The Peace Test

Just as sure as I share how I keep my peace of mind or how I prepare for those unexpected tests, I have a pop quiz on keeping my peace! Yesterday, I was definitely put to the test of patience and peace of mind. Everything was okay until we were driving home from Bible Study and I’ve got just a few more nerves left for the rest of the evening. Between eight and nine at night is usually when I begin to feel drained - the boys have asked a million questions, told me 500 stories, and called my name 300 times. It was almost nine in the evening and I was exhausted, yet the boys were in the back seat still calling my name, telling me stories, and asking questions. I had to pray and ask the Lord for an extra ounce of grace and patience to get through the rest of the evening without losing my peace of mind. I could have easily asked the boys to be quiet, yet the drive home was short and I knew the power of God would sustain me AND my hormones if I just kept my focus on His power and not my circumstances. After all, why should the boys be punished for my lack of self-control? I knew they were tired also, yet they could have continued until midnight if I let them. Being tired is definitely stomping ground for the enemy, so I chose not to set myself up to say or do something I would later regret. We made it home and I exhaled. The boys were hungry and I gave them the quickest snack I could find and sent them to bed. Whew! I made it and didn’t lose my patience or peace. This process may sound easy, yet it has taken many days of losing my patience, and failing countless tests of peace to get to this point. Most importantly, it takes building an intimate relationship with the Lord and knowing to call on Him throughout the day before you reach your breaking point. Are you ready for your peace test?

Pop Quiz

Everyday something is bound to happen to try to steal your peace of mind. Knowing this will happen and expecting it, is half the battle. Whether it’s your patience, compassion, or your attitude, some area of your life will be tested today. It’s usually trivial, insignificant issues that bombard our day. It’s not the actual action that takes place, yet it’s our reaction that will either give us a passing or failing grade. Many days I wake up full of joy and ready to tackle the day and something small will throw me off guard. A misunderstood word from my husband, attitudes from my children, or a complaining spirit because my to-do list is longer than the day, are all things that shape our attitude, which in turn will shape our day into either a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ day. This is why it is so important to have quiet, meditation time with God as soon as we awake. Yes, before the first load of laundry, before leaving for work, before breakfast, before turning on the radio or television…put God first. Once we realize that every step we take is under the control of a mighty God, we will be free from thinking we are in control of the day and what happens. There is nothing we can do alone; it’s all under His power. He controls us, and everything that happens to us. Our very small part in keeping our peace throughout the day is to keep our minds on Him. To be continued...

Keep The Peace

I asked my mother what would be the one piece of advice she would give a mother and she said, “Keep your peace of mind.” It’s quite ironic that I share the same advice. Although I haven’t the wisdom and life experience my mother has as an older woman, I understand all to well the importance of keeping your peace of mind in the midst of chaos. My signature in my emails and other personal correspondence is followed by the phrase, perfect peace. My mother said, don’t worry about it being perfect; just keep your peace! Of course I would not understand or appreciate this peace if I had not experienced some pandemonium in my life. There is nothing like feeling as if your world is falling apart and you’re about to lose your mind - the house is dirty, the husband is acting funny, the children are getting on that last nerve, bill collectors are calling, and you want to walk away from it all. Having your peace of mind makes all the mentioned issues seem quite weightless – almost as if they didn’t exist. Yes, having peace is powerful, yet it doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that must be learned and practiced. To be continued…

What About Me?

I do a lot of computer work and trying to work from home is very difficult. Trying to work from home and home school is difficult. Trying to work from home and home school plus have a high maintenance husband is difficult. Yesterday I tried to sneak in a few minutes on the computer while the family was outside and it seems the computer has a built in alarm. As soon as I get busy typing, here they come. I tried to ignore them, yet they insisted on including me in the family conversation. I gave them a nod every now and then with an occasional smile and laugh as I continued typing. My youngest wanted to play the piano and of course I had to listen attentively to the new song he composed (smile). By this time, I just turned off the computer and decided to wait until later in the evening as I usually do. Later in the evening never came because once the boys went to bed; I wanted to give my husband his time. By the time he went to bed, I was tired and shortly fell in bed behind him. I probably need my own office and I mean my OWN office! Is it possible? Will they eventually find an excuse to knock on the door to interrupt? Will they turn it into a sitting room when the office is not in use and slowly turn it into a family room? I’m sure other mothers deal with this scenario if you also work from home, or maybe you go to school and find it difficult to study or get homework done. Is there a solution? Help! What About Me!

A Friend In Need

I’m a reserved person and really enjoy being alone. I rarely pick up the telephone to chat and you definitely don’t have to worry about me coming to your home uninvited. I thank God for hiding my unfriendly character with His character, and loving and using me in spite of myself. The Lord has placed an acquaintance in my life, and I've been resistant to the relationship growing for several selfish reasons. For months, I’ve prayed to be receptive to God’s will in this relationship. Yesterday she called crying with some bad news she received and I prayed with her on the phone. After our prayer, she asked me to never leave her, and through her tears, she said she didn’t know what she would do without my friendship. Feeling like I had royal mud in my face, I told her not to thank me, yet thank God. I certainly didn't deserve an ounce of tribute for this friendship. Immediately, the Lord shared with me that my purpose in all new associations isn't to try to be a friend, yet to introduce them to another friend…Jesus. My job isn't to try to love them, yet to tell them of the love Jesus has for them. Whether they know it or not, this is what they are really searching for anyway! Our Lord was all about relationships. He introduced everyone He met to His father or encouraged them to develop a closer relationship with him. Women are notorious for relationship blocking - another trick of the enemy. When I enter another seasonal connection or maybe a relationship that will grow into a lasting friendship, I pray I remember it’s not about me. One day I won’t be so self-consumed. Everyone wants to be loved and needs one faithful friend. My grandmother once told me Jesus is my only friend. What a friend we have in Jesus! A true friend will share The Friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)
A man who has friends must himself be friendly. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Endless Energy

Do children ever get enough of frolic and fun? Am I getting old or what? Maybe it’s just the summer heat affecting their brain, to make them think they must soak up every ounce of daylight and sun they possibly can. They won’t slow down unless I make them. Swimming, running, playing baseball, tag, hide and seek, video games, swimming, skating, running, swimming, running, swimming, and on and on and on all day long. My goodness, if I could bottle up some of that energy for my low days! It doesn’t stop when it’s bath time either! They want to race to see how long it takes them to take a shower and put their pajamas on and then they talk and laugh until one of them falls asleep. My goodness! It really is a blessing they are healthy and full of endless energy. There are children in hospitals never to see the outside again, so I have only countless blessings to thank God for. Their endless energy is just a reminder of how precious life is and the joy we should have everyday regardless of our situation or what we’re going through. The ability to grasp each moment and thank God for the ability to inhale and exhale should be enough to make us want to run and shout!

Family Baptism

I’ve never watched the show – let’s get that straight first, however, I’m very aware of the little character on the show Family Guy. I have no idea what his name is, yet he has a football shaped head and just doesn’t rub me the right way. The commercials are enough to convince me he is not a character I’d invite in my home and he appears to be related to the Simpson Family. Well, so much for my thoughts about Family Guy – what is his name anyway? One day, my youngest son brought home this Family Guy character! He won him when he was out with his Father in one of those machines where you try to win stuffed animals by pulling them up with a metal claw - shaped gadget. When he brought him home, I told him what kind of fellow he was and that I didn’t want him in the house because he wasn’t a good boy. “Mama, we can turn him into a good boy can’t we?” I had no idea what he was talking about, yet the next morning he baptized Family Guy in the bathroom sink and said, “Mama, Family Guy is a good boy now.” I couldn’t say a word because I was surprised he even thought to do such an act. Although we don’t believe water baptism saves or changes you, my son’s thoughts were loving and accepting unlike his mother who wanted to throw the little guy in the trash!! Needless to say, Family Guy is now a part of our family along with many other stuffed animals and characters.

Mundane Matters

Being a home-keeper can become a mundane mess if we allow it to. It's the same thing different day – cooking, cleaning, homework, running errands, taxi-driver, breaking up fights, laundry, etc, etc, etc… Thank God for the power of the mind. We have a choice each day to either dread our everyday responsibilities with frustration or to face the new day with an attitude of gratefulness for a new opportunity to create a comfortable, loving environment for our family. It’s a challenge, yet I enjoy imagining it’s my first time tackling the tasks on my to-do list. How pleasurable it will be to wash this load of laundry I’ve never washed before...separating the colors will be fun! Cook? Oh joy! What nutritious meal shall I prepare today? I may even bake a cake! Mop the floor? I’ll put a shine on it they’ve never seen before! Clean the bathroom? They won’t want to come out! Okay, I said it was a challenge, but doesn’t it sound fun to try? The battle begins in the mind and if we allow our thoughts to take us to that place of dreadful drudgery, it’s difficult to return to our private place of peace. Why even visit such an undesirable place? In an instant, we can paint the walls in our home black with our thoughts and actions. I’d rather stay where the skies are blue and clear - my thoughts are unpolluted and my actions are kind. Mundane matters don't have to be mundane at all.

Wait Till They Become A Teenager!

It’s so encouraging to hear positive stories from mothers of teenagers. When I speak of my sons to other mothers, I often hear, “Wait until they become a teenager!” Well, I don’t want to wait and why won’t you tell me what I’m waiting for so I can prepare for it?” Does every teenager take their parents through hell? I choose to think not. I had two teenage girls from my church spend the night with me recently and they were such a joy. They are girls any mother would be proud of and I tell their mothers this frequently. We snacked, giggled, talked, watched TV, laughed at each other (they laughed at me mostly...I guess I say ‘old lady’ stuff), and I fell asleep on them. Why they would want to spend time with a forty something married woman with children, I don’t know, yet I was happy to be in their presence. I’m sure they give their parent’s a little beef every now and then; they are still young humans with hormones, yet these girls give me hope for the teenage years. I know God has some things stored for my boys and there is no guarantee what choices they’ll make in life, yet all I can do is my part and raise them right – with morals, values, character, and a love for the Lord. I want them to do the right thing because they want to, not because they have to. My two sleepover guests showed the same manners, love, and respect they show on Sunday and it was sincere. They are who they are...good girls. I can sit and “wait till they become teenagers” and wait for the bomb to explode, or I can pour into my sons now and prepare them AND ME for those challenging teenage years. I'm pouring!!!

Marriage Mishaps

This seems to be the week for marriage mishaps. It’s comical to me that I’ve gone through many struggles in my marriage and God continues to show me they weren’t about me. Every situation I’ve gone through, going through now, and will go through is to help another marriage! Yes, I gain a little more character, peace, and understanding of God, yet there is a much bigger picture than my own issue. This week especially, I’ve spoken with several women having a difficult time in their marriage. I’m not a marriage counselor, yet I know one! Marriage can turn in an instant. The slightest wrong move, action, or word can turn a romantic mood or moment of bliss into a confused state of matrimony. What happened?! How do you turn it back? You don’t. You allow the love of God to smother you and take control. Trust me, having the last word only makes things worse. I know; I am the trophy holder of MOUTH. I know I’m right, you’re going to listen, and I won’t stop talking until you understand and accept what I’m saying. That was the old me; things had to change if my marriage was going to thrive. Sometimes we can be so angry, our thoughts are not coherent. Be quiet, pray, and wait. Try not to marinate the negative, yet process the positive in your mind. Try to think of the good qualities in your spouse and focus on their strong traits. Your peace of mind will slowly return and you aren’t feeding your body stressed energy, which eventually turns into illness or disease. It’s not worth our energy or time. Time is powerful and silence is priceless. God’s love is amazing if we just allow Him to work through our pride and selfishness. Yes, it’s a sacrifice and it takes a lot of practice, yet the rewards are mind-blowing. You may think this won’t work in your particular situation, yet my marriage counselor does not show favoritism and HIS love conquers all. Your situation is nothing He hasn’t seen and solved before.

A Welcomed Inconvenience

I decided to go swimming one day only to find a small lizard dead on the steps of the pool. He must have drowned, and I immediately thought of the inconvenience its death was about to cause me. I attempted to scoop the creature out with a net, yet I kept pushing him it into a position that made it more difficult to reach him. I was not about to pick him up and yes, I’m afraid of lizards, dead or alive, and I sure wasn’t going swimming with one! My sons weren’t at home and I could hear them repeating the scripture that God has not given me the spirit of fear...the scripture I so often share with them (smile). Anyway, their little voices did not convince me to remove the lizard, so the spirit of fear and I went back into the house while I selfishly prayed, “Lord, I love you and you said ALL things work together for good, so what is the purpose of this dead lizard keeping me from going swimming?” As soon as I walked in the house, the dead lizard became a blessing. The smell of cabbage met me before I opened the door; I left it warming on the stove. I intended to eat it before I went swimming, yet completely forgot about it. I would have been in the pool for at least an hour…needless to say; a series of unfortunate events could have occurred had it not been for the dead lizard. As I sat eating my cabbage, I heard laughter outside my front door and looked out the window. My neighbor’s son was walking into their house draped in a contraption that covered his entire upper body. I immediately went into the kitchen to bake him something. I took warm brownies over and found out he had been assaulted and broke his neck! My goodness, if things had gone as I planned, I would have missed out on my blessing and also blessing someone else. Sitting in traffic, long red lights, unexpected phone calls, misplaced car keys, and boo-boo diapers right when it’s time to walk out the door can all be inconveniences, yet when we realize God is in control of our lives and our time, these inconveniences suddenly become welcomed blessings!

Another Mom's Thoughts

I receive emails from moms from all walks of life and the emails help me remember how much we are alike in so many ways. With her permission, here is one email from a working mom I thought we all could relate to.
- - - Just trying to get started this morning and prepare myself for whatever the day will bring. Found it a little difficult to focus though. I want to run out and get breakfast, I want to go to Oprah’s site and look at her Legends Luncheon guests again. I want to look at paint chips and decide what new colors I want to paint my house. I want to think about how that woman offended me at church last night...yep, I want to do everything except pray and meditate on Jesus. I found a way to get focused, I just sat a minute and thought...I mean really, really, really thought about how it was God who 'chose' to wake me up this morning, It was He who 'chose' to allow my family to be in their beds and not in the hospital bed. It was God who 'chose' to let me have a job. It was God who chose to give me life, a purpose, and a passion. It was God who created the women at Oprah’s luncheon. And it will be God who chooses and allows me to do anything in this world to bring change. We sing this stuff in church music all the time and we get before the church and mention God’s power all the time. But it’s a different thing to really know it and realize it every minute of the day. It’s so easy to wake up refreshed and ready to serve the Lord. Will my awakening be asleep by 10:00 AM when I realize how much is wrong in my life? Yeah right, MY life...I better recognize it was God who gave me 'my' life. Lastly, I was blessed so by the Oprah show yesterday, I forgot what her guest’s name was but he was describing his girlfriend (Penelope Cruz). He said she had a way of looking at things or places she has already experienced but looking at them as if to see them for the very first time...with wonder, an open heart, and no pre set expectations. I would like to look at life that way, including my job, people, and even my church family. Okay I am done blabbing.

The Distracted Mother

While serving snacks at Vacation Bible School this week, I’m hearing so many cute comments from the children. Children say the funniest things, yet some of them can be considered smart remarks. One day we were waiting for more food to come from the kitchen, so the children were just patiently waiting in line. One particular little girl looked at me with big brown eyes and said, “I’m hungry.” I smiled and told her it should be just a few minutes before the food comes. When it finally arrived, I continued serving and the little girl received her plate. It wasn’t until after the serving was complete and later in the evening that I thought of those big brown eyes. I remembered how the little girl looked – her hair was messy, her clothes were dirty, and her face didn’t appear happy or childlike…she looked troubled. At the time, I was so distracted by my job of serving snacks; I missed meeting the true needs of this child. Was she sad? Was she hungry for love? Is she neglected at home? I thought about my own children and how distracted I may be when they come to me. This is how children begin looking for love in the wrong places. It takes a lot of time and energy to be a nurturing, concerned mother. It takes a second to become a distracted mother. Children rarely express their needs. How often has your child said, “Mama, will you spend more time with me?" “Mom, will you stop and listen to me while I tell you this long story?” “Mom, I had a bad day at school today and I want to tell you about it.” Sounds unreal doesn’t it, yet they must think these things from time to time. They assume we always know what they need, yet we sometimes get distracted with housekeeping, school, church ministry, and our jobs. I thank God for the little girl with the big brown eyes. God can use anything and anyone to teach a lesson!

The Blue Ribbon

My husband, Kevin, and I recently taught a group of teenagers at our church and during the last class, we presented the students with certificates and a few of them received ribbons for their performance. I also presented my husband with a ribbon, which read World’s Best Husband to express my appreciation for his help with the class. He was completely surprised and hung the ribbon on a kitchen cabinet when we returned home. That simple blue ribbon from the 99 cents store was worth a million dollars. He said he felt like he was on top of the world. He acted differently, his attitude was different, and he even walked differently! It was funny to me at first; I thought he was just acting, yet after a week passed and he was still on cloud nine, I realized just how important the blue ribbon was to him. My words are powerful to my husband. If I tell him he can do something, he knows he can do it without a doubt. If I give him a compliment, he smiles and stands tall. Now, on the other hand, I am also capable of letting the air out of his ego balloon and stripping him of every ounce of confidence he has with my words. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, yet breaking my husband’s spirit also breaks our oneness, our marriage. There is a little boy in every man and they need affirmation, admiration, and appreciation on a daily basis. Even when they don’t quite meet our expectations, positive words can change their attitude and how they feel about themselves. I didn’t say we could change THEM, yet our words have a major impact on who they are and who they become.