When Your Child Tells You He Wants To Be In Control Of His Life

“Mom, I have a very important question for you.”

I climbed in the bed, sitting as close as possible. Bedtime. The time they open up and want to talk about all the things.

“You know how I like freedom and independence right?”

I nodded. He continued, “Well, I wondered. Can I make all my own choices for my life from now on? Can I make my own decisions without you guys choosing for me?”

Because he was completely serious, I knew not to laugh or even chuckle. Anyway, I never want to belittle his ponderings.

“Well, Andrew, making choices and decisions for your life comes with great responsibility. It takes much practice and failure to learn.”

His question actually sparked an important conversation I hope he tucks away.

Andrew began to question why his 15 year old brother stays up so much later than him. Why he can’t choose his own bedtime. I explained that Jacob has established trust with us over the course of 15 years. He’s not perfect. He’s made mistakes. But he’s begun the habit of making wise choices. With wise choices comes greater freedom. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.

“Andrew, you aren’t prepared to carry the load of responsibility that will come with so much freedom. Not yet. I believe one day you will. But we need some practice in smaller areas first.”

He nodded with a heavy sigh.

The following day, I shared the conversation with the older boys. I explained that Jacob has proven we don’t need to dictate a bedtime. He doesn’t misuse the freedom. I explained that when trust is built, it’s a beautiful thing. Freedom in the hands of someone who guards and protects how they walk that freedom out is lovely.

I believe it’s Dr. Kevin Lehman who never gave his kids curfews. He let them choose what they thought was acceptable and found they always came home earlier than he would have even required.

We all long for some breathing room.

Andrew was quiet for a moment. A moment is about as long as he can remain silent.

“Well, are there some choices I can make on my own at least?”

“Yes, I think we can come up with a few. Let’s spend some time thinking about it and discuss in a few days.”

Now I need to shift gears on you a bit. I can’t leave this post here and allow you to walk away thinking it’s merely parenting advice and a sweet story. God has been doing a very deep work in my heart lately. I can’t say I’ve handled it so well either.

But God in His kindness has allowed enough circumstances to press in on me to force me into a place of dealing with what’s easier to stuff in the the dark closets of my soul.

Shame lives in the dark. And it’s time I allowed His light to bring out areas I’ve never surrendered to Him.

Do you remember at the beginning of the year I shared how I didn’t want a word for the year but God gave me one anyway? It was surrender.

You see, Andrew asked a question that if I’m honest, I hold in my heart as well. And maybe you do too? I can resist God when I fight to maintain control. When I have to have my way. When I want to essentially be in control of my own life.

It’s pride. And the thing about pride is that is has so many faces.

I did something that was harder than I realized it would be. I made an appointment with a christian counselor. It is something I’ve felt God nudging me to do for a very long time. But I’ve become a master at telling myself everything’s good and I’m fine. To make that call, I had to admit that I’m actually not fine. I’m not ok.

But maybe it’s ok to not be ok? I’ve spent my life being dictated by an inner perfectionist, even as a child of God. I’ve felt a need to have everything right. And when it’s not right the controller inside me kicks in to make it all right. And then I leave no room for the Holy Spirit because I’m elbowing Him out of the way.

Man. What a gracious God we serve! So good beyond what we fathom. So patient. So kind.

The very day Andrew posed this question, I found out Steve and I would be teaching a lesson on pride vs humility to the kindergarten thru 5th graders at church. I laughed. This is so like God. The very thing He has been trying to refine from my heart is the very thing I’m going to have to teach on?

God didn’t place me in the role of teaching because I’ve figured out how to walk in humility. Nope. It’s so I can lower myself to student and learn. Surrender. Let Him teach me.

Lastly, He told me to get down. Literally, physically lower my physical body. On my knees, on my belly. Get low.

Humble myself before Him. Surrender fully to Him.

Lord, thank you that you love us too much to leave us in our selfish pride and arrogance. Thank you that you will go to extreme measures to shape and mold us into the vessel You desire. We open our hands to You in surrender. We love you, Lord.

 

A generation screened to death

(9 minute listen)

When life loses its wonder

When one of my boys was young elementary, I chaperoned a field trip to an aquarium. Everything we encountered was magical and enchanting, yet a little boy in my group continued to complain, “This is soooooo boring.”

Initially, I ignored him. But he wouldn’t stop.

“When are we leaving?”

“This isn’t fun.”

Each comment he made sucked the joy right away from all the other kids. The rest of the group quieted down their own excitement. I saw these other kids question what they thought was cool and exciting.

Negativity is like that. Spreading like the vicious cancer it is.

I asked the little boy, “What do you think is fun?”

“Video games.”

A rock wrapped my heart and pulled it straight to the depths of my stomach.

Of course this kid was unimpressed with life. His brain was being rewired. He was being screened to death.

Video games seem innocent. They are not.

The goal is to addict

Dig in, do some research on how these games are created. The goal of the developers is to addict our kids. This should be common sense to us. It’s a business. If they can’t hook you, they lose money.

Many tech developers send their kids to tech free schools and their kids aren’t living on screens. They only put them into the world for our kids. Not their own. What does that tell us?

It’s only getting worse. Each new fad game released has to up the bar. It has to beat the game losing its grip.

These games do NOT have your child’s best interest in mind. They have a mission to entertain all the way to addiction.

We are screening our kids to death.

We are killing what could be in them and our families. You may think I’m being overly dramatic.

Listen, satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And he comes as an angel of light. And he’s a master deceiver. In other words, we will see and encounter life threatening choices and see them as no big deal.

Parents, we are modeling peer pressure to our kids.

I can’t tell you how many parents have said to me the reason they give in is because all the other parents give in. Lord, have mercy on us.

We are stronger than this, parents. How often do we tell our kids, “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to.”?

Yet, what do we do when we see all the other parents letting their kids feast on these games? We follow the masses. We let peer pressure decide.

We need to be stronger than we are.

Do you know what I’ve never heard a parent say to me? “I wish smart phones and video games were this popular when I raised my kids.” Never, not once have I heard this.

I am constantly overhearing conversations on this topic. I have to literally bite the sides of my mouth to keep from piping into a side conversation. I listened to a mom and a dad (not married to one another) discussing the problems they were facing with their kids’ attitudes and behaviors they believed linked to video games.

The mom ended by saying, “But the games are really good for them. It teaches social skills because when they go to school they have something to connect over and talk about with each other.”

We’ve bought justifications.

In the history of the world has social skills ever been a mainstream issue? Nope.

You know why? Because we were created in the image of God for community and relationship. This is what we were made for!!!! We don’t need to be taught how to connect with each other. Especially kids. Kids are so natural and innocent as they enter friendships and relationships. They talk about everything and nothing.

Screens are killing our ability to connect socially.

Screens are creating death in so many forms in the life of our kids, and we must wake up before an entire generation is lost.

Kids need to be bored.

Boredom is a friend of childhood. It is not our role to remove boredom and keep our kids entertained, occupied, and busy. Yes, they drive us crazy when they are bored, but so what? If they see we don’t budge, they will figure out their own boredom issues.

Kids can’t solve problems because we are too good at solving the problems for them. Oh, you are bored, here watch You Tube, play the XBox, watch movies.

In this state of constant screening:

  • imagination dies
  • invention never gives birth
  • insight lies in a dark cave never discovered.

A mind screened to death.

Something powerful happens in boredom. We become still and quiet. Inventive and creative. Deep thinking begins.

A mind never bored never has the opportunity to discover deeper insights. And we all suffer for it.

We are exchanging long term joy for short term convenience as parents when we put a screen in the hands of our kids.

It’s not easy to grocery shop with babies and toddlers. But how else do they begin to learn the world doesn’t revolve around them and their needs and their entertainment. So much life to see at the store, but more often than not all I see are glowing faces of kids head down in a cart.

They don’t encounter the smiles of strangers or small talk with the bagger. They don’t have to worry about developing patience in a long line. They can simply bury their head in a screen, entertained as the subconscious thought develops that their needs, their entertainment is of utmost importance.

As these kids are screened to death, they are numbed to real life. We all lose in the long run.

We are setting up patterns of addiction.

Kids are living on dopamine hits they are saying are as powerful as any drug on the market. We can’t live with our head in the sand over this issue any longer. The research is available. The resources to understand what is happening to their brains is astounding. The question is – do we want to know?

We are partly living not wanting to know. When we know, we suddenly are faced with making choices and decisions we’d rather not deal with.

When we know, we can’t un-know.

Say cocaine was legal, yet I know the ramifications it would have, would I allow my child to enjoy it simply because all their friends were? That’s ridiculous. Of course, I wouldn’t.

Screens are legal, but lethal in many ways. Over time, they kill so much of what could have been. They kill moments. They kill memories. They kill relationships. They kill creativity and imagination. They kill passions and desires.

They are killing families. Suicides and teen depression at record highs. When will we pay attention? When it’s our own kid? Then will we care more?

We have a choice.

  • We can choose to create a culture of connection in our home.
  • We can share with our kids the whys behind our choices. When kids understand the why, everything changes. They understand.

It’s never too late to make a change.

It’s easier to set healthy boundaries and patterns when our kids are young, but it’s never too late either.

The last thing I’ll say in this post. I get many letters privately on this topic. I’ve cried over some of them. It’s why I just can’t stop talking about it. One theme I hear repeatedly is that mom and dad aren’t on the same page. I don’t have an answer to this. All I can say is pray. God desires unity.

 

For more posts on this topic, browse through the Electronics category of my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Does God even hear my prayers? Will this ever happen?

 

7 Minute listen

Does God hear my cry?

“Lord, how long must I keep praying this same thing?”

“Lord, do you hear me?”

“Lord, will this ever happen?”

“Lord, did I hear you wrong?”

Any of these questions sound familiar? Have you found yourself praying so long for something that you eventually stop praying for it?

Maybe you assume God is only good sometimes or to some people or in the right situations.

Where we focus matters

At some point we shift our focus off who God is, and with all intensity, focus on that thing we are praying. All our passion and focus directed at the cry of our heart.

This is the moment doubt is given a voice, fear takes a bold stand, and discouragement hops into the front seat.

A key verse for us to brand into our heart is found at the end of Isaiah 60:22.

“I am Yahweh; I will accomplish it quickly in its time.”

Friends, He isn’t slow to respond.

God is perfect, patient, and right on time.

When the time is 100% perfect, He will act quickly.

God isn’t

  • ignoring us.
  • unkind or cruel.
  • bothered and too busy.

He will accomplish all things quickly in its time. He is perfect. He is Sovereign.

When doubt and fear creep in, we must remind ourselves to take our eyes off ourselves and desires and place them on who God is. This is the secret. This is the key to perfect peace.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

When something begins to weigh heavily on my soul, I have to make a choice. Will I allow what the Lord has defeated to overwhelm me? Or will I choose to remember who He is?

But the Lord.

Sometimes when I read scripture, one or two small words leap out to me. I underline them and toss them around.

Isaiah 60:19 “….but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor.”

But the Lord.

  • When discouragement tempts me to fall prey to its power, I can say, “but the Lord.”
  • When fear screams in tantrum, I can say, “but the Lord.”
  • When doubt whispers in the dark, I can say, “but the Lord.”

Friends, He is good always. Do you believe that with everything in your soul?

If I’m honest, I don’t always believe this to be true. I do in my head, but I don’t let it connect to my heart. I live in a way that conveys the opposite to be true. That God isn’t good always.

What the Bible doesn’t say

A popular misinterpreted passage of scripture tells us God won’t give us more than we can bear. This is not true. We live in a fallen, sin-filled world. Do you mean to tell me the mother who buries her child can bear the weight of that grief? So what happens when she is drowning in the darkest pit she’s ever known? Is she to believe she’s somehow supposed to bear that weight?

When people tell her God won’t give her more than she can handle, what will she begin to think about God?

He promises to be our strength when we are weak. We can’t bear what this world offers us. Only God can do that.

God didn’t say He’d not give us more than we could bear. No, this is what He said.

What the Bible Does Say

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • We will face more than we can handle.
  • But Jesus overcame it all.
  • So we must choose to remember “but God”.
  • We must remember His Word tells us He will act quickly in its time.
  • We must remember He is our Healer and our Comforter.
  • By His stripes we are healed.
  • One day He will wipe away every tear.

I’m a part of Community Bible Study. This year we are studying Isaiah. What a book. This is my 3rd time studying this book, and I still struggle through each passage. Today’s commentary is so good I had to share it with you.

“Jesus knew that we tend to give up when prayers are unfulfilled. But God will act on His own timetable, not ours. So we may need to talk with God repeatedly about the same issue. As we do, we get to know Him better. And as we know Him better, we begin to understand how He wants us to pray – “at all times in the Spirit, with…supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18)”

Community Bible Study, Isaiah Vol. 2 page 144.

Some practical help

I wrote a devotion to help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s so easy to focus on the problems that seem bigger than we know our God to be.

We find ourselves

  • overwhelmed
  • worried
  • and fearful

….because we can’t see a solution or a happy ending in sight. But we look at the wrong spot. We have to teach ourselves a new habit.

Habits are hard to break. I recently read a book The Power of Habits. It was pretty thought-provoking as I considered my thought habits. My worry habits. I bet you have a few as well.

The good news is the brain is pliable and is able to be retrained. We have to retrain our thoughts to focus on who God is rather than what we worry about.

This is why

ebook devotional

Illuminate will take you on a 14 day journey into a more intimate walk with God. It’s gentle and kind to your soul. One day at a time to reflect on His nature. When you see Him by the light of His Word, all the darkness you face will begin to fade.

If you haven’t purchased your copy yet, maybe today is a good day.

Maybe you have a friend you want to encourage? Send her a copy by purchasing and entering her email address.

One final thing

And before I forget, I’ve started a new Instagram account. I’d love if you’d follow along if you are already on IG. And tag a friend or many.

And one more thing, I don’t take for granted you spending your time here with me. In a world where so much pulls for our online attention, you spending this time here with me reflecting on God’s glory means a lot. Blessings to you!

 

 

Scrolling through life – Are we living distracted by screens or focused on life?

Living distracted by screens?

I sat behind this family. A pre-teenish aged girl, head down except for brief moments coming up for air, or rather, back into real life. Head back down.

Scroll.

Scroll.

Scroll.

I struggled to disengage following her phone habits. Her distraction from life around us was totally distracting me. The thing is, this is the norm for many teens today. But let’s be fair. The struggle is real for us adults as well.

When she engaged in real life, she complained to her parents about being bored. When she was bored, she picked up her phone.

Scroll.

She bounced from one social media platform to the next.

This isn’t unique to this girl. It’s all of us. It’s me too.

How often do I reach for my phone out of boredom, looking for that next hit of entertainment or distraction?

How often do I reach for my phone for the high of escape?

When I don’t feel like listening to one more complaint or argument, I pick it up.

Scroll.

When I feel awkward waiting for a friend to meet me, I pick it up.

Scroll.

We watched an entire family sitting at a table at a restaurant never looking up until the food arrived. 2 parents, 4 kids – scrolling through life. Missing the life of each other right before their eyes.

What stories went untold? What laughs never broke free? What impact or influence never passed one to another?

Real life vs fake offering

So much life missed trying to stay up on the fake life a screen offers.

We are missing the best and accepting the counterfeit.

This is nothing new.

‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”’

Exodus 32:1

They were tired of waiting, so they reached for the counterfeit.

They chose fake over real. They chose immediate gratification over lifelong satisfaction.

The very next verse shocks me.

‘Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’

Exodus 32:2-5

Aaron so quickly went along with the people and not only joined the masses but led them in their rebellious desires.

We do too.

We know we are trading real life, real connection for the false idol. Yet, we follow. We accept what never satisfies.

As we scroll through life, we are indulging our flesh. We indulge our desire to be entertained. We’ve created our modern day golden calf. We worship at the altar of our screens.

We have a choice to make.

These screens we scroll through will never give us what we truly crave. It’s like eating a diet of candy. Over time we will become sick.

I believe at various times God brings us enlightenment and we have a choice in what to do. We can continue down a path or make corrections.

When we find our scroll is invading our life, maybe a break is what is needed.  A fast in order to refocus our attention and reclaim the moments we’ve been missing.

Focused on Life?

There have been moments that happened I’ve looked back on and thought, “If I’d been buried in a screen, I would’ve miss that completely.” At the same time, I know for a fact I’ve missed countless moments as I’ve lived distracted by the scroll of my phone. I’ll never know what I missed. But I have a choice in each moment to claim it or let it pass.

I want to live a life full of beautiful moments. I want to have relationships that can stand the test of time and life. I want to create memories we can talk about around the table in 20 years.

Living an intentional life means looking ahead at what we desire and choosing today the steps we need to take in order to arrive.

It’s looking ahead and deciding what we want our Thanksgiving table in 20 years to look like and realizing it takes action today to achieve that. Meaningful relationships and moments take nurturing.

Intentional living is living life on purpose rather than scrolling through life mindlessly.

What are we nurturing today?

If you’ve followed along here for some time you know I’m passionate about guarding our families from screen intrusions. When I started writing online my goal was to encourage others to live an intentional life. Ironically, this was before screens were at play. It didn’t take long for screens to begin to dominate in homes and I’m determined to keep preaching this message.

The first post I wrote on this subject circulated into millions of homes. I received messages from parents who felt alone in their desire to raise children who could live with heads up and eyes ahead focused on life. They realized they aren’t alone. If you’d like to read that post you can find it here A Letter to My Sons – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics.

You can can find other posts I’ve written on this topic by clicking here.

And if you aren’t subscribed to receive posts via email, click here. I rarely post more than once a week and promise never to spam you. I count it a privilege to encourage and inspire you to live an intentional life.

 

 

 

 

 

When time management means learning to become less productive

Work Hard, Rest Well

I’m a doer, a worker. I love efficiency and productivity. I thrive on accomplishing tasks and seeing my tangible, physical progress. The problem is I work better than I rest. The second problem is that I’m rarely satisfied that my work is complete. I set high bars and expectations and can always “do more”. But for a human being, that is chasing something with no finish line in sight.

Perfection isn’t reality. At some point I must choose ‘good enough’ and be satisfied.

God’s Model For Work

I love how God looked at His work, found satisfaction, then rested.

 

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”

Genesis 1:31-2:2

My nature in my work is to simply keep moving forward. I rarely stop, assess, find satisfaction, and rest. Instead, I complete, I plan, I analyze, I re-assess, I work harder, I complete, I move harder and faster. And when I rest, my mind isn’t really at rest. So is it really a rest? Likely not.

When a strength swings to a weakness

When I was a CPA, my boss frequently commended me for my efficiency and productivity. I could knock out some work. That was great for billable hours. But that very strength in my previous career can be downright detrimental to my relationships without careful attention.

Without being mindful of this bent in me, I can mark off my to-do list and miss my most important task of the day – loving and serving the ones right in front of my eyes. Loving them in the ways they receive it, not the way I receive. Not with acts of service, but maybe with quality time or a gift.

Without intentionality to my time, I can complete a long list of chores, yet miss the invitation to conversations waiting on the tips of tongues.

Without planned stops in my day, I may set myself up to be perceived as too busy for anyone to “bother” me.

A little experiment in productivity

I keep a to-do list like most of us. My problem is that I have no problem adding as the day marches on. If I complete everything, I keep working and adding. Then I find myself believing I can never get anything done when in reality, I got more done than I needed to.

I listened to a podcast about tracking time. It was geared towards people who find they waste too much time. Initially, I tossed the idea aside of tracking my time.

I did an experiment one day.

I set timers and wrote down everything I did all day long. At the end of the day I was simply amazed. I honestly found myself unable to believe I really did all I did that day.

The results

Here’s the part I want you to pay attention to. If I had not written all that down, I would have beat myself up over all the things that didn’t get done. I would have focused on the things I planned to do that I was unable to get around to. Things added more than likely as the day moved forward.

We tend to focus on the negatives quicker than the positive. And we can be so harsh to our own selves.

And this is where I felt God drawing my attention. He wanted me to notice how hard I was to myself, how unkind I spoke to myself inside my own head.

He showed me this towards the end of this little experiment of tracking my time. Day one went so well, I tried it a 2nd day. I didn’t want to learn to become more productive. I wanted to learn to be more satisfied in what I’d done and stop trying to do more than is necessary. The reason? I want to enjoy this life with these people in this little pocket of time we’ve been given.

I don’t want to be known when I’m gone as the most productive person they’d ever known. I want to be known for how Jesus shined through my life. I want to be known for how God was glorified in me as I found satisfaction in Him and the life I’ve been given.

On the 2nd day of the experiment, I noticed my thoughts regarding my time. It was always in the negative. Rarely satisfied that I’d done the best I could do, now it was time to rest.

Where I’m headed

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of you. How I’m “supposed” to write in such a way that helps you solve your problems, but I rarely write from that perspective. Instead, I process my life with you right here. Aren’t you lucky 🙂

I find myself in a place, I find what’s a struggle and what’s a help. I don’t always have a solution, but I can share what I’m finding along the path.

The first step in making changes is simply noticing where the problem is. For me, the problem isn’t that I’m a productive person. It’s that I don’t allow myself the freedom to rest free of guilt and I don’t stop and find satisfaction in the work completed.

God shows us this model in His creation. He said it was very good each day. At the end of 6 days, He was satisfied. On the 7th day, He rested.

If the God of the universe can work, find satisfaction, and rest, then we as humans can follow His footsteps.

What a God we serve.

Time is a gift not a dictator.

Time is precious. It’s a gift. Rather than fighting the clock and running myself into the ground exhausted, maybe it’s time I open my hands and surrender the time to the Lord. Time doesn’t get to be the boss of me unless I allow it. I’m choosing to see each day as the gift it is.

“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

Psalm 90:12

The possible missing link connecting your desire to your reality

 

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Proverbs 13:4

Our desires aren’t enough

When I was pregnant with my first son, I planned to have a natural childbirth, free of any kind of pain medication. I told the doctor my plan and she nodded along. “Well, there’s always epidural available if you change your mind.”

My desire was one thing. My direction toward that desire looked completely different.

I did nothing to prepare for my plan. I took no natural childbirth classes. I read little on the subject. The day I went into labor, I went in with only my desire but nothing to prepare me for what was required to stick to the plan.

When the doctor entered the room to check me, she instructed the nurses to begin pitocin. Had I researched at all about natural childbirth, I would’ve declined. My contractions became a level of pain I thought could kill me from sheer pain. The doctor later laughed that she had tickets to the symphony and needed this baby delivered so she could make the performance.

Well, my plan didn’t stick for long. I quickly begged for an epidural. We had our baby, but I felt so disappointed that I hadn’t known enough in advance to prepare better to stay the course.

Initially, I wanted to blame the doctor, or the pitocin, or the slow labor. In the end, I realized all the places I wanted to place my blame were mere roadblocks, but they could have been overcome if I’d prepared myself better.

I think we can all relate to having desires for something, yet finding we don’t really do anything to help us achieve those desires. We often lack the discipline necessary to turn those desires into a reality.

Desire is easy. Discipline isn’t.

Discipline is often the missing link connecting our desires to our realities.

That is where the friction lies. Do we desire it enough to create the discipline necessary to achieve it?

Is fear of failure holding us back? This is a big one for me honestly. There are certain areas I feel I have failed in so often that I don’t have the energy to get up and try again. If I knew I’d succeed, I’d surely find the energy to try again. This is how I know it’s my fear holding me down.

On my second child to be born, I ditched the desire for natural childbirth. I’d determined it was too hard and decided it wasn’t for me.

Fast forward to my third child. I saw others having natural childbirth. If they could, why couldn’t I? I began to take notice of what they did different than I’d done.

If we want a different outcome, we need different action steps

  • They were in a community with like-minded people.
  • They became students, eager to learn
  • They “trained” their bodies in preparation
  • They found accountability
  • They invested money if necessary

I’d done nothing of these sorts my first attempt.

I decided on my third child, if it were within my abilities and decisions, I would stick to the plan. This time I did what I watched others doing who were successful to their desires.

I joined online communities and listened to their conversations. I took in all their tips and tricks. I took better care of my body in preparation for the task ahead. I read actual books on the subject.

But here was the kicker for me.

I hired a doula. I’d never heard that word before I joined a group of like-minded people. This came at a time in our life when finances were not just tight, but we truly had no wiggle room.

I still remember the cost of that doula. I don’t know what they cost now, but 11 years ago I spent $400 to have someone coach me through labor.

Could I have done it without spending that money? Possibly. But for me personally, when I spend money on something it holds me accountable to something higher. I don’t like waste and am very conscious of the money I spend.

To me that $400 was an investment not a spend.

I was investing in my deep desire to have this child with no pain medication.

When it was over, she was worth every bit of that $400. On this side of it, I know for sure I would have asked for the epidural had she not been with me. If it were Steve and I on our own, we’d have been screaming for the doctors to relieve me of the pain. I know me and my small pain threshold.

My point is not to encourage you to spend money. However, at times we have to determine what it will take to turn our desires into the discipline necessary to reach our goals.

Sometimes our desires are for things that seem out of our control. Maybe they are to some extent, but there is always some discipline we can create to walk us closer to reaching that desire.

Do we desire friends? Do we feel lonely? That might feel like it’s a desire we can’t do anything about. It may take time to find friends, but we can become disciplined in being a friend first. We can place ourselves near like-minded people, we can join groups and communities, we can develop our skills in communicating. There’s always steps we can take to move us in the direction we want to go.

It takes discipline. And that is the point many people give up.

Yet, God calls us to be disciplined people.

 

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.

Hebrews 12:11

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

Maybe today is the day to get honest with yourself. To rise up to owning those desires and making new actions steps toward the reality. Daily disciplines. One small step at a time. Don’t focus too much on the overwhelming task. Just look at the habit you can create today to move you one step closer. Then practice that habit every day.

 

 

 

 

Be Very Careful the Words You Speak – It’s Life and Death

Power of Words

If we realized the power of our words and thoughts, we’d be much more careful in the choosing of them.

What we think and believe impacts how we live and the person we become. What we speak shapes our future.

I cringe when I hear adults speak of their future teens negatively. Statements such as, “I dread the rebellious teenage years.”

Who said they’d be rebellious?

Or “Well, I know one day my teen won’t want to be around me.”

Yeah? Says who?

Why would we say these things?

I desire to create an environment my kids want to be around. I want to love them well and enjoy them. We are in the teenage years now and this is by far my very favorite season. I speak this out to my teens, telling them how fun they are to be around, how much they make me laugh.

Why would we speak fear-driven thoughts? Why would we plant these seed thoughts in our children? They are listening and absorbing. They will absolutely rise to what’s expected of them.

Speak life.

Speak power and authority.

Speak destiny.

Speak God’s Word and promises.

At some point I noticed the trace of a trait in one of my sons I wanted him to notice and build on.

He is confident in who he is. He’s not easily persuaded and he’s ok not looking like the world around him. I wanted him to see how strong of a character trait this is.

Kids and teens are drowning in a lack of identity and a strive to fit in with the rest of their friends.

“I see in you such a strength. You really know who you are in Christ. And because of this, you don’t have to try to fit in with others or be tempted to take part in what they do because you know who you are.”

It was a passing comment honestly. I spoke it in truth, but it was a glimmer I want to glisten and shine over time.

Weeks later I overheard a conversation of his. He explained to someone that he isn’t persuaded to follow others because he knows who he is in Christ.

I stopped. I stood overwhelmed at the power my spoken words held in his thoughts and beliefs about who he is.

Pray

Lord, may we choose our words wisely. May we speak life into and over our kids, our families, and ourselves. May our words be seasoned with salt. May we reflect your love and your truth in everything we speak. May we cast out fear thoughts and lies spoken from the depths of darkness. May we walk in the light You’ve shown.

Words and Stories I’ll Never Forget

10 years ago I sat in a doctor’s office. He said something I’ll never forget. “In all my years as a doctor, I’ve learned something about fear. In many of my patients with cancer I’ve found their biggest fear in life was getting cancer.”

He went on to talk to me about fear. He wasn’t really talking about cancer. Nor am I. And I’m not making any kind of health statements at all. Please hear me on this.

I’m simply sharing a statement he made that impacted how I decided that day to think. The point he made is the power of our thoughts and our mind to impact our future.

If we fear something, often we actually live into that very fear. Again, please don’t misunderstand. I’m speaking about fear and the grip and influence it CAN have. I’m not at all saying that all of our sicknesses and diseases came because we thought them into being.

Fear Not

God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear is straight from hell.

Years after this comment from my doctor, I listened to a Ted Talk on the power of our thoughts. He told a story of a patient told he was dying of terminal cancer. He was given 3 months to live. 3 months later he died. The autopsy revealed he had no cancer. He was told he was dying. He believed he was dying. He died in 3 months. This story has never left me.

Over the last year, God has brought my way more information, more books, more conversations, more sermons on the power of our minds than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t believe that is a coincidence.

Recently, one very dear to me confessed a deep fear of cancer in their future. They’ve never had a scare, but it surrounds us. Because years ago God brought people and conversations into my life on this very thing, I knew how to talk to this person. We began casting out fear knowing it’s not from God. We began praying God’s Word claiming a sound mind.

It’s Our Choice

I’m choosing to speak life, think life, live in God’s light.

Will bad things happen still? Yes. Will sickness and death happen despite our happy thoughts? Yes.

Am I saying we just think and talk happy and nothing bad happens? For sure, not. Not at all.

We live in a fallen world. Sickness, death, sadness will be all around us. One day every tear will be wiped away. That is our hope.

We can choose to speak words of life, hope, goodness, and love.

When we see the hint of godliness in our kids, let’s speak it out loud to them. When we see them encourage a friend to tell the truth rather than lie, speak that out to them. “You are a young man who walks in truth and honesty. I love that about you.”

When we see them wake up to their alarm on their own, we can say, “I love your initiative and self-discipline to wake up and handle your business on your own. I can’t wait to see how that serves you well in the future.”

When we see them walk away from a sibling argument, we can say, “I noticed you exercised self control over your tongue. Thank you for being a person who seeks peace.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

Lord, equip us to use our tongues wisely. Guard our minds from believing lies or listening to the voice of fear, which is not your voice. Make us attentive to You. Speak life into us that we may be so filled by You that You flow out of us to all around us. Amen.

P.S.

Have you read Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf? It’s an excellent read I highly recommend. She combines the science of the brain with the Creator of our minds. It’s fascinating and unlike many books of its type, it’s not written over our abilities to process the information shared. She also has a fantastic podcast I love listening to. It’s short and impactful each episode.

P.S.S

If you are looking to experience God in fresh and intimate ways, I invite you to grab your copy of Illuminate today. It’s 14 days of devotions centered on who God says He is.

Illuminate will give you a practical way to learn to switch your focus and stop giving more attention to fear than to the One who says ‘fear not’.

If you are tired of living by fear, anxiety, and worry, Illuminate will be a sweet balm to your soul. It’s available in 2 formats: Ebook and Audio (with pdf download).

Here’s what some are saying:

ebook devotional

Get the ebook version here.

Get the audio devotional here.