Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Best Thing I Did for My Marriage

With a small budget and plans to completely re-decorate the master bedroom in a year or two we decided to go with simple, inexpensive decorations to get us by. I found some wall art that said “always kiss me goodnight”. I thought it was sweet, and since I agreed with the message, I decided it would be suitable to go above our bed. 

I never expected to be staring at it one night trying to figure out how to take it down without ruining the walls. I didn’t really want to take it down, but I certainly did not feel like kissing him goodnight, and I needed a way to express my anger. We had had a disagreement and I felt hurt, annoyed, and confused. 

The conversation started out like any other conversation, but it started to unravel as we began misunderstanding each other, thinking selfishly, and refusing to shut our big mouths.  We were not listening to God, and we were not listening to each other. We were allowing our emotions and selfishness to take center stage. This obviously did not end well. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Having good communication is essential in every marriage and relationship. However, sometimes that communication does not involve talking. There are times when we simply need to listen, there are times when we need to speak up, and there are times when we need to reach down deep and find words of kindness and love despite how bitter we may be feeling.

Life is complicated and people are confusing. That is why, no matter how well you know and love someone, it is still inevitable that your communication will go down the drain at some point.  

In my younger years I used to use the phrase “when all else fails, pray” quite a bit. Now, I could not disagree with this more. Prayer should not come as a last resort. Instead, it should come first. When prayer comes first, there is no last resort. 

In Mark 11:24-25 Jesus writes: “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” 

This Bible verse, which has no direct correlation to verbal communication with your spouse, has had a life changing impact on my marriage.  I would be lying if I said we never have disagreements; however, they happen far less often than they used too. 

Whenever I am having ill feelings towards my husband, no matter how big or small, I reach for this verse and go to God in prayer. This verse first reminds me to forgive my husband for whatever it is I am holding against him, and that likewise, God is forgiving me for having the ill feelings. Then, He reminds me to believe with all my heart and soul that whatever I am asking God for, I will receive. 

When I do these 3 things: forgive my husband, know that I am forgiven, and believe that what I ask for will be given to me, I immediately feel better. Sometimes God shows me that I am really the problem and need to be the one to change. Other times, I feel God telling me to remain silent and allow God to work through my husband. There are still times when, after prayer, I do approach my husband with my concerns and I find that my head is clearer and I am better able to understand the complexity of the issue. 

When I look back on that night when I wanted to rip apart our wall art, I realize what the problem was. God wasn’t there. Technically He was there, because He is everywhere all the time. However, I was not open to receiving his wisdom, grace, and love. I was running on my own batteries which consisted of selfishness, emotions, and lack of self-control. 

You might be wondering, did we end up kissing each other goodnight? Yes, we did, but only by the grace of God and humor. When my husband came upstairs to apologize he found me with my hair dryer attached to an extension cord trying to peel off the letter A. It was such a ridiculous sight that he started laughing, and I did too. 

Our marriage is not perfect, and it never will be. However, since tapping into some of God’s most helpful marriage advice, we kiss each other goodnight, every night.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another : Why We can Love that Phrase

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”  Since becoming a parent, I have said or thought this to myself on a daily basis. There is always something that we are teaching, training, or working on with our son. 

At the time, I can recall thinking sleep training would be the end of me. We were so relieved the first evening he slept through the night. We gave each other a high five in the morning and talked about how nice things would be now that we didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night. How naive we were! That afternoon our little guy discovered he could sit up on his own. Yay! We thought, until we realized we had to do the sleep training all over again. 

Our son then learned how to crawl, walk, eat with a fork, listen and respect, and then talk. We just got through with potty training and now it’s time to think about moving to the big boy bed! As soon as one thing is over, we are on to the next thing. 

Do we complain or hope that he slows down in his development so that we can have a break? No way! I might casually complain about lack of sleep, or the amount of poop I have cleaned up that day, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. We want our children to develop, and we don’t want to hinder them. Development is a good thing; it’s all part of growing up and becoming responsible adults.  

There will come a time when, as parents, we will have a break from the continuous disciplining and training. Our children will leave the nest, with a head full of knowledge and skills that we have taught them, and they will form their own family. 

Does the development then stop? Does the continuous training, disciplining and guiding stop? Does the phrase ‘if it’s not one thing, it’s another’ finally slow down? For earthly parents it does slow down; however, our Heavenly Father is just getting started. 

God develops, disciplines, and trains us for our entire lives. Just like in childhood, that is a good thing. If we are not growing in our faith, if God is not training and disciplining us, then where are we going? 

The authors of Hebrews, chapter 12, discuss how life is like a race. Our relationship with God is the race track, and Heaven is the finish line. We will never be free from sin so we are on a continuous race until we get to heaven. God brings us closer to Him by guiding, training, and disciplining us. It will be exhausting and painful at times, but that’s a good thing, because it means we are making progress and getting closer to the finish line.

Although sleep training, potty training and disciplining are not fun, we don’t hold back from it for a second because it is absolutely necessary for their development. Ironically, when our children become adults, we need to step back, let them fall, and learn to rely on God for strength and grace. 

Likewise, we as adults need to understand that we are not done with our race. We will still fall, we will make mistakes, we will sin, and in doing so, we will grow and develop into the people God created us to be. 

Hebrews 12: 7-8 says “endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined, (and everyone undergoes discipline) then you are illegitimate children and not true sons”. 

In order to enter heaven feeling confident that we have run a good race, we must allow God to discipline us. We must accept that “if it’s not one thing, it’s another” will not always feel like a burden. As the shackles in the form of sin begin to fall off of us the race will seem lighter. As your relationship with God grows, the peace, joy and satisfaction that can only be found through God will shine. 

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another” will always be our circumstances, because God is always at work in our lives, molding and shaping us in His image. 

Often times, when we work hard at something, we want to see the results right away. In our life here on earth, we will reap the rewards from obeying and serving God, however; our real reward will come when we spend eternity in Heaven. 

Every amount of hard work, training, and discipline that you instill in your children will guide them closer to becoming responsible, civil adults. Every minute you spend teaching your children about Jesus will help plant seeds of faith into their hearts. Every time you open your Bible, pray to God, and ask God to work in your life, you are accepting God’s training and discipline on your life. Accept this with open arms, trusting that the rewards will far out way any discomfort that will be felt.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11-13). 

This post is linked up to the following Link Up

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy Moms, Happy Kids

To read this full article I wrote for Moms Magazine click here Link to Full Article
You have heard the term happy wife-happy life. Well, this applies to our children too. Adapt this one concept into your life and be a happy mom with happy kids.  To Read this full article click here Link to Full Article

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Are Smartphones Changing the Way we Parent?

This Article Was Originally Featured In Moms Magazine. Click the Link to Read the Full Article. Link to Full Article at Moms Magazine
We are white noise people. My husband and I will toss and turn all night if there is not some sort of background noise. So naturally, we put a white noise machine in our baby’s room the night we returned from the hospital. Being the overly prepared mom that I am, I have numerous white noise apps on my smartphone just in case the power goes out, or I need some white noise while shopping in Target.

It never dawned on me that this was causing any harm on my child. When my mother started questioning if all of the apps I was using were really necessary or helpful to the baby, I started to re-think my obsession with my phone. While baby boomers would have been lucky to have a sound monitor, today’s parent has thousands of parenting apps to choose from that entertain, teach and keep their kids safe...Link to Full Article at Moms Magazine

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Fight of A Family Man: A Guest Post by My Husband

There comes a time in every man’s life where things become more real to them, life itself brings on a whole new responsibility.  ME had become a distant yesterday in a split second, and WE becomes your marching orders.  My days no longer consisted of whether I’ve gotten my lift in, if I can meet my boys for a beer after work, or whether or not I can squeeze in a round of golf on Saturday morning with a few colleagues.  

For me this realization supplanted itself December 25, 2012 as I stared my newly born, perfect little boy in the eyes.  Holding him to my chest for a brief second as I handed him off to my wife, I recall looking up into the sky, thanking God for this moment.   

In the hours that followed I caught myself on several occasions in what felt like an out of body experience.  It was as if I was looking down on the beauty that has just transpired, my boy sleeping soundly on my wife’s chest, with me on my knees beside the bed and my arms around them.  

This is your team I thought to myself, this is your unit, and forever you will fight to ensure their well-being.  

We live in a society where the expectation of effortless perfection has become the assumed outcome for our lives.  We expect through little effort, the perfect marriage, perfect home life, perfect children, and to be able to provide the perfect things to make that happen.  

In reality, the burden of doing so inhibits our ability to focus on the fight we should be waging; the fight to empower and love our spouses and children to be the people God created them to be.  

Woody Hayes, a childhood hero of mine and former coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, once said “anything easy ain’t worth a darn!”  While Woody may have been talking about football, let’s relate this to life.  As mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands, we want our relationships to be meaningful; we want to make an impact for the good – but as we all have come to realize, it “ain’t easy” and it’s surely “worth a darn.”  

SO FIGHT!  When your spouse comes home discouraged, fight their defeat with optimism and empowerment.  As your child goes off to school, bolster their confidence to be Christ centered leaders amongst their peers.  Each and every day we will be presented with the easy way out, a corner to cut which seeks to serve only our own self-interests.  This is the fight!  So lead from the front, find your strength from the Lord, and allow God to use you in amazing ways.      
These acts are our most solemn responsibilities as husbands, as fathers, as men.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”  The apostle Paul wrote these final words in a letter to his disciple Timothy as Paul awaited his execution in prison.  

This fight is real, and your enemies surround you day by day.  So fight for your wife, fight for your children, and fight yourself to be the father and husband God created you to be.

Maintaining Healthy Friendships: What to Do When Your Kids Don't Get Along with Hers

This Article was Originally Featured in Moms Magazine. To Read the Full Article Click Here: Link to Full Article in Moms Magazine
What do you do when your children do not get along with your friends’ children, or your siblings’ children? What do you do when your weekly play date with your closest girlfriends turns into an awkward, stressful, battle that you dread going to?

No matter what the specific situation, it is never easy when your children don’t get along with someone you love and care about. For most moms, it brings up many unsettling, confusing feelings. On one hand, this person means the world to you, but on the other hand, your child always comes first. Is it possible to maintain your friendship while still keeping the kids best interest in mind? Click Here for Full Article

Monday, January 19, 2015

Do You Use Timeouts? Why We All Need One

Are you using timeouts? No, I don’t mean your 5 year old standing in the corner for 5 minutes. What I mean is; are YOU using timeouts, for yourself?

Mom timeouts are essential. 

After days of being alone with my newborn for 14 plus hours a day, by myself, I started to go a little stir crazy. I felt guilty for wanting to be alone. The baby was such a blessing, a gift from God, how could I secretly want some time away? 

I pushed my feelings aside and kept them private. How could I complain about being able to stay home full time with my baby when so many women would do anything to be able to stay home? How could I complain about needing a break to my husband who would go days without seeing our son?

After spending some much needed time with God, and sharing my thoughts with friends and family, I finally came to my senses. I was not a bad mom for needing a timeout away from my child. In fact, I was being a bad mom for not taking a timeout. 

You see, we are all sinful, human beings, who have feelings, emotions, personalities and temperaments. No amount of love can keep us from acting on our sinful tendencies from time to time. If I allow my feelings to drive my actions, I am in big trouble. 

Even though I cannot imagine loving my child any more than I do, I am still going to get annoyed, hurt, or frustrated with my child from time to time. Although I am only being human when I act on my feelings, I am not being the mom that God says I can be. 

Incorporating mom timeouts into my daily routine has made me a better mom. Taking 5 minutes to myself allows me to express my negative feelings to God, ask God for self-control and wisdom, and regroup with my family with a changed heart and mind. Sometimes, I will open my Bible and God will speak right to my situation. Other times, I realize during those 5 minutes my short tempter and irritability is due to the fact that I have not eaten enough that day and that grabbing a snack would make me feel a whole lot better.  

Now that I have a toddler, these mom timeouts have become even more important. I use them daily, sometimes multiple times a day. I find that when my inner thoughts start becoming all about me, that I am getting into hot water and am in need of a break. Thoughts such as “nobody cares that I have not eaten, used the bathroom, or brushed my teeth today” or “why am I the only one that does everything in this house” are a tell-tale sign that I am not operating in a healthy state of mind. 

In reality, I could probably use a good 2 hours to myself to do a full on devotional, take a shower, complete a yoga DVD, and eat lunch, but that is just not possible on most days. I have to pick and choose what I do during my ‘free time’, so taking mom timeouts to recharge my battery has been a life saver. 

The days when my child is extremely needy are the days when I need timeouts the most; but they are the days when it is almost impossible to find 5 minutes to myself.  When my son was a baby, I would use nap time, a walk around the block, or swing time to take my break. Now that he is older, I have done everything from putting on a TV show, pretending to go to the bathroom, sneaking to the other side of the room when he is playing by himself, to actually telling my son that I am going to ‘meet with God’ for five minutes and that he needs to play cars by himself. 

If your child is not one who likes to play by himself you could set a timer for him (and yourself) that way they know when you will be done. 

When I take my timeouts I usually pray, read scripture, or do some deep breathing. I have on more than one occasion screamed into a pillow, and if my timeout falls around 5:00PM I just may pour myself a glass of wine. 

On days when the meltdowns get to be too much, and I'm just not thinking straight, I reach for my go-to Bible verses that provide me with strength, encouragement, and hope. I have listed a few of them below. Feel free to save them, print them, or pin them!

I am praying for you mom. Remember, you are not alone! Don’t forget to take your timeout and lean on God for your strength!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...