25Jun

No Drama, Mama: Pray

No Drama Mama

Subscribers–so sorry if you got this twice and it was wonky the first time!  Had some technical difficulties in publishing.

Pray.

I know this is generally considered too obvious and not practical, but hear me out. I’m not going to tell you to pray about the situation (at least not directly). Too often, for me that Sounds something like this: “Lord, you know I don’t want to argue, but she is just so darn infuriating…” Not exactly, but you get the idea.

Sometimes it sounds a lot like a venting session and I end up even more frustrated than when I started.

So if praying directly about the disagreement doesn’t help me, what does?  Here are the more specific ways that I use prayer to help me in such situations.

1. Pray for peace.
When I feel the Holy Spirit convicting me about a situation, I immediately begin to pray for God’s perfect peace and love to fill my heart, and for that to be reflected in my words and actions.. I pray for Him to transform my heart to His and remove all anger and bitterness that resides there, and humble my spirit. Because I know that there is something in my heart that is not right. I have to recognize that the thing driving me to engage in these useless disputes is not from the Lord.

2. Pray for the other person involved.
A couple years ago, I was reading this great book with a group of ladies. It was called The Frazzled Female. There was one particular chapter that really resonated with me. The author recommended praying for a person you were frustrated with.  She was specifically talking about frustration caused by a long shopping line, a bad driver, etc.—but I have found it useful in all areas of disagreements. Nothing defeats anger and bitterness toward someone faster than praying God’s blessings over them!

It’s amazing the peace that fills MY heart when I can just stop the anger in it’s tracks—stop the enemy in his tracks, and instead start to pray for blessings in someone’s life! If you’re at a loss, Paul has many beautiful prayers that can apply to so many people and situations—use God’s word if you don’t know enough about the person or situation to pray specifically for them.

3. Pray for Wisdom and Discernment.

Allow me to rock your world for a minute…You’re not always right.

I know. It was a shocker to me, too, because apparently I’m not either.  God, however is always right.  He is perfect and His will is perfect. He is all-knowing, and He will provide you with wisdom if you seek it with an open heart. Pray for God to reveal His perfect will to all involved.

Ask Him to show you if there is anything about your own opinion that needs to be changed. PS—this is probably best done before you engage in an argument! Better to have yourself divinely enlightened before you open your mouth than to spill out ugly words that can’t be taken back…

4. Praise Him.

And when all else fails, just stop what you’re doing, take a breather.  And just praise God for His wonderful creation and who He is!

Chime In: What has helped you avoid drama?

07Apr

Poor is in the attitude

 

 

wanting less

This is from the archives,originally published June 2012 but this is almost exactly what we talked about in Sunday school yesterday, so I thought I would repost.

“Poor” is a matter of attitude, not bank account.

I know this series is about conquering debt on a low-income, but to do that requires a frugal lifestyle (or that you win the lottery, of course), and a frugal lifestyle usually requires that we change our way of thinking.

I read an article recently that saddened me.  It was about “impoverished” parenting and the author was lamenting the fact that her children weren’t able to eat much junk food because they were too poor.  They also couldn’t afford to buy organic products, or name brand clothes.  She went on and on about how “poor” they were because they could only do this and this, but weren’t able to do that.  By the end of the article, she had achieved her goal and I felt deeply sorry for her children.

I don’t feel sorry for them that they are deprived.  They aren’t.

There are countless people in this world who are starving.  No this isn’t a “there are people worse off than you” lecture, the point is that many of them are more content than we are!  Will you process that for a minute?  When I went to Haiti on a mission trip in 2003, I witnessed some of the deepest levels of poverty I have ever seen—people living in run-down straw shacks with dirt floors.  Babies with their bellies pooched out from malnutrition, and kids with orange hair because their starving bodies were trying desperately to save any nutrition possible.  Even in their deep need, the people I met were far happier and more content than the spoiled American society that we live in.

The children from that blog post are only deprived because their mother is teaching them that they are deprived.  They are being taught to allow money to control their happiness and to live in a constant state of perceived want.  Once that mindset starts, there can be no fulfillment, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many nice things you have, there will always be something out of reach that leaves you wanting, until you change your attitude.

We’re on a limited budget, and I’ve had people shake their heads at how we’re depriving our boys of ____ (insert junk food, eating out, fancy toys, expensive vacations, etc.).  We have a roof over our heads and God always provides our needs (and most reasonable wants!).  We have a $200/month grocery budget, which rarely includes junk food.  (that’s a good thing.  We don’t need junk food!)  My boys always wear used clothing and it’s rarely name brand (again, a good thing.  I don’t want them to learn that the label on their clothing determines their value).  Logan wears almost entirely hand-me-downs, except for a couple of new outfits throughout the year that he gets for his birthday or Christmas.  They have less toys than other children we know and the ones they have aren’t fancy.

But, let me make something very clear.  We are not poor and my children are not deprived.  I will not teach them that.

They use their imaginations.  They enjoy simple things.  They don’t require the newest fancy toys to have fun or be happy.  We choose this for them, for a variety of reasons.

As Christians, we’ve all heard this verse quoted, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  Do you know what Paul said just before those inspiring words?

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:11-13)

Paul had learned the lesson that contentedness, happiness, fulfillment and joy are not found in things.  He had learned to be content despite his circumstances.  Why are we teaching our children the opposite?

It is our job as parents to teach our children how to be content, transcendent of circumstances and material possessions.

We are making the choice to teach our children this valuable life lesson.  Through simple living, we are teaching them to be content with what we have.  No, they don’t have name brand clothes, a lot of junk food, or fancy toys.  They don’t “get to” eat out a lot or go on expensive vacations.  But they are happy and enjoy the simple things in life.  They are content.

They are a lot richer than most of the children around us who have every possible want fulfilled.

03Apr

Cardboard Testimonies

On Easter Sunday, we were blessed to participate in cardboard testimonies at our church. If you’ve never seen (or heard of) cardboard testimonies, you can see an example here. It’s an incredibly moving presentation of people sharing something God has done for them, or something God has helped them overcome.

Our testimonies are powerful.

Here is Chad and my younger son, Logan:

Cardboard Testimonies

 

When Logan was born, I was only allowed a brief moment with him before he was taken away to the NICU because he couldn’t regulate his blood sugar. At 5:00 am the next morning, a doctor came into my room:  “Your baby is having seizures.” This doctor was trying to help my son and had no time for bedside manner. He immediately went into a litany of tests being performed, possible diagnoses and complications. I won’t lie, I was scared.

Logan

 

The seizures continued and later that day, Logan was transferred to a nearby hospital with a better NICU and access to a better neurology department. I chronicled our week-long journey in real-time. But in the end, I sat in the NICU holding my newborn Logan while a neurologist told me that my baby had brain damage. They couldn’t say for sure if it happened in utero or at birth, but it was there. He said the damage was similar to what would be caused by a stroke and that if an adult suffered such damage there would be no hope. They would be vegetative or dead.

He kept saying “we can’t know how bad it will be, only time will tell.” He said worst case is that my son would be vegetative, require constant care for the rest of his life, might never be aware of his surroundings, never be able to speak, never able to recognize me as his mother or tell me he loves me. He might never walk or talk. He might have cerebral palsy. The list of potential problems and complications was seemingly endless and severe.

The hope offered was that sometimes a baby’s still-forming brain can compensate for such a loss. The best case scenario was that he’d have milder learning or physical disabilities.

As I cried into my baby’s sleeping head, clutching him tightly to my chest, I wanted this doctor to tell me it might be okay. I said “So the other parts of his brain might compensate so that you can’t even tell anything’s wrong?”

He was quick to correct me. “No.” This damage is there, and it is permanent. The only thing we don’t know is exactly how badly his life will be affected. It might not be very bad.

When I relayed the story to others, I would put on my happy face, and I would dress it up. I would leave out the worst case scenario and focus only on the best. But I was there, alone in the moment when the doctor happened to come, and I will never forget the scary and uncertain prognosis delivered to me that day.

It was a waiting game.

But then he started to laugh.

Logan

And he started to roll over, sit up, and crawl.

Logan

And he started to walk at 10 months of age.

Logan

At 18 months, he recognized all his colors, even though he couldn’t really talk then.

Logan

And at 2 years old, a switch seemed to flip and he went from not talking at all to speaking in full sentences, almost over night.

Logan

And slowly we watched our little boy grow, meeting or exceeding every developmental milestone.

Logan's Testimony

And on Sunday we were able to share the rest of the story in the form of a cardboard testimony:

Cardboard Testimony

 

21Feb

Everything Happens for a Reason.

There is a phrase I hear a lot, from both Christians and non-Christians:  Everything happens for a reason. It’s usually said to explain away something bad.

 
I was a drug addict, but everything happens for a reason.

I was involved in a 2-year long, abusive relationship…but everything happens for a reason.

My husband and I got divorced, but now I’m remarried and happy so everything happens for a reason.

 
Usually, people go on to talk about how it was all God’s will, or it was all in His plan. And that has always left me feeling a bit confused. You mean, it was God’s will for you to get a divorce? It was God’s will for you to be a drug addict?

 
No, I’m sorry, but I can’t believe that.  God hates sin, and I don’t think sin is in His perfect plan for my life.

 
I mean, of course everything happens for a reason, but sometimes that reason is simply our own sin or bad choices (or someone else’s). Sometimes that reason is that we live in a fallen world. Sometimes, we are looking for an answer that just isn’t there. I spent 2 years of my life in an abusive relationship. I still have scars from this relationship, even though I am happily married now to a loving, supportive, understanding, wonderful man.  I don’t think that God led me down that path (in fact, I know He didn’t…but that’s another post). I led myself down that path, but He can redeem it.


God’s word does tell us:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  -Romans 8:28

 

Wow! This gives me so much hope. God can redeem all my mistakes, my flaws, my failures.  It doesn’t mean he planned them, or that it was His perfect will for me. But it does mean that if I let Him, He will use all of my mistakes, and all of other people’s mistakes that I’ve been victim to, and He will bring something good out of it.
It means that no matter what Satan tries to throw at me, no matter what “life” throws at me, no matter how much I fail and sabotage myself through sin, He can make all things work together for good.


It doesn’t mean that I was in His perfect will when I made those mistakes, or that it was His plan or reasons that caused them. It just means that it’s another example of His awesome grace and mercy at work.  Because even in those moments when I veer so far off His path that I can’t even see His path anymore, if I just come back to Him, submit submit myself to Him. If I love Him and am called according to His purpose, then He can still redeem even the worst in my life.

24Jan

I would never do that

Today, I want to talk about a popular attitude that we Christians are known for. You may have uttered it yourself: “I would never do that.” Although the words themselves are harmless enough, they can come from a place of pride and judgment. With these words, we place ourselves up on a pedestal, look down our noses at others and declare that we are better than they are.

But God’s word tells us:

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
-Proverbs 16:18

I was in high school, at the lunchroom table when a girl across from me said she wasn’t sure if her somewhat controlling boyfriend would let her do something that weekend. I don’t remember who she was talking to or what they were doing, but I remember my reaction clearly: I thought to myself, quite haughtily, I would never ask my boyfriend’s permission to do anything. No one is going to have that kind of control over me.

She must be weak. Why didn’t she just dump him? I was stronger. That would never happen to me.

A few years down the road, I spent almost 2 years in the midst of a destructive, controlling, abusive relationship. And then I understood how that could happen in someone’s life.

 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
-1 Corinthians 10:12

I remember my college roommate asking, “Would you rather have diarrhea or vomiting?” What kind of question is that?! It turns out she was studying eating disorders for a class. My answer? “Ugh. Neither! I would never do something like that to myself!”

A few years later, I found myself standing over a toilet doing exactly that. And I understood how a person could reach that point.

I wonder about adultery. How many husbands  and wives do you think have said at one time, “I would never do that.” And yet many of them do.

The point here is not to imply that you’ll end up doing everything you say you’d never do. Instead, I just want us to consider a couple of things behind this statement.

Pride. The attitude is that while others may fall into sin, we never could. God says “Pride goes before the fall” and there is a reason for that. Once we start to think that we are somehow so good that we are immune to sin, there is a temptation to stop actively avoiding it. It’s okay if I talk have a close friendship with that man, I would never cheat on my husband. We forget that sin doesn’t just happen…it starts with small steady steps. We have all fallen short. We are all depraved sinners in need of grace (Romans 3:23). And we need to remember that. The Bible tells us that Satan walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We cannot afford to get too comfortable. (1 Peter 5:8) (<–Tweet This)

Judgment. The other side of this coin is judgment. Since we would, of course, never do that thing, we give ourselves the freedom to judge harshly the person doing it.

Over the years, I’ve learned something tough about myself: I no longer know what I am capable of doing. It’s a humbling realization, but it reminds me every day that I need God to help me. And it has taught me to try harder to extend grace and compassion to others.

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