C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Unleash Your Laughter
“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Quick – give me your mad mom face. Yeah, that one.
The one that says, “You’ve really done it now,”
“You’re in big trouble,”
“You’ve done it again.”
The one that evokes shame in some of your kids, fear in others, and repentance in still others. That face. You wouldn’t want to receive the look, but you have developed it over the years and yeah, it’s pretty effective.
Every mom has one. We think we have to. We think that it is just part of our repertoire of tools in our mom tool boxes. We know how to pull out a glance, a nod, a tap, an eyebrow and use it like a professional carpenter. We’ve got it going on.
But would you like a secret? Our mad mom face is probably over used. Terrifying isn’t it? To think that you might be without it. But before you think I am going to jump off into the abyss that is the current rage, that of being a ‘yes’ mom, I am not. I will not. I cannot advocate for that. (Commentary on that is forth coming-stay tuned to my blog. Title: Say ‘No’ to Being a Yes Mom.)
I am just suggesting that smiling at your kids, at ‘that’ kid might very well do more good that your best mean mom look. Yep. Don’t believe me? Here’s my reason: your kids, especially ‘that’ kid, needs to know that you are on their side, that you’ve got their back, that you love them. Yes, that’s it, that you love them. That’s what the smile on mom’s face communicates, “I love you!”
My mean face is really good at shaming my kids, at making them feel like all they can do is what I’ve asked them not to do, at making them feel like all I care about are their actions. It is really good at communicating that I’ve got it all together, that I don’t ever mess up, that I’m perfect. But none of that is true. I don’t have it all together. I mess up daily. And I am far from perfect.
The fact is that when I dare to smile at my kids-often-I am communicating to them that I do get it. I get that it’s hard to do the right thing all the time. I get that it is hard to sit still. I get that it’s hard to pay attention. I get that it’s easy to get distracted. I get that sometimes I don’t know why I’m sad or mad or frustrated or grumpy. I get it.
Smiling communicates to my kids that we are on the same team. We are all living in a fallen world and we need each other to fight temptation, to encourage each other, to celebrate victories.
Similarly, laughing with your kids is like glue. My Dad has a great laugh, very distinctive and frankly, loud. I love my Dad’s laugh. To me it represents security, acceptance and comfort. I know that when Dad laughs everything might not be alright, but we are going to make it through together.
Laughter is like a safety valve for stress. When you don’t have it in place, stress can be overwhelming, even debilitating. But when the valve exists and is characteristically wide open, stress dissipates even when circumstances don’t change.
Our guiding verse for this point is Ecclesiastes 3:4, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….” And in Proverbs 17:22 it says “a cheerful heart is good medicine.”
As I study the life of Jesus, the only people He became angry with were the one who should have known better. With the Pharisees He responded with righteous anger and frustration. We are not Jesus. And generally, even though we might want them to know better, they are in process. They forget. They don’t learn the first time. They don’t understand. And they, like me, like you, mess up.
Our kids need to see our smiles. They need to hear our laughter. They can spot a fake from a mile off. But as we cultivate our own joy, the joy of our salvation, we can “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25). How is that possible? Because we know that God is on the throne. We can live with confident hope knowing that He’s got this!
For further consideration and study download your free study guide for Week 7 – dare to dig deeper!
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Outline Your Objectives
2 Peter 1:3
“…His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
Chilling out can be difficult, if not impossible, when we are off focus. When we have forgotten why we are doing what we are doing, what the bigger picture is, what we are aiming for, we can be easily distracted by the unimportant, the trivial, the little stuff.
Stephen Covey wrote about the importance of focus in his best-selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The first three habits his outlines center around having a target. The first habit is “Be Proactive.” This means that we don’t wait for life to happen to us, but rather we set our course, engage in life, initiate, and participate. Second, Covey suggests that we should “Begin with the end in Mind.” We cannot start a journey until we have chosen a destination. And the third habit of the seven is “Put First Things First.” Again, we cannot know what the first things are until we have determined our objectives. Then we can know what the priorities should be.
As this applies to CHILL OUT, outlining our objectives is the next key step in our journey to being able to live life open-handed. What are we trying to accomplish in our roles as mothers? What should be our primary focus? This passage gives us help in answering those questions.
Our verse comes from the book of second Peter. This was written by the comeback kid: Peter. Yes, that Peter. The one who dared to walk on water towards the Master, but became distracted by the waves. The one who didn’t want Jesus to wash just his feet but his whole body. The one who denied Christ three times. The one who ran into the tomb. The one who was instructed by the Lord to, “Feed My sheep.” That Peter.
This verse emphasizes Peters reckless abandon and obedience to Jesus. Peter got Who He was. Here, Peter boldly declares what is available to us in the Lord. Here, he challenges us about our focus. Second Peter’s theme is Christian maturity. Peter’s book title would have been, “One Habit of Highly Effective Christians.” What’s the one habit? Knowing Him (John 17:3; Philippians 3:8).
For further consideration and study download your free study guide for Week 6 – dare to dig deeper!
In His Grace,
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Listen To Your Kids
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
As we seek to tune the world out and tune in to God, we begin to experience the peace He promises. We don’t have to listen to the shouts of the culture or be distracted by its values. We can seek to listen to God’s voice, His purposes and promises. God wants our attention, our complete attention. When we spend time with Him worshiping, praying, and reading His word, His voice seems clear, His confidence is ours.
When we don’t listen, when we don’t practice Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” then His voice seems distant and maybe even silent. God desires a relationship with us such that He is able to use other means to communicate to us. He may reveal His glory through His creation, through some personal provision, or through a friend. As a mother, I have experienced God’s pursuit of my heart’s attention through my children. We need to listen to our kids
When they were younger, I did most of the talking to my children. I spoke and I expected them to listen and do what I said. I especially liked that part. When they didn’t pay attention or listen, I would get discouraged because I had something that I wanted to communicate to them that they couldn’t hear unless they listened.
As the children have grown up, it has become necessary for me to invite them into the discussion, to consider them. This is part of the maturing process for both of us. Parents need not be dictators. Parents should be the authorities, and there should be lots of conversations about life with its various choices and decisions. Really listen to your kids.
God sovereignly knits our families together. The perfect Father places us with just the right parents, the right siblings, the right extended family. And it’s not in an effort to drive us crazy, but rather to drive us toward Him. It’s all about His molding us into the image of His Son Jesus.
This means we have to start listening to Him and to each other. Not simply nod our heads, but actually engage in the exchange of ideas and thoughts and insights. It’s through these talks, these debates, that we learn more about each other. As parents, these are opportunities wherein we can assess our child’s spiritual growth and maturity.
These conversations, when we dare to have them, when we dare to ask the hard questions, when we dare to listen and not panic, these conversations are connection points and teaching moments. When we dare to listen, really listen, we are being the mothers that our children need for us to be. They need us to care. They need us to pray. They need us to listen. They need to be heard. If we don’t listen to them, they will find someone who will. Let’s be the one who looks them in the eyes and listens.
What about listening is hard for me? Looking in the eyes? Stopping what I’m doing? Engaging? Listening and not talking? Knowing a weakness is the first step toward improving on it. Pray that the Lord will help you learn and practice better listening.
We have the opportunity to serve our families. Look to their needs before your own. Our principle need is to honor and glorify our heavenly Father. When we serve others with pure hearts, when we submit our will to His, others’ needs are met and we are a good reflection of His love. May we choose the joy of the Lord to be our strength as we serve our families.
For further consideration and study download your free study guide for Week 5 – dare to dig deeper!
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Listen To God
With all of the world constantly screaming at us, listening to any one voice is a challenge. Advertisements visually assault us, televisions blare from their perches, our phones ring, vibrate, and chirp. The chaos drowns the bird’s song, the child’s laughter, the buzz of the bee. And the still small voice of the Master goes unheard.
Listening. Before we listen to anyone or any thing else, we must listen to God. I’m not talking about an audible voice, but rather the affirmation through Bible study, the prompting in your spirit, the words from a friend. He still speaks. God is in the business of communicating with His children. But like our own children we are often distracted, not paying attention.
What might He say if we turned the world off and tuned in to Him?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
The path that God marks out for each of us will take us straight to Him if we follow Him. It’s directness to the Father is only apparent on the other side of this life.
For further consideration and study download your free study guide for Week 4 – dare to dig deeper!
In His Grace,
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Ignore the Competition and the Opposition
So we discussed our need to change the way we think and to hit the brakes. Those are two things that we must do day by day, decision by decision, thought by thought. Our next point in our journey is related to both of the first two because it means that we are intentional about our thoughts. It means that we “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We cannot do this passively. We must be active and purposeful in our thinking. Many of our thoughts are a result of what we expose ourselves to, what we listen to, watch, read, participate in. It matters. When we saturate our minds with bad news, unfaithfulness, immorality, and hatred, we introduce thoughts lacking the fruits of the Spirit. Our imaginations are no longer consumed with the things of God, serving Him, worshiping Him and enjoying Him forever. But rather we find our thoughts drifting to scenarios unbecoming of our calling, our blessed redemption.
The competition can look good, even godly, but when it becomes an issue of jealously or feelings of resentment or judgment or anger, we have been led astray. When we see someone doing something well, we should be thrilled to see them use their God-given talents to glorify Him. Their actions might inspire us to service or ministry, but it need not become a point of contention. Instead of comparing we should share with each other, sharing what God is teaching us, sharing about His faithfulness, and sharing our need for Him.
Similarly, we must practice identifying the whispers of the enemy and ignoring his whispers. He is the father of lies. Jesus said that when he, Satan, speaks he can only speak in lies because lies are his native language. Any whisper of condemnation is not of God, but of the enemy. He seeks to kill, steal and destroy. He is not a friend but an enemy. The Bible tells us clearly that he is a loser. But he wants each of us to be losers too. He is constantly trying to plant seeds of doubt and discouragement, resentment and rebellion, slothfulness and sin. He is to be ignored.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scoring its shame and sat down a the right hand of God. Consider Him…so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.”
For further consideration and study download your free study guide for Week 3 – dare to dig deeper!
In His Grace,
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – Hit The Brakes!
Our next stop on our CHILL OUT journey is “H”. This one is totally counter culture. Busy is the standard today. Running here and there, barely stopping to eat, must less relax, we rush from activity to activity, responsibility to responsibility, amusement to amusement. We just don’t stop. In the process of this break-neck pace, we normalize busy. All they know is dashing here and there. All they know is exhaustion. All they know is hectic.
So what if we stopped? What if we took a break, slowed down, and relaxed. What if we didn’t have an activity every night of the week? What if we didn’t have every moment scheduled? What if we had less screen time and more face to face time? What if we unplugged and instead connected with our friends and family in real live conversations? What if we traded in our restlessness and He became our rest?
That’s what hitting the brakes is all about-pulling back. Our ability to rest instead of run is directly related to our understanding of Him. Hang with me here. We run and run and run to try to keep up with an ever speeding and changing standard. We commit to a myriad of responsibilities and activities. We chase after doing enough, learning enough, involving enough, leading enough, preparing enough. But this is not God’s pace for His people, this is the world’s.
Our over commitment resulting in overwhelming exhaustion is a reflecting of what we believe about Him. We miss the importance of resting in Him. We overlook it’s refreshing and refocusing powers. We ignore His enoughness. We chase after the wind. We try to do, do, do in an effort to be our own enough. The world says we can be, should be our own enough. But it’s a lie. We can’t. We need Him and the rest from the chaos only He can provide.
Are you tired? I don’t mean the good tired from spending your time serving your family and friends in the strength God provides. I mean are you weary from trying to do it all yourself without God. There is a huge difference. Your body, mind, and spirit know the difference. Let’s look and see.
Our verse this time is from Mark. Mark was not an eyewitness to the events of Christ. He learned them from Peter and wrote them down. One of the unique characteristics of his writing is his use of the word ‘immediately’. But that is a study for another day. This passage is taken from the passage right after the twelve had been sent out in His name, right after John the Baptist was beheaded and right before the feeding of the 5000. They had just participated in the ministry with Him. They had just received word that His cousin had been killed. They were about to see Him feed 5000 and walk on water. This was prep-time. They weren’t in a desperate place, but they were tired and needed to refuel for the days ahead. He knew.
Join me in this 10 Week study as we prepare ourselves to C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T.! Download your free study guide for Week 2 – dare to dig deeper!
In His Grace,
C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T. – C: Change The Way You Think
The challenge to CHILL OUT doesn’t have a soft start. This isn’t an easy change to make so the things we need to change to turn the boat around aren’t easy either. For the first point on the acrostic, we must focus on changing the way we think. In Proverbs it says, “As a man thinks, so he is.” Those things that we choose to allow our minds to ponder and even ruminate on define who we are. Do we constantly think about the things of the world or the things of God? It’s really that simple. It’s not complicated, what we think about matters. In fact it charts our life’s course.
Our enemy is the master of distraction. He knows that our thoughts impact our behavior, our decisions. He knows. He knows that when we think on the Truth of God’s word, His faithfulness, goodness and grace, we walk in peace and love. In contrast, when we think on the worries of the world, the priorities of the world, the temptations of the world, he knows that we are vulnerable and open to stress and anxiety, bitterness, resentment and even hatred.
Here in Romans 12, the apostle Paul admonishes us to change the way we think. Remember the Romans outline, its author’s challenge comes in light of the his earlier discussion of sin, salvation, and sanctification. Here in the last part of the book, Paul is offering us the opportunity to respond to God’s mercy and grace, not with an attitude of ‘have to’ but ‘get to’.
Join me in this 10 Week study as we prepare ourselves to C.H.I.L.L. O.U.T.! Download your free study guide for Week 1 – dare to dig deeper!
In His Grace,
Attention: Obsessive-Compulsive, Perfectionist,Control-Freaks
Which one are you?
Before you dive into the questions and self-assessment below, just let me say that I couldn’t have written this if I didn’t suffer from all three! In the past I could have answered “yes” to every question below. And for what it’s worth, I didn’t see a problem with it at the time. At that time, the problem was clear: it was everyone else.
Yes, this is one example in my life where God graciously and powerfully interjected Himself into my circumstances. He was not willing that I continue in my selfish pattern. He loved me enough to allow circumstances and situations to happen which not only shined the light into the darkness of my selfishness, but He walked me into the Light.
This discussion about CHILL OUT is huge. It’s important. It’s timely. It’s liberating. It’s a journey back to joy, back to hope, back to peace. Learning to CHILL OUT is about walking in the Light as He is in the Light. It’s about letting your light shine, about being salt and light about being filled with the Spirit.
If you make the decision to CHILL OUT, you are choosing to put aside lists and image and being right. It means that you are choosing instead to focus on Him who alone is worthy. It means that you lean into Him, His will, His plan, His timing. It means you begin the journey of resting in Him.
It doesn’t mean you become lazy or inefficient or careless. The enemy wants you to fear that if you and don’t maintain the list, the image, and the ‘right’, that everything will fall apart. It won’t. REALLY, it won’t. But I’ll tell you what will happen. Lots more smiles and laughter, more relaxing and resting, more of Him and less of me.
Are you willing to live by faith and let God hold it all together?
You might be Obsessive-Compulsive if…
You like to make lists all the time about everything
A lost list is a serious issue
Marking things off your list gives you great pleasure
Not marking things off your list makes you feel unproductive, no matter how many
Diapers you changed or books read snuggled on the couch, those weren’t on the list
Efficiency is extremely important to you
You equate relaxing with being lazy
Relaxing is actually difficult for you
Relaxing isn’t a priority; it never makes the ‘list’
You are drawn to formulas for parenting and other relationships
You might be a Perfectionist if…
You think about what others will think as the key issue in a situation
Your actions are motivated by what others will think
You are aware of your image and seek to maintain it
You are easily aggravated when others don’t ‘fall in line’ with your plans
Your kids’ behavior (including how they dress and perform) is all part of your image
You expect your kids to play their part well
Others feel incompetent around you and you don’t mind
Much of your happiness is wrapped up in what others think about you
Most all of your actions are careful and intentionally planned, not much spontaneity
You don’t enjoy much peace because other people don’t cooperate
You are not generally aware of other’s feelings, just their contribution to the image
You might be a Control Freak if…
You believe that your way is the best way in every circumstance
In just about all circumstances, you would just rather do it yourself
You often think, “Other people just don’t get it”
Others feel unnecessary around you, like you don’t need them
What other do doesn’t matter to you
You avoid dependence on others
Flexibility is not a virtue you aspire to
You re-do work others have done, not because the task isn’t complete, but because the task wasn’t completed like you would have done it
No matter how you answered the questions, don’t despair! Help is on the way. It is God’s will for each of us to be conformed into the image of His one and only Son Jesus Christ. He is the answer to what is ailing us. We can, by the power of God, overcome these issues and become the woman He has planned for us to be.
Join me next week for the first letter in our acrostic, “C”. Each week there will be a vlog post and a PDF downloadable study to accompany it. Let’s not shy away from these issues and give the common excuse of: “That’s just the way I am.” No, let’s dare to submit to the Potter’s hands and allow Him to mold us into the image of His Son.