Update on S.O.U.L.

I'm still enrolled in the School Of Unconditional Love and I have to admit that I've flunked quite a few tests, but I've also passed a few. It's a shame to admit this, but the one person I have the most difficulty showing unconditional love to is my husband. Hubby's nickname is Sugar Bear and I gave him that pet name because he is such a sweet, gentle, caring man. He's very touchy feely (spell check), which is quite opposite of me, and he's a lot of fun to be with. So what's the problem you ask?

I come from an abusive relationship with a crazy, drug using, malt liquor beer drinking, alcoholic boyfriend and brought MUCH baggage to my marriage. Sugar Bear has had to pay for my past over and over again. S.O.U.L. is God's way of delivering me from my past and allowing Him to have his way with my heart. Why so long to seek freedom? SELF! Silly, self-centered Self. I validated my inability to express love with my past, which is wrong. I finally got sick of self - yuck!

Why am I sharing this? I've received many, private emails regarding husbands, so I'm not alone. It doesn't take abuse to realize marriage is a challenge - we all know, husbands are a challenge. They show us what we're made of. Ouch! We all have something in us that needs to die. Whether it's our past, an addiction, expectations of others, a character flaw, a grudge, or a simple hang-up, it's something. If you don't think so, there is a test around the corner that will reveal something quite unpleasant within you. Whatever it is, it hinders the free flow of God's love through us.

S.O.U.L. isn't easy at all, but I'm enjoying the process thoroughly. The lessons are challenging, yet rewarding and each day a little of my self fades. I have an abundance of self, so I may be in the school a little longer than expected. I’m reminded not to consider hubby’s actions, but to simply do my part because I have to answer for...Self.

S.O.U.L. will not only free me in my marriage, but every other relationship in my life. There are seats available in S.O.U.L. and I'll be happy to save you one...oh yea, I need to worry about myself. (hee-hee).

Have a loving day in motherhood!

My Reality Show

Don’t look now, but there’s a hidden camera that’s been following you for a few days now. Not only has it watched your every move and interaction with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers, but you've been on reality television for everyone to see. You’ve had several tests and people have watched the decisions you made and your response to various difficult situations.

Before you start looking for the camera, I’m joking, but actually thought about this happening to me after watching a movie this weekend. The movie was about a dirty cop that had a partner with a heart for God, people, and for doing the right thing. One day on the job, the good cop committed a deceitful act witnessed by his partner, the dirty cop. The dirty cop lost all hope for his chances of changing. Although our eyes shouldn’t be on man; the actions of a man /woman is what will lead others to the Father.

I wonder if my reality television show would be an encouragement or a hindrance to others. Would I be an example to mothers as they watched me discipline and teach my children? Would I be an example to wives as they watched me interact with my husband? What kind of temperance would I display? Would I show compassion and love to everyone? What about patience and kindness outside my home? Can I skip the segment when Aunt Flo visits?

I really don’t need a television show to be mindful of my actions because someone is always watching me. Even when I’m alone, some One is watching me. We will all stumble in this life, so it’s important not to look at the actions of others, but to look in the mirror at our Self. God wants to depend on us to do the right thing.

Hey, if I do receive an offer for a reality television show, will you join me?

Romans 14:12,13 (NIV)

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

Validate Him!

Hubby and I facilitate a couples' class titled The Fighting Marriage. I must admit we are well qualified to lead the class due to many years of experience in learning how to fight for our marriage and deal with the expected conflict of two people becoming one.

Last night it was mentioned by a couple of men how important it is for men to be validated - acknowledged - confirmed - and a few other words that keep their egos from cracking. As women, we can try to understand this, but we'll never understand the magnitude of validating our men as the PROVIDER, PROTECTOR, and PRIEST of his home - as king of his castle. Validation of the 3Ps is what feeds a man's sense of accomplishment.

Last night was a reminder for me (and a few other wives) to remember to tell hubby how much I appreciate his hard work in the 3Ps and that he's the greatest husband in the world. Yes, we all have the greatest husband in the world and even if we don't think so, it's our job to make them think so.

Sending our husbands off to work with a special 'endorsement' may be better than sending them off with breakfast!

Love Isn't Fair

After yesterday's post, it would be a dishonor to not share how my day went. First of all, I realized I've been enrolled into S.O.U.L. (School of Unconditional Love) This learning is more of a challenge than any college, technical, or military course I've ever taken. Good grief!

Last night before I fell asleep, I asked God how I did in showing love and the answer was that I did just enough to get by. My performance was average and everything I did was expected. Sigh...you know what? It's a week before Aunt Flo arrives and if I can get by without killing anyone that should count for some type of love. It isn't fair that I've been enrolled in S.O.U.L. while I deal with the horror of hormones. Talk about timing!

This morning, I was instructed to go out of my way to do something lovingly unexpected for my husband. At 4:00 a.m., the Holy Spirit nudged me and I felt led to get up and cook breakfast for hubby. I debated for 30 minutes whether to obey or not and finally got out of bed. For years, I woke up every morning before the chickens and cooked breakfast for hubby. Sometimes I even made him homemade biscuits. I did this until I felt taken for granted. He began expecting it and putting in menu requests like I was a short order cook.

Nevertheless, I prepared breakfast for hubby. I realized I missed doing this for him and then Ms. Flesh appeared out of nowhere.

What if he expects this tomorrow?
What if he begins taking me for granted again?
Does he appreciate this?
What about me?

I received several immediate responses in my spirit, but one pricked my heart.

What if Jesus asked these questions on the cross?

Hmmm...Love isn't fair, but the benefits can't be measured.

Hubby was sent off to work with a happy heart and a full stomach. I've set the tone for the day, so let's see if I can continue when the boys wake up.

Have a Terrific Tuesday in Motherhood!

How Deep Is Your Love?

Last night, while watching a favorite program, The Apprentice, I was enthralled with the interaction Dennis Rodman was having with his team members. Mr. Rodman has a reputation of being difficult to work with and quite independent. During the show, Dennis had an explosive confrontation with someone, but later returned to offer his full support to the team. He acted as if nothing happened. The project manager chose not to include Dennis in the completion of the task for obvious reasons.

I would love to have the opportunity to interact with Dennis Rodman; talk about a challenge! He would probably eat me alive, but as a woman striving to show the love of God in all my actions, would I have been able to humble myself and forgive Dennis for his destructive actions and rude comments? Better yet, let me bring this situation home - all the way home. Am I able to love my own husband when he says something I don't like? Am I able to love him while he's having a bad day and not so lovable? Am I able to love my husband if my love isn't returned? Am I able to look beyond his faults and see him with the eyes of Jesus? Am I able to out-serve him day after day?

This weekend, I also watched the movie Fireproof for the second time, and I'm convinced that showing love has got to be the most difficult thing to do. We know marriage requires long suffering, but so does every relationship we encounter. Oh sure! It's easy to love when the relationship is right, but can I love difficult people? How about unruly children that aren't my own? How about other women with personalities that don't 'click' with mine? Hmmm... These are the practical tests that reveal the carnality of my heart and mind.

Yep! I did some heart and soul searching this weekend. The depth of my love is weighed when stormy winds blow - when personalities conflict - when moods swing - when I'm rubbed the wrong way. What a way to begin the week! I'm sure God is preparing me for many opportunities to reveal what I'm really made of.

Whether you answer to the Bee Gees or to God, ask yourself...How Deep Is Your Love?

I Peter 4:8 (NKJV)
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

A Gentle Reminder

As I look forward to resting and renewing my mind this weekend,
I'm reminded that although it's the weekend,
my time is STILL not my own.

My light must continue to shine - my steps must be ordered by God - my tongue must be controlled (ouch), and everything I do must be pleasing to God.

In other words...don't get so comfortable that I forget who I am and who I belong to!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to watch Wifey on the Travel Channel!

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:27

A Possible Addiction?

I KNOW I'm spending a lot of time on my blog - posting, adding, taking away, leaving comments, etc. Although this blog is a business, I still get 'caught up' in the excitement. I truly enjoy this!

More than once this morning while blog browsing, I've been prompted, by other bloggers, to monitor my time on the computer. Although I try to blog before the boys awake, I don't have to check emails and view my blog between dishes, cooking, and laundry. Good grief, is it that serious? No, it isn't...and if I'm not careful; I'll be addicted. My gift of writing can be abused and where is the glory that God expects?

This morning, I visited a Soft Place to Land, and look what I found! Do I need further confirmation or will I ignore the prompting to monitor my time? Oops! I mean, God's time?

Wifey's A Star!

One of my favorite Blogger Buddies, Wifey, has hit it big!

She'll be on the Travel Channel

Saturday, March 21st @ 8 p.m.

She also has a great contest going on, but I'll let the star tell you about it.

Drop in on Wifey for more info!

What's the life lesson in this? Be happy for others!

Hey, over here!

Prayin' Mama found out how to change her husband!

Read more

Monday Meditation - Never Alone

I just came back from another trip to Montgomery, AL. Second-born will be staying with my parents for a week and you would have thought I dropped him off at a stranger's house. He hasn't been away from me this long since I was in the Navy and had to leave him for duty.

It was hard driving off without him in the backseat. I even left him my cell phone, so he could call home anytime he wanted without running my parent's phone bill up. I left him a note with a list of things I usually have to remind him of. I also ironed his clothes and made sure he had them placed properly, so he wouldn't have to iron each morning. Last night, before he went to bed, we said our prayers together and I gave him a big hug. The prayers alone probably would have been sufficient; he'll be eleven years old next month. He's able to iron and cook for himself, but the Mama in me couldn't help it.

As I pulled out of my parent's driveway this morning, my father stood in the doorway and told me to put some 'real' mothering on my son. I'm sure he was referring to the coddling I gave my baby boy. I almost went back into the house to get my cell phone, but I didn't. My peace of mind came from following my natural instinct and making sure my son was well taken care of before I left. After all; it's my job, right?

On the drive home, a thought came to mind. Although it's my job to care for my children; God is still in complete control. Whether my children are in my sight or out of my sight, God takes care of them better than I ever could. He is always with them. After all, they are His children, right?

Nevertheless, I'll see my son next Sunday and I know I left him in good hands. Not Allstate, but the hands of my parents and my Heavenly Father.

Psalm 73:23 (NIV)
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

My Midnight Treat

It's almost midnight (Thursday) and my day is finally coming to an end. I've homeschooled, cooked, washed clothes, washed dishes, disciplined, laughed, sighed, cheered at a basketball game, swept, folded clothes, cleaned out a closet, made a gift basket, delivered the gift basket, baked cookies, collected receipts for taxes, watched the news, exercised, blogged, blog browsed, talked on the phone, screened phone calls, chatted with Jehovah Witnesses in my garage, went to the library, ran a few errands, and....uh...I'm too tired to remember anything else.

The highlight of my day? Enjoying a midnight bowl of Crispy Rice, which is the Ralston Recession version of Rice Krispies. Hearing nothing but the generic snap,crackle, and pop of my little crispies delivered a sense of perfect peace I haven't felt all day.

Ahhhh...finally...I can hear myself think - I can breathe slowly - I can bask in the peace and quiet that soothes my soul at the end of the day.

This was my treat for having a productive day and a celebration of the closing of the day. This mental de-stressing is something I do to help me unwind and mentally prepare to wake up and do it all over again.

You know what? I do believe that's all she wrote. Goodnight... well, it's already a new day, so Good Morning to you and have another great day in Motherhood!

Dirty Dish Rag

Yesterday was a very full day for me and this morning when I got out of bed, I felt like a dirty dish rag - completely limp. I planned to see my husband off to work and return to my warm bed, but I made the mistake of saying my prayers and my desire to go back to bed was gone. Plugging into The Power Source will do this. I stayed awake and began my exercise routine. After a few songs and a few 'so you think you can dance' movements of my hips, I felt restored.

Although I know the power of prayer, I'm always amazed with the benefits and results of prayer in my life - it makes a huge difference in my day. With all the hats mothers wear, we also need to be covered with a blanket of prayer.

Wife - mother - teacher - nurturer - mediator - taxi-driver - cheerleader - nutritionist - cook - manager - accountant - supporter - encourager - comforter - caretaker - protector - judge - coach - maid - nurse - referee, etc...

Whew! Do we really do all these things plus more? I don't know about you, but I know I'm not capable of doing anything without a power source. That dirty dish rag feeling I experienced this morning is who I am and without plugging into my power source, I'd still be held captive by my warm covers.

May you have a Thriving Thursday and don't forget to plug into your power source.

A Mother's Strength

The name MOMSWEB (MW) had absolutely nothing to do with the Internet or web presence when it was first formed. We were a hard copy newsletter with no website. The name was to signify the strength of mothers when we bond and encourage one another. I related this strength to the strength of a spider web. If you can get past the spider itself, there is much to learn and appreciate from its web. There are countless types and classifications of spiders and each of their webs have remarkable strength and fascinating properties.

With that said, it's comical to me how MW has used web presence to encourage and bond with mothers. The name now fits perfectly with our use of the web. Not only is MW a source of encouragement, but I'm amazed at the number of Internet relationships I've built and receive encouragement from.

Mothers have been given an extra ounce of strength and grace to carry out our role and when we come together there is no stopping us!

Be encouraged today and encourage another mother along the way.

Ethiopian Proverb - "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."

Do You Go There?

I had a rough moment with first-born yesterday during our short math session. I was trying to explain something to him and his attitude got in the way so much he couldn't hear what I was saying and I couldn't get passed his attitude.

Where did the attitude come from? Are you angry at me for trying to teach you? Are you angry just because you can be angry? Are you irritated because you don't feel like learning today? Whatever his reason was, it made me angry. I tried to explain to him that Mama wasn't always saved and I have a lot of mess covered up that can easily surface, so in other words...don't take me there. Children will definitely take you there - a place we don't like to visit because it reveals our weakness, our mess, our flaws, our shortcomings, our sins, plus a few other undisclosed issues

Disclosing my old nature fueled first-born's attitude more, therefore, in our best interest, the math session was over. I told him we needed to separate before I hurt him - yes, I allowed myself to get that angry - I went there.

In order to regain my composure and my peace, I had to do some ABC homework of my own.

A - admit my mess
B - be honest - yep, I lost it and went there.
C - confess my mess - look in the mirror.
D - deal with my mess - pray about it, get over it, and move on...to a better place -mentally.

After my son and I both calmed down, I realized that ugly moment wasn't about him, but God showing me some things about mySelf.

These are moments mothers rarely share - going there. There reminds us that we haven't completed our lessons in compassion, understanding, patience, and a few other mandatory subjects.

Today is a new day and I have a new attitude. I'm glad God isn't finished with me yet, but today, we've got math to finish. Today is another opportunity to work on not going there.

Do you ever go there?

Give Me A Break!

This weekend, my hubby and the boys went to an out of town basketball game and although they were only gone for the day, I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do - NOTHING. I didn't want to read, write, blog, or any of my favorite things to do. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, I wanted to 'lay like broccoli."

I was a mother for almost 10 years before I realized REST was a secret weapon to keeping my peace of mind. I went through the phase of trying to be Super Woman followed by Super Mama and Super Wife before I realized the only Super I really possessed was being super crazy. It was definitely a lesson learned at the expense of my own sanity.

As I became older in my body and wiser in my mind, I realized REST is one thing I've often denied myself of, yet crucial to my physical and mental well-being.

Whether we call it rest, time out, a retreat, or taking a break - we need it and can't properly perform without it. Foggy brains, fatigue, forgetfulness, clumsiness, and being irritated by simple matters are just a few unwelcome issues that attach themselves to us when rest is denied. Think about how a baby or toddler acts when they are sleepy....we're older, but our actions are quite similar.

This may be a reminder to the older, wiser mothers and news to use for younger mothers, but I owe Ask Wifey a big thank you for reminding me to take a break to renew my mind; this weekend was right on time! Sometimes we get so busy and wrapped up in life that we forget we're human. Is it time to give your 'S' a rest and take a break?

Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Follow Me

I enjoy blog browsing, and one of my favorite things to do is to see who is 'following' who. If you aren't familiar with blogging, one of the fun features is to have a list of viewers who enjoy your blog or find it interesting enough to come back often enough that they sign up to 'follow' your blog.

I haven't incorporated the 'follow' feature on this blog, but I enjoy following a few other blogs.

Well, being the person that I am, I took the whole 'follow' feature to another level this morning - a spiritual level. Several thought provoking questions occupied my mind;

Could I place the 'follow' feature on my life?
Only if I place the popular bumper-sticker on my forehead... Don't follow me, I'm lost too!

Am I willing to open my entire life and allow others to follow?
The scary parts too?

What kind of woman am I to follow?
You might get dizzy with my monthly moods!

What kind of example am I for mothers to follow?
Follow MOMSWEB instead of LaVender (that's my name).

What about wives needing an example to follow?
Hmmm...do they have to hear my thoughts?

Would I want anyone to follow my actions and my footsteps throughout my day?
Can I clean up first?

These are questions I asked myself because I'm ALWAYS self-examining. I asked a few more questions...

What is different about the blogs I chose to follow?
Who are the women behind the blogs?
Do I admire them or is there something about them that I desire in my life?
Do I see myself in their blog posts? Why do I relate to the blogHER?

Anyway...after these crazy questions consumed my mind for a few minutes, I was happy to go back to blog browsing and just simply enjoy the blogs. Whew...too early for deep thoughts! Will I ever add the 'follow' feature to this blog? Maybe, but right now I'm just happy you dropped by to visit.

Have a joyful weekend in Motherhood and be careful who you follow - on and off the road/web!

Don't Give Up!

While talking to a fellow mother recently, she was at the end of her rope in dealing with her teenage son. I'm hearing more and more of this lately as I try to maintain my own sanity with my thirteen year old. One thing I know for sure... this is a stage he MUST go through and most of his actions are normal - they are to be expected.

Knowing this, I'm teaching myself to be slow in my reactions and remember it's part of the process. I also remind myself and the crazy things I did as a teenager - my goodness, was that ME?

Loving our teens through their growing pains takes a lot of energy, time, patience, understanding, and compassion, but the return will be well worth it. Exhausting? Of course! Don't forget to plug into the Ultimate Power Source and get charged up!

This new season in my son's life is a new season in my life of parenting and spiritual growth. The only way I lose this battle (any battle) is if I give up. I must persevere and prepare daily for strange attitudes, looks of laziness, and repeating myself over and over again. Hey, I might as well get on board and enjoy the ride because I've got another son to follow.

Hang in there moms; don't give up!

Welcome to Blogger World

Quite a few years ago, while sitting in my husband's hometown library in Oklahoma, I noticed a woman surrounded by children. I sat and watched her with amazement because she was so patient and loving with these children of all ages. Not only that, she was a beautiful woman and I could tell she was a very sweet person. I watched her for a while then boldly walked over to her and introduced myself. I told her I had been watching her and assumed she homeschooled. I was correct and I was also correct in my judgement of her personality - she was sweet as pie and welcomed my inquiring questions. We exchanged email addresses and she soon began to write for the MW E-Newsletter.

Our long distance relationship has blessed me over the years as she shares herself and her family through her family newsletters and our emails to each other. I've only pressured her a small bit (smile) to share her prose more through blogging and she has finally joined the world of blogging.

Please help me welcome Kim to blogger world. Visit Kim by clicking here

What's Taking So Long?

While using my father's computer over the weekend, the severity of one of my character flaws surfaced... patience - or the lack of. I knew if I wanted to get any computer work done, I'd have to face the ancient technology of Dial Up Internet Service. Yes, I said it - DIAL UP.

UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE! I can take a short nap while waiting for an email message to delete or start on another task and half way finish while waiting for a page to download. Good grief!

I thought about the other areas of my life where patience is not shown. When I tell one of the boys to do something, I want it done yesterday. When I call them to come to me, I find myself calling them a second time before they've had time to get to me. I sometimes run ahead of God on plans instead of waiting for Him to lead. Can I blame this lack of patience on genes? It's definitely in the blood - as a matter of fact, on my father's side! No, passing the blame won't work; I need to take control and ownership of my own ugly actions.

They say fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, so I ask myself - am I showing the fruit of the Spirit or another spirit? Hmmm... When I accepted Jesus, he gave me all of him, so I don't pray for more of Him - it's less of me that needs to happen! I need to remain Christ-controlled and allow the fruit of the Spirit to be evident at all times - not just when I want them to. It's funny, but waiting in lines and at traffic lights doesn't bother me at all.

Using my father's computer was only a test and there will be other tests and opportunities to grow in the area of patience and every other flawed character trait. Until this particular fruit of patience blossoms in every area my life, I guess I'll just be patient and let God have His way - test after test after test.

Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.