Everyone has probably been to a “White Elephant Gift Exchange” and if you don’t know what it is, think about a gift you received in the past. It could be something that you smiled and said thank you but knew it wasn’t something you would use. It’s probably still in the box! Got it? Now for the white elephant gift exchange, you would wrap it up and bring it to the party – without knowing whom would take it home.
When it is time for the gift exchange, you would draw numbers or have your name chosen from a hat. When it is your turn, you select any gift from the table and take it back to your seat to open it.
Now the next name or number is up and they can choose to either steal the gift from the first person or opt to select one of the unopened gifts from the table. If they take your gift, then you get to steal a gift from someone else (not the same person that stole yours) or select another unopened package from the table.
The further down the list you land either through number or name, the more gifts have been opened and your choice switches from the “unknown” gifts on the table or something someone else is holding.
This continues until everyone has a gift. It may not be a gift you like…but the exchange is complete.
Every year we attend holiday parties that have this white elephant gift exchange as part of the evening events. Our family does this as part of our family reunion each year.
I personally enjoy watching the exchange play out, and watching people get really upset when someone steals their gift is funny, considering most of the exchanges have a cash limit that is usually pretty low value.
However, I do believe there are some life lessons that we can learn from a white elephant gift exchange.
- Hold onto physical things lightly.
As in this exchange, the gift you just opened or stole from someone else can be taken away in a heartbeat. While this is part of the game, it’s also part of life – when the stakes are so much higher than a trinket. How fast can everything be lost in a fire, theft, accident, or an investment? In less time that you can react, you can lose physical things you may have placed too high a value on. While having nice things is nice, if we place too high a value on them, it can be devastating to lose them. We can’t take the “things” we collect with us to Heaven, and being willing to let them go when they can be used to help another person blesses us as well as them.
- Rejoice in the relationships.
Games like this gift exchange will expose the condition of the relationships of those participating. If the participants have a close and loving relationship, it is a fun activity. Yes, mock shock and horror may be exclaimed, but the laughter and fellowship with each other top you having lost that little trinket. This exchange can also show where the cracks are in the relationships of the group of people. Does someone feel left out? Does someone really get upset when their gift is stolen? When you look at the group gathered together to celebrate, does this person always seem to be on the fringe of the group? That is the relationship that you need to invest in and build.
Our relationships need to be focused on the fellowship and heart strings with each other and not on the little gift or “things” others can do for us. Relationships are not about us. They are not about what you can do for me. They need to be about how together we are better than when we are alone.
- Be generous in all things.
In the game, being generous could be that you brought something that was super popular, or valued at more than the guidelines, or perhaps something that several of the participants could really use. This gift that you brought (remember though that no one is supposed to know where the gift came from), may be stolen a dozen times before it ends up in the hands of the person that will take it home.
The last time I participated in a white elephant gift exchange, I was the last person to take a turn. I had watched as gifts were opened and so I knew what everyone had in their hands. There was one unwrapped gift on the table. I finally chose to steal a gift instead of taking the last wrapped gift from the table. The gift I selected had already been stolen several times because it was a neat gift and one that most of us would be able to use at home.
Oh the disappointment and hurt on the person’s face when I stole her cherished gift. She was really upset over it, although she herself had stolen the gift from someone else when it was her turn. Upset or not, the gift was mine to take because that’s how the gift exchange works. As I sat looking at my gift, I noticed the person that had to select the last wrapped gift off the table was holding her new gift and was trying to keep up her composure for the party, but it was clear she was disappointed.
The gift in my hands fairly quickly lost the “joy” gained by acquiring it through the game. I had not meant to hurt anyone, but my actions had caused another pain. I started considering if I really wanted or needed the gift. I didn’t, it was cute but it would probably end up in the next garage sale or packed away until another holiday party needed a white elephant gift.
I thought about what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I got up and walked over to the person that I had taken it from and re-gifted it to her. Did I have to do that? Nope, not at all. Would I have been justified to keep the item? Sure, I had gained control of it through the rules of the exchange. But, I also knew that it wasn’t something that I needed so I gave it back with a hug and a wish that she would get enjoyment out of the item. Her joy and smile meant more to me than the trinket.
In Hebrews 13:5 Paul writes: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Ladies, during the holiday season when we are often focused on things around us and forget the real reason for the season; let’s stop and refocus on Jesus. He was the Ultimate Gift sent from God. He was the only way for us to have a relationship with God.
As busy as things get around the holidays, we need to remember to value people and relationships over physical things, and to be generous with our time and “things” because of how grateful we are for what God has done for us and for others in our life.
While the holiday season may bring our attention to others more, it shouldn’t be the only time we practice these life lessons. Let’s start the New Year with a commitment to ourselves and those sisters in Christ to be there for each other. Together we are stronger than when we are alone.
Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”
How do we fulfill God’s purpose in our lives? I believe it comes from when we allow ourselves to not only hear God’s word; but apply it in our lives when we are experiencing the tests of circumstances. It is during these trials that we must literally depend on God’s power to act in our lives to allow the disaster to pass.
If there is one thing that’s important to me it is reliability. When I turn on the light switch I expect the lights to come on. When I turn my car keys on I expect the car to start. Reliability is important to all of us, and all too often we can’t find it when we need it most from this world.
Proverbs 25:19 states: “Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.”
If you have ever had a bad foot or a bad tooth you know how worthless they are until dealt with properly. Contrast the unreliability of the world with the confident assurance we have in God.
In Psalm 55 we find David in hiding from Saul, most likely in the cave of Adullam. He was hiding from Saul but depending upon God for deliverance. The stress that Saul put David under with death threats cannot be underestimated, but David survived this time in his life because he trusted in God to deliver him.
And let’s look at Psalm 57:1 where David pleads with God for mercy and then confidently proclaims that he will take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings until the disaster has passed. David would be unable to express that faith unless he had experienced God’s deliverance time after time.
Make no mistake about it, that faith grows when we hear God’s word, apply it in our lives, and experience the test of circumstances when we literally depend on God’s power to act in our lives to allow the disaster to pass.
God is faithful and David affirms this joyously in Psalm 57:10 “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness to the skies.”
You cannot say what David said about the reliability of God unless you have trusted God time after time in the most difficult of circumstances, and God has delivered you through them every single time. God is faithful to act IF we will call on him for such help every time.
That expectation fulfilled builds confident trust in the Lord that he will act on our behalf.
When that confidence becomes a fundamental part of our thinking and our attitude of expectation, then we may have an explosion of faith in our lives, and when we do, we will more fully understand Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength.”
The material point of Psalm 57 describing God’s faithful help in times of trouble is found in our devotional text, when David passionately affirms in faith that God will act when he cries out to fulfill God’s intended purposes for him through his life.
God doesn’t simply save us or protect us so that we might do whatever!
No, God saves us so that he might fulfill his plan and purpose for us in this life (Jeremiah 29:11). Even in the swirling waters of life we can be serene and calm, knowing that whatever God calls us to do, he will ensure his power to enable us to do it every single time.
Will you trust a reliable God?
Today Lord, I will trust you with my very life, and I will cry out to your for your power to fulfill your purposes through me. Amen.
This month our study is on Hope. What is it? How to we make sure we never lose hope? It is something that we can really claim to understand?
When I was younger I thought hope was along the same line as a wish. I hoped for this or that to happen. I hoped (wished) things would change. Now I know it isn’t the same. Hope is so much more. For me a wish is just wanting things to be different while hope involves more of my heart.
As a woman of faith, I know that my hope should always be in the Lord. Scriptural hope is a heartfelt belief. I believe in the Lord, I know that He is always there for me. My hope is in His love and mercies.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24
For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15
Before accepting Christ, I was without hope. There were months when I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to those in my life. Everything I tried and worked so hard to accomplish was never good enough. I always fell short and ended up feeling worse than when I started.
I look back now and see that my hope was in myself and not in Christ. I had bought into the worldly position that I was in control of my life and if I only worked hard and long enough, I could have the desires of my heart. Well, that didn’t work out quite the way I had expected.
I found myself alone with two young girls and no home or job. I was broken and alone. I really didn’t know where to turn. I also had too much pride to ask for help. I accepted all the labels of the world. I was a failure, I was inadequate, and I was not worthy of being happy.
So I dug in and struggled to make ends meet. I returned to school and eventually started a business which supported us. However, I was miserable and oh so lonely. I was tired of fighting for everything I had. I knew my life was hopeless and that I was just going through the motions of living and being a mom to my girls.
Then one day my heart was ready to listen. Perhaps I needed to struggle so long just so that I could finally get to the place that my heart was tender enough for the Word to pierce through the hard shell I had built to protect myself.
Once I accepted that I was worthy and loved…by of all people Jesus; the walls of self protection started to come down. I opened my heart and allowed His Love to start shining light on all the dark areas in my life. I learned that my hope needs to be in Christ. He is the one that will always be there as long as I remain faithful.
Since that dark time in my life I have done my best to remain faithful. I can also joyfully share that Christ has been faithful to me too. He has been my rock. He has been where my hope has been well placed. He has never failed me.
Do I still struggle at times? Sure. As long as we are this side of Glory there will be struggles and suffering. The difference is now I know that I am not alone. Christ is with me. Even when I stumble and fall, I know that Christ still loves me and that I am worthy.
I have a couple of special verses that I refer to often when things are tough:
But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. – Psalm 71:14
Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off. – Proverbs 23:18
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
They have given me strength because they are buried in my heart. I write them down. I pray them and repeat them when I feel that I am struggling. My body is weak, and I know that I will continue to fall short of what I should be doing for the kingdom. But having the hope of eternity with Christ makes all the struggles of this world worth it.
If you are struggling with hope and have accepted the labels of the world to describe yourself, stop now. Stop and put down those burdens of guilt and turn to the One that can offer you a future. A personal relationship with Christ is the only answer to having and understanding what having hope for a future really means. Start by reading the Word. Spend time looking up verses on hope and you will soon see that you are loved. You are worthy. You can have eternal peace and hope in Christ.
Do you find it easy to forgive others when they hurt you? How about forgiving others that hurt you over and over again even when you have told them that what they are doing bothers you?
I struggle with forgiving those closest to me. I mean shouldn’t they be more careful to not hurt or offend me since they care about me?
Yeah, that is a selfish as it reads. When I think about all the times I go to my heavenly father and ask for forgiveness for the same things over and over, and yes over again; I have wondered if He gets tired of hearing me and wonders if I really mean it this time.
I presented my feelings once in a class and the group stopped to talk about forgiveness. What is it? What does it include? What should be excluded?
Let’s talk about what Forgiveness is…
Forgiveness is submitting to scripture and honoring God. It is His right to take care of justice. When we don’t forgive, and turn it over to God, we are saying that we don’t trust Him to handle it properly.
Romans 12:19 – Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Forgiveness is a multi step process. We can’t always just say, “I forgive” and be over the hurt. Sometimes we have to forgive as we heal, and that might take time. During painful events, I pray for God to give me the grace needed to forgive as I heal.
Forgiveness is a requirement. However, when we find that we are having to forgive the same person for the same offense over and over, we need to look at that relationship and perhaps set boundaries. If we allow someone to continue to have the power to hurt us, we will become bitter and they are not going to change their behavior.
Forgiveness is based on our heart condition and attitude. We can choose to forgive someone and ask God for the grace to let it go as our heart heals.
Okay for let’s talk about what Forgiveness isn’t…
Forgiveness is not allowing the other person to get away with their actions or not be held accountable.
Forgiveness is not allowing someone to hurt us over and over. If a situation exists like this, the relationship needs to be reviewed and boundaries put into place if you want to continue having a relationship with that person.
Forgiveness is not denying there is a problem or becoming the martyr. It isn’t okay for someone to continue to hurt you. However, sometimes we have to face the fact that there are individuals that are just obnoxious, mean, or unstable. When we are in a relationship like this, we have to face that they will not change their behavior but we can change the way we react or interact with them.
This world is full of evil. There will always be people that will hurt us. We have the choice of holding the pain inside and becoming bitter and angry or forgiving and allowing God to heal our hearts.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have forgotten the offense. There will be times when you will see or do something that will bring those memories back to your mind. Instead of allowing those memories to bring you pain from the past, try thanking God that you were able through His grace to forgive.
Another area that I struggle with when I am allowing the things in my life to keep me too busy to spend enough time in the Word and in prayer is admitting that I have taken offense where none may have been meant. Sometimes I just get my feelings hurt and honestly have no valid reason to back it up. You know, that “look” someone gave me, or the person that didn’t speak to me.
During these times when I am feeling put upon or picked on (all in my mind and because I have allowed the world to draw me in to doubt and fear); I will post this scripture all around the house as a reminder.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says: Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense is the mark of a fool.
I pray that as we grow closer to God, we are slower to anger and to take offense. This only comes through daily time in the Word. Take time to read and study your bible daily. Spend as much time as you can in prayer. Allow both the word of God and His love heal your hurts. And if you are reading this, understand that I am not talking about abuse when I talk about someone hurting you. Abuse is never okay and should never be tolerated. Please seek help if you are in a relationship that you are physically or emotionally in danger.
Do you ever wonder why we should pray? I mean, if God knows everything, why should we have to pray? Doesn’t He already know what we need and what we have done?
I do believe He knows, but I also believe we are instructed to pray. Praying shows our love for Him and others. It is a way for us to not only show show our gratitude, but to open our hearts to His Word. Our prayers are also our avenue to honor Him as well as to make our petitions known.
Throughout the Word, we are given instructions and examples to pray.
We are instructed to “Pray continually..” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Romans 12:12 reminds us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
We are instructed that we should pray in Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray..”
Ephesians 6:18 reminds us that we should “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
We are instructed on how to pray in Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray..”
And Colossians 4:2 tells us that we should “Devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
We are even instructed for whom we should pray in Matthew 5:44, “Pray for those who persecute you”.
And again in 1 Timothy 2:1 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…”
We are also shown examples by Jesus praying regularly himself. His examples show us that we not only should pray but that we need to have time to pray alone and away from others.
Matthew 14:23 “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”
In Matthew 26:36 Jesus told His disciples “…Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
And in Mark 1:35, “…Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
And finally, we are told the reason for prayer is that it gives us power over evil. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
I don’t think the question we should be asking is why we should pray, but rather why we are not always praying..
Prayer is always available to us and it always strengthens the bonds of our faith and those around us. Prayer should be our first action not the one we fall back on when we have tried everything else we know of to solve a problem.
Philippians 4:6 reads: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
So yes, God knows what we need. He knows what we want. He knows what we have done..long before the words are formed in our thoughts or lifted in prayer. The reason we should pray is because we need the contact with our Heavenly Father. We need to be able to go to Him with the needs and desires of our heart. We need a safe place to confess the mistakes we have made and know that He loves us and will forgive us.
My prayer is that each of us will make spending time in prayer a priority in our lives and not a stop gap for when we need emergency back up. Start today just talking with your Heavenly Father. Spend time clearing your heart of the things that are weighing heavy on you and start looking for ways to pray for others in your life.
Our heavenly father is waiting for us to come to him, as a child needs their father. Don’t make yours wait another minute.
This month we are sharing our thoughts on God’s Provision in our lives. The first verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:19 where as a child of God, I can rest assured that my needs will be met.
“And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
As life comes at me from all directions, it can be a challenge to stay on track. Even the best planned day can go sideways in a heartbeat. I consider it a blessing to know that I am not alone in trying to meet the needs of my family (whether financial, physical, or emotional).
Just think of the promise. My God shall supply every need..according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When we place our faith in the Christ, God has committed himself to protect, provide, and care for us. The hard part for us is to remember that although God always provides for his children, it is usually not in the way we expect.
Isn’t that the truth? When I am knee deep in life, it is often hard to see His provision and care. I find myself praying for specific results instead of His will. Especially when my needs feel so urgent..I need the help now!
But Isaiah 55:9 tells us that God’s way is higher than ours. God sees the overall picture or forest when we can often only see what is right in our face.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.
Don’t feel that you are the only one that feels this way. Even the disciples missed what Jesus was saying and doing..and they were there to witness it! If the disciples missed the point of the miracles and the lessons in the parables, we need to not be so hard on ourselves when we do not understand or see God’s provision in our lives even though we know it is there.
I think it helps to remember that provision is not just physical things.
So how should we look at God’s provision in our lives?
God Provides Differently Than We Expect
Remember the story of how God fed the Israelite’s in the desert? Every day God provided food, for that day only. Not for tomorrow or next week but just what they needed for the day at hand. If God provided daily food for all those people, why do we question that He can’t meet the needs of our small family?
We complain just like the Israelite’s did because we don’t get what we want in the way we want it. Whoa, when I think about how much God did for them and compare my needs to theirs; where do I get the right to complain about anything?
Help doesn’t always come from the direction we are looking. And, unlike the popular saying, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. If we re not happy with our circumstances, we should take steps to improve them but in the meantime, not complain about the situation.
We need to be all in, whatever we are doing. I Corinthians 10:31 says: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”.
God Provides More of Himself
Scriptures tell us over and over that we should make the pursuit of God our main goal in life. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” And Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you ever stopped and thought about exactly what God has given to you? I mean really thought it through or even made a list? It is eye opening. It also shows how much God has and is doing in our lives.
The more I spend studying the Word, the more I want to know about and become closer to God. I believe this is what the focus of our lives should be as we mature as Christians.
God’s Ultimate Provision Was Given at the Cross
Salvation and eternity with God is the greatest gift of all. This provision was given to us at the cross. Until we cross into Glory, the gifts that we are given here on earth are just a taste of what is coming in Heaven.
So while we ask God for so many things to make our life more comfortable here on earth, we need to remember that if we are a child of God’s – we already have the greatest gift of all. For me, this puts my daily complaints in another light.
James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
We may struggle while here on earth. We may create a lot of our own troubles. Well, we all create most of our own troubles by our own selfish will. But God is still there, and providing every good thing in our lives. What love comes from our Father in Heaven. He sent Jesus as the ultimate provision for us.
God Provides for Eternity
While we struggle with the day to day, God looks at the forever after. Our heartaches, physical or emotional pain may not be removed in this life. We may not get the healing we have so earnestly prayer for before our body gives out. There will be times that God does not provide or care for us in the way we want in this life. We must however, remain faithful even in these tough times.
The scriptures don’t promise that life will be easy and that we will not suffer but physically and at the hands of others. In fact, it states that we will in fact suffer for the name of Christ as a Christian.
But, if we remain faithful – we will be with God for eternity. We will never suffer or have any pain. One of my favorite songs talks about the fact that there will be no tears in Heaven. No sadness, no death, no pain.
Will we understand it all then? I don’t know. I do know that I want to be with God in Heaven. I would imagine that all those questions I think I want answers to won’t matter a bit when I am with my Heavenly Father.
So while we wait for answers to prayers, we need to keep praising God and doing His will. My grandmother used to say that the reason the things of this earth are so hard to bear are because we get a glimpse of Glory through the Word. That glimpse is so perfect that anything less is not enough.
We are sojourners according to the scriptures. This world is not our home. But we are also a chosen race and a royal priesthood according to 1 Peter 2:9.
When you pray again asking for this or that, stop and remember to thank Him for all the good gifts in your life. When we are truly thankful, it puts the urgent needs into perspective.
As women of faith, we are directed to live peaceably whenever possible. It must be important if it can be found in various forms 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible! The scriptures talk about different types of peace, including false peace, inner peace, peace with God and peace with man.
But have you ever taken a minute and really thought about what peace means to you? I know whenever I think of the word “peace” it is immediately followed by the word “quiet”, yet I have learned as I have aged that they don’t always go together.
According to the dictionary, it means:
- freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
- freedom from or the cessation of war or violence
In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people, nations and with God.
In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for “peace” is eirene, and it refers to rest and tranquility. This is the peace we are seeking now.
As a woman of faith, we have an obligation to “let the peace of God rule” in in our hearts (men too but I am visiting with the ladies today) Colossians 3:15. In my understanding, this means I have a to make a choice either to trust God’s promises by letting His peace rule my heart and life, or decide to rely on myself which is actually rejecting the peace He offers me. In John 14:27, Jesus gave His disciples peace based on the truth that He has overcome the world.
We also know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 reads that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These fruits are things that we are instructed to add to our lives.
So how do we get this fruit called peace? This peacefulness in the chaos of our day to day life? We all know ladies that never seem to get flustered when things get crazy around them. I have wanted to know their secret for decades.
One day I asked the lady that I call my Titus 2 Mom. I call her that because she lives the example shown in Titus instructing the older women to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
According to her, the secret to a peaceful life (at least at home) is as simple as how well prepared I am. Whoa – wait a minute. That is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted a profound moment or insight that I could just tell my family was being enacted and then TADA.. everyone would live in peace (and quiet) forever and ever.
She just smiled and said, no sweetie. The peace in your home is on your shoulders. She assured me it comes with practice.
Since then, I have been honored to counsel with younger moms feeling overwhelmed and searching for peace in their homes.
My tips for Tips for Maintaining Peace
Accept Our Role and Our Responsibility
Starting right now, remember that you are the parent. You are the adult in the house and you are their mom. You are not their buddy, friend, cleaning lady or doormat.
As the parent, it is your responsibility to set boundaries and expectations for your children. They need you to remain calm when they get all out of sorts. The best way for us to have peace is when we direct or respond to our children instead of the often panic reactions we have when things are wild and crazy.
Being peaceful and showing our children how to resolve issues in a calm manner goes a long way to the “peacefulness” of the home.
Offer Grace for Mistakes
Don’t give up on yourself or your children. It is okay to do a “do over” when a situation fails to meet your peaceful meter. Stopping your day and gathering your little ones around for a moment of calmness, prayer and discussion on what was happening that could have been handled better doesn’t take long, and it gives everyone a fresh start.
Be Prepared for Your Day
Only you can determine what this looks like in your home. For us, it was making sure the calendar for tomorrow was posted so everyone could pick out their clothes, pack lunches and gather anything needed for the day. We also spent a few minutes “clearing the deck” aka picking up the community areas before heading up to the bedrooms to prepare for bed times.
I love the saying, “Failure to plan on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine”. As much as I love saying that to my children, as a mom – it often does result in an emergency on our part if we do not plan ahead.
Being prepared for me also means getting up before everyone else in order to get some time in the Word and in prayer. It also gives me a few minutes to look over the schedule and make sure everything is ready to go.
I also offer a count down to things such as a 15 minute warning before departing the house, or a 5 minute warning that it is lights out upstairs. Just this little warning works wonders for those that don’t keep track of time themselves.
Expect and Look for Praise Opportunities
I strongly believe that our children behave the way we expect or at least the way we enforce our expectations. If your guidelines and expectations are clear, and the enforcement of the consequences is consistent; your little ones will fall in line.
That’s when you look for praise opportunities. Just watch how your approval and praise lights up their face! We like being praised for good work. Our children are no different.
Make Sure to Keep Your Heart Right
When my heart isn’t right; it isn’t long until nothing in our home is right. I heard that the mom is the thermostat of the family. Her heart setting is what the family feeds off of each day. When I have a grumbly heart…my children give it right back to me.
But when I am thankful and at peace, they also follow my lead.
Be the example for your family. Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Seek God’s wisdom on ways to manage your home and heart so you are being the mom your children need in order to grow and learn the love of Christ.
We are all capable of becoming a peaceful mom. Start today by sitting down and clearing your mind and heart in prayer. Perhaps start a journal for you to use each morning to kick off your day by writing out scriptures on being at peace, or by listing three things you are thankful for and three things that you can praise your children for during the day. As you get ready for bed, look over the journal again and make a note or two for you to start off tomorrow.
While attending a ladies day a couple of years ago I heard a lesson on holiness that stuck with me. We were asked to think of the cross. The horizontal post reflects our life here on earth and the vertical post represents our life through eternity.
While we are here on earth, we are instructed to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. Hebrews 12:14 reads, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy;without holiness no one will see the Lord.
We are made holy when we put Christ on through salvation. And through your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ you received by faith His righteousness and holiness. So through salvation we are made holy.
But that isn’t the end of the story. The part of the lesson that touched me was that we need to live in the world but not be a part of it. Tough to do at times for sure. It can be hard to not allow the world to press in and start molding us to look and act like everyone else. But we are called to be different. We shouldn’t be like everybody else. We are called to be like Jesus.
How do we live peaceably with others and begin to mold our lives to be more like Jesus? It comes through the renewing of our minds so that we can know what is good, acceptable, and perfect; which is the will of God for our life.
Romans 12: 2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In Romans 12:1, Paul teaches,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Reasonable service. This phrase is one that I have heard all my life but it wasn’t until I dug deeper into the Word that it made sense. As we study the Bible, it begins to dwell in our heart and mind. Slowly it begins to become visible in our lives in the way we talk, walk, and interact with others. Think of it as behavior modification. The more of the Word we consume, the more it becomes visible in us.
Living in Peace
The more the Word changes us, the easier it is for us to begin living in peace with others. Hebrews 12 teaches that without peace and holiness, we will not see the Lord. This verse reminds me of others calling for us to have a meek and quiet spirit. I find the more time I spend in the Word, the calmer I am. I hope it also makes it easier for others to get along with me.
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. Our living in peace within our horizontal relationships opens doors for us to be able to lead others to Christ. Then our relationships will be working together towards eternity.
We serve a holy God. We are to do everything we can to pattern our lives after him. I think learning to live in peace is a key to opening the doors of communication with those around us. Our life should be a pattern that sets us apart, one that those around us will want to know more about. Will you open your heart and allow the peace of God to fill you so you can be of service to the kingdom?
Spend time in the Word every day. Press the Words of God in your heart and mind. Those powerful messages will make changes in your life.
Do you find it hard to remain faithful in the good times? Sadly, I have to admit that when things are running smoothly, meaning according to my schedule, I have to work to remain faithful in prayer and study. Wow..that’s tough to admit. I know this about myself and so I have built reminders all around myself to remain focused..even when things are good.
Psalm 62:11-12 reads: One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”
Have you ever heard the old Chinese proverb which states: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? When we study chapter 62 in Psalm, we need to remember that these words come out of a very low time in David’s reign, which was the rebellion of his son Absalom against his authority out of hatred for him. Without a doubt, David earned some of this disrespect, but the pain of all of this happening within his family, and seeing the destruction it had created, must have sent David to the very edge of his ability to cope. Thankfully, even during this terrible time in his life, David remembers God and His steadying presence in his life. I don’t think there was any way would David have survived the crises in his life without knowing that he must turn to God and seek His intervention in his life.
For us this means that the simple and powerful truth that only God is sufficient help in our time of need must be passed on through our faith to others. Sure, you can solve problems for people, or at least put a band aid on their problems, but in no measure will you truly serve them unless you teach them that God, and He alone, is an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
David teaches you and me how to live in this life when he points us to the preeminence, power, and love of God.
Notice what God does for us:
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. (Psalm 62:1).
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:2).
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5).
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. (Psalm 62:7)
In this passage, David teaches us the great truth that God is strong and God loves us. Only God can be trusted with our lives, because only He loves us sufficiently to guide us toward our Heavenly home, for we cannot take care or make it on our own.
If we are to teach others how they must draw spiritual strength and love for a lifetime, then we must point them to God, and He alone, as the source of every good and perfect gift. We need to remember that each person we meet in passing through this world, we are accountable to them and God to do so.
As David rightfully says, “Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done”.
Are you willing to live like that? Are you the light to those around you? We really have such a short time on this earth compared to eternity; we must get about the Lord’s business of sharing Him to a lost world.
The song “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets has become special to my daily reminder to stay faithful in all things.
Some of the lyrics make me stop and think… Am I showing love? Am I teaching others that faith in God is their only answer?
Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs
Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song
I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You
If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Never holding back
I want to live like that
My prayer is that I will always teach others that they must call in faith on the Lord’s strength and love to guide them through every storm and difficult path they encounter because God is the source of every answer, solution, and need they will ever have in this life.
Good Morning Mamma’s!
This month our topic is Joy and our understanding that Jesus is our strength. So are you joyful? Do you struggle with staying joyful?
Statistically speaking, the months of February and March are two of the most stressful months of the year. For most it is because of financial pressures brought on by over-spending through the holiday season but for others it is weather related. Spring hasn’t sprung in a lot of the country and being cooped up for weeks is beginning to take a toll on us at home with little ones.
My advice to help battle the restlessness and resentment that can creep in is to memorize scriptures that are encouraging and will reinforce your defenses.
One of my favorite is Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
In addition to burying scripture in your heart and mind, I have found that maintaining a thankful spirit goes a long way to being joyful.
Psalm 73:26 reads My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
God is my strength.
Having God as my strength means that I don’t have to do all and be all to everyone. I can take joy in the little things. I can be thankful for the daily chores that although can become repetitive and boring; those same chores mean I have food to eat, a place to live, and clothes to wear.
I also find that when I lose a thankful heart, I struggle to find the joy in just about everything.
In Psalms 28:7: The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Start praising Him when you feel overwhelmed and overloaded. Sing to Him when you are sad or hurting. I crank up the music and sing along as I do those things around the house. You can’t help but feel uplifted when your heart, mind and words are raised in praises to our Lord.
And those times when I am fearful…I can’t be thankful or joyful.
Isaiah 41:10 reads: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
What do we have to be fearful of if we are a child of His? Yes there is evil in this world. Yes it will touch you and your family regardless how much you try to stay out of the way. But..and commit this to your heart; YOU are NOT alone! Take your fears to the throne. Leave the worry and the fear at the feet of the only One who can help you.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 reads: But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
Now I am not saying that all your problems just go away when we pray and ask for help. The problem will still be there. But the solution is to put down the worry and fear so you can focus on battling the problem. Sadly, most of our problems are our own making. Not all, but a large majority. And when they catch up with us, there are consequences (such as over spending, etc). But if we will go to the Lord in prayer, ask Him to first forgive us, and then to give us the strength to fight the battle against _____(fill in the blank); He promises that He will fight with us and that He will give us the strength we need.
The biggest time of trouble for me is when I am tired and allow bitterness to creep in…I struggle to be joyful. I have a verse that I say out loud often during the day. It is from Isaiah, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (40:29).
Do you see a pattern to my struggles? I do. I see that when I try to handle everything on my own that I get myself and my heart in trouble. I also know where the help is that I am seeking. God’s Word! That is where I have to start and end my day in order for me to remain on track and be able to have a joyful heart.
If you struggle with being joyful, take a look at your life and see if any of these patterns could apply in your life. Then spend time in prayer and in the Word. Being joyful is choice – and that choice is only an option when you have your heart connected to the only One that can fulfill your needs.