Tag Archive | discipline

A little slack

I love nights like this. Well…I love hearing about nights like this.

You see, I came home from school and hit the ground running. (After I had been running all day.) Putting away groceries…homework…dinner for tonight and preparation for tomorrow’s slow cooker creation…two loads of laundry…lunches packed for tomorrow…bath night. It’s 8:30pm and I just sat down. Not bad for a four hour sprint. While I was elbow deep in after dinner KP, hubby took the kids and the dog for a walk around the block. When they returned- I sat down while my hubby told me a story.

I love stories like this. You know, the kind when you learn something about God from your kids and a knuckle-head dog? THAT kind of story. And from this Mama’s perspective- it makes my heart soar to hear these things come from my son. So I’ll share…

Hubby was giving our son a refresher course on walking the dog. Cooper loves to walk, but he gets a little excited sometimes. The many, many (…many, many, many…) rabbits in the neighborhood taunt him with every hop as he pulls on that leash and he can be quite a challenge- especially when the walk begins. I have no clue what breed he is, but Cooper is the kind of dog who has a very keen sense of smell. In fact, his sniffer completely takes over and his ears shut off altogether! We keep the leash short so Cooper is beside us. Yep, we walk the dog- we don’t allow him to walk us. If the leash is too short he gags and huffs and pulls- resulting in sore muscles for all so there must be balance.

This was the lesson that hubby was teaching tonight and our son did a great job. A half-mile later, the bells and whistles went off. Yes…our son had a lights-ON epiphany. He went on to explain how this leash thing is much like our walk with God. God doesn’t choke us. He doesn’t pull and tug and wrestle. He sets parameters and lets us know how to walk and then if we pull…wait…I want to get this right…”If we pull too hard and choke ourselves then it’s our own stupid fault”…or something close to that. ha ha ha

Ok…so not a perfect picture, but I love his insight.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 is what came to mind. The Lord leads…we need only follow.

CHOOSE to follow.

He is the GOOD Shepherd, but we can be some hard-headed and seriously stubborn sheep. A fickle flock! Green pastures…would I recognize one if I was laying in one? Still waters? Oh…look at that butterfly! Squirrel! We pull, wander, strain and grow weary as we wrestle against God. There are times when we wander because the grass looks greener and others when we walk in stride with the Spirit just as He leads us to do. I just love the picture that my son painted this evening. Comical, yet true.

Lord, you give me boundaries because you love me. Those boundaries give me the opportunity to walk closely with you…near and without fear. Forgive me for the times when I wrestle and strain instead of follow, obey and rest in You.

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The Real

While I am pretty “real” on this blog, I think there are times when I really need to diffuse the notion that things here are always filled with sun and blossoms. As a matter of fact, last week when I wrote that post about my son giving me a card of encouragement– I was quietly praying that the other shoe wouldn’t hit me in the head too hard when it was thrown. Yep. It never fails. You give praise, count a blessing…share with someone how great your kid is (eh hem)…and Satan will try to use that very thing to twist you up. I wished I had saved the text from my sister just 4 days ago that said something along the lines of being jealous that my son encourages me with God’s truth. My response to her was that I was going to hang on to that card and that moment for the day when his responses were not so encouraging. He’s a kid…my kid. It’s bound to happen. I just didn’t anticipate it so soon. ha ha.

So today is Mother’s Day, right? It was a great weekend. The kids played with friends, I had a date with hubby and then we went down to my parent’s house for a Mother’s Day/ Birthday combo. Wooo! But, there is this thing that causes contention in our home from time-to-time and that “thing” has been quietly rising up…twisting…turning…eroding.

VIDEO GAMES.

Our son loves them. He typically reads to earn his weekend video game play time, but lately we have all discovered that we enjoy playing Minecraft together as a family. What began as a parental investigation to see what he was playing, became FUN. It’s actually pretty relaxing to build and harvest, craft and create. And it’s even more fun to do together. The problem is, the more our son plays video games- the more he wants to play video games. His attitude was beginning to change and this weekend it all came to a head. Furthermore, hubby and I have been enjoying it, too and with the recent rainy snap in the weather we have been playing more often. It’s time we look forward to when that time could probably be better spent elsewhere. None the less- here we are. Something that is fun has turned into a stumbling block. We’ve been here before. Once we recognize the problem we reel it in, create boundaries and change our focus. Today we are taking steps to do that.

So here’s the “real” part I wanted to share with you. You have to know that I am a normal Mom with normal kids and an imperfect life just like everyone else. Here’s how Mother’s Day ended:

After taking games away from him this afternoon so he could focus on enjoying his real live cousins and other family members- he got salty. But, he got over it long enough to play…until we got in the car to go home. I thought I was clear that he would not be playing at all on the way home, but felt like he was repeating “Can I play yet?” instead of “Are we there yet?” all the way home… At which point we had a discussion on gratitude, contentment and true joy. If playing these things makes him miserable then I don’t want him to play. So when we have these discussions I try to give him room to respectfully give feedback, share feelings and ask questions so it’s not a one-sided lecture. (Trust me, I find it very easy to have a whole conversation by myself, but we’re working on communication and I need him to participate.) This is where things got “real”. On our hour-and-a-half hour trip home he told us exactly how he felt. We always get our way…we are taking away the one thing he really likes as a hobby…we play after he goes to bed and that’s not fair…we have our phones and we should have the same rules…and I (yep, me…Mom) drop him off at school and come home and only do laundry and play video games. As a matter of fact, he proceeded to tell me that the only thing I was getting for Mother’s Day was more laundry to do. He shared that it was also unfair that I got …let’s see, I want to get this right…” Why do you get two celebration days a year (birthday and Mother’s Day) and I only get one? That’s not fair either!” Ok. So his perspective is a little skewed, but OUCH.

I wanted to rip into him for his ungrateful attitude, but didn’t want to fall into an argument with a ten year old. Trying to keep emotion in check is hard at times like this. Even on a day when the pastor was preaching about God as our parental example. I responded with sharp truth followed by silence. Some discussions are best if left until tongues and heads cool off. I ended up in tears shortly after we got home…then he started crying because he knew my feelings were hurt. Then our daughter joined in on the tears simply because it was a long, fun weekend and she was tired.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The sermon today could not have been any more well placed. God has so much patience and mercy with us. While He is just, God is also faithful to forgive, slow to anger and abounding in love.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; Exodus 34:6-7

We really need to follow His lead when parenting our children. I fall short.

So this Mother’s Day, I am praying to be free of offense. To forgive and to use this as a teachable moment as well as a moment for me to learn. I will respond to the conviction of truth and will administer rebuke with love. I will be praying that I can lean into God as my husband and I try to follow His example. I will pray that He will strengthen me to lead by example.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 9:5-9

We will be having a gaming fast this week and will be looking for other ways to connect. And, of course, I will still be doing laundry because that is one of the many ways I love serving my family. That is a gift that I will happily accept.  I will be re-reading that card of encouragement that my son made for me because that was truth and encouragement that I needed last week- and still need this week.

And that, my friends, is the real.

 

Flat Water

In May, I found a new hobby: Kayaking! My hubby hadn’t been since our oldest was born and I had never tried it. Since we are surrounded by water, it seemed like a good idea. We now have a whole family of kayaks and this has become an activity that we can do together. It has been a real blessing!

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Our daughter’s favorite part is seeing the cranes and turtles along the way. I have always liked being on or near the water so I feel like I have found “home”. My husband is eager for the day when we all become comfortable and confident enough to set out onto “bigger water” so he can catch some fish. And our son…well, he is getting a bit bored waiting for adventure outside of the little marsh we have been practicing in. But, he is also a little cautious and apprehensive to go out into unknown territory.

Until Tuesday….

This past Tuesday, we went out after hubby got home from work. We always go in the evenings and the water has always been choppy at our entry and then calmer as we enter the marsh. Tuesday, something was different.

FLAT WATER. It was like glass.

It was absolutely beautiful and calm and PERFECT! My hubby and six-year-old daughter put their boats in first and paddled out. This time, not into the marsh…but, into bigger water. My son was a little apprehensive to head into the “unknown”, but once we were off shore his sense of adventure kicked in and he was invigorated. “Mom, look at that! Do you see that dock? Can we paddle there?” And then my favorite…”Mom, is that the end of the world?!” HA! Mercy! While he knows that the earth is round, this made for some great discussion about the early explorers and the horizon line. Of all the times we have been kayaking this summer, this night was my absolute favorite.

A few weeks ago we got a life vest for our dog, Cooper. We decided that we need to start taking him with us more often because we have not done a good job making him feel like part of our pack. The first time, he jumped out of the boat thinking that he could just walk across to me…then he sank and had to swim. His eyes were huge as he hit the water! This was Cooper’s second trip out in the kayak and he is still uncertain. As I paddled up behind my hubby, Cooper was growling and barking at a tree limb that was poking through the surface of the glassy river. He is not quite sure what to make of all this just yet.

Mid way through our exciting adventure onto flat water, our daughter got a little tired. My hubby threw her a line and she tied on so he could pull her for a while and give her rest. Cooper, then, transferred into my boat. In an instant, my peaceful flat water paddle became very interesting. My kayak is a sit-on-top, which means that there are no sides. When Cooper sat down he wasn’t sure of his boundaries and occasionally his foot would slip off or he’d dip his tail into the water. He couldn’t just trust…sit…rest. I found myself getting a bit frustrated. It was perfectly calm water! Why couldn’t he just lay down and chill?!

Cooper was trying to see my husband so he’d lean to the left…and all of a sudden my boat would make a sharp turn left. He saw something in the water so he would lean right…and my boat would track hard right. As he leaned, I fought against him. Even though it was perfectly calm, glassy, flat water…I had to paddle twice as hard that night to counter Cooper’s every move.

This morning in my study time the Lord pressed on me hard. I am not trusting right now. He is still in control and I am leaning. In my morning study, there was a story of a backseat driver that the author labeled as a “panicky passenger”. I am studying in the Women of Faith study “Giving God Your All”. This morning took me to the chapter called “Putting it in God’s Hands”.

Panicky passengers “… are the ones who ride with a white-knuckle grip on their armrests. It doesn’t take much to evoke little gasps of fear from them-changing traffic lights, the sight of brake lights ahead, low-flying birds.” The author goes on to suggest that we often try to take God’s place in the driver’s seat or she says “maybe you’re more like the panicky passenger, not quite trusting the driver to get you safely to your destination.”

This is the scripture that the Lord brought to me this morning through that study:

 How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:19-21

 I have been enjoying some pretty flat water lately. This summer has been a blessing in so many ways. But, this week I have allowed anxiety to flair up and -like Cooper- I am not trusting…sitting…resting. I cannot see under the surface. There are changes coming in the near future and with change comes some uncertainty. Instead of becoming excited and invigorated by this new “big water” experience, I find myself behaving like Cooper. Leaning…looking…frantic.  It’s flat water and I feel like I am paddling twice as hard just to counter my own movement.

If I would just BE STILL.

Yesterday, I found myself crumbled into a pile on the shower floor crying out to the Lord. I could hardly breathe and I felt as if I might drown in those tears. But, I know that the Lord heard me. Now I just have to listen for that voice, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Pray for me in the coming days. Our kids are starting a new school and while they are fine…I am anxious. Do I need to go back to work? Or am I supposed to be still and trust the Lord to provide? I wish I knew what was just under that glassy surface. In the meantime, I need peace and to believe Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

Adjust the Sails

I have been tired and stressed for a while now. I keep casting my anxieties and then picking them back up. So when my girlfriend reminded me that a weekend was long overdue, I jumped at the opportunity to escape the storms.

Perusing the nautically inspired wares while wandering a small bay side town- I found it.

A towel. Yup…a towel.

I looked at it and then walked away.

I came back to it and took a picture…and walked away.

I finally purchased it so I could take it home with me as a constant reminder.

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A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other,

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Mark 4:37-41

No, I can’t control the wind. But, He can. When the storms come, I need to be quicker and more diligent about adjusting my sails while praying for God’s will.

Amen.

I feel like I should end this post here.

But, in my travels there were some other reminders of God’s presence that I want to share.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

Red Sea Rules- the same God who led you in will lead you out

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

A dear friend of mine gave me a gift…and what a gift! She passed me a little book that she had been reading; it really is little; maybe about 6 inches by 5 inches. Wow, big things come in small packages.

I could write a full fledged book review here, but I am sure that there is another site out there for that. I will, however, summarize this little treasure and hopefully coax you into reading it, too.

I can imagine that you’re on the edge of your seat, with pen and paper in hand, waiting….What’s the name? Who wrote it?

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given strategies for difficult times by Robert J. Morgan.

I know that this isn’t a typical post from me- God willing, I will be back to writing soon. For now, enjoy these truths.

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Quiet

Happy New Year!

These past several weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and travel for our family.

Christmas programs at church and school…illness…Christmas…a drive to and from Florida to see family…hubby’s birthday…removal of a dead Christmas tree and our first Upward basketball games of the season upon our return…laundry…laundry…more laundry. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I scheduled TWO appointments for myself today. TWO! There is no food in the pantry or fridge and it is not likely that I will be getting to the grocery store today either. I see Chinese food in our future.

Welcome to a new year. But, wait…a word from God.

Quiet.

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (NIV)

11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.(KJV)

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

This is the scripture that God has been pressing on me for the past month. “QUIET”. But, how can I be quiet at a time when I feel that he is pushing me out the door…out of these four walls…and into serving others? I don’t get it.

The same day that God gave me that rhema, I received my Christmas gift in the mail. This year for Christmas, I got myself the Websters 1828 Dictionary.

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How timely! I opened the seal and looked up that word “quiet” and what I found illuminated this scripture for me and helped me understand how being quiet is really an active word.

QUI’ET, adjective [Latin quietus.]

1. Still; being in a state of rest; not moving. Judges 16:2.

2. Still; free from alarm or disturbance; unmolested; as a quiet life.

In his days the land was quiet ten years. 2 Chronicles 14:1.

3. Peaceable; not turbulent; not giving offense; not exciting controversy, disorder or trouble; mild; meek; contented.

The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. 1 Peter 3:4.

1 Thessalonians 4:11.

4. Calm; not agitated by wind; as a quiet sea or atmosphere.

5. Smooth; unruffled.

6. Undisturbed; unmolested; as the quiet possession or enjoyment of an estate.

7. Not crying; not restless; as a quiet child.

QUI’ET, noun [Latin quies.]

1. Rest; repose; stillness; the state of a thing not in motion.

2. Tranquility; freedom from disturbance or alarm; civil or political repose. Our country enjoys quiet

3. Peace; security. Judges 18:7.

QUI’ET, verb transitive

1. To stop motion; to still; to reduce to a state of rest; as, to quiet corporeal motion.

2. To calm; to appease; to pacify; to lull; to tranquilize; as, to quiet the soul when agitated; to quiet the passions; to quiet the clamors of a nation; toquiet the disorders of a city or town.

3. To allay; to suppress; as, to quiet pain or grief.

Wow.

A state of rest…as in resting in the Lord. To quiet disorders, pain or grief. Not crying or restless. Calm, not agitated. Peaceable, not exciting controversy. Meek and mild.

So it’s not just about shutting my mouth and minding my own business. It’s shutting my mouth, listening to God, seeking to follow His lead. “Minding my own business” is for me to tend to the business HE gives me…not in closing myself off and keeping to myself. In pulling me out of my comfy walls, God wants me to minister to others…pull up along side of them quietly and not be in the forefront.

Yesterday, after church, God expanded on this in the form of a slew of scripture. I was writing it all down in my prayer journal and could hardly keep up!

Do not do before men (Matthew 6:1-4), but use the gifts I have been given by God to serve others faithfully so that the praise and glory go to God (1 Peter 4:10). I must be humble and to DAILY cast my anxieties …especially the ones about getting outside of my little safe comfort zone…on the Lord because He cares for me (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6-7). I need to continually pray- and ask you all to pray for me- that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19) and that no unwholesome talk will leave my lips…only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29). I must remember to commit my plans to the Lord daily. And anything I do or say must be for God, with strength given by God, giving thanks TO God though Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17). I need to be ready and willing and He will make me able. For if I am willing, the gift is acceptable according to what God has given me…not according to what I lack (2 Corinthians 8:12).

Quiet. Listening. Doing. Not overtly – but covertly. Out of the overflow of the Holy Spirit in me…Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over (Luke 6).

It’s not to say that I haven’t been following God’s lead prior to today, but I have been resisting leaving my comfortable four walls.

“It’s OK. I’ve got this. Just be quiet and keep your nose down. Work diligently with what I have given you and on the things I have given you to do. Quiet. Shhhhh. Apply my healing balm to others around you…pacify their souls. Be faithful with a few things and I will charge you with many things and you will share in My happiness…lacking nothing.” That’s the rhema -the Word- that God has given me for this new year.

So…Now what?I guess only God knows. I just have to be quiet enough to hear.

 

Fill my cup

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

My sister is going to get a real kick out of today’s post. She is always poking me a bit because I see God in my soup…tea…leaves…He’s everywhere! Today, sister, it’s not where I saw Him…it’s where I didn’t see Him.

 

At the bottom of my empty cup. wpid-20141118_080343.jpg

 

This is my morning coffee. When I got to the bottom, I noticed a curious sight. It was ME! Well, my reflection. Look closely and you can see my eyes and nose along with my disheveled morning hair-do. I still have my glasses on. What a powerful picture! No, not me in all of my morning splendor…but, the reflection as it pertains to our spiritual condition.

When my cup is full and overflowing, my spiritual cup reflects what is above…the Lord himself. When my cup is empty and I am lacking…I see me.

In the morning when I sit at the table to study the Word and pray, He is filling me. He gives me strength for each day, wisdom (if I am listening), direction and peace. More God…less me.

 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:5-8

On the days when I become distracted and put other things first, I become quickly depleted and frustrated. More me…less Him.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me. Psalm 22:14

Only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ can completely fill that cup and satisfy the soul.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Friend, I cannot stress the importance of seeking the Lord early and often.

Don’t wait until you get to the bottom to refill.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

You prepare a banquet for me,
    where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
    and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Today, I pray that I will replace the contents of my cup to contain less of me and more of God. I pray that I will continually invite the Spirit to refresh that cup as I seek the Lord and his direction and wisdom and that the goodness of Christ will overflow onto those around me. I know that if that cup becomes empty it is because I am not seeking the Lord and the only thing I will find at the bottom is emptiness and self. I pray that God’s reflection will be clearly seen in me and my interactions with my husband, children and others today. 

Now…about that refill…