When We Wonder When It Will Finally Be Our Turn

andrewbaseball

When you are the youngest of 3 boys, you watch your big brothers with exuberant anticipation for the day you can stand in their shoes. When your older brothers play baseball, you can throw and catch before you can recite your ABC’s or write anything legible. You learn the rules of the game before you understand that life is a never-ending, always learning game where we win some, we lose some.

When you are the youngest, you spend years outfitting yourself in another’s uniform. You watch the big guys play. You learn from their errors. You study their batting stance, you understand to always be baseball ready.

As you watch the ones who go before you, you long for your day to play. You’ve spent years running the bases for sheer delight. You’ve tagged along to someone else’s practices, knowing one day your time will come, and when it does, you will be ready to play.

Last weekend, Andrew was ready. 8 hours we spent outside in the freezing cold, wrapped in blankets as we watched back to back baseball games for our 3 boys. Andrew’s game was last.

When his team took the field, I scanned the players, who all look alike in uniform. I got to the little boy on second base and saw an expression of sheer and utter joy, smile that kidnapped his face, and waving arms that wanted to be sure I didn’t miss him and his moment.

All the thoughts of my misery in the cold, a back ache that had me up all night the night before, fatigue that wanted to get home and warm up disappeared. My boy had found his place, the place he’s longed for for years, the place where he feels joy unlike other activities and moments in his life. I know this because a year ago he was playing catch with Steve in the yard. He stopped, grabbed his chest, and exclaimed, “Dad! Dad! I feel something in my heart! I think it’s joy!”

When we walk in our gifts, talents, and the desires He placed in us, we feel a deep sense of joy unlike at other moments of our lives.

The entire game presented moments that melted my heart. The moment they asked who wanted to be catcher, and his hand shot up. Watching him wobble to home plate, catching my eye with that smile that captivates my heart. I flashed back to his 2nd birthday when he asked for catcher’s gear. The toddler years watching him dress up, the catcher’s mask that sits displayed on his shelf now. The moment he hit the ball and ran with every ounce of speed in his body to slide into first base! He’s always wanted to slide and couldn’t resist the opportunity. The moment he smacked the ball into outfield. It was everything he’d dreamed of. He was ready. He’d spent years getting ready for the day the Lord said, “Go.”

Driving home from dropping his brother at practice Sunday afternoon, Andrew said, “Mom, it felt so gooood to hit that ball. When I hit the ball, I felt Christ in me.”

I turned to Jacob, sitting next to me in the car, “Did you hear that?”

His expression told me he knew exactly what Andrew meant.

“When we are walking in the gifts and talents He placed in us, that joy can only be described as Christ in us.” Whether the gifts and talents are “good” compared to the world doesn’t matter. It’s walking in the gifts and abilities He placed in us, matched with giving it all for Him.

But sometimes it seems our time hasn’t come yet. Sometimes we become inpatient waiting for that open door to use those gifts and talents in the way we want to use them. Sometimes we look at others around us and become discouraged when we don’t see our open doors, yet our hearts are filled with bursting desire.  In the meantime, we prepare, we watch, we practice. God doesn’t waste an ounce of anything. Our waiting, our preparing, our practicing isn’t wasted time.

One of our all time favorite family movies is Facing the Giants. Please take 2 minutes to watch this inspirational clip. Such a beautiful reminder to bloom where He’s planted us, and that we are to walk through the doors opened for us. Only God opens and shuts doors.

Facing the Giants video “Prepare Your Fields”.

When I started writing, I remember talking to a friend, expressing my impatience in my waiting. I said, “Maybe I should just stop.” My friend said, “Only God has the right to open and close doors. He hasn’t closed that door, so you shouldn’t either. He has opened doors for you, just not the one you wanted. Walk through the doors He has opened.”

In the waiting season, we prepare our fields. And when God moves, and we move with Him, we are ready to work the fields. The joy we experience through Him is unlike anything the world offers.

Along our way, we are inspired by those God puts in our path, those He places in our lives to encourage us to get ready. I reminded Jacob how in someone else’s journey, God uses us along the way as well.

“Jacob, God used you in Andrew’s season of waiting. In his time of anticipation and getting ready, you were there to teach him and encourage him.”

Smiling, he leaned back into the chair. A perspective he’d never considered. To be used by God in ways he’d never paid attention to.

God is in everything. Everything. One day I hope I can stop looking for the purpose in everything and be satisfied that it is all for His purposes, some I may never see or understand. And that is ok.

I can’t resist posting Andrew’s hit that he describes as feeling Christ in him. I hope I never forget the look of joy in his eyes. I hope I never forget that only God is our everlasting joy. Moments in our life offer us a sampling, a tiny serving of joy. A joy is coming unlike anything we will ever experience here on this earth. Isn’t God sweet to let us taste a little, itty-bitty, teensie-weensie nibble of joy here and now?

Andrew’s big hit- here’s the video. video clip

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Raising our kids to be leaders

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He threw his full weight on the couch, slouching into the leather. Arms crossed, he groaned, “I don’t want to go. I’m tired of going.” He continued listing all the complaints he held about attending his running class that evening.

My hand pulled a quick zipping motion across my lips and my eyes sent a clear message about what I wanted him to stop doing that very moment.

“What? I just….”

“Nope. Stop right there. We will continue this is private. I’ll meet you upstairs.”

“Am I in trouble or something?”

“Nope, just wait for me upstairs.”

The two younger brothers stared back at me. They had running shoes on, water bottles filled, and suddenly their excitement seemed to fade away. I offered a quick smile, told them to play, and I’d be back in a bit.

I sat on the bed and faced my 11-year-old, Jacob. In his eyes, I see such a strength of character, such a heart for God, such tenderness holds guard around that heart.

I always start by assuring him I’m not upset (when I’m not).

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader, but God chose you to be a leader.”

His eyes raised. Curiosity awakened, so I continued.

“To be a leader doesn’t mean you simply choose to be a leader. Sometimes you don’t have a choice in whether you are a leader or not. Your only choice is whether you will lead well. Will you be a good leader or a bad leader.”

“List for me some leaders that come to mind.”
He rattled off some well-known great leaders. I reminded him of some poor leaders. Then I reminded him of some leaders that became leaders simply because others began to look up to them.

Each of us has been created with roles to lead and roles to follow. We were created by God to follow. To follow Him. We are His sheep. He is our Shepard. At the same time, He gave us dominion over creation, we rule over it. And in those roles, we will often have people who look to us to lead them in their roles.

We may be a leader at home, a follower of our teacher at school, a leader of our friends on the playground, a follower of our older friends in the neighborhood.

We are both leaders and followers. Our choice is what kind of leader we will be and what kind of follower we will be. In that conversation we focused on leading.

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader of your brothers. God chose that you were the firstborn brother. By that given right, you were placed in a leadership position. Your choice is how you will lead. Do you want to be a good leader or a bad leader?”

“Of course, good, mom.”

“Do you remember how God described the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land?”

“They were grumblers and complainers.”

“What happened to them? When they reached the promised land, how many entered and how many were not allowed to enter?”

“Like 2 million got there, but only Joshua and Caleb got to enter.”

“What do you notice about Joshua and Caleb that is different than the other Israelites?”

“The Israelites grumbled all the time. Joshua and Caleb didn’t.”

“One thing I want to point out about Caleb, he kept his focus on God. The Israelites focused on their circumstances. When we focus on God, we can lead well, we can follow well. When we focus on ourselves and our circumstances, we can become grumblers who can’t lead or follow. Look how negativity and complaining spread like wildfire. It took over the camp. It infected all but 2 people! It’s a nasty disease, which at its root is ingratitude, selfishness, and pride.”

“Your brothers, whether you like it or not, look to you to lead them. They adore you. They love you to pieces. They look to you to guide them. They base their likes and dislikes on yours. They are following your lead. When you stop liking something, so do they. When you complain, so do they. When you talk negatively about a person or situation, they start looking for the bad as well. On the flip side, when you point out something positive you took notice of, they take notice of the good around them to.”

His slouching shoulders straightened.

“Don’t worry. This role God gave you isn’t hard. It shouldn’t stress you out. Really all you have to do is be like Caleb. The Lord described Caleb as having a different kind of spirit, one who followed him with his whole heart. It all boils down to loving God with our whole heart. When we do that, leading become easy.”

To be a good leader, we have to be a better follower. We have to follow God with our whole heart. Then we will be a leader we could never be on our own.

As a mom, if I plan to lead my kids well, I have to follow God better.

I have to follow with my whole heart as I pray my children can do the same.

Lord, bless our children with a different spirit that is able to follow you wholeheartedly. Despite the voice of fear that mocks them, let them charge forward knowing you lead the way. Rise up a new generation of children who passionately follow you because Your truth is planted so deeply in their souls that following you isn’t a struggle. Use them to lead well those who follow them. And use them to lead those people straight into your arms.

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Treating the Flu Naturally and Other Hidden Blessings

flu

Today’s post is a bit off topic from what I normally write about, and I am no expert or authority on the world of health. But when I find things I love, and that I feel have been instrumental in our family, I have a hard time not sharing. And when I see how God has created things in nature that work to heal our bodies, I’m astounded.

We have had 3 kids sick with something similar to the flu. Maybe it is the flu, but we didn’t go to the doctor to make it official. In my experience, we go to the doctor and pick up something far worse than we went in with. We try to stay far away from the doctor this time of the year! And we NEVER go for well checks during flu season.

The Lord was so good to us through friends who are well-educated in all things natural. Whenever possible, I like to treat illness with natural remedies.

One of my favorite places to stop is The Bradford Store in Huntersville, NC. In particular, I like the little house that sits to the right of the Bradford Store, McLeod’s Organics. The man who runs it is full of knowledge in all things healthy. By the way, I believe he ships, so check out his store.

On Day 2 of Zachary’s fever, I sent him an email to see if he had any suggestions for fighting the flu naturally, made a stop in his store, and that day began the process of nursing Zachary to health.

Here’s what helped us. And we ended up with 3 kids down with it.

  • Epsom salt baths with 6-7 drops Somatherapy Cold/Flu essential oil blend
  • Diffuser running in the room with Somatherapy cold/flu essential oil blend
  • Lots and lots and lots of water. No other drinks, especially anything with sugar (gatorade, sprite, juice, etc). Water with lemon is a good detoxifier.
  • No food while no appetite. No sugar at all.
  • Face over steaming water with 2 drops of Oregano oil to open up sinuses.
  • Manuka Honey– I think this was the key for us. I’d never heard of it before. We used it in hot tea or when we couldn’t get him to drink the tea, we put on a piece of bread when his appetite returned.
  • Hot teas/drinks – below for recipes
  • Increase Vit D dosage
  • Increase Vit C
  • Probiotics
  • Avoided any fever reducing medications. Fevers are good.
  • Collodial Silver – 1/4 teaspoon in water once a day

Hot concoctions that worked well

  • Hot water, 3/4 inch ginger, 1/2 tsp manuka honey, 1/2 lemon
  • Hot water, 1/2 tsp manuka honey, 1 TBS Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, 1/2 lemon

When I visit McLeod’s Organics, I come away with more than tips on healthy living. I come away with these little nuggets of wisdom from T., the man who runs the store. He is a wonderfully kind man who loves the Lord.

T. reminded me to remind Zachary that God works all things for good. Of course I should have thought of this, but I hadn’t been looking for the good. While discussing with T., he saw some of the good, which sent me looking for more.

God working all things for good in the visible:

  • Jacob misses his brother deeply. There is a deep void with Zachary quarantined. Jacob shared several times how he understands now why I tell him to be careful how he speaks to his brother and the reminders not to take our time together for granted. Blessing. God instructing Jacob’s heart through Zachary’s sickness.
  • Zachary’s heart turned to prayer when Andrew came down with the illness. He prayed and prayed for his quick recovery. Andrew bounced back much faster than Zachary. But I saw a tender affection as Zachary cared for his brother through prayer. Blessing. God instructing Zachary’s heart through his sickness.
  • Thankfulness. A new appreciation for health, something we take for granted, forgetting it is a gift when we have it.
  • Comfort. A chance to lean into God and receive comfort.
  • For me, eyes to see how love is truly more important than anything. How out of love for my Savior I can care for my family with joy and a realization that out of my own strength and own love, it’s impossible. A blessing as God is teaching me about love.
  • Through walkie talkie, Andrew beeped me, and with his raspy voice said, “Mom, I love you. Thank you for taking care of me.” Blessing. Pure sweetness.

God really does birth good from all things. Sometimes we are given the gift of seeing those things, sometimes we are not. Sometimes they aren’t revealed to us, sometimes they are revealed many years later. Sometimes we simply aren’t looking, so we miss the good God did through the bad. That is what I fear. That I will stop looking for God and miss seeing Him in every moment of my life.

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Kisses From Katie

kissesfromkatie

In 2008 we moved from Georgia to Virginia. I remember a friend of mine from Georgia emailing me and telling me about a blog I must start reading. She described a young girl who left everything straight from high school to become a missionary in Uganda.

Over the years I continued hearing about this story and this person. She published a book, and I continued to hear about it. Then this year my sister and niece fell in love with the book and a friend’s daughter left to serve with Katie’s team in Africa. It was time I read this book. Kisses from Katie.

It’s one of those that God uses to dig down into the deep spaces. I can’t stop thinking about it. The last book that affected me this much was David Platt’s Radical. I see a theme here.

This from the Foreword, “When the child had been bathed to her aunt’s satisfaction, Katie wrapped her in a towel and carried her to a nearby bed. She knelt in front of her and began to remove jiggers from her feet. Jigger was not a word I’d heard before. In Uganda, jiggers are everywhere and they cause much trouble. They are small insects that burrow painlessly into a person’s skin and create a tiny egg sac, leaving a little bump that appears as inflammation. While having jiggers doesn’t hurt until they have practically infested an area of the body, having them removed can be excruciating. But the child didn’t wince, scream, or jerk in any way as Katie removed the jiggers and cut away dead skin around them. She simply sat silently as a few tiny tears made their way slowly down her face.”

God is using this book to burrow into me like jiggers. As I become inflamed with this message, it hurts. Yet throughout this book the theme that stands out over every story she shares is love. LOVE. Katie, with extreme love, removed those jiggers one by one from that child. The love Katie shared, which was a manifestation of God’s love, is what truly heals. The jiggers that are making a home into my heart, love will heal those too. Sometimes, we have to become inflamed before love begins to heal.

From the introduction, “Slowly but surely I began to realize the truth: I had loved and admired and worshiped Jesus without doing what He said. This recognition didn’t happen overnight; in fact I believe it was happening in my heart long before I even knew it.”…..”So I quit my life.”

People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid. I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable.”

Yes! I get this. My heart cries out when I read this. I wrote for 30 days on this in 2013. Yet, what have I done about it?

More from the introduction, “I am surrounded by things that can destroy the body. I interact almost daily with people who have deadly diseases, and many times I am the only person who can help them. I live in a country with one of the world’s longest-running wars taking place just a few hours away. Uncertainty is everywhere. But I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amid things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.”

Yes, me too. Yet I’m still very comfortable in the American life. This books challenges me in new ways. The most surprising is that this book is revealing something far greater than what I realized when I opened the first page. I expected the entire book would be a beautiful story that would inspire the reader to reach out and stretch our limits in serving the poor. And while it does, it does something far more radical than that.

The word that whispers in my soul with every page I turn is this: Love. It’s love.

Katie Davis is very clear about one thing. She isn’t a hero. She isn’t brave and courageous. She isn’t an extraordinary human being. She is no different than you or me. Except she is different in my opinion. She has a love for Jesus that is worth giving her entire life to share. She has experienced His love to a point she can’t contain it. She must give that love back out. It’s too big to keep inside. She couldn’t possibly keep it inside. That’s the kind of love I want for my King.

When Katie got to Uganda, she had no idea she would be where she is today with her ministry. She didn’t go with a strategic plan for establishing a ministry. She went with a plan to love.

What if every moment of my day here in America looked like Katie’s days in Uganda? What if my entire strategic plan could be summed up in one word – love?

Well, it would change everything in my world. And if we all did that, it would change the world.

Katie isn’t changing the world because God has made her super awesome and amazing. Katie is changing the world because she has a love for God that couldn’t be physically contained within her. She let it flow into each person she crossed paths with, and along the way she obeyed God. She loved, she obeyed.

Out of everything I’m reading in this book, I can’t help but put it down each night and say, “God, let me love you like that.”

Loving God more is a process. It’s not an overnight snap of the fingers. It comes from spending time with Him, from seeing Him repeatedly show up at unexpected moments, from calling out His name in distress and realizing He was right there all along, from whispering His name through tears and feeling His hands wipe the tears, from praising Him throughout the day, from laughing so hard your side hurts when He allowed His sense of humor to shine at just the time you needed to laugh the most.

I started the process of loving God more when I started looking for Him harder. He’s not hard to see, except yes He is if you live in affluent America. He is kind of hard to see because we can at times pat ourselves on the back for working hard and smart and creating a super comfortable life. So, yeah, He can be hard to see.

When we intentionally move through the day looking for Him, we are blown away. He’s all over our day. All over our lives. Over the last few months, I’ve felt God doing something in my heart that I’m not sure what it is. I still don’t really know. All I know is that each day, I find my love for Him becoming more passionate. Then I look back at my prayer journals and see the years of prayers that said, “God make me love you more than I love anything else in this entire world. Make me love you so passionately, I feel I might burst.”

Do you want to change the world? I do. Want to pray a prayer we know God will say yes to? Let’s pray He lights a fire in our hearts for Him that grows bigger, brighter, and bolder everyday.

If the most important command is to love Him and the second is to love our neighbor, then let’s pray to love Him more. Only when we love Him more can we love our neighbors. Only because Katie loved the Lord could she love on the least of these in Africa.

And many of us can’t go across the ocean to serve the least of these, but God’s world is mighty small and His love is mighty big. What I’m learning from this book is that loving Him is the first step to changing the world.

I want to do more, love more, serve more. We sponsor a child, we’ve hosted orphans in our home, we give generously, but none of that is uncomfortable. None of that is hard. In fact, it can be quite easy. 

Loving the world can seem hard, but I think it’s because we start backwards. We try to love the world before we are madly in love with the Creator of the world. Maybe if we loved our Father more than the world, then loving on the world wouldn’t be so hard.

It would be quite easy. Then doing what is uncomfortable wouldn’t be so difficult. It would seem natural. Maybe that is how we were created to live.

Love really can start a fire. One that can’t be put out.

Lord, light a fire in my heart for you. Let the world not dampen the flames. Burn so that it can’t be physically contained any longer.

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The overwhelming moments of God hidden in the small

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Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

There are moments where God completely overwhelms me. Times breathing is difficult, words are inadequate. These moments catch me by surprise. I’m surprised by my surprise. When will I cease to be amazed that God can and will do whatever He pleases? That God delights to surprise and amaze? That He is uncontainable, unfathomable?

Sunday I sat on the 3rd row of a sanctuary in Georgia and watched my 60-year-old dad baptized. A man who would be considered a “good man” in the eyes of most. Not perfect, but good. A man who believed in God, believed Jesus was the son of God, and for 60 years believed and hoped that was enough to spend eternity in Heaven. I shared his story here in the fall. When his eyes were opened, and he turned to the One who’s been pursuing him all these years, gave his heart and life, and now stands a changed man, not in his power but in the power of the cross, he realized believing in God, going to church, being good, none of those were important. It was a true, genuine, heart changing, saving relationship with his Savior.

Overwhelmed doesn’t describe what I felt. I have no words. 14 years I’ve prayed for this.

Only God. Only God can take the heart of a man who has built a decent life and reveal his need for a Savior. Only God can open the eyes and heart. We must never stop praying for the ones we love to have their eyes opened.

Overwhelmed.

If we opened our eyes minute by minute, we would spend our lives overwhelmed, shaken. He never stops working. He never stops amazing. Sometimes God’s biggest moments are disguised as small gifts.

Last week we had 3 days off from school. I’m behind in every way with writing projects. The next few weeks are busy and will put me further behind. Therefore, snow is the last thing I wanted yesterday given the fact I will spend 2 days this week mostly at school with my kids and more snow is predicted. I needed two solid days to work. But God gave me what I needed more than what I wanted. Only God.

I tiptoed down the stairs carefully selecting which parts of the wood to place my weight on so as not to accidentally wake a soul in my house. Coffee brewing, fire burning, I wrapped in a blanket, grabbed my Bible and journal, and sat with the Lord.

An hour later, I felt refreshed and ready to see my kids out the door and work hard for the next 6 hours to try to accomplish about 15 hours worth of work. I began up the stairs when I noticed what looked like white outside. This couldn’t be since I looked when I walked down the stairs just to be sure. It happened. In one hour, a light blanket of snow descended. In those moments, I wondered if I should laugh or cry. So much for writing, so much for projects barely started. So much for anything other than more days inside. So much for MY plans.

God had a plan. God always has a plan. His plans are always better than mine.

I put on my excited face, snuck into Jacob’s room, and delivered the news every child dreams of. No school, you can go back to sleep!

I tiptoed downstairs and settled back into the Lord. Minutes later, Jacob rounded the corner, Bible in hand, a tiny smirk on his face. “Can I join you?”

Only God.

God gives us what we need despite what we want then changes our wants to match our needs. I needed time with Jacob, but I didn’t want a snow day on this day. God gave me what I needed in a way I didn’t want and changed my heart in an instant to want what God wants for me.

Jacob opened up his Bible and shared with me his favorite passage. “Mom, in the entire Bible, this is the one I always go back to. I don’t know why. But it’s the one I find myself going to frequently.”

“Only God, honey. Only God. Only He can direct us in ways we can’t understand. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is always working.”

He opened his Bible to Matthew 6:25-34. And He read to me.

I sat overwhelmed. A little moment no less overwhelming than watching my 60-year-old dad baptized, watching my 11-year-old son discovering how very intricate and personal is His God. Only God.

Not only that, but God knew that verse, which has become much too familiar to me, needed to find a spot in my heart that very minute. Because if I’m honest, it was worry that caused my plans to become more important than God’s plans. Only God.

My eyes opened to see God that morning. I wanted to see His constant overwhelming Presence. Moment after moment, He showed up. In the little ways. Andrew, always first to rise, slept 2 extra hours, giving me extended time with the older boys. A gift. I had conversations with Jacob and Zachary about the awesomeness of God we wouldn’t have had if we’d been on our way to school. A gift. Moments unfolded throughout the day, tiny moments, that caused my overwhelmed soul to thank God for always allowing His plans to prevail.

He is as overwhelming in the small moments as He is in the big. We sometimes don’t recognize His hand at work in the small moments. But the small moments are sometimes the greatest gifts we receive.

I want to love God more. I want to have a love that is careless and carefree.

Days like yesterday make me love Him more. When I see Him, I can’t help but love Him. I just need eyes to see Him in every.single.moment.

Lord, let me not be so busy, I fail to see the small moments meant as gifts to overwhelm my soul. Never let your overwhelming spirit go unnoticed by me, turn me to you, and hold me right there, eyes on you. For I know when my eyes remain on you, I fall madly in love. 

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What I’m Learning About Self-Control and Discipline

steveandzach

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

My husband turns 40 this year. This turning of the decade spurred him on to make some radical changes in how he cares for his body. Of course, I couldn’t let him go this road alone, so our entire family went along for the ride.

Our family turned healthy-ish several years ago. We stopped shopping in the middle aisles of the grocery store, we tried eating organic when affordable, we cut out all artificials and preservatives, we starting milling our own grains and making our own breads, we mostly shopped at Trader Joes. We indulged in healthier junk foods (mostly for the kids).

We felt pretty good. Then a few things happened. Steve is getting older (well, I am too), Zachary got diagnosed with lyme disease, Andrew has language and visual processing disorders and a few other challenges, Jacob started having hearing issues, and we started to realize food is a super power in all of this. While we might be doing ok, could we be doing excellent?

Steve decided he wanted to enter 40 excellent, not ok. He went cold-turkey, hard-core, no turning back in a day. Just so happened to be the day he returned from a work trip where food fit for kings is routinely served, which led to him getting a nasty cold, and the same day my sister’s family arrived.

My sister gave me the greatest gift that weekend. She took charge. Little sister became big sister. She wrote up a menu, she made a grocery list, she took me to 2 grocery stores, she cooked food to show me how easy it is. She sent me pins from Pinterest to get me started.

We tell our boys all the time attitude is everything. I’m getting this message in a big way. I realized if this is going to be a lifelong change, not a fad for 30 days, I better adjust my attitude. My sister gave me a swift kick in the right direction.

Within days of making a change, my eyes were opened to so much more than food. I saw the spiritual hidden in my food choices. I realized more than food choices, it’s about self-control.

Remember my hot dog story? That super embarrassing moment that exposed my weakness.

I am again reminded how I struggle with self control now that I must deny myself what I think I want. In the past if I wanted a handful of M&M’s, I’d grab it. If I wanted a loaded white mocha, I’d have it. If I wanted pizza, I’d have it. If I wanted to stop at Chick-fil-A, we’d stop.

Suddenly, when I changed my mindset and began to look at food in a different light and ask, “Is this the best choice for my body? Will this add nutrients and value or just give me what I want…a quick fix,” everything changed. More than changing, I began to practice discipline and self-control.

Since I’ve begun practicing self-control in the area of food, I see where else I lacked self-control. My words, my thoughts, my actions, my feelings and emotions, to name a few.

Self-control takes practice. Self-control is harder for some people than others for sure, but when we want to improve at anything, it takes dedication, a positive attitude, practice, and prayer.

So often in a moment of frustration, words would escape my mouth before I took time to ask “is this the best choice of words for the heart of the one hearing or could I choose words that lead to excellent rather than just ok?”

Our 30 days ended on Valentine’s Day, and as I pondered our journey, I’ve come to understand that at the root of my lack of self control has been selfishness and lack of practice. If I wanted something, I would have it. When I’m not practicing something, I’m making no efforts to move forward. I’m stuck in the same patterns and rhythms.

I’ve prayed for years for more patience. How best to practice patience then to first practice self-control? For me lack of patience is an extension of a lack of self-control over my attitude and reactions towards others. When I control my thoughts and attitudes, patience is allowed room to settle in.

The past few weeks have been insightful in our home. Here’s to praying for more self-control!

P.S. I did find a resource that has changed everything for us. It took the get healthy initiative from a state of overwhelm to simple.

We started reading The Daniel Plan. I’ve LOVED it. I bought the book and the cookbook. The book gives you recipes, menu plans, and an entire approach to whole health on a very well-balanced plan for life. It looks at the spiritual in healthy eating, not just the willpower to be healthier. If you are wanting to make a change and don’t know where to start (like me), I highly recommend this book.

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How To Discipline A Child Who Rebels Discipline

discipline

After multiple corrections for tone of voice and what we considered disrespectful attitude, we sent him up to his room. A time of separation was needed for us all to regain our composure. These moments seem to occur when the pressure of the clock silently pushes us forward.

We paid a visit to his room thinking that he would be ready to listen to our instruction. Pride clouded his vision, rebellion took the spot of repentance.

The give and take exchanges began, and his narrowed eyes spoke the attitude of the heart. He wasn’t able to hear the words we shared. He was convinced he was right. He had determined to win the argument.

My husband and I sat with our child trying to guide, instruct, correct, and discipline. We weren’t trying to win, but we couldn’t allow him to be so misguided in his thoughts and feelings either. Our son saw only a battle, him vs us, and he was determined to win.

We tried explaining that our job as a parent is to discipline out of love and obedience to God. He didn’t want to hear. His response back, “When you discipline me, it just makes me angrier at you. You should just send me to my room and leave me alone. When you discipline me, I just get madder and madder at you.”

My husband and I disengaged battle. In that state, no one wins. We told him to get in the car to leave for church and we would revisit this discussion later in the day when our emotions were calm.

Our emotions can cloud our vision, changing how we see things with a tendency towards selfishness and an inability to reason. That is what was happening in our conversations.

Hours later, after Sunday School, after church, after lunch, he tapped my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “I’m really sorry I was such a jerk to you and Dad.” I put my arm around his shoulders and pulled him close, whispering back, “We forgive you. Thank you for apologizing. We do still need to talk this afternoon.” He smiled back, “I know.”

Later that afternoon, emotions no longer changing the issue at hand, the Holy Spirit had softened each of our hearts so we were able to speak through love what needed to be spoken, but more importantly, what needed to be heard.

The earlier narrowed eyes had widened, the lines around those eyes softened, and the sparkle of curiosity had returned. He knew what was coming. It was God’s Word.

Knee to knee we sat on the sofa. He pulled out his Bible, and I instructed him which verses to look up to read aloud to me. I’d call a verse, he’d read. I would explain and let it settle into his soul. Then we’d move to the next.

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 13:18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid

His eyes widened. “I didn’t know that word was in the Bible.” “Honey, God’s Word is surprising. Read it.”

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

“Honey, this is why I can’t just send you away to your room and leave you to yourself.”

Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death

Proverbs 15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life

Discipline is uncomfortable in every way. It exposes our weak spots and calls to account our actions. My son found himself in need of correction and discipline, yet he fought it with every ounce of strength he had.

Sometimes I need time to process and understand where my feelings are coming from. And I always need time to pray and allow God to guide me to truth rather than working solely from my emotions.

God’s Word is all we need. All of life can be boiled down into one statement. Know His Word. If we know His Word, we can work through anything. When we know His Word, we know Him. When we know Him, we can’t help but love Him.

The following day he called out, “Hey, mom, the neatest thing happened today. I opened up my Bible and asked God to direct me where to read. I opened up and let my finger fall. It fell on Proverbs  13:18. I read it and thought ‘hey that’s the verse mom read to me.’ So I decided to memorize it so I would never forget it.”

Ya’ll, I don’t share this to get a pat on the back or say I deserve mother of the year. I could tell you 50 stories of the last week where I’ve blown it huge with my kids. I share this so God’s grace and power are magnified over my weakness and failures. I don’t want to magnify my sin, I want to illuminate His goodness.

Lord, let us find satisfaction for our soul through your Word. Let us look to Truth to guide us. Let us cling to you in a changing world that feels out of control. Let us remember you are the Rock of our salvation.

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