Monday, December 29, 2014

Finding Balance while Managing your Home

“Just remember, moderation is the key” is what my dad wrote on my 21st birthday card. Although he was trying to give me some helpful advice as I ventured out into the world of cocktails, white wine and craft beer, I have found this advice helpful in many areas of my life. 

There is one area though, where this advice does not apply: faith. We are not to approach our faith in God in moderation. In fact, our relationship with God should be THE most important part of our life. Our daily activities, decisions, thoughts, and behaviors should spill from our love of God. 

How do we make God the center of our lives while managing a million other things that at times, seem to have no connection to our faith? 

How do we keep a balanced lifestyle and still keep God as our number one priority?

How do we keep a balanced lifestyle when our to-do list is longer than our grocery receipt and has everything on it including calling your mom, deadlines at work, shopping, exercising, church activities and date nights? 

The problem with my to-do list is time. I feel overwhelmed because I simply do not have the time in the day or week to complete all of the tasks on my to-do list.  That is discouraging.  I decided I needed a plan to make my 2015 productive, balanced, and Christ-centered.

Here is my 2015 Homemaking Resolution:

1.       Incorporate prayer in to every activity of my day. In addition to beginning my day with a quiet time, I want to meet up with God in the shower, in the car, on a walk with the dog, while playing with my son, and while cooking. There is no place where God and I can’t hang out. 

2.       Prioritize my daily to-do list based on my values and my beliefs. We can’t do it all, so we have to pick and choose based on what is most important to us and to God. By surveying your to-do lists based on your faith and your family values, it becomes easier to cross off, eliminate, or post-pone any activities that are less important.

3.       Know that my perfectly planned to-do list can change in a second. There will always be unexpected events that happen in our life. We cannot control or prevent them from happening; however, we can control how we react to them. The more balanced and centered you are in your daily activities and the more grounded you are in God, the less frenzied you will feel when the unexpected event happens. 

4.       Bring WWJD into my decision making. Another key ingredient to staying balanced is being smart about what we say yes and no to. Moms and wives often times end up being the manager of the home life; making all the plans for travel, parties, play dates, bible studies, date nights and acts of service. We constantly have to make decisions which usually involve a yes, we will do that or no, we will not do that. There have been many occasions where I have said yes to something because it felt like the right thing to do, only to end up overwhelmed, stressed and in a sour mood. In the New Year, I want to pause and pray before making any decision, big or small. I want to ask the age old question: what would Jesus do? What does God want me to do? What is best for my family and I?

Being busy is not necessarily better, and being bored is not always a good thing. It’s all about bringing God into your home manager duties and finding out what He wants you to do. After all, God knows us better than we know ourselves!

Making New Year’s resolutions is all about being a better person in the New Year. Often times people will add something that they think will make them a better person or they eliminate something from their life which they think they would be better off without. However, I believe it can be so much more than that.

What if we changed the way we lived by living a balanced lifestyle from Gods point of view, involving Him in our decision making, to-do lists, and unexpected emergencies. I think it’s possible; will you give it a try?

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own". (Matthew 6:33).  

This post is linked up to the following Linkups:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trust & Obey: Mary's Story

Do you ever wait to know the outcome before agreeing to something?  

When God asks you to do something do you obey? Or, do you wait to see just how painful, exciting or beneficial the outcome will be? 

When Mary was told that she was pregnant with God’s son she replied: “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). 

Just like that she obeyed God. She did not doubt, refuse, or think she might have gone crazy. Being a virgin and being pregnant was impossible by the world’s standards, yet she based her life on God’s standards. All that mattered to Mary was that God was asking her to do something. 

When Mary heard the great news that she would be giving birth to God’s son she exclaimed “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is his name” (Luke 1:48-49). 

Not only was Mary obeying God and accepting something that seemed impossible, she also exclaimed that she was blessed! She recognized that God was giving her a gift, she accepted it, and praised God for it. It did not matter what the outcome would be. It was a blessing because it was from God.

How would our lives be different if we obeyed God in a timely fashion? What would it take for you to obey God without delay or doubt? For me, it comes down to trust. If I really and truly trust God, then I won’t wait to see what the outcome will be. 

Father God, thank you for sending your son Jesus to be born Holy and then take on the sin of the world. You give us hope and life; therefore, we owe you our life. We give ourselves to you and promise to obey you, love you and trust you. Amen.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The New Year's Resolution for Every New Mom

No sparkly dress, no sling back pumps, no hot red lips, no midnight kiss, no cab ride home. Glass of champagne? Sure, right after I finish drinking my mother’s milk tea. 

My first New Year’s Eve as a new mom was different, and is one I will never forget. My son was 6 days old, my husband was working, and I was alone with my new born babe, a bowl of mac and cheese, and a glass of champagne that I was afraid to drink because I was a first time nursing mom.  

I can remember the feel of my sons tiny body in my arms, the sense of awe and wonder I felt nursing him, and the warmth and security I felt in that tiny apartment with my baby in my arms and the glowing Christmas tree beside me. I remember not having a care in the world except for loving on my sweet new baby. I can remember the sense of overwhelming joy that I felt knowing that God had blessed me with the hard yet wonderful job of raising and loving one of His children. 

That special night will most likely never happen again. Even with a second, third, or fourth baby, the likely hood that I would have an evening in my living room, uninterrupted, with just my baby is not probable. 

For all of the first time moms who are trying to figure out just what happened to their old life and how much they need to do prepare for the New Year, I want to remind you of this. 

There will come a time when you will not be able to hold your baby all night long. There will come a time when your toddler goes to bed at 7 and you don’t dare make a peep for fear he won’t go back to sleep. There will come a time when you will pay the babysitter, squeeze into that sparkly dress and have a night out on the town with your hubby. 

There will come a time when you drive your teenage kids to their first new year’s party, and are asked to stop a few houses back for fear of being seen. Then one day, a long time from now, there will be that day when your son or daughter texts you from their house on the other side of the country to say happy New Year. 

So, new mom, I want you to know, that I would do anything to go back to that special night when I held my new born all night long. If I could go back to that night, my resolution would be oh so simple. It would not be to fit into my pre pregnancy jeans again or to pump more after every feeding. It would not be to read more parenting books on sleep training or when to introduce a bottle. No, my one and only New Year’s resolution would be to hold that baby more. To savor every moment of being able to sit in one place for hours and hours holding, loving and staring into those beautiful eyes. 

My mother always told me you can never spoil a baby and now I know that is absolutely true. So if you’re looking for a new year’s resolution I’ve got just the one for you:  hold and rock that new born as long and as often as you like.

When We Pretend to Smile

What if you don’t feel like smiling? What if the very fact you have to pretend to be happy makes Christmas day, a birthday party, a play date with your kids, an office party, or a vacation something you dread? 

There is a brick on your heart; there is a cloud over your mind. There is something in your life, something big, that takes over and causes you to have ill feelings. 

Maybe, it’s your baby who went to be with the Lord before you had a chance to meet them, or the child you know and love who gets sicker by the day. Or maybe, it’s the fact that Christmas is weeks away and you still don’t have a job or a way to pay your bills.  Your child’s birthday is tomorrow, and you don’t have the money in your bank account to buy a present. You have a New Year’s party to go to with your spouse, who has asked you for a separation. Or you have to spend a week with a family member whose behaviors and hurtful words tear the family apart. 

Whatever the situation may be, it is causing you pain, anxiety, or heartbreak that you just can’t cover up. You believe in God and you love God. You know that you have many blessings in your life, and that you should be thankful for them; yet, this one situation is robbing you of the joy you could be feeling. You feel angry that despite your hard work and faith in God, these bad things are happening to you.  

What do you do? Do you pretend to smile, or do you allow yourself to cry?

You cry. Because that is what our bodies do when we feel sad. Then, you rejoice. You rejoice in your sufferings because that is what God tells us to do. And no, your smile will not be fake. It will be real, because it comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul writes in Romans 5:2-5 “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”. 

You see, when you become a Christian, God does not promise you will be free from hardships or suffering. In fact, it is almost a guarantee that at some point in your life you will have major hardships, pain and suffering. 

What God did promise, is that He will use those difficulties to help us grow in character. Even more, God has given us the Holy Spirit, which provides us with all the power and love that we could ever need to get through life’s painful times. 

We don’t have to fake being happy, nor do we have to wonder how we will get through the day. As Christians, we already have living within us, the power to feel joyful and have a joyful day. The key to tapping into this power and love that is already within you, is by believing and trusting in this ability and asking God to provide it. 

I like to think of the power and love of the Holy Spirit as the tears in my eyes. They are always there, in endless amounts, but they won’t flow freely from my eyes until my heart and mind react to something. I can’t just tell myself to cry and expect to cry. I have to go deeper than that. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is always there, ready to take over your heart and mind when you need it, but it’s not going to take over if you don’t believe it, accept it, and invite it to. 

We stand in grace, we are free from sin, and we have the power to overcome life’s most difficult circumstances. Will you invite the Holy Spirit to take over your heart and mind and put a real smile on your heart?

For more, read and pray over Romans 5:1-11.
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