God has been teaching me of late and let me tell you, I have been needing some teaching.

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Everything in my previous posts that I mentioned not to do. I DID THEM!!! I have been ungrateful, grouchy, lacking in joy, and sometimes just plain angry. I got frustrated with my 2-year-old because he knocked over the cat’s water bowl again. He is clumsy and not well balanced. Not just toddler clumsy. I mean, horrible, trip over a grain of sand, clumsy! It is a trait I passed onto him, unfortunately. And since we live in a small space, he knocks over a lot of things. To my shame, I let it get to me and my reaction was not that of beauty.

Why have I been like this? After all my talk on being joyful, you’d think I would have it figured out by now. At least, I sure wish I did.

To be honest, God has placed the importance of joy on my heart because He graciously showed me that I was horribly lacking. I’m not a depressed or horribly angry woman, mind you. Yet, joy evades me more often than not. The stresses of life bog me down and I let my emotions get the best of me. If disappointments come my way I let them ruin my day. If I woke up grumpy, I chose to be grumpy. I honestly didn’t even know how to choose differently. I knew something was wrong, and at times it still is wrong. I don’t want to be the kind of woman that is only filled with joy when the occasion is fit for it. I want to be able to rise up from underneath the pain in my heart and the lies in my mind and choose joy. Even when I don’t FEEL like it. I’m done being ruled by my emotions and my negative thoughts. I pray for change.

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A HARD PAST COUPLE WEEKS

My grumpiness stems from disappointments that have come my way these past few weeks. The sheet-rock in our house should have been up over a week ago. Unfortunately, the insulation has not been finished. The bat insulation was delayed and then we received the wrong order. The spray foam insulation was held back because of broken machinery. To say the least, things are not going as planned. (As they seem to do. 😉 )

We have been hoping to be moved into our house by Christmas but that goal has started to fade away.

“Hopefully by Springtime we can move in,” my husband said the other morning at breakfast.

He was teasing. Yet, also very serious.

By the looks of it, we might be delayed a few more months than planned. My heart hurts at the thought of it. I have been dreaming of moving into our home for a while now. I am so ready. The disappointment of a longer wait time is gnawing at my insides and I literally ache.

Do you know that feeling? That feeling of wanting something so bad you feel like your chest could burst? That’s how I feel. Then add the crushing weight of disappointment on top of that and you have one heck of an emotional bomb ready to go- KABOOMB!!!!!

My lack of joy is my own fault. I want something and I want it now. Am I looking to God and trusting in His goodness and His glorious timing? No. My focus is inward, not upward. I am not thinking about things above but on the things of earth.

When the light goes out…

Oh, how the light goes out when we focus inward! Have you ever noticed that? When we are focused inwardly upon ourselves and concerned only with our own lives, it’s as if someone snuffed out the flame that is supposed to be emanating from within us. We are to be the light of the world showing others the beauty of Jesus. But when our only concern is SELF, that light no longer shines. It has become dark; within and around you.

It saddens my heart knowing that I am guilty of such selfishness. And I know that the enemy loves my self-preoccupied thoughts. It is in that thinking that he dwells and makes his home. He sits down quite comfortably in my mind as I stew and fester on all that disappoints me.

“Yes, keep going,” he says with delight, “Keep focusing on all the annoying, aggravating things in your life…..Oh, and don’t forget to pile the self-loathing and guilt on top of that. Because everyone knows it- You are a bad mom and God is disappointed.”

I am sure that I am not the only woman that deals with this problem. It is hard to be strong amidst the screaming and crying of children. It takes all the will-power you have to not freak-out as your child barfs all over you in the hardware store. (Yes, that happened last week.) It requires strength and discipline to not be frustrated with your unthankful child as they complain about the dinner you spent time making. It requires a lot of patience and self-control as your toddler puts their hand in their poopy diaper and gets poop ALL over themselves. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

How do we get out of that mom funk that causes the light within us to be snuffed out? How do we find joy in the midst of frustration, disappointment and all the stress of life?

Well, I don’t have all the answers but I can share a few things that God has shown me in the last few weeks.

How to get the light back:

  1. Tell God all the junk that is being stored up in your heart. Through your discontent and frustrations. Don’t hold back. He already knows. Just let it out and cry.
  2. After the spilling out of emotions and the tears, Ask God What You Can Do About It.  Don’t continue to wallow in it. If you want God to work you will have to admit that you might have to change something in your life….For example, last week I was pretty upset with my husband. There are times men are not as sensitive as us women and they can come across harsh or lacking in love. My husband does not have a lot of tact. He is a very good, God-fearing man but he says it like it is and it really bothers me sometimes. To make it worse, I can be a little too sensitive. In my outpouring of my frustrations to God about it, He merely reminded me of something. “You can’t change your husband. He isn’t perfect. I’m still working on him. The only thing you can do is deal with your sensitivity. If you don’t want to be perturbed about your husband’s lack of tact then grow a thicker skin. Ask me for help in dealing with it with grace.”  Now does that mean my husband was right in his actions? Perhaps not, but he answers to God, not me. I am responsible for my own actions.
  3. Pray for Who is Frustrating You. Not just a, “I lift so-and-so up to you, God.” Not that easy. I mean really pray for them. Ask for God’s blessings over them… Perhaps your family is treating you with a lack of respect. Maybe your kids take you for granted or your husband can be impatient and angry when life gets too stressful. Pray that God does beautiful works within their hearts. You want what is best for your family even when what they are doing is wrong. With humility, ask God for his changing power in their lives.
  4. Give Thanks. When I realize that I am grumpy with my kids and my husband, it can stem back to me focusing on all the negatives. So, I begin to thank God for 2 or 3 things for each of my family members. And then I name 2 things that I am thankful for in general. It really helps my brain be rewired. I even do this with my 3-year-old when I realize he is getting grumpy or lacking in thanks. I tell him he has to name 3 things he is thankful for before he can continue on playing. It is amazing how a smile slowly forms on his face and he loses his grumpy countenance. (*Even start a thankful journal. It is a blessing to look back on all that you have thanked God for. :))
  5. Ask for Help. I am horrible at this one! For some reason, I feel like I should be able to do it all or I am just inconveniencing others when I do ask for their help. But last week, I knew I needed some assistance. My son and I were not getting along. I was grumpy and therefore causing him to be grumpy. We were knocking heads pretty good and I could feel anger rising up in me. I called my mother-in-law and asked her if she would take him for the rest of the day. I wasn’t being selfish or wanted an excuse for a mom break. I knew that if my son and I were able to part ways for awhile, we would be better for it. No matter how much we love others, it is always good to get away. Jesus did it. So why shouldn’t we?……Now, I do realize that some of you don’t have family readily available to help. But I think more often than not, there are friends and those within our church that are willing to help us. We just have to be humble and brave enough to ask. I don’t just mean help with babysitting. I mean help with all sorts of things. We as a body should be willing to be there for each other. May we be willing.
  6. Pray for the World, the Church, or the Poor. When I realize that I’m inwardly focused, I shamefully become aware of the fact that I have only been praying for myself. So, in order to get my mind off myself, I pray for the Body or for those with bigger needs than I have. It helps get me out of my mind and gets me aligned with God’s agenda rather than my own. I need to remember that the world is not centered on me. As Christians, we should never want the world to revolve around ourselves.

ClothDiaper

There you have it. The 6 Things I do in order to bring the Light of Joy back in my mothering and my wife-ing (Is that a word?) This is what I have been doing in order to gain the joy back in my life the past couple weeks. I can honestly say it works. I hope that some of you can implement them in your own life to help you as well.

I would love to hear from you.Let me know what You do to get the joy and thankfulness back. New ideas are always a blessing.

~Shiree

6 Daily Priorities for the Overwhelmed Mom

6 daily priorities

If you are anything like me, life can quickly get chaotic and priorities can easily get skewed. Some days I can’t seem to wrap my head around all the things that we as Godly wives and mothers are called to do and be on a daily basis. From the vital tasks to the smallest little thing that needs doing,  I can get overwhelmed with anxiety about all of it. Therefore I decide to do absolutely none of it and instead do something completely different and pretend I’m not ignoring what truly needs to be done while feeling guilty and STILL anxious – because it’s NOT GETTING DONE. Yes… I know it’s a problem.

TIME TO REFOCUS

Today has been one of those days that I really need to just pause for a moment, pray, and refocus my thoughts on the priorities. Not necessarily the specific priorities down to “clean toilet” or “fold laundry” but rather, the absolute TOP PRIORITIES for my life as the Lord intended – as a child of God, loving wife, and happy Mom. There are many times we can lose sight of what is TRULY important. When this happens we aren’t always the best mom or wife, we tend to be grumpy and usually focus only on the negative. THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT TO BE!

 There are so many tasks on our “to do list” we can forget to take care of the priorities – either we say, “I’ll do my devotions later” and we never do. Or, “I’ll work out tomorrow” and we never do.  Or, “My kiddo can entertain themselves, I’m just going to browse Facebook for a few minutes.” Obviously browsing Facebook isn’t bad, and skipping a workout here and there is okay and missing Jesus time once in a while doesn’t mean you lose your salvation – but often times we can neglect the things, and people, that really matter because our days are just TOO BUSY.

 So today, let’s lay our day before the Lord’s feet and ask Him to remind us about the daily priorities we should focus on!

 Every one of us will have different daily priorities as the Lord lays each upon our hearts. Write them down. And when things start to feel overwhelming, focus on your list and take care of your priorities so you can more gracefully and with a joyful spirit accomplish the other tasks set up for your day!

Our priorities help center our minds and prepare our hearts. And this week, I want to remember every morning that THESE are the most important things for me to get done. I’m not saying that you have to accomplish every one of your daily priorities, and ONLY THEN can you take care of everything else that needs doing. I often won’t get one on one time with Kyle until later in the evening! Rather, use your own priorities list as a centering tool and a reminder to focus on the positive and important – it doesn’t matter WHEN you talk with the Lord, but that you DID talk with Him. It doesn’t matter if you have quality time with your husband at 11 o’clock at night – what’s important is that you made the time.

6 DAILY PRIORITIES

This list is what I personally feel I need to make priorities – yours may look similar or maybe completely different. It’s all good!

1.       DEVOTIONS – whether you wake up early and talk with God or you wait until nap time, spending time with the Lord can make or break your day. There are days I definitely don’t feel like sacrificing “my time” to sit with the Lord (ironic right, considering the Lord is the one who gave me the time in the first place :P) but on the days I take the time to talk with God,  I tend to feel more content and joyful and my overall outlook on life is typically more positive.bible verses come and talk with me lord i am coming It’s okay if you only have a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there. Pray continually and take advantage of any spare minute you may have. Welcome the Spirit into your day and allow the Lord to work through you and in every part of your day.

2.       QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR HUSBAND – take the time to love your husband. Whether you talk about your day, play a game, watch a movie or simply just enjoy each other’s company. Whether you have 10 minutes or 4 hours. Spend time with your man. Quality over quantity. This is important for both of you and keeping a happy marriage!

3.       QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR KIDS – some days it’s so easy to just let Lillian entertain herself and leave her to her own devices while I try to tackle more tasks for the day. I have to remind myself how fleeting this time is. Lillian is only a child for a little while, and the time I invest in her life TRULY MATTERS. The dishes can wait. I can do the online shopping later. I can focus on my work later.  Unplug, and focus your undivided attention on your little ones for a little while. This is time well spent and you won’t look back and regret it later. Love your babies <3

4.       WORKOUT – for me personally this is something I try to make a priority. So often I find myself complaining about the way I look and groaning with unhappiness about myself. 1 corinthians 6:19-20I take this part of my heart to the Lord and say “Help Me, Lord!” and He reminds me that I actually have to DO something about it. Unfortunately, He isn’t going to give me a rocking body overnight… dang it! But I know that He will motivate and encourage me to get to a happy, and healthy, place physically. Sometimes this means a brisk 10-minute walk, or sometimes just 10 minutes of squats, crunches, and planks. Whatever time you’ve been given, use it. Doing even a little something is better than doing nothing.

5.       SPIFF UP THE HOUSE – yes, I know this shouldn’t be THAT big of a priority. But for me personally, when my house is in a somewhat tidy condition my anxiety is less intense and I feel more motivated throughout the day. It makes me feel more confident and I like for Kyle to come home and feel comfortable. Something as simple as a clean kitchen and empty sink with no dishes can completely change your mindset and mood.

6.       5 MINUTES “ME” TIME – at least five minutes! This is a lot easier said than done for many mamas – I know! But sometimes having just a little bit of time each day to do something that YOU want to do can truly lighten your spirit and encourage you to keep going. It’s easy to forget about yourself, especially when you have children and haven’t taken a shower in 4 days (don’t judge bro) I personally love a few minutes in the morning with a nice hot cup of coffee and a chance to just browse around on the internet. For some reason this helps start my day more positively – I get a few minutes to relax and wake up and it gives me a little time to do what I want to do. Without a little “me time” it’s easy to get irritable and swallowed by discontent. Try to snag a couple minutes for yourself! Even if it’s just throwing a brush through your hair and wisping a little mascara on!


It’s easy to get swallowed whole by our busy days and to-do lists! My goal this week is to refocus my attention on the things that are most important – not to allow myself to be choked by anxiety or allow the devil to heighten my feelings of being overwhelmed! I pray the Lord does the same for you and that every day, and in every moment, we know his presence and allow Him to guide and mold us into women of God.

What are some of your daily priorities?

3 Things I Use to Bring Joy to my Children.


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Hello Everyone! 🙂

There are countless ways for us to bring joy into our children’s day. For me personally, there are three things I use often if not almost every day to bring joy into my children’s lives. These are merely simple but fun products and activities that I would love to share. I hope they give you and your little ones as much joy as they have given us!

It is so important to help bring joy into our kids’ lives. As you may have guessed, I am emphatic about being a joyful woman! But what about helping our kids possess joy as well?

Many times, our own joy will rub off on our kids. If we are happy, smiling mothers we can help our children’s grumpy countenance transform into a joyful one. Our little ones do not know how to reign in their emotions. They know little of how to grasp onto joy and keep clinging to it even when life gets hard. We have to do a large part of that for them. We need to cultivate joy in our children’s lives and help them enjoy life.

How? Well, I’m glad you ask.

  1. Check yourself. How is your attitude today? As the mom, our attitudes can set the tone for the whole house, for the whole day. Where are the smiles? Are you showing your children that you delight in them or do you get them out of bed, annoyed that they woke you up too early?
  2. Don’t let your kids’ grumpiness get to you and ruin your own attitude. This is extremely important but also extremely difficult. I struggle with this one more than I like to admit. It’s hard to keep a smile on your face and joy in your heart when your child is an ungrateful grumpy butt that seems bound and determined to ruin your day. Don’t give in!! Even if you have, take a deep breath and count to ten. Start all over again.
  3. Initiate fun and enjoyable experiences with your children. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming. It can merely be small acts that help bring a smile to your children’s face and make them enjoy being with you. Here are a few things I do to make that happen…..

The 3 Things I use to Bring my Children Joy:

  1. The Jesus Story Book Biblejesus bible

I love this Bible and the beautiful artistry. Sally Lloyd-Jones is amazing at putting the gospel into words that are fit for children but can also touch the heart of an adult. Every morning at breakfast I try to read a small excerpt from this bible. We will start at the beginning and read a section at a time until we reach the end. Then, we start all over again.

As we all know, God’s word is living and active. This may not be a direct translation of the writing word but it speaks God’s truth and therefore, I believe, can do mighty works in our children’s hearts. Even if they do not fully understand what I am reading, I know that God is planting seeds.

My 3-year-old will ask lots of questions about the pictures. I can also use it as a way to bring homeschooling into our day. If he points to an animal or a certain object we will look up information about it so we can learn more.

heart sing*Sally Lloyd-Jones also wrote a little devotional that is phenomenal. “Thoughts to make your heart sing”. I literally cry when I read it. I read it to the boys but I read it more for myself. It is simplistically beautiful and the Spirit is present in those pages. 

 

 

 

2. Slugs and Bugs CD’s  Mobile Image

There are 5 options for this one!! Randall Goodgame has made some incredible children’s CDs.

Sing the Bible 1

Sing the Bible 2

Slugs and Bugs, Under Where?

Slugs and Bugs, Lullabies

Slugs and Bugs, Christmas   *(This is the only one I do not own at this time)

My kids and I LOVE these CDs. I usually do not like listening to children’s music but I put this on in the car almost every day and rarely get tired of it. I find myself laughing more than my kids do. The songs bring a smile to our faces.

We listen to one of these CDs every day. Whether that be dancing in the 5th wheel to the fun Chicken Wiggle song or learning bible verses in the car as we run errands. I find these songs to be real joy givers and they give me an excuse to be silly with my boys. 🙂

Now, they are rather pricier than a regular CD. I was a little shocked when I looked up the price for the first time. I never regretted spending that money though. I dare you to buy only one and keep yourself from buying more.

*Thank you, Raquel, for first introducing to me all the items above. I have never loved kid products as much as I do these.

3. Snap-Chat

Now, I know what you are thinking.

“Snap chat? Really? That’s just ridiculous.”

This may seem like an odd thing for me to use with my children, I know, but they really love it. There is nothing like laughter to brighten your day and snap-chat makes me and my kids laugh ALOT!! We make funny faces together and send them to their fun-loving Aunts who, in return, send us funny faces.

The only downside I have found to using snap chat is some of the face options are strange or even scary. During the Halloween season, they had a bunch of creepy themes and we ended up not using snap chat for a week or two for that reason. But that is only a certain time of year, thank goodness. Usually, the themes are goofy or silly. The shape-shifting options are the boys’ favorites because they can change your voice as well. They giggle and have a grand old time. 🙂 (Except for when they argue over who gets to go next, which we are working on nipping in the butt.)

So there you have it. The three things I use to bring joy into my children’s day. See how simple they are! We don’t have to work extra hard to make our kids lives joyful. It’s the simple things in life that we remember. And I know that our kids will grow up and look back and remember dancing in the kitchen to silly songs or reading Bible stories at breakfast or taking funny pictures. Or maybe even remember getting whip cream sprayed in their mouth. (That’s for another blog post. 😉 )

There are many more fun ideas I could tell but I thought we should stick with three for now. If I kept going your eyes would glaze over and you would get bored!

If you enjoyed this list and would like more ideas, let me know! Leave your comments below or subscribe to our mailing list.

I would love to hear what you do to bring joy into your children’s lives! I am always looking for new ideas.

Signing off,

Shiree

*These items mentioned above are also great Christmas gifts. 😉

 

 

 

Are you Thankful in ALL Things?

How God is teaching me thankfulness in all things:

We finally installed a pressure tank in the basement of our ‘coming soon’ home. Which means that the frost free hydrant outside can issue forth water when I lift the handle. It is absolutely amazing!!!!

You’re probably wondering why I am so excited. “You pulled your hydrant lever and water came out. I do that every day. Why would that make you excited?”

When we moved onto our property last November we had no power or water. We had a well but no water lines or well pump. We went over a month without power; running off of a generator. Want to know how long we went without water? 7 months!!!

To get water, we loaded a 300-gallon tank onto the back of my husbands truck, drove down the road to a friends house and filled it up with 100 gallons of water. (Thank you, Cory and Sarah. You are life savers. Thank goodness you had an outdoor hot water faucet.) We then proceeded to drive back home and pour that water into the camper’s water tank. We did this every week.

You can imagine how excited we were when we installed a well pump and had water coming through our frost free hydrants. Yet, we still did not have a pressure tank. To get water, I had to turn on the breaker that was connected to the pump. I would go outside, turn on the power, fill up the camper, then go turn the power back off. It was much better than hauling water but still not as easy as opening up your faucet and water miraculously spilling out.

I was overjoyed when I was able to fill our 5th wheel (bus-house as our 3 year old calls it) with water without having to go switch the breaker on. It was a big step for us and it made me realize how much I take for granted. I forget how good God is to me.

I tell you my sad, little story in order spur you on to thankfulness. In no way do I want pity or for you to feel sorry for me. The past year has been rough but also a rewarding one. A simple life within a fifth wheel has been a time of refinement. It has taught me thankfulness and simplicity – character traits that I believe are very pleasing to God.

Do you truly realize how blessed and spoiled you are? Maybe you don’t have extra money to spend on all the things you want, but do you have a home and bed and a tummy full of food? I know I do. Yet, somehow, I still find things to complain about. “Oh, woe is me!!! I have to live in a fifth wheel and unclog my backed up toilet every month and dump my reekish black tank that smells of sewage and kind of makes me want to barf!” Heck, Shiree! You have a toilet!!! You aren’t having to dig a hole in the dirt every time you go number two. (That’s a relief, let me tell you. I might have drawn the line at digging a poop hole.)

Thankfulness is seriously lacking in most of our lives. We lose sight of how good we have it. We seem to think that the ordinary, mundane things of life are merely happenstance. Life owes us that which we desire. Heaven forbid if our day doesn’t go the way we want it. We find ourselves frustrated and irritated over ridiculous things, such as:

~Gosh darn that old farmer holding up traffic again with that gigantic John Deere tractor of his!

~The laundry never ends!! What? ANOTHER BLOW-OUT!!!??

~Why is the grocery store out of my favorite ice-cream? I’M GONNA LOSE IT WITHOUT MY FAVORITE ICE CREAM!!!

~Why is the line at the coffee shop so looooong? I have to be to work in five minutes. Just order a simple coffee, you bearded hipster!! Don’t you know that real men take it black?!

There is always something to complain about. Without us realizing it, we complain about the weather, our clothes, our kids, our husbands, our car, or our neighbor. I find myself groaning about the fact that my coffee doesn’t stay hot long enough. It’s rather silly when I think about it.

The Bible says to give thanks in all things. To do ALL things without grumbling or complaining. Even when poop blows out of the back of the boys’ diaper or the carpet got another stain on it from spilled grape juice? Am I really supposed to give thanks in those things? How? How can I be thankful for things that drive me crazy or make me sit on the kitchen floor and cry like a tired, hungry toddler?

It’s one thing to quote verses about thankfulness but it’s a whole other story to actually live it out. Day to day. Hour to hour. Minute to minute. Life will never be easy and there will be plenty of things to grumble about. So, how do we live in thankfulness and kill the grumbling disease that so easily infects us?

We choose it. We choose to see the good. Allow yourself to dwell on all that you love about your life, not all that you wish was different. Being thankful will be a powerful weapon you can wield in the battle of life and the fight against the enemy. Because if you don’t know already, Satan wants us to grumble.

He wants us to look at all the wrong things in our life and lose perspective. When we begin to look upon the bad and brood upon the hurt, our insides fester with discontent and our trust in God begins to fade. We begin to wonder if God is really who he says he is. We wonder why he would let life get us down if He actually loved us the way He says he does. Why would God not give us sunshine and lollipops every day? Doesn’t he love us and want the best for us? Shouldn’t this life be easy now that we believe in Jesus? Didn’t Jesus die on the cross to let me live a good life?

Yes! But not always the way we want it to be. Jesus came to give us life. A life that is full, made new and filled with joy. A life that could be lived in victory even when everything around us is still crumbling and falling apart. We are new creatures in an old, broken world. Pain and hardship will be with us as long as we live on this earth. But we no longer have to succumb to it. The blood of Jesus has given us victory over the world. We have the power to enjoy the journey on our way to everlasting life. Even when that journey is a hard one. Or perhaps, just an inconveniencing one.

So, I encourage you today to live in thankfulness. Don’t let the disappointments, no matter how big or small, drag you down into the pit of discontent. Learn to look on all that you have as a gift and a blessing that God has given you.

Be grateful for the dirt that your children track through the door. It means you have the joy of motherhood.

Rejoice in the laundry you have to do. It means you have a family.

Give thanks for all the dirty dishes. Your family is not hungry.

Smile when you see your husband’s shoes strewn on the floor. It means you have a man to take care of.

Rejoice when your favorite ice cream is nowhere to be found. It means you don’t have to feel guilty later for eating it. 😉

“Again I say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

~Shiree

Finding Joy in Pain

Finding Joy in Pain

 

When is it Ok not be joyful? When is the right time to weep?

It says in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything. So, are there times in life when we can let the pain in and just cry? Is the weeping that lasts for the night necessary in order for the joy to come in the morning?

Am I wrong to think that God uses pain and hurt so we can fully know and experience joy? Is joy attainable even after walking over hot coals and climbing over painful, unbeatable mountains? I know that in the good times it seems that joy is easy to come by. It can appear without even being invited. You open the door and let joy join the party.joy comes in the morning

But, I have experienced something even more amazing. I have had joy announce itself uninvited: At a time when I was hurting and not wanting to celebrate. It seemed that it was knocking at the wrong door-had the wrong address perhaps. I wanted to shoo it away, tell joy that it had horrible timing and was rude for turning up the way it did. Don’t you know I’m upset, for Pete’s sake? I don’t want joy here. This is a painful time and crying is the only answer. Yet, even when I refused to open the door to let joy in; it waited. It stood calmly and expectantly at the door. But why?

Well, I think I may have found out:

My husband and I are building a house. It has been one of the most trying times I have experienced.  More tears have been shed in this past year than I can count: Tears of frustration, tears of hurt, tears of doubt and tears of fear. Is God using all these tears and turning them into something beautiful? Or are they wasteful tears that I shed in my own self-pity?

I know that the pain in building this house will produce a beautiful home for us in the end. It will be a place of joy and comfort for us. A place of rest. We would not end up with a beautiful house without going through all the hard work it requires. Yet, I must admit, I wish God didn’t lead us into this process. (The good things in life that God has for us may require more character building than we would like. It may require a lot more pain than we like but we must go through it if we wish to move forward in the will God has for us.)

One night, when I was in a terrible state, I cried out to God and told Him I was sorry for not being more joyful through the whole house building ordeal. I felt weak, pitiful, and I frankly did not like myself. I wanted to be stronger and felt like I was letting God down by not being the woman of strength He wished me to be.

You know what I heard Him say, “It’s Ok to be sad and to not like the process. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He accepted the pain of the cross for the glory that would come from it. He did not find joy in the pain. In fact, he asked to be delivered from it for he knew how agonizing it would be….I’m not expecting beautiful smiles and bubbly charm all the time. The tears are meant to be shed for a purpose. Because after the tears, comes the joy. And sometimes, in the tears there is joy.”in the midst of trouble

Through that, I was able to rise up in the hurt and cling onto joy. Was I still in pain? Yes. Was life suddenly all better and the sun came out and birds chirped happily? No. But I was able to look ahead to the joy that was set before me. I would have a home at the end of this. A home that I could be proud of. So in the midst of the trying time I would grip tightly to that joy and wait in hope.

Joy is a powerful witness. When we have experienced heartache and trying times, people don’t expect joy. The world expects us to let the hurt consume us. It’s the way it is. That’s what people do. You get hurt and then you wallow in it. Others will allow you act rudely, be stand offish and even down right mean if you are going through a trying time. They are trying to show you grace.

But, what if our response was different? What if after the time of mourning we were able to get back up and respond with joy? People would be able to see a powerful miracle through us. They would see the fruit of the spirit being manifested. I think that is one of a the many ways God uses ‘all things for the good of those who love him.’ (Romans 8:28)

So, if joy comes knocking let us rise up and open the door to it. May we not let the pain overtake us. Mourn, cry, maybe punch a pillow, but never sit down in the mire of despair and take up residency there. If you do, then you will miss out on a great gift that God has for you. He wants you to have the power of joy to overcome. Now, let joy do it’s work.

Joy is waiting.

~Shiree

*Margaret Feinberg wrote a book called, Fight back with Joy‘. I just recently finished it and was so happy that she wrote a whole chapter on the joy found through hard times. She put into words that which I have such a hard time trying to articulate upon. Diagnosed with cancer, Feinberg went on a journey to fight back with joy in hopes to get through her painful experience. She can write so much more wisdom on joy than I ever could and I highly recommend it.