Wednesday, August 26, 2015

8 Things I Have Learned this Year About Marriage

I have had a few requests for a post about marriage.

 I haven't touched this topic for many reasons but none of them are good ones.

I don't have the perfect marriage-not that one exists anyways! 

My husband and I are both Christians, but we definitely struggle.
We have different ways of expressing our faith, we have different ways of communicating, we have different ways of planning and scheduling, we have different ideas of what is fun and what is not, we have different ways of putting the toilet paper on the roll! (ha)

Throw in the mix a three-year-old and a seven-year-old, a very high energy dog, full-time work for both of us and lots of sports practices and we have many ugly moments in our home.

As I prayed about this post I recognized that I actually have come a long way in the past year or so and how I handle marriage problems.
God is so good to point this out to me!
So God gave me the confidence to share with all of you. 
  
Marriage is hard.
There are so many reasons why.
As a woman who works outside the home, working can impact marriage big time.
But working outside the home is not the root of our marriage problems.
The root of our marriage problems always is sin.

Many women who work outside the home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.
Many women who stay at home feel that they don't have enough time to nurture their marriages.

Many women who work outside the home feel that their children's needs drain them so much that they don't have anything left for their spouses.
And yes you guessed it, stay at home mothers feel the same way.

At the end of a working day, we are left with only so much time to connect with our spouses and nurture our marriage.

Again- whenever there is conflict in marriage, the root of the problem is always sin. My sin, his sin, my children's sin. All of it. Yes, sometimes there are things that need to change and adjustments need to be made. But ultimately, sin is our enemy.

If you're experiencing conflict in your marriage, I can assure you – you are not alone. There is nothing new under the sun, and your issues and struggles with your spouse are not a surprise to God...

So here are the main things I have learned over the past year:

1. I need to approach my husband in humility, respect and love. If I cannot do this, then I need to remain silent and wait for the right time. If I have to remove myself from the situation in order to stick with this principle, then I need to remove myself from the situation.

2. I need to appreciate and verbally praise what I see my spouse doing for my family on a daily basis. I especially needs to do this in front of my children. Speaking words of life into my home is one of the most powerful things I can do for my marriage.

3. I need to check my perspective before banking my emotions on it. Just because I have a certain perspective on a conflict, does not mean that is the correct perspective. Many times, the way I see things are very different than the way my husband sees things. Before I attach great emotion to what may be happening within a conflict, I need to ask God to give me a healthy perspective.

4.  It is not my job to change my spouse. Everyone is more content when I remember that it is not my job to change my spouse, convince him, or to control him. I can be true to myself and to my wants and desires and then leave the results to the Holy Spirit.

5. Conflict in marriage is often a powerful tool that God will use to draw me closer to Him-keeping me on my knees and increasing my dependence upon Him...

6. There are many needs that I have that my husband cannot meet. I need to identify those needs and be proactive in seeking out ways to get them met. For example – I need to feel understood as a woman and as a mother. If I expect this from my husband, I will always be disappointed. I have to arrange monthly coffee dates with friends.

7.  I need to believe and have hope in God's best for my marriage, while at the same time, leaning on the promise that when I feel something lacking, that God will give me what I need in each day. He will always be enough.

8. I need to remember that there is always a bigger picture. When I look back upon difficult moments in my marriage, I can see how God worked. I can see how I have grown and I can see how my husband has grown. This gives me hope and perspective.

I hope that some of these things have encouraged and helped you!

Let me know what you think! Are you struggling in your marriage? Can you apply one of these eight lessons I have learned? What happens when you do?

I recently found an amazing resource online that I will share with you:
From: www.unveiledwife.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Keep Calm and Carry On

 
By Lisa Brown


 Standing in front of me is stacked one task on top of another task. 
How on earth did that happen?..."
And I don’t know where to start? 
I could just start somewhere, I guess...? 
But where?
I have absolutely no energy or willpower to pick apart these daunting to-do’s! 
I feel too overwhelmed to make a plan.  
Worse of all, physically my body is working against me, instead of for me.
Before me stands a mountain and I need divine intervention to rescue me. 
Come Jesus quickly!
I’m afraid that I’m going to miss out on something if I don’t get out of this pit.
Right now all I see are a list of things to do.
I want to quit.” 
-Quote From a Tired and Anxious Mom

Do you ever go to bed at night-wondering when life will ever slowdown?
And don’t you sometimes just get FED UP with to-do-lists? 
They are Never.Ending. 

Do you forget where your to-do-list is because you’re too tired to remember where you put it? 
...and then months later when you are cleaning out your purse you find at least five old unchecked lists? 
This happened to me one time when I was sitting on the toilet going through my purse and hiding from my kids (ha!)

When I’m faced with life transitions I get like this. 
It happened this year when summer vacation was coming to an end and homeschooling was about to begin. 
It was like shifting gears without oil.  
Pretty creaky and cranky.
 
I don’t like feeling like life is in control of me. 
I like taking charge of my life. 
So I went out on a coffee date with God and I asked Him to calm my heart down.

I read this verse from Proverbs 16:3
Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”
God helped me focus  after I gave Him my to-do-list and anxieties. 
Your will be done God.  Not my will but yours!

The coolest thing about God is that whenever I’m in a freak out mode, He gently reminds me that He didn’t send me out to do His will on my own. 
He will send me His helper the Holy Spirit. 
For He is the one who will direct my paths and speak truth to me. 
 
Today I Have a List of Five Things
That You and I Can do to Keep Ourselves Calm.
1.       Take care of yourself.  It’s tempting to sacrifice a good night of sleep or a healthy meal when we are trying to catch up.   We are no good to ourselves or anybody else when we are sick, tired, and grumpy.  What you don’t get done today can wait until tomorrow.  And remember some things you will never catch up on.  Like laundry and dirty dishes.   The sooner you accept it the better off you will be.  Seriously, at the end of the day, God doesn’t care if we made our bed or not.  But, He does care how we feel before we close our eyes to go to sleep. 
 
2.       Understand your reasons and motivations for every little thing you plan.  Do you know why you do what you do? Are your plans God’s or are they selfish plans created by your sinful flesh?   Take time to reflect on your life goals for you and your family.  And then take care of those things first that matter the most.  Live life as if there is no tomorrow.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t cry over spilled milk. 
 
3.       Meditate day and night on all the good that God does for you.  Work through trials by praising Him.  Give thanks for every task accomplished, no matter how small it is.  Celebrate every goal that is met with joy.  Don’t ever forget the mess that God delivered you from.

"I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together."
Psalm 34:1-3
 
4.       Remind yourself daily that what you do or don’t do doesn’t define you.  Take time out daily and find out what God has to say about you.
 
5.       Keep adjusting plans, schedule, and routines until you and your family are all dancing together to the same beat.  And remember some days are going to be easier than others.  Be sensitive to each person’s individual needs and temperaments.  Be watchful and pray often for God to show you how to shepherd your flock.  Watch out for the wolf. 

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things
that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:26-27
Are you a tired and anxious Mom?  
What are some things you can do or have done that has helped you work through the never ending, daunting tasks?  
What would you add to this list?
 















To Learn More About Me And To Connect

Connect With Me On Facebook –
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Two out of many Blog Posts I Have Written About Parenting:
 
 
 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

God is Always on Time



"There’s a time and season for everything under the sun." Ecclesiastes 3:1.

This is the verse I’m reminded of when I want a situation to be resolved but it’s not happening as quickly as I would like.

Like when I want a new house, car, or job-I want it-RIGHT.NOW- can you relate?
It is SO HARD TO WAIT.

In life we are often impatient.

Even though we know God will answer our prayers we often can’t wait and we want God to answer our prayers “right now Lord”.

My life is full of many examples of how just waiting (not that I wanted to) for God to work a situation out worked in my favor.

I remember when I graduated from graduate school I was more than anxious to begin a “real” job. I went to graduate school and completed my internship at an agency that stated they hired their interns upon graduation. Well exactly 4 months before I graduated the effects of The Great Recession hit my agency and I was told they had a “freeze” on hiring.

Over the course of the next 9 months I applied for over 80 jobs and went on countless interviews. I attended anything that had “job” in the name- fairs, seminars, and job search classes.
 
My friend and I even completed a 3 day fast praying for me to get a job.
I was so desperate I considered taking a position I was offered about 400 miles away in rural Georgia.

This job would have caused our entire family to relocate. My husband talked me out of accepting this position.
Exactly a month later-
 
I was offered a job 2 miles from my house, in the same division I interned for and the best part, the pay was more than the job I was offered that was 400 miles away.
Talk about God’s perfect timing!!!

During this time in my life, I carried a simple prayer in my purse that said:
“God put me in the position you want me to be in”.

Like my mommy used to say God may not come when you want him but...
 He’s Always on Time.

Is there something in your life right now that you are waiting for? Do you find yourself struggling with impatience as you wait?
Consider doing something like Melinda did- a simple prayer in your purse for what you are waiting for- with Ecclesiastes 3:1 written on the back!

Whenever you feel anxious about what you are waiting for- pull it out and continue to wait in expectant faith- knowing that God is always on time!




Melinda is a Social Worker for Foster children. She has been married for 13 years and
has an 8 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. Her favorite verse stems from childhood:
 John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Roots, New Life and Renewed Hope

Well I had just about had enough.
We were on vacation and it had just been one of those days.
My kids were overtired and overstimulated.

My husband even had to take a break, heading into town for some groceries, which turned into a four hour escape from the craziness in our little cabin. We joked with him later on, that we would have to hide his keys next time :-)

My seven-year-old had a total meltdown when his little brother was given a promised red popsicle that I was not aware of, that was promised the day before by his Grandpa. There was nothing I could do to get him to calm down and I was just beyond frustrated.

I went outside and sat on the front porch of the cabin in a rocking chair for about 45 minutes and had some major mommy quiet time.

Later that afternoon I decided to take a hike by myself and I asked God to show me something as I was feeling a bit disconnected from Him and feeling like pretty much a big fat failure for the day.

As I hiked I found what appeared to be a dead tree.
Obviously knocked down by a storm.

 
It didn't look like much, but for some reason I stopped and stared at it for a while.

And the more I looked, the more I saw. I was amazed that among the dead-ness of the tree, that there were bright green leaves sprouting out from a certain point on the tree.


I stared at it for a while and thought about how it could be possible that this was growing from this dead tree. So I investigated some more and went down to look at the roots of the tree, which from my point of view looked as if they were totally ripped out of the ground.
But upon closer look, I saw something amazing –

There was one fairly large root still rooted into the ground.
 
I tried to pull at it and dig around it and it was very solid.
So I just sat there and looked at this for a while and the Lord really spoke to me.
 
He reminded me that even when things appear broken, knocked down, hopeless and even dead –that if, there is one strong root connected to LIFE, that new life can still grow.
 
He reminded me that although that morning had felt like a big hot mess in my family, that because I was still rooted in Christ Jesus – that he would bring new life into my family.
I looked at this root, and it gave me hope.
 
As working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms, single moms, a mixture of all of the above moms- we have moments throughout the day that can leave us feeling pretty much beaten down, knocked over  and all dried up just like this tree – moments when we are tempted to reflect on our present situation and to see a lot of brokenness and mess.
 
I want to encourage you – just as the Holy Spirit did me –
 
If you remain rooted in Him- He will bring new life into even the most hopeless looking situations.
 
Colossians 2:6-7 states- "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
 
John 15:5  states- “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
 
No matter what is going on in your life right now, continue to abide in Him and he will bring new life into those dead places within yourself and your sweet family!
 
If you feel discouraged this week, be sure to remember that things are not always as they appear. Take some time to look closer at what God is up to and ask him to show you where that new life is growing when you can't see it for yourself.
 
 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Rambling About Words

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been in love with blank paper. How weird am I?


I have  also loved journals- filling them up was a thrill to me.

I love taking the thoughts in my head and seeing them on paper. For some reason, this act always calmed me. When I would fill up a journal- it was such a sense of satisfaction to me. I don't really know why? 

Maybe just knowing that I had something to say made me feel important. 

I've always thought that people's words were important.

Proverbs 25:11
Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken in right circumstances."
 
I love getting cards. I love buying cards for people.  
I could stand in the card aisle and read cards forever-looking for the perfect one for whom ever I was trying to express myself to. 

I love decorations that have words on them.  I recently printed out some Scripture prayers and put them all over my kitchen and they make me smile...  

I have also always loved the library. LOVED it. Perusing up and down the aisles and filling my little bag up with anywhere from 5-10 books/week was my delight. And then I would curl up and dive in- for hours.

I remember my favorites- Ramona, Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and I always loved the Choose your Own Adventures books... Do you remember some of your favorites?

I said it before and I will say it again – your words, your story matters.
It matters for so many reasons, more than you can ever imagine. 
And not just the shiny parts matter, the dark, and, lonely places matter as well.    

When you share your story with the world, you have the opportunity to do a few things:

1. You get to bring God glory with your story as others see the hand of God moving in your life.

2.  You get to give the gift of "I've been there too" to someone who is walking a similar road as you.
  
My obsession with words has let me to blogging... 
It has also helped me love my job, where I get to write my client stories...

But the greatest gift of all is the living word-Jesus Christ.

John 1: 1-3, 14
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

It amazes me that Jesus is called the Word.  
He was there in the beginning.  
And then He became flesh.
He walked the path that we walk and He left behind His word – the Bible. The words in the Bible are no ordinary words – they are living and active!

We have the word living in our hearts when we accept Jesus into our hearts. How powerful is that!

So there you have it. My rambling about words. 
I love words.
I want to encourage you to share your words, your story with someone. 
You can share your story here-anytime.



The Antidote to Complaining


I absolutely love this post. You see, I can be a huge complainer. Especially lately with my wrist being in a cast. I can give you a list of all of the ways in which having a fractured wrist has slowed down my agenda in my life. But what good would that do? Instead – I can give you an even longer list of how God has provided for my needs during this time. I will give you one example – I cannot write. At. All. When I do my job, I have to take a lot of notes. I have to interview people and ask them a gazillion questions. I can't do that. So I showed up this week for work – my first week with clients after taking a week off.  I don't know what I thought I would do, other than try to remember everything and use my speech to text software after work to write everything down. I got to my destination and upon arrival was reminded that there were two interns at this office who were always asking me if they could help me. They were both there for all three sessions! They did all my writing for me. Totally God's provision.  Thank you Kimberly for reminding us of this important and powerful way that we can live as Christians!  
~Liz
Have you noticed that people like to complain?  You are more likely to hear negative things about a business or person instead of positive things. 

Our children like to complain as well. 

Complaining comes easy. 
Yet, as Christians we are told to do otherwise. 

Psalm 34:8 say, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” 
Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

What is the antidote to complaining?
Learning to have an attitude of gratitude in every area of our lives.

We need to teach ourselves and our children to be thankful for every little thing. 
Let me share how basic this can get. 

On a mission trip to Peru I observed a girl, about age 6, run to the corner store and give a small amount of money to buy one diaper out of a diaper package hanging in the store.  The little girl ran home to take the diaper to her Mom for a sibling. 

Can you imagine going to the store and buying a diaper instead of a package of diapers?
We can be thankful when we are changing all those messy diapers that we have money to purchase diapers!

I challenge all of us to begin answering each complaint with what we are thankful for?
Your children say, “I’m hungry?”  You can then say, “What is something you are thankful for?”
I’m thankful we have food to eat when we are hungry. 
I’m thankful I have a car to drive when I’m sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. 
I’m thankful for the air conditioning in my house when it is 97 degrees outside. 
I’m thankful for God’s absolutely beautiful creation. 
I’m thankful for the air I breathe.

Thankfulness does not come to us easily, but it can be learned. 
Here is a practical application- try this out this week and comment below on the responses you get: Each night when you are eating dinner with your children, even if it is in the car on the way to a soccer game, go around the table and ask each person to share something they are thankful to God for in their life. 

You might be surprised by the answers. 
My son, when he was little, was thankful he didn’t have to sit by a girl in class. 
My daughter was thankful she got a certain size locker in middle school. 
We can be thankful for truly every little thing.

As Christians we can shine our light brightly when we have an attitude of gratitude. 

God is worthy of our praise and Thanksgiving!
Kimberly M. Chastain is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She is the founder of www.christianworkingmom.com.  She is the author of the Voices of Christian Working Moms, Pearls of Encouragement for CWMs; Help my Preteen/Teen is Driving Me Nuts, and the ABCs of God’s character. 

Okay ladies – I want you to try this out this week- share your answers below. 
Can't wait to hear what your children are thankful for!

When People Hurt You

...I started writing this post a couple weeks ago and had to take a break. I hope it encourages someone who is feeling hurt...

Sometimes people say words that really sting. Sometimes people ignore your needs, your feelings, and don't even seem to see you. Sometimes these are the people who are supposed to love you the best.

What do we do when people hurt us?  I'll tell you what I usually do- I shut down, I become passive aggressive, I hurt back. My defenses go up and my focus is on self protection.

One of the things I know for sure, is that God is pro-relationships. God wants our friendships, marriages, etc. to be positive, nurturing, and loving.

Another thing I know for sure, is that people are sinners. People struggle, they have bad days, they have bad weeks, months and years. And sometimes these are the people that we live with, work with, do ministry with. And yet – there is a purpose for these relationships that we have.

Additionally, people also come with their own "blueprint" for how to navigate relationships – and often times the blueprint contains a lot of lies and unhealthy ways of relating. Sometimes we can look back in a person's past see where the patterns were established. This perspective can often times give us grace and a bit more understanding.

Lastly- I know that my initial impressions and hurt feelings cannot be my guide to how I react to the person who has hurt me. They really cannot. Easy for me to say, hard for me to apply to my life. But I want to try. 

One thing I try to remember when I am hurt by one of my main people, is that there is nothing more that Satan loves than to divide. 

So my focus needs to be on uniting.

No matter what the other person's response, no matter how I feel,  I need to remember what my focus is – to stay on the same side, remain on the same team, and to link arms-at least in prayer- if anywhere else, with the person who has hurt me. The only way, is through forgiveness.

A really cool thing about God is that he can take a small offering and make it huge.

 He can take my small amount of forgiveness and if I offer it to him in obedience and humility, He can make it enough. 

The other thing He can do- is use my moment of pain to draw me closer to Himself.

I was feeling hurt the other day, and a song came on the radio – the same song came on the day before, I sang it, but the words did not resonate with my heart. The day that I heard it after being hurt, my heart grabbed a hold of every word and I sang them in total worship.

When people hurt us, is no fun. But I have also learned that God is able to take those moments and bring about some of His glory.  And when I am in this moments of hurt, all I need is a little glimpse of what He is up to that I can hold onto the hope that it is not in vain.
                

Monday, August 3, 2015

Needed: Guest Bloggers Wanting More Community and Connection


So I have about four or five more guest bloggers that will come and visit this site. My original goal when having these bloggers was to give myself more time to work on some content that I could possibly sell on my blog. It was a really good idea, but it's funny how we can have ideas and then God shows up with other plans.

Now I still think at some point, I will find the right time and space in my schedule for creating some content that I can use to encourage all of you and also supplement my income, but right now God is still in the building phase with these plans.

As I have been connecting with amazing women, I have had a surprising, almost giddy joy in reading their posts, learning about them, and sharing them with all of you.

My passion for the story of God's girls is growing.

My site will always be a safe place for Christian Working Moms, but another layer of this site had has always been there but is becoming even more of a focus – is my passion for all mothers and the stories that they have to share.

Rich stories, filled with amazing perspective, bravery, and Gospel Glory.

So far I have connected with-
... several homeschool mothers
...one living in Asia
...a mother struggling with postpartum depression but still grasping for victory and overcoming every day
...a Mama who is spending her days in the cancer center with her hubby
...a mother whose heart bled with the desire to stay at home and then submitted to God's plans as she works full-time outside the home, runs a farm with her husband and  disciples and loves on her three children
...a military wife with an amazing sense of humor
...a mother who has experienced loss that I can't even imagine
...a woman who began a ministry on a wing and a prayer and continues to seek God's plans as she raises a daughter with special needs
...soon I will be introducing a therapist, a child advocate social worker, a woman with a passion for blended families…

As I have connected with these women, I have been given glimpses of God's character and through these women I have grown in my faith.

This is what the fellowship of Jesus's girls is all about.

So-as planned I diligently worked on a printable for this site when I would usually be blogging. I was pretty excited about it.
And then...my flash drive crashed.
I had not backed anything up, so I lost all of it.
And then...I fell and fractured my wrist which took away my ability to type quickly which is how I get things done with my blog throughout the day.

And here I am, using a speech to text software program to type this blog because I have a cast on my right hand.

And I am going about my daily life, but-deep inside – there is so much that God is cultivating, nurturing, and refining. Whatever He has for me, I am here and I feel so much peace knowing that He will change my plans whenever He sees fit.

This year I will be leading a weekly women's Bible study at my church. This past year I did a bi-weekly study, which came with a video and honestly although it was awesome, did not require a lot on my part other than discussion facilitation. This coming year I will be teaching from the book of Romans and I will be doing quite a bit of preparation for the study. I am definitely anxious about the time that it will take to put into it, and the fact that my boys will be in childcare once a week in the evenings, but there's no doubt in my mind that this is where I need to be focused for the next year.

So, what does this have to do with the blog? Well, I know that this study will take up a good chunk of my time.
I plan on continuing to blog 1-2 times a month.
But what I would like to do, is to continue offering my blog as a place for God's girls to come and share their stories.
This is the deal – if you are interested in being a guest blogger, let me know. I will edit your blog posts, add some images if you would like and we will continue encouraging the women who visit this blog -together.

I believe that this will help this community of moms grow and will help you you grow personally.
I believe in you.
I believe in God's story in you.
And even if you have never blogged before, I challenge you to consider sharing your story in this forum.
I will help you and support you.

I am excited to start this new journey of teaching and I will stay close to this blog no matter what. Please let me know if you're interested in sharing your story.