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Tips for Maintaining Your Peace

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.

maintaining peace

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:

  1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
  2. 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.

example of peace

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.

 

That Child: a Biblical Example

 

Confession:  I was “that child”. So, a lot of the “that child” stuff I get because I am speaking from experience! It’s not that hard for me. 

For those of you who weren’t “that child,” and have given birth, or adopted a “that child”…let me say that I pray for you. We are unique creatures and it is a journey into our world and to try to understand us. But I really believe that most of the time it’s worth it.

Today I want to talk about a character in the Bible whom you probably just love and admire. 

I know that I have long admired this particular character. One day I was thinking there’s got to be a Biblical character we can relate to, and probably you would also agree, there’s probably even several “that child” examples in the Bible. 

I am going to suggest to you that I believe the primary example, Biblically, of “that child” and in the most positive of terms, would be Peter in the New Testament.

I believe this so much so, in fact, I have often thought that if I had known that my oldest son, Charles, was going to be as much of “that child” as he has become I probably would have aptly named him Peter. 

Could This be “That Child?”

 

Peter was a fisherman. Historically, most scholars believe that he was the oldest apostle. 

That child - biblical

Yet, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” one of the most amazing first acts of Peter’s life was, he followed. He followed Christ. 

Now, you and I might think of that as rash. He didn’t really know Christ. But when Christ looked at him there must have been something about Christ that when Peter saw that look in his eye, when Peter heard that invitation extended, Peter got it. He was like, “Yeah, I want to follow you.”

He followed. That’s huge, that’s very powerful. We also see examples of brashness. Examples of enthusiasm. Examples of passion, and charisma, that God can used in Peter’s life.

As we are walking through this I want you to consider your “that child.” Are these things that you see in them. Are these examples of things that they do? And that currently may be really driving you crazy and aggravate you?

Could it be that as we look at the life of Peter today we can start to look at those things a little differently, with grace, and with insight, and with wisdom, and stop allowing the enemy to make all of these actions look awful just because they are not the actions we wanted or thought they should have been? 

Let’s start to look at these behaviors just a little differently.

 

 

 

Your “that child” also needs to know that they’re not alone. That there’s hope and that God has a plan. Just like God had a plan for Peter, God has a plan for them.

plan for that child

He Dared to Go

Next we’ll look at an account where Jesus has been up all night praying. His disciples have been fishing all night. It says that they were battered by the waves. They were trying so desperately to catch something, catch anything, and then out of the darkness of the storm (they’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re discouraged) here comes Jesus walking on the water. 

Peter sees it and he says, “Lord, you tell me to come and I will come.”

Jesus simply says, “Come.”

We know that Peter, out of all of those disciples in the boat, Peter is the only one that dared to get out of the boat and actually walk on the water. 

I want you to suggest to you today, as you consider Peter, how did he get out of the boat? Because I’m betting, if I think of Peter and the totality about what we know about him in Scripture, he didn’t gingerly step over the side of that boat. 

I would like to suggest to you that he hurdled the side of the boat. 

He was so enthusiastic, and so rash, and so passionate, about everything he did. Look, I believe that Peter had the same mantra that I often live by. Play hard or go home.

That’s how he lived. It was all or nothing for Peter.

So we see that Peter gets out of the boat and actually walks. He’s successful as long as, what? As long as he focuses his eyes on Christ. But Scripture tells us clearly that he got distracted by the waves and he went down. Jesus extended his hand and pulled him up. that child : enthusiastic

That’s “that child”. So enthusiastic, so excited, so passionate about what they’re doing, and yet often easily distracted. 

 

Who Do You Say?

The next example I want to talk to you about is when Jesus asked Peter, “Hey!” (He’s actually asking all of the disciples.) “Who do they say that I am?”  

They said, “Well, some say that you are Elijah. Some say you’re this person.” And Jesus looks squarely at Peter and says, “No, no, no. Who do you say that I am?” 

And Peter said (get this, get the insight that Peter has), Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Whoa! Peter got who Jesus was. In the midst of the confusion, in the midst of the teachers of the law, and the scribes and the Pharisees who studied the Old Testament, who had all the prophecies, who should have got who Jesus was, they didn’t get it!

If they did, they denied it. But Peter, a fisherman, got who Christ was. He made that bold statement saying who Christ was. You’ll remember that Jesus said, “On this rock, on the rock of that confession, I will build my church.” It’s just beautiful.

Another example is when Jesus took the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. So you remember, there was Peter and then James and John were called the sons of Thunder. They were actually the sons of Zebedee.

They had quite a reputation. The three of them were like Jesus’ inner circle. And there are several occasions in Scripture where we see Jesus takes those three, in a special way, aside to teach them something or show them something.

In this instance, He takes them up on the Mount of Transfiguration. You’ll remember that Peter was elated, literally beside himself. If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve seen that. There are times when they are just so enthusiastic, and so joyful, and so into what’s going on that they are not thinking straight. That was true in this instance with Peter.

In this situation Peter is like, “Ah! This is awesome! We’ll stay right here on the mountain and I’ll build a tent for you, and for you, and for you!”

You can just kind of see Jesus go, “Ugh, Peter! No! That’s not the point of me bringing you up here. It wasn’t for us to stay on the mountain, Peter. I brought you up here on the mountain so that we could go back down off the mountain.” The Lord Christ did not explain that to Peter but it’s implied in Scripture as Jesus just moves forward. 

Remember the Last Supper?

The lowest job that any servant would have had at this last supper, indeed in this culture, would have been the servant who would have washed the feet of all in attendance for this dinner. These feet would have been really dirty, and yucky, and grimy, and smelly. But even in all the preparation that the disciples had made for the last supper there had not been anyone chosen to wash their feet. 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saw again (this is the pattern throughout Christ’s walk on the planet), he saw a need and he responded to it. We call that compassion. 

Here once again, in the Biblical account of what Jesus did, we know that he saw the need. Instead of doing what I would have wanted to do, and maybe what many of you wanted to do, and assign the task to someone else, he simply (Scripture says) lay aside his outer garment, just like he had laid aside his right to be equal with the Father.

He girded himself, it says. He poured water in a basin, to symbolize he was about to pour out his life. He then got down on his knees and began to wash their feet. It’s really a powerful picture! 

I think a hush must have fallen across the room. As Jesus is down on his knees, washing their feet (and it’s a story for another day, but let this sit on you for a minute), Judas went to deny Christ with clean feet. Because Jesus washed their feet before Judas left. 

Anyway, he comes to Peter, and it’s time. It’s clear what Jesus is doing. Peter was not the first person, not the first set of feet that Jesus washed. And Jesus comes to Peter and Peter goes, “You’re not washing my feet!”

Do you see that? Do you see the passion again? Do you see the pride, the arrogance of Peter? “You’re not going to wash my feet!” Yet Christ, who is our example, responds compassionately, and patiently, with Peter.

As the dinner goes on Jesus tells them again that he is going to be betrayed and he’s going to die.

Peter says, “I will die with you.”

Jesus looks at him and says, “Peter, before the cock crows, before the rooster sounds his morning call, you will deny me three times.” Ugh! That had to hurt. That had to sting. To hear the lord and master that he was pledging allegiance to, turn to him and says, “Oh, Peter, no. Not this time.”

Yet there must have been something in Peter that was like, “NO! It can’t be true!”

The Bible says that they sang a hymn and they went out. They go to the garden. Once again, we have another example of how Jesus let the disciples “stay here” and he took that inner circle, Peter, James, and John, a little further Scripture says, and he asked them to pray. Then it says that Jesus went a little further and fell down and prayed to the Father.

olive tree

He just went and called out to the Father, and begged, and begged, and begged for another way to save mankind and to glorify the Father. Finally, Jesus comes back the third time. They’re sleeping and he says, “Here comes my betrayer.”

He goes to meet those who had come to arrest him. It’s really remarkable in Scripture when you hear how many people came to arrest Christ. He, himself says, “Look. I was in the temple many times. I was in the marketplace many times. You could have taken me. You don’t need all of this.” In fact, when Jesus said, “Who are you seeking?” and they said “Jesus” he said, “I am.” 

You’ll notice, in Scripture it says they fell back. That was the power of who he really was. It is at this moment, when they have come to arrest Christ, that Peter takes his sword out and hacks off the ear of Malchus.

I want to promise you that Peter was not aiming for Malchus’ ear. I’m confident that in that day and time it wasn’t the way to defeat your enemy, to cut off their ears. I’m pretty sure that Peter was aiming for Malchus’ throat, and Malchus ducked, and all Peter got was his ear.

Again, you see Jesus going, “Ugh! Peter! Put it away. That’s not what this is going to be about.” Then it says they went on to arrest Christ. Peter followed, at a distance. See, Peter is now wanting to watch. But he’s probably forgotten about that prediction that Jesus made. In fact, we know he has! Because John helps to get Peter into the inner courtyard where Jesus is being tried. 

Three times, Scripture tells us, that Peter did indeed deny his Christ there. When the cock crowed upon the third time it says he went away despairing. He knew in that instance everything that Christ had said, the whole ministry, must have come rushing back to his mind.

But here’s the turning point, on Sunday morning when there came a knock at the door, and the women were saying the tomb was empty, it says that Peter and John ran to the tomb. In fact, it’s more specific than that. When John’s gospel is written, John says that he beat Peter but when Peter got there he didn’t respectfully stand outside of the empty tomb. Peter went all the way in just like we would expect that child to do! He didn’t stand aside. He went in to see for himself that Christ’s body was resurrected and was not there. 

Do You Love Me?

Then, the next time we see Peter he’s fishing and Jesus is on the seashore. He’s asking them if they have caught anything. Peter says,“ If you say to put the nets on the other side that’s what I’ll do.” He does and they make a catch. It’s on that seashore that day that Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter at first flippantly answers, “You know that I love you!”

Jesus looks at him again and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, I love you!” Then Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” And a third time, three times, once for each one of Peter’s denial, Jesus Christ affirms Peter back, all the way back, as a disciple of Christ.

So this Peter who denied, this Peter who was rash, this Peter who acted before he thought, Jesus pulled him all the way back, forgave and affirmed him for his denial, and launched him into ministry that still blesses Christians today as he was an example on the day of Pentecost. You’ll read in the book of Acts that it’s says, “…And Peter, taking his stand.” Yes, it was on the day of Pentecost that among all the other disciples, when everyone was criticizing them and assuming that they were drunk, it was Peter who stood up and made the case for Christ.

Obviously, he went on to write first and second Peter. We also know that when it came time for Peter to die he refused to be crucified in the same way that Christ had been and was actually crucified upside down. 

Be Encouraged, Mom

Look, it’s very easy to get discouraged with our “that child” and it’s very easy for us to think that God cannot use them. But I think today’s example of Peter is a primary example of the fact that God does need strong men and women, often we refer to them as “that kid”, to grow his kingdom, to stand up for Him.

They’re going to make mistakes, just like Peter did. 

They’re going to be rash, just like Peter did.

But do you see how beautifully Christ kept drawing Peter in, and affirming him, and being patient with him?

Mom, that’s our job. Our job is to not break their passion, to not steal their charisma, to not discourage their enthusiasm, but to bend it in the direction of Jesus Christ so that they can change the world for the goodness and the glory of God.

Go and enjoy your “that child”. God has great plans for them, and God has great plans for you, too, Mom. 

“That Child” : What they aren’t and what they are

 

I want you to think for a moment of the little precious face that is your “that child”.

When I am speaking at a women’s event on the topic of “that child”, I’ve started sending around a sheet so that all the moms can put the name of their “that child” on the piece of paper. Then I pray over all those names because I figure we are in this battle together for the hearts and minds of these little ones. At one conference recently, one of the mothers wrote six names. I think she was thinking all of them were her “that child”. I’m here to tell you, I pray for that mom!

that child

Whomever in your family is your “that child” I want you to keep that face at the front and center of your mind today as we discuss “What they aren’t and what they are.”

 

Before I start my list, I want to remind you that my “that child” journey has been a long one. My oldest son is actually my original “that child” and I have one that I am currently working with. Some days are better than others just like probably in your home; if you’ve got a “that child” you know exactly what I mean. They’re unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. They might be in a fabulous mood and when they’re in a great mood you wouldn’t sell them for anything. But when they’re in “that mood” you might just give them away!

Three things to remember about “That Child”

I was just confident that some of these things are not true. I was sure that they were true. I want to help you get over these lies faster than I did and reframe “that child” for you. 

  1. First of all, I want to assure you that your “that child” (whether you have one, or six), I want to assure you that “that child” is not divine payback for your childhood.The God of the Universe loves you, and me, enough not to leave us where he finds us. He is constantly in the process of glorifying himself and growing us. Often, he will allow things to show up in our children to get our attention. If you have a “that child” they have your attention! God should have your attention. That ought not mean they have your frustration and your resentment.
  2. Number two, they are not broken. When I first had my oldest son, Charles, I was confident that he was messed up and he was broken. God loved Charles enough to send him to me because I could fix him. Do you hear the arrogance and the pride in that? Yes, I thought that he was broken and he needed to be fixed.We talked about last week the issue of the sin nature in “that child” which sometimes is far more evident than in the other children we have that might be more compliant. Those children might be more prone to apologize, or repent, if you just look in their direction. They’re convicted by the Holy Spirit and they respond to that. “That child” however, their defiant rebellion, makes the sin nature often more visible and vile to us.

    “That child” isn’t broken but they a are sinner just like you and me and we need to treat it like that.

    Remember, the way we deal with the sin nature in “that child” is the way we need to deal with it within our own lives. That is, we need to make sure we are getting to know who God is every day. My dear friend talks about this as a high view of God. When we get who God is, we are broken by our sin because we realize that our sin separates us from a loving, holy mighty God in who’s presence sin cannot co-exist. But because of his great love for us, He sent his son.

  3. Finally, your “that child” is not THE problem at your house. When we were first parenting Charles, and as we had six more children come along, I often felt that pain of not spending time with one of the other children because I was having to deal with him!I just want to say to you something none of us want to verbalize, but there were moments when I thought, “What if…” That’s raw and that’s ugly, because in those moments I thought the whole problem was HIM!

    Look, your “that child” is not the problem in your home. They’re just NOT!

    I know a lot of people who would say, “If it weren’t for “that child…” But, I promise you, they’re not the problem. We need to keep that in mind.

Look, if you’re thinking that your child is divine payback, if you’re thinking “that child” is broken, if you’re thinking that your “that child” is the problem at your house, you may think that you’re hiding it from them but they know. They know how we feel about them. Even if we think that we are hiding it, even if we are telling them we love them…. Because, look, there was a point in my parenting my oldest, my original “that child”, that I loved him… Because I had to, I was his mom. But let be honest. I didn’t like him too much. The reality is, you can’t hide that, Mom. You can’t hide that! 

that child

We’ve got to deal with these lies that we’ve chosen to believe about “that child”, we’ve got to acknowledge them as lies, and they are not true! These are not true about “that child”.  

Here are three things that are true about “that child”. Three things that I want challenge you to embrace. 

  1. Your “that child” is a divine invitation to draw closer to God.If my original “that child”, my first born, had been compliant and obedient, cooperative and calm, and all the things I thought I wanted my kids to be, I wouldn’t have needed God. I would have thought I was doing it. I would have thought that I was the most amazing parent on the planet.

    I have a friend who had three compliant children. THREE! She told me that she used to criticize and judge from across the room other parents with “that kid”. She didn’t even realize what she was doing. Her first three children we so cooperative and so obedient. She would look at other people whose children who would throw fits and not behave she would think, “Oh my goodness! If you would just know how to parent. If you would just this… If you would just that…”

    If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve heard that kind of criticism! You’ve encountered that kind of judgment.Then my friend had baby number four. Guess what? She gave birth to the most consummate “that child” I have even known! He would give my oldest a run for his money. All that judgment, and all that criticism, she had been so happy to dole out to everybody else? She had a lot of repentance and work to do with God. This is a story she shared with me. She is now so grateful to have had her own “that child” and to walk in the grace that she’s been given.

    That’s the divine invitation; is to draw nearer to God! Your “that child” gives you a front row seat to your own sin. An invitation to walk in the grace that you’ve been given, and to continue to live a life of repentance and conviction, and let His grace, and forgiveness, and mercy wash over you. Embrace the patience that He has with you and me. I am overwhelmed with the patience that God has with me when I deal with my “that child”.

    The reality is it’s an opportunity for us to look in the mirror and own our issues that sometimes we’ve not dealt with. God divinely allows it to show up in one of our children. Know what? Our sin is usually a lot more hideous when it shows up in somebody else’s face. But it’s just as hideous to God.

  2. Your “that child” is a blessing not a curse. A gift from the hand of God. Do you remember Psalm 139 when it talks about the Master of creation is weaving inside of you a unique person? This child is a gift from the hand of God. That’s one of my favorite things about being pregnant, feeling that child move within me and just imagining God weaving this person together. A gift from the hand of God.It’s not a curse, not a curse!

    We often will think of “that child” as “THAT child”. If we could just do something with THAT one. Right? No!

    They’re a blessing. Your “that child” is a blessing from the hand of God. Not a menace but a blessing. Given for your happiness and your well-being. God loved you enough to give you “that child” to you to draw you closer to him and to show you the marvelous works of His mercy and His grace.

  3. Finally, your “that child” is a unique person for God’s glory. Your “that child” is going to have questions about things that none of the rest of your other children even think about. They are going to just connect dots when no one else in the room can. They are going to see dots that no one else even sees, and connect them in unique ways.Your “that child” is out of the box. They’re not a round peg that fits in any hole at all. They’re never going to be able to be characterized by a formula. Your “that child” is totally unique! God has a plan for “that child”, uniquely gifted, uniquely talented, unique perspective, unique solutions! Your “that child” is totally unique for the specific purposes that God has made “that child”.

He Has a Plan

We know that the overriding purpose for each one of our lives is to glorify God. God has a plan to use those unique perspectives, those questions that are probably driving you crazy, those answers that you have never thought, or those questions that you have never even thought of, God has a plan to use all of that.

blessed-that child

Let us not be the ones that just berate them and allow our exasperations to characterize our relationship with them. Let’s hug that child as the unique gift that they are from God. Let’s cradle their face in our hands and say to them, “I’m so glad that God sent you to this family. I’m so glad that you’re here.” 

Mom, I want to give this as an invitation to you not just because you love that child because you have to, but to like that child, and be grateful for that child, because you are blessed to be raising “that child”.

“That child” is a world changer.

Go give him a hug!

I Owe Them

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8

There was a very dark, cloudy season in our family’s life many years ago.
I wish that I could forget details, but it hasn’t been easy.

humility

We had a neighbor that my family had become pretty close with, but knowing certain things about them, I still kept my family a little at arms length.
My suspicions came to full light, but by that time, there was much damage done.

I had a choice to make.
Do I wish evil, demise, and hardship on the family; you know, an eye-for-an-eye?
I owe them everything that they’d done to us.
Or I could do what was the Christ-follower thing to do; love, forgive, humble myself and go with His plans.
I owe them forgiveness.

There were several soul and heart searching days that went by.
I wrestled with God for leeway and a pass, knowing all along that love is what I owed.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6

I had to stand on God’s word in this because my heart was screaming something totally different.
I began to come around to humbling under God’s mighty hand. It was through Him that we’d be cared for. My way of doing things and potentially plotting would have backfired as soon as I put plans in motion.

With stepping back, I was able to see where the breakdown was.
First, I didn’t follow the Holy Spirit’s initial warnings. It’s so important to heed those “tuggings” and uneasy feelings.
I gave access to things that shouldn’t have been given access to.

come humbly

Second, those friends needed prayer and mercy, not God’s wrath.
I believe that our not retaliating spoke volumes of our faith and Christian walk.

As my heart softened, Romans 12:9-21 became easier to pray over the situation.
Like verse 18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
We were able to live in peace with our neighbor.

Is there anything that you need to put into God’s hand; to do as 1 Peter 5:6 urges us to do? God is standing ready for us to come humbly to Him and to take the care.

When I Live My Faith

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10

Jesus came searching for me!
Jesus came to save me!
It was part of His plan when He chose redemption for the world.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Love was written all over our Savior’s heart.
His compassion is unmatched.
Jesus did the ultimate in pouring out; He gave it all.

When I Live My Faith

This is the kind of love, compassion and sacrifice that I want to make sure my children place their faith in. This requires me to talk about my faith in God, believing who Jesus says He is, and how the Holy Spirit is our Helper and Counselor.

Our children are very receptive, and I’ve found that they develop an appetite for Jesus when we present the truth to them. When I live my faith for my children to see, they develop a yearning to know the Lord. They see our faith in action; how well we trust God. Once they develop a relationship with Jesus, they have just as much right to Him as we do as their parents. THAT is a great relief.  All of the burden isn’t on us to be their El Shaddai.

The Holy Spirit Will Guide Them

Now, our children still need earthly parenting. We must never be hands-off with that. But just think of the dynamic partnership that we’ll have with them and God.

When solving an issue with a child, I’m learning to incorporate this phrase, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
It’s God that brings the solutions. They see it for themselves, and it bolsters their faith.

Whenever we’ve needed to believe God for a prayer to be answered, it’s God’s word again to the rescue. We find a Scripture promise that supports what we’ve prayed for (this is praying God’s will). When the answer comes, the children get to rejoice because they experience it first hand. It bolsters their faith. This also aids in long-term remembrance of how God answered them.

living faith

I’ve even seen this carry over into a married adult child’s life. She recalled the times that God answered our prayers of faith when she was younger which gave her a foundation for how she needed to presently pray for herself.

Mom, we won’t always bat 1,000, but we’ll hit some when we swing. I learned that I couldn’t leave their faith up to chance. It made me more aware of my own faith in Jesus, and what I truly believed about Him. When I live my faith I gain experiential knowledge that carries our family closer to God.

We can start today by asking God to bolster (support, strengthen, prop up) our own faith so that we can continue to lead our children in faith.

Contagious Joy

Recently a flu-like virus was rampant in my home. It was horrendous. Starting on a typical Monday afternoon with a child slightly coughing and warm to the touch, it quickly turned into five of us down with high fevers, body aches, and all the other unpleasantries of flu.

I was simply amazed at how quickly it spread. This was obviously a very contagious virus. It took over the body of each person in its path, and it was unrelenting.

joy

Oh, how I wish the same for the contagious joy of Jesus! Too often, we look at something that is contagious as a bad thing, but let’s refocus our lens for a bit and think about how we can be contagious in our joy! Because if I could have something spread through my family as quickly as that flu, let it be for Jesus!

The Bible says,

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:2-3 (NIV)

We are filled with joy as a response to who God is and what He has done. When we look to the cross, we have joy. When we look to our Father’s love, we have joy. When we look to our eternity, we have joy. No matter what our circumstances, there is always joy in Jesus.

“My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you. – 1 Peter 4:12-14

In a world where sin and darkness and cynicism abound, and those things seem to spread like wildfire, let our joy be known among all. When those around us see our joy, they will naturally be attracted to it. Let that joy be spread to all those around us!

joy

Joy is a result of the Spirit at work in us.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Dear heavenly Father, fill us with your Spirit that produces joy. Let our joy spread through our homes, our communities, and our world. Let the joy that comes from knowing you, be evident in our lives, so that others may come to know you and the joy that comes from Jesus.

Amen.

Finding Joy in the Ordinary

Yesterday was a rather ordinary day in our home. My husband was at work, we had finished our morning work for homeschooling, and the kids were off playing. Joy.

The baby and I were living it up in the kitchen. He was happily watching me from his bouncer as I prepared mass quantities of food that would be gone too quickly and the dishes were piling up. I began to notice the happy chatter in the other rooms turning to bickering. And then the baby started fussing. 

finding joy

Sigh. Well, it was good while it lasted. 

I glanced at the clock and couldn’t help but wonder if, for the second time in human history, there was a battle going on somewhere and God had stopped the sun in the sky. Why in the world was time moving so slowly today? Why did I feel so tired? And why, suddenly, did the ordinary work of Mom and homemaker feel like a mountain to climb? 

Then it happened. That merciful and quiet voice that spoke to my heart the words I needed to hear: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

Oh. Right.

You see, I have been praying for joy in myself and in my family, and studying what the Bible says about it. Do you know what I found? I found that there is great joy in the mundane.

Do you struggle to find joy in the ordinary days? Do you get weighed down by the mundane? 

Whether you are overwhelmed with the hard repetition of mothering and being a keeper of the home, or are facing situations that are particularly challenging, I can tell you this with certainty: there is joy for you! 

As followers of Christ, our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. It comes from knowing  the Lord and His character – from abiding in Christ and the Word of God. 

The joy of Lord is a deep and unshakable joy in spite of our circumstances.  The more we know God and spend time with Him, the more we are transformed by the Holy Spirit. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, after all, and not something we just drum up on our own effort. 

His Joy

As we abide in Christ and spend time studying, meditating on, and praying the Word, the more we experience the joy that is HIS becoming our own. We abide, He transforms. We focus on Him, He fills us with His joy. 

So, thinking on these things, I scooped up the baby and headed off toward the escalating conflict. I took a deep breath and prayed “Lord give me wisdom and give us Your joy… and please help me remember where I put my coffee.”

As busy moms, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Remembering that He is present with us as we clean the floors and teach the math changes everything. Even more so: remembering that He asked us to do it! He takes great joy in being our Lord, our King, and our constant companion through the Holy Spirit. That joy – the joy of the Lord – that is our strength, dear ladies! 

May we abide in Christ and be transformed by the Spirit! In whatever mountain you are facing today, I pray that the joy of the Lord permeates your days and fills your heart as you dwell in His presence.

Loving Even When It’s Hard

There is a time in every relationship when it is easy to love someone else, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a spouse.  Loving another gets put to the test, when it is no longer about relying on the feeling of loving someone but loving someone in spite of how they make us feel. 

Loviing when it's hard

When, not if, you find yourself in this situation, remember a few things:

1. Believe that truth outweighs your feelings.

The devil loves to make us think our feelings are more valid than the truth.  He will fan the flame of our hurts and try to get us thinking that we are justified in how we feel.  Even if someone has deliberately hurt us and brought us to the brink of emotional turmoil, we should not let our feelings dictate our actions.

Christ says to pray for those who mistreat you, not to give them what they deserve.  Oh, if we received what we deserved, salvation and redemption would not even be available to us!

When those feelings of hurt overtake us and all we can see is their wrong, stop and pray for them.  Beg God to give you Jesus’ perspective and see that person through his eyes.  Ask him to soften your heart so that God can be glorified.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 6:27

2. React and talk to that person like you are dealing with one of God’s children.

I love the analogy that Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, used in a video series I watched several years ago.  It has forever stuck with me.  If you are having a moment of intense fellowship with your spouse (or someone else), picture Jesus standing right behind them.  Take a breath then continue talking to that person like you are talking to Jesus.

Well, the same should be true for the child of God standing in front of you.  S/he is created in God’s image and is precious in his sight…even when you feel hurt by him or her.  If we keep our focus on Jesus and act like we are speaking to him during these heated conversations, the end result will bring us closer to God and to each other.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right had, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:8

3. Remember love is an action word that is not dependent on others actions.

Ouch!  This is one of the hardest lessons for my kids…and myself to learn.  What about you?  How many times has this phrase (or something similar) flown out of our mouths:

“Just because someone treats you badly, doesn’t mean you should treat them badly.”

or

“Did you treat ___, like you would want to be treated?”

showing God's love

I, too, have to take that step back and remind myself that my love is dependent on God’s truth, which is everlasting and does not show favoritism.

Did you know we will show we are true children of God by showing our love to others, even when they mistreat us?  Just as God does! Remembering this when our emotions are high is vital.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45

Being a visual person, 1 Corinthians 13 always helps me to see where my love needs more action and truth and less feeling.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Prayer to take Loving Action

Is there something in this list that runs counter to your feelings.  If so, take some time to pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to help strengthen your heart in truth instead of these feelings.

Oh, how amazingly patient you are with us, Lord.  Your love and grace are truly astounding.  With humble hearts, knowing that we are not perfect,we ask that you show us where we can love more and rely on our feelings less.  We thank you for being merciful with us as we mature in our relationship with you and seek your wisdom and truth above the wisdom of this age that tries to trigger our emotions into action.  May we stand on your truth and share your love with all we come in contact with.   In the One who is the living example of true love – Amen!

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember God causes the sun to rise…and He loves you!
Be blessed! 

My Junk Drawer

my junk drawer

A dried up glue stick
One chopstick
A used band aid
Half of an eraser
15 pennies
An empty chocolate wrapper
An unused tea bag
An unsharpened pencil
One envelope
A small spring
Post-its
A comb
Lots of crumbs
Several pieces of chalk
A package of ketchup
A plastic fork
A ball of twine
An empty Chapstick
Two small tubes of lotion, both empty

 

The official Carman Family junk drawer is in the kitchen. It is supposed to have handy writing utensils, a post-it pad, some scissors-yeah, right-some tape, maybe a Sharpie, you get it, miscellaneous stuff. But those things are not usually in there.

It’s supposed to be a place we can go to quickly to grab some essential tool to complete a task. It’s not supposed to be hard to open. It is. It’s not supposed to be filled with trash. It is. It’s not supposed to constantly be disorganized. But it is.

It’s supposed to be neat, clean and handy.

Instead in our junk drawer contains things that should be in the trash. Why do we even bother to open the drawer and put these things in? The trash can is right beside it. Why do we stuff the drawer full? Why do we avoid cleaning it out? Why do we put it off till we can’t close it out anymore?? Why do we hope someone else will do it and we won’t have to?

Our family junk drawer is like my heart, my mind. It’s supposed to be a place where useful and helpful truths are stored. It’s supposed to be neat and clean. It’s supposed to be full of God’s love and His praise. It’s supposed to be easily opened not jammed shut. But it isn’t.

Often my heart and my mind are full of trash, things that are polluting my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I have stuff there, I put stuff there that contaminates me. Instead of being pure in word and deed, my thoughts and my heart become trashed.

This happens when I don’t practice discernment about what I put in. When I just allow whatever to enter into my mind–whatever music, whatever television show, whatever movie, whatever book, whatever whatever. When “whatever” sets my standard, I’ve chosen to passively poison my heart and mind with junk, useless, broken, worthless junk that needs to be in the trash.

Capitol One currently has a successful advertising campaign featuring Samuel L Jackson who simply asks, “What’s in your wallet?” For many, bank accounts, credit limits and other financial assets are what’s most important. But Scripture tells us, it’s a heart issue.

God asks, “What’s in your heart?”

guard heart

Junk Does

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. My junk hinders me. Junk does that. It gets in the way of our ability to function. It inhibits our focus and often frustrates us too. I can’t find a sharpened pencil in the drawer for all of the broken ones there, can’t find a clean piece of paper for all of the wadded ones, can’t find a piece of tape for all of the empty rolls.

The last time I cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer, I determined to pause before I put anything it. I decided to resist the urge to just stuff something in, to avoid thinking it doesn’t matter, to throw away trash. So far, so much better.

Now, about my heart. Scripture admonishes me to “guard my heart”. To store up for myself “treasures in Heaven”, to “love the Lord with all of my heart”, and in doing these things, there’s not any room left for junk.

The best way to guard my heart is to be intentional about what I allow in it, to actively resist allowing junk in. Storing up treasures in Heaven is best achieved by filling my heart with His truth and serving others. And loving the Lord starts with how we live each day, acknowledging and worshiping Him in all we say and do.

Do you have a junk drawer or closet or garage that you are putting off cleaning out? Why are you avoiding the task? Make an appointment with yourself to get it done. What about your heart? Is it overflowing with the love of God or is it crammed with junk? Make of list of things that need to be cleaned out.

Take some time now to pray and praise Him, this is the first step to cleaning out your heart.

 

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…make a plan for actively guarding your heart and keeping the junk out.
Be blessed! 

Praise God for His Steadfast Love!

For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!Psalm 117:2

 

It’s February. Write about love. Great.

I’m perfectly happy to write about loving God, loving your family, loving your neighbor as yourself. But think about love in February, and romantic love is the first thing that springs to mind. And I can think of at least 3,497 topics a single mom would rather write about than romantic love.

Back at the turn of the millennium, I was a typical homeschooling mom, married with four sons under age nine. When my husband left us in early 2001 to live with another woman, I was shocked, angry, and scared. How could this happen to ME?

I was embarrassed to be divorced. I felt as if a scarlet D were fastened firmly to my dress. Mostly I felt rejected. Being unloved quickly shifts into feeling unlovable.

 

God's love never changes

But our lovableness—our worth, our value—does not come from man. It comes from God, who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to save us (John 3:16). THAT is love!

I searched the Bible for the word love, and it shows up 551 times in the English Standard Version. That was no surprise. What really grabbed my attention was the frequent appearance of the word steadfast to describe God’s love. In fact, the phrase steadfast love shows up 194 times!

Other translations describe steadfast love as lovingkindness or unfailing love. The dictionary defines steadfast as “firmly fixed in place; immovable; not subject to change.” How wonderfully reassuring! God’s love for us is firmly fixed, immovable, not subject to change.

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.Isaiah 54:10

In this fallen world, human love often changes or ends. But God’s love never changes and never ends.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!I Chronicles 16:34

When people fail you, remember that God is always faithful. When you feel unloved, rest in God’s steadfast, unfailing love!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

steadfast love

Like the Psalmist, may we praise God for His steadfast love!

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember. His steadfast love never changes.
Be blessed!