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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Judgement & Parenting : Lessons from God Cont'd

This morning my 18 year old daughter came downstairs to go to church with me. I had been so happy that she wanted to go and give worship to God on a day that is not obligatory to her. My heart sank when I saw what she was wearing. Apparently, her only pair of jeans had developed a hole and she could only put on a dress that ended just on her knees. My first thought was that it was inappropriate and I told her so. When she told me her dilemma, I, of course, asked her if she could find nothing else to wear. Her answer was no. It was too late for us to go digging for something else.

She said that I should go on without her, but I made a split second decision in my heart.. no doubt the grace of God and direction of His Spirit. I said that it was better she came to church. All the way there my thoughts were on what others would think when they saw her attire, I started thinking of the disapproving older members of the church who stare at others and show their judgement on their faces. I wondered if I should take a seat in the back and not my regular one close to the top of the church.

At some point before I got there, I felt a tugging on my heart. These people would judge my daughter based on how she looked. They don't know her heart. They don't know that she serves as a senior  altar server, that she is faithful and devoted to her involvement in youth church activities. They don't see her compassion for others or the times she's been selfless in her generosity to someone else, or loving in her forgiveness of someone who hurt her.

I felt a twinge of anger as I walked in and the first woman I saw stared straight at my daughter who was walking behind me. I firmly walked right up, even one bench higher than I usually do, knelt down and asked God to forgive me for caring about what others would think, for thinking of myself and worrying about being judged as a bad mother for bringing my daughter to church in a dress that touched her knees.

God quietly spoke to my heart."How many times have you looked at how someone else was dressed and judged them?"  I bowed my head in sorrow. Yes, Lord, I have done that. Perhaps that person also had nothing else to wear. Perhaps that person was so anxious to come to church that she never checked the mirror or maybe her children made her late and she grabbed the first thing she had. 

'But, my child, do you know other people's hearts? Who are you to judge them? You don't know their circumstances, what they face on a daily basis. You don't know their relationship with me." How true, Lord. I am ashamed for the times I have presumed to judge others. I KNOW better, why can't I live up to my good intentions? I know what its like to be judged by others. I know the hurt of being mis-judged, criticized, gossiped about.

Just recently, this same daughter had accompanied me to school to babysit her sister while I attended a meeting for her younger sister. While they were walking around the courtyard, she was accosted by another parent who scathingly and incredulously said "Is that your daughter?" and followed it up with a "Slut" . I was shocked and appalled that another parent could so mis-judge and presume upon my daughter's simply being with her sister. I was angry and wished I knew who it was that had said this so I could give her a piece of my mind.

I may not say this type of thing out loud, but do I think them? When I judge, even silently, does not the Lord Himself hear my thoughts? When I judge others for their driving skills (or lack thereof), their actions, the way they dress or speak.. am I any better than this woman who proclaimed publicly that my innocent daughter was promiscuous?

 James 2:10 tells us "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking the whole of it"   That makes me guilty.. just as much as if I had openly criticized and judged another person.
Let He who is without sin, cast the first stone


I promise to do better in this Lord. I'm so grateful to you for pointing out this flaw. If I'd stuck to my original stance and not taken my daughter to church with me I would have lost this valuable learning opportunity.

I also sensed in my daughter a lightness of spirit.  I believe that I passed some sort of test with her. Too often in the past I have been concerned with looking like the perfect parent to the outside world. I believe that I have, many times in the past, chosen to put support or comfort of my children last in my quest to not look like an inadequate mother.  Slowly, God is opening my eyes to the error of my ways.

If I don't support them, if I'm the one judging them, who are they to turn to? As a mother, I have to point out when they do the wrong things, but God is showing me that judging is completely different to constructive, loving instruction.

God is our just and only judge and even he chooses loving instruction. Isn't it amazing how we continue to remain in His divine classroom, daily learning from His Spirit? Isn't it amazing how, through His Grace, love does not need to be limited to the smallness of us, our natures and weaknesses? If we open ourselves to Him, He continuously molds and shapes and takes us and our ability to love to new heights.

I hope that the next time my human nature prods me to judge someone, this lesson will come jumping out in 3D to me and I hope that it helps put this into perspective for you as well.

God's blessings be with you all and may you shine brightly for Jesus!

Today, this post is linked to: 

where Darlene herself shares a video that contains a message very similar to my lesson today. Hop on over and be blessed.

A Grateful Heart



I've been absent from blogdom for a few days.  We had a long weekend as well in celebration of the arrival to our country of  the East Indians in the 19th century. Its difficult to write when everyone's at home and I also have a policy about being on the internet when the family is all here. Its made me late for a lot of my usual link-ups and I have a lot of reading to catch up on too!

Well, do any of  you know what happens when the house is full of a gaggle of girls in different stages of  development and hormonal happenings? There have been moments of complete chaos, bickering, noise, endless music and television, but even within this time, there have been so many moments of grace.

I recently overheard another mother complaining that her children don't want to do things with her anymore. Her teens would rather go to the movies with friends and her nine year old is following suit.  This frazzled momma's glad to have some normalcy to my day with everyone back out to school and work, but mostly grateful to God for being  able to experience those frenetic, high energy moments with teenagers/young women who still hang around their father and I and don't put their friends first and who are also willing to gallop round the house playing 'hide and seek' and other games with their little sister.

221. Chats with my eldest, new understandings of each other.
222. Her ability to listen and reverse the roles to give me some well-needed support.
223. Joy in seeing my words over the years have taken some root, having those same words given back to me.
224. For a little bird in a nest outside the window, who reminds me daily of the covenant God has with me.
225. That no matter how bleak things may look, I can trust in Him and His promises.

226. A smart little girl who keeps me on my toes
227. Grace that turns bickering into dialogue.
228. Grace that heals and transforms each day.
229. Grace that stills my wayward  tongue.
230.  Heart-to-hearts, hugs and healing.
231. Family movie night.. binging on junk food and other 'bad for you' stuff.

232. Long weekend at home.
233. Sleeping in a few mornings!
234. Family trip to the zoo with a VERY enthusiastic 4 year old!
235. God's beautiful creation, what grace there is in nature.
236. Family game time.. silliness and raucous laughter filling the house.
237. Splurging for a meal out with the girls.
238. For my husband who opens his heart to me more and more each day.
239. That love is never limited to the smallness of our human nature, but rises to the heights God intends for it to go.
240. My daughter, who went to church with me today with a grateful heart to God for seeing her through her major exams.

As you count your own blessings down through the days, I hope that you will find the grace to be grateful for everything His hand designs for you. 


.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Never Give Up!

How many of us feel like we might break under the pressure of trials? When small trials come we can rest in our faith and sail through them. When big trials come, we sort of start wilting slowly in the face of prolonged worry, stress or suffering.

What about people who right now are trying to rebuild their lives after devastating loss.. tornado or earthquake victims, people who have just discovered terminal or acute illness. Have you just lost a loved one?  Have you just lost a  job? Have you just ended a relationship? Are you in such deep financial debt that you cant see your way out of it?

Are you one of those suffering from chronic pain and illness? Do you suffer from one of the by-products of lifelong self-esteem issues? Bulimia, Anorexia, Depression, Agoraphobia...too many to mention.  Do you believe that your life is meaningless or that you have no value to yourself or anyone else?

Take a look at this video and ask yourself if you truly are as badly off as you think you are. I hope you find inspiration in this outstanding young man. I wish that I had half his courage and half his strength. I do know that I have an awesome God who sustains me and I CAN find my strength in Him.

I want to thank Amie over at Roses Along the Way for  sharing this wonderful young man's story. Please head over to her place for another video of Nick. His story is absolutely inspiring.

Have a blessed day and may our gracious Lord give you courage and strength in the face of whatever adversity you may be facing. My prayers are with you!



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Heritage of Our Faith



This week we officially begin the Ministry of Motherhood Book Club! There has been a lot of meaty stuff to dig into in the bible and this week we started reading the Introduction to Sally Clarkson's wonderful book.

One of the things that has leaped out at me while doing the different bible readings is found in these passages:
2 Timothy 1:5, Proverbs 6:20-22, Psalm 127:3.

These passages all  have one thing in common.. they speak of heritage. How we are connected to our ancestors and their faith and how we are to hold that faith and pass it on to our children.

In Psalm 127:3, we are told that children are a gift from God, the word used in the New Jerusalem bible is "birthright", in others "heritage". Sometimes the world views children as burdens. They scoff at Christians who follow biblical precepts and have more than the average 1.5 children they SAY we should have.

 The bible is very clear here that children are meant to be treasured, cherished, nurtured and taught. Through them our bloodlines and, more importantly, our faith is passed on to the future generations of the world.

In Matt 28:19-20, we are charged to pass on that faith "Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.."


How do we pass on the faith to our children? I'd like to believe it is in the way that I live. "Do as I say and not as I do" is not a policy that works very well! I know! I lived in a home where my father would correct and instruct us but would do otherwise. It creates confusion, resentment, loss of faith and respect.

We MUST live our faith and let our children SEE it alive and well.. in how we make decisions, how we deal with trials, how we react to others and negative situations. A tough call but not an impossible one! 

What heritage of faith am I passing on to my children? How often have I messed up as a mom or even as a person? How many times have I done something that is NOT a reflection of my faith? How many opportunities have I missed to teach them about my faith? We often make excuses for ourselves and say "I'm only human"... (in the words of my teenaged drama queens..)  NOT!!  We may be born with original sin, but the moment Christ died on that Cross His Blood went between our sins and God's justice.

We learned last week that  He tells us that if we abide in Him, we shall bear fruit. Fruit that will be manifested in our faith and fruit that will be passed on to our children. Of great significance though, is that abiding in God, means God is IN US!


With God in us, we have our strength, our sustenance. Not only is He in us and with us but in the latter part of  Matt 28:20 He says "..I am with you always; yes to the end of time"


That means eternity! He is with us for all eternity!


 WE HAVE NO EXCUSES! No excuses for slipping up, for sinning, for making wrong choices. HE IS WITH US.. EMMANUEL! If He is with us and we are in Him, we CAN rise above the shackles of our humanity, our sinfulness, our faults and flaws. He is the Good Shepherd guarding us and He is also our teacher.. daily He draws us to perfection and we CAN soar and fly on eagles' wings... because He LIVES IN US!  Luke 6:40 says "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher" We CAN be like our teacher, Jesus, and our children CAN be like us, their teachers.

We CAN teach our children by example. We CAN find courage to go out and evangelize. We WILL have wisdom and knowledge to pass on. Isn't that an awesome thing to know? Even better, when I fall, I CAN get up through the strength He provides and the mercy of His forgivness!  AWESOME!!

 I have been charged with the mighty task of raising souls for the Lord. Each seed that I plant must be watered with my prayers and with my life's work of living the gospel daily, setting a good example for my children to follow.

Part of parenting is recognising that these souls are not ours.. they belong to Him. Right now, I am almost done with the weeding and fertilizing of  the souls of my older children. It is harvest time, time for the Lord to do His part and for me to stand aside and watch them blossom under His care. I will, of course continue to pray for them and set a good example for them, guide them when necessary, but ultimately those seeds I planted long ago are just about ready to blossom. What wonderful fruit will they bear? How will God view my work as a gardener in the field of life? When I stand before Our Creator, I hope to hear him say "Well done good and faithful servant!"

So, as I continue to delve into both His Word and the talented writings of an experienced mother, I am thrilled to be on this journey of learning and growing. I feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful book club. Why don't you take a peek at what's happening over at the GMG. I promise you'll be blessed and inspired!


Tornadoes

Hello friends

As you know I live in the Caribbean and my busy life keeps me from looking at news programmes on tv, in fact, I seldom look at tv anymore.

I just found out this morning, via email from a dear friend, about all the tornadoes affecting some of the Midwestern States. I am not sure which of you live in these areas.

I want to ask you to pray for these people, as I'm sure you are doing already. I also want to ask you to let me know if you or your loved ones are affected so that I can pray specifically for your needs.

I will be offering up my daily offering for the affected and afflicted. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are all safe.

May God bless and protect you today and always. Remember that He promises (Matt 28:20) that He will be with us always.

Love and Blessings
Lisa

P.S. On another note, many of you may be aware of the Circle of  Moms Top 25 Faith Blogs that's in progress until June 8th. Please go and vote for one of the wonderful moms who inspire us so much in their blogs. You may not believe it but there is actually a Pagan/Witch (?) mom whose blog is getting more votes than some of these. I'm talking about people like  Christin at Joyful Mothering, Traci at Ordinary Inspirations, Jasmine at Far Above Rubies, Jessica at Muthering Heights, Gina at Chats With An Old Lady, Sonya at Becoming a Strong Woman of God and so many more. You're allowed to vote once every day so please go to the link above and keep casting your votes. Let's keep Christ at the top!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thankful For It All



Oh what a crazy week I've had.. nothing went according to plan. Family members stayed home from work and school because of illness. I, myself got the flu too and I didn't get much done on my 'to do' lists. Yet, I could be grateful that I was right where I was, where my family needed me to be.  I'm most grateful that I got the flu last of all, so I could take care of everyone else first. Grace abounds in all situations.. God uses bad to create good!

201. Girlie laughter filling the house.
202. Evidence that my adolescent/young adult daughters were up late together.
203. Late night chat with my firstborn.
204. Seeing the growth and maturity the months away have wrought.
205. Hearing her dreams and goals.
206. Seeing the beauty in her heart, just waiting to break free
207. Less time on the roads.
208. Words that bless.
209. Snuggling with 4 year old, arms tightly wound around me.
210. Giggles and tickles.
211. Watching her romp with her daddy.
212. Joking with other moms about how I'll never have 'empty nest syndrome' or 'middle aged crisis' and knowing its absolutely true.
213. Chats with my mom.
214. Family movie nights.
215. Hearing older daughters advising their sister.
216. Innocent mischief... precocious answers.
217. Strands of blonde doll hair behind my bedroom door.
218. Scissors and Barbie dolls sitting on top my clothes in wardrobe.
219.  4 year old's reply "Well, their hair was just too long!"
220. Grace to survive motherhood's mad moments! :-)

As I brush the dolls' hair off my clothes and rush out the door.. I wish all of you a bright, Jesus-filled day as you too count the graces and blessings He alone can provide!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

31 Days of Love - Love Is Sufficient


Hello friends!

I've been completely swamped lately and unable to write, which is frustrating and I miss out on reading all your wonderful blogs too!  I have committed myself to joining Darlene at Time Warp Wife for her 31 Days of Love Marriage Challenge in the month of October. Thankfully, the first day's challenge is something I've written about before so I'm reposting this article, originally posted in May, to link up.

Hop on over to Darlene's place and join in.. I promise you will be blessed. She has twenty seven different contributors ready to share their wisdom and ideas with us. Even in this overwhelmingly busy season I want to make sure that I'm showing love to  my husband and continuing to build our relationship and our marriage. As we all know that takes a bit of work! With all that's going on I need every bit of encouragement I can get. I'm sure that you too can use a little boost. Today's challenge is "Bringing A Gift of Love". Darlene encourages us to read 1 Corinthians 13 and do a little introspection. I hope that you will join us!


red heart image with text

I recently read an article where another blogger dismissed the statement "Love is enough" as being untrue. I got what she was saying.. people enter marriages or relationships with unrealistic and romanticized expectations that love will be all they need to see them through and they often become disillusioned. Is it wrong to expect that love is enough to work through our problems? Is it wrong to expect that if we have love, we have everything? Is it wrong to think that love is sufficient?

The truth is though.. LOVE IS SUFFICIENT! If we understand what love really is. Let's take a look in the very popular 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

Love is patient
If we could be patient with each other, whether it is our spouses, children, relatives, we would be less inclined to lose our tempers or jump to conclusions or 'write off' others because of their behaviour. I cant count the number of times I walked away from a loved one who was 'acting up' because of my impatience. Children throwing temper tantrums, spouse in a crabby mood... perhaps if I had dredged up some patience things would have been resolved differently. I know how hurt I feel when I'm the one being crabby because of tiredness or illness and my husband responds with impatience. Love breeds patience.. patience breeds tolerance.


Love is kind
Is it easy to be kind to someone who is not treating us fairly or who is being unkind to us? If we could respond with kindness to others no matter the situation, how would those situations turn out instead? I have  missed many opportunities in my life, in my marriage, to offer kindness to a loved one. Instead I chose to be hurt and to be judgmental about that person. I allowed myself to be resentful and angry. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, I want kindness from others when I am in a vulnerable state. True love desires to be kind because it doesn't put its own need first.


Love does not envy (Love is not jealous)
Have you ever been envious of someone else? Envy can erode a relationship because it breeds discontent and even dislike. If you envy your spouse for some reason that envy is eventually going to undermine your relationship, you begin to resent the person,  thing or situation that is causing you to be envious. I am ashamed to admit to having been envious of my husband's spiritual life and how much joy it gave him. He sensed the resentment but didn't know its source. It was a secret, silent thorn in our relationship. True love encourages us to check our hearts and not allow envy/jealousy to dwell there.


Love does not boast and is not proud
Oh.. a biggie here! Pride is such a big factor in the conflicts that arise in relationships. We all have false pride.. its that thing that keeps us from acknowledging when we're wrong, from apologizing. Its that  thing that puffs up our egos and makes us think we're better than others. It tells us that we DESERVE better or that we should get MORE for ourselves.  True love helps us to swallow that pride and do the right thing for our relationships. True love acknowledges that there is no room for pride in our hearts, love alone must reside there.

Love does not dishonour others
Have you ever had an argument with your husband and told your mother/sister/friend  all the gory details  about your husband's behaviour? My friends, this is dishonouring your husband. True love doesn't do that which would discredit others.. gossiping, slandering.. its all dishonouring another and shredding their credibility and reputation. True love keeps our mouths sealed and bears all things with tolerance.

Love is not self-seeking
True love is rather self-sacrificing... always putting the needs and best interests of others above your own. This is not an easy thing to do, but love wants the best for others, desires their happiness. A mother's love is one of the most self-sacrificing. This is why God says, in demonstrating the love He bears for us that even should a mother forget her child, He would not forget us. True love is sacrificial.

Love is not easily angered
Wow! This one is a toughie! Why do we get so easily angered with others? Well, in  my case, I know my lack of patience is one reason, but I think any of the above characterizations of love that are lacking will cause us to be easily angered. Hmmm.. methinks I need to do some more introspection on this one! True love does not abandon itself to angry, abusive outbursts.

Love keeps no record of wrongs
Bearing grudges? Unforgiveness? The bible is very clear here that if we truly love we must forgive and forget. Well, we may not forget, but we're not supposed to keep bringing it up purposely to dwell on and reignite or hurt or disappointment, worse still, resentment or bitterness. These things surely erode both the soul and the ability to love. True love forgives unconditionally.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
Have you ever, in your desire for vindication, felt happy about someone else's failure, disappointment or tragedy? You think, "they got what they deserve". Have you ever been GLAD when someone else does something wrong because, well.. it makes you look better.?  I think that even within our relationships with our spouses we may be tempted to feel that way when we are hurting over something, or are experiencing any of the above, envy or unforgiveness etc. True love encourages others to do what is right and it does not rejoice in another's misfortune or evil doing. 

Love protects
We protect our children because we love them and want them to be safe. Do we also protect our spouses? Do we protect them by making sure they are eating right? Do we protect them by reminding them when they are treading dangerous ground, morally or physically? Do we protect them by pleading protection from the Heavenly Father for them?  I know I feel loved when my husband considers the family's safety by checking on the car or making sure all the doors are secure at night. and when he prays for my safety and protection every morning before he leaves for work. True love wants others to be safe, both morally and physically.

Love trusts, hopes and perseveres
When we truly love we trust our tender hearts to others. We open ourselves to receive their love in return. Its necessary to remove our masks, our shields or we cannot receive or give true love. We cannot know or experience the fathomless depth of love until we trust. Hope is that eternal flame that keeps us persevering. Love perseveres.. despite obstacles, trials, heartaches. Love is what brings us to our feet after we've been brought to our knees. We place all our hope and trust into our relationships and we persevere in them because love drives us on.

This is what the bible tells us love is.. true love. Perhaps nobody enters marriage or parenthood with this kind of love.. it has to grow, mature, be perfected in the fires of  trials. I do believe, however, that once we can love this way.. LOVE IS SUFFICIENT!

I'll leave you with a quotation from a sermon I listened to earlier this year "To love is Divine".  God is the source of all love, without Him there can be no true love. If we were to remain close to Him and listen to the voice of His Spirit, leading and prompting us, we would love the way we were meant to.


This is the true face of love... servitude.  We are told  in John 15:13 "Greater love has no man than this,  to lay down one's life for one's friends" 


Let us follow Christ and serve with love those He has placed in our lives. It is by far not an easy thing to do, but one thing you can be certain of, if you desire to love like Christ, He will assist you all the way.


May God bless your efforts and may your love shine brightly for Jesus!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fairy Tale Part Three: Keeping the Dream Alive


Recently, a statistic was quoted that 1 in 3 marriages do not survive and it is fast becoming 2 in 3! That's astounding and heartbreaking. The other day I observed that of all the weddings I've attended with my husband over the past 21-22 years there are only a few that are still in existence.

Why is this? What can we do to keep those flames burning?

Last time we visited with Little Princess and her Prince Charming, we saw that they were in a cycle of her having meltdowns every now and then, there were arguments and sweeping things under the carpet to reconcile. Life wasn't unbearable but where was the joy in the living and the loving?

They loved each other, but were they really loving each other? Neither one's needs were being met because neither one of them were communicating those needs. Prince Charming didn't because that was his nature and Little Princess didn't yet know how to effectively communicate her needs. She seemed to always end up alienating her husband when she did try.

Our hero and heroine go through many years like this. They did not yet know that it was possible to reignite those fires that once blazed so fiercely. Little Princess buried all her needs and desires, her passion for this man she loved. She was a practical little princess.. she did what she always did.. she adapted. She learned to not need the things she needed and threw herself into being a good mother and homemaker. 

Her hunger for romance was fed by the romance novels she devoured and, though there were times she did compare her prince to those in the books she read, generally she felt happy to have a prince at all and cherished each hug and kiss and lying in bed with arms wrapped around her to go to sleep. Storms were weathered and life marched on at its relentless pace, babies growing and the family's needs changing yet always demanding and constant.

Well, maybe it was the voice of 'middle age' calling but, one day she heard a voice in her head saying "Wake up little princess! Don't you want more? Wouldn't you like to have the marriage you dreamed of?"  

Well, let's cut a long story short and say that in trying to create more love and romance in her own marriage, Little Princess opened a Pandora's box that ended up almost engulfing her. Out of the ashes of this was born a new Little Princess and her marriage to Prince Charming also became a new creation. Want to know how this happened?

First of all, those romance books got thrown out.. you can't expect your real life spouse to measure up to Mr Perfect in a novel. She spent less time reading and more time texting and e-mailing.... her darling prince that is. Listen up ladies... nothing gets your hubby's attention like using modern technology that's so in-your-face.

Why shouldn't you be the one sending his phone pinging or filling up his inbox? Ok, ok.. don't overdo it, but your husband would love to hear that you miss him,  his hugs... that you cant wait to kiss him when he walks in the door.

Pay the man some attention... many other women will if you don't. Let him have his senses overloaded by YOU! Tell him how special he is to you and why.. tuck a love note in his lunch or on his briefcase. Be creative! From one little princess to another... it really works!

As you start building up your man, he's going to respond .. sometimes in incredibly surprising ways! It was after Little Princess revealed to her prince how much she fantasized about walking on a beach with him, watching the sunset, that he WANTED that just as much as she did. And guess what? They DID IT!

 So don't be afraid to share your dreams and fantasies.. if you don't tell him, how will he ever know?

Little Princess and her Prince Charming actually started getting to know each other... really know each other. For the first time they were sharing their thoughts and feelings regularly. It was as if once the floodgates were opened, almost 20 years worth of knowledge and yearning was struggling to pour out. Yes, YEARNING. How many of you wives yearn? Yearn for more romance or more attention or more communication? Do something about it. 

One of the images Little Princess kept in her mind was to see herself  20 or 30 years in the future  thinking about how much she could have and should have done when she could. She didn't want to have any regrets. She used this as her motivational tool to do new things.. even crazy things! 

Marriage isn't just about housekeeping and raising children.. its about two people who have personalities and needs and desires and dreams. Its about building your life together around those dreams and desires and crazy, quirky personalities.

CARPE DIEM! Seize the day! Start right now. Do something small and simple but make it be your first step towards revitalizing your marriage. Think about what makes your husband happy and do it for him. Start giving without counting the cost.. stop measuring what you get in return.

  Making him happy should make you happy.. there's your return right there! There's an added bonus.. when you start working on fanning that spark into a roaring flame again, you both experience a new lease on life... it spills over into all aspects of your life together.

So did Little Princess and Prince Charming suddenly have only joy and happiness and birds singing sweetly in their window? NOPE! They still had trials, arguments, pains, tears, a messy palace and bills to pay BUT they did have something new.. the knowledge that they had each other and each other's backs.. the knowledge that because of unconditional love, they could face all these problems TOGETHER! Together they are stronger and even if thunder chases away their little birds, they still come sweetly singing in the window afterward.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER... its a journey still incomplete and full of wonder and new things to discover every day. With Prince Charming at her side, this Little Princess is enjoying the ride!




This post linked to :

Fairy Tale Part Two: The Honeymoon's Over- Reality Check



Little Princess is now disillusioned. Whatever happened to all she dreamed marriage would be? Who IS this man she married? He's changed so much. Prince Charming is thinking "Who is this shrew? Where's the sweet girl I fell in love with? Is this what marriage is?"

They've both ripped the signs they've been wearing off their backs and feel completely confused about where to go from here. This is dangerous ground they're treading. This is where the enemy starts sowing the seeds for the future.

Your mind is a fertile breeding ground for bitterness and resentment. As you start thinking about your spouse's faults, you stop seeing any good in him/her. You start setting the stage for "falling out of love".

So, what do we do to prevent this?  Firstly, we have to bear in mind that marriage is hard work. Love isn't just all those wonderful, warm feelings. Love is choosing to love even the unlovable in a person.. that's what unconditional love is. Love is working through our issues with the other person's well-being in mind. If you really love someone you want them to be happy. Loving is often sacrificial. You put the other person's needs above your own.

Think about it.. if both parties in a marriage hold this principle in their hearts, their marriage would succeed because each wants to love and sacrifice for the other. Conflicts would be resolved more easily because of a mutual desire to bring happiness to the other.

Easier said than done.. right? First of all selfish desire plays an important role in how conflict happens. Each person wants something... each one wants his/her needs to be met. This is where these key factors come in:
  • Effective communication skills. Learning how to express yourself properly. Learning how to phrase things so they do not offend. Avoiding absolutes like "always", "never". Avoiding accusation, criticism. Speaking to each other in the right love language.  If you haven't read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman yet,  you should.
  • Effective listening skills. Do you really LISTEN to your spouse? Do you allow him/her to express himself/herself without interruption. Do you tell him/her what you are hearing? Sometimes what we hear is not necessarily what was said. Ask him/her to clarify if you have it wrong.
  • Reality Check - are your expectations realistic or not. Are your actions or desires selfish? Do they build your relationship/marriage or do they serve only yourself. Are you being intolerant or unreasonable?
  • Examine your own motives. Have you allowed your pride to determine your actions? Have you allowed anger to cloud your good judgement? Are you avoiding dealing with a difficult issue?
  • Sources of conflict must be dealt with, as soon as possible. 'Sweeping it under the carpet" only allows the issue to fester and become a silent, secret weapon to the enemy and a hidden deterioration is taking place beneath the surface.
  • Remember to always be loving and kind to each other when facing down an issue that is a source of conflict. You love this person, you want him/her to be happy. If your actions or lack thereof is a source of pain to him/her, you need to acknowledge those feelings and come up with a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Remember that you are also carrying your own baggage and you have your own needs... these need to be factored into the very complicated equation that is your marriage.
  •  For husbands, very often a wife's unhappiness is taken very personally. Any expression of discontent is viewed as a personal failing and anger is a man's go-to emotion. Its the one he's most comfortable with. Stonewalling is his way of protecting himself while he sorts through his emotions. Men are wired to have iron control over their feelings.. losing that control isn't easy for them. Wives, as difficult as it is, we have to let them have their space.
  • Likewise, women take any criticism of themselves as a sure indication that "he doesn't love me as I am", "I'm not good enough" and we have a waterworks that could flood an entire city! This makes our men feel worse about themselves because they have now made us CRY. We sometimes push them away when all we really want is for them to hold us and let us cry on their shoulder, listen to some affirming, loving words. Listen up guys.. a little peek inside the complicated mind and heart of a woman here!

Little Princess and Prince Charming had a long history of 'sweeping things under the carpet". Their communication skills were practically non-existent and they went through a cycle of  petty arguing, sweep-sweep, petty arguing, stonewall, cry... sweep sweep. You get the picture.

Luckily, though, by God's Grace, the love was kept alive. 

Little Princess had one simple principle.  She loved Prince Charming more than she cared about his clothes on the floor, the coffee cups, the disappointments. She had a motto which saw her through those times. Even though she DID allow herself to become bitter and resentful, God refused to let her sink so low into it that her love turned into ashes. She may have had 'meltdowns' but God didn't allow her to lose perspective.

 So, here's the motto .. highly recommended by a Little Princess for you:

THE ISSUES ARE NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE RELATIONSHIP 

Now that we've dealt with how to handle disappointment and conflict, we'll next take a look at how to nurture  the relationship... keep those fires burning!

Until next time... let your light shine brightly for Jesus!

This post is linked to:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Abiding In God




Today is link up day for the Good Morning Girls Summer Book Club at Living in the Word Wednesdays.

I have to say that,  with everything I've undertaken these past couple of weeks, the Reshaping It All Challenge and the 31 Days to Clean Challenge and now, this Summer Book Club... what I've learned so far in the bible passages we've had to read is SO APPLICABLE!

I have always loved this verse from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." It is a reminder that if I remain  in Jesus, allow Him to be the source of my strength, my sustenance, I can do anything. Important to note though.. I can do anything  He wants me to do... not what I decide I WANT to do.

Our first two days' readings..

 Psalm 27:1 "If God does not build a house, in vain do its builders toil. If God does not guard a city, in vain do its guard keep watch" and

 John 15:4-5 "Remain in me as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine,  you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty, for cut off from me you can do nothing." New Jerusalem Bible

These two readings are, for me, reinforcing what I learn in Philippians. See that last part of the verse in John .. "for cut off from me you can do nothing". Does this mean I am helpless... no, I don't think so. I can do many things under my own strength and in my own wisdom, but will they be things that are bearing fruits of the Spirit, things that honour and glorify God.

I can do nothing, nothing that bears fruit,  without God. He is the source of my strength. I must abide in Him in order to be nourished and sustained by Him. How do I do that?

The King James version of the bible uses this  word 'abide' in place of  'remain' in the John 15 verse.  I happen to like that version a lot. The word abide has more punch to it. Here are some dictionary (Webster Dictionary) meanings for the word  abide :

  • to endure, sustain, submit to
  • to bear patiently, to tolerate
  • to stay, to continue in a place
  • to remain stable or fixed in some state or condition
  • to acquiesce, to conform to
Perhaps, in relation to God, most of these apply. To abide in God, we must submit to Him, bear patiently whatever He asks us to, remain stable in our faith, acquiesce to His will. We cannot abide in God unless we are actively seeking Him and doing His will.

We also  have to avoid sin and the occasion of sin. We have to nourish ourselves with His Word and with prayer and exercise and strengthen our  faith muscles with acts of faith. Then we will truly abide in Him and we, the branches, will bear the fruit that He, the vine, wants us to bear.

I want God to be the center of all things that I do. I want everything I do to glorify and honour Him. If He is there, an integral part of all aspects of my life, I know that my labours will yield good fruit. If I stop to consult Him every day in prayer about where He wants to lead me, I know that He will always bless my efforts.


Lord, I thank you for your Word which promises me that when I remain in your love and do your will that I will bear fruit in plenty. May the fruit that I bear be pleasing to you,  honour and glorify you. May I always turn to you, the source of my strength and remember that, just as the vine sustains the branches, you sustain me and I can have no life without you.
Amen


Monday, May 16, 2011

Grateful and Blessed



This past week has been filled with many grace-filled moments as well as many tough things to ride through, but as always He is with me.. that will always be at the top of any thankful list I create.

191. So much love shown on Mother's Day.
192. A wonderful and generous sister's heart.
193. God's constant life lessons.
194. Clothes flapping in the sunshine.
195. Moments of clarity from the Holy Spirit.
196. His awesome love and tender forgiveness.
197. That His Hand is always there, leading and guiding.
198. My daughter being home from college for summer!
199. Wonderful heart to heart moments and girl talk!
200. That I am a SAHM and can care for the sick members of my family today!

A short time ago I wrote a post where I shared a video by Josh Groban. In that post I talked a bit about the darkness of depression and self-mutilation, bulimia etc.  When I wrote that post I had no idea how close to home a dark demon was pressing. I learned recently that when  I had shared this post and video with someone close to me, she had been dancing on the abyss, pressed by this unholy presence.

 I thank the Holy Spirit for the inspiration, for guiding and leading me to places I do not plan to go. I thank Him for the Grace to be obedient and I pray that I will always obey His promptings. By saying yes to the prompting of His Spirit we never know what good works He is able to accomplish.

 Praise God for He is Mighty and Awesome!

I pray that you will have the grace to be obedient to His promptings and that you will shine brightly for Jesus!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FairyTale Part One - Happily Ever After: Expectations

I want to tell you about a journey.. one that's far from over, in fact, its only just begun.


Once upon a time, there was a young girl, let's call her Little Princess. Her parents having both come into marriage with their own baggage, had not set a good example of what marriage should be. There was no open affection shown by them and she craved it desperately. She grew up feeling that she was unlovable. The only things she ever heard about were the things she did wrong, there was no affirmation.

You know how the story goes.. she meets Prince Charming, falls in love, gets married and expects to live happily ever after. Finally, someone LOVES her and accepts her. Unfortunately, both she and Prince Charming have brought baggage into their marriage too. They've both brought expectations and dreams and their perceptions of what it should all be about.

Little Princess has brought all her insecurities and low self-esteem. She's expecting her husband's love to make her feel better about herself. She's brought all her romantic notions of how love should be, all her young ideals. She's put her husband up on this pedestal and expects him to be the hero of her own personal fairytale romance. She's wearing this sign on her back that says:

HAPPILY EVER AFTER.. OR ELSE!

Prince Charming has brought his own baggage.. coming from a totally different background, he has different expectations.  He's brought his own anxiety about being a good  husband, fear of failure, his struggles with what being a man is all about since his own father was seldom at home. He's brought his own personal hang-ups and issues as well. His sign reads..

JUST MARRIED... NOW WHAT?

Have you ever noticed how a fairytale always ends with the prince and princess riding off into the sunset after their wedding? Hmm, methinks its because the real life fairytales end with the honeymoon.

That's when real life kicks in and romantic notions become just what they are... notions. These two people now have to learn to live with each other, they start seeing faults and flaws.. the pedestals come crumbling down and their rose coloured glasses get smashed.

Romantic love  has a way of making everything seem perfect..all those warm feelings and the joy in your heart seems to put everything in a soft, sweet light. The next step in your fairytale though is usually disillusionment as you start seeing the reality... your sweetheart is human and not really perfect at all. You start to realize that he/she cannot meet with all of your expectations.

Little Princess expected her husband to take care of things around the house the way her father did. He, on the other hand, never saw his father doing these things, so didn't. He believed that all he had to do was 'bring home the bacon'. She wanted him to show her respect and love by helping out and picking up after himself. She expected him to continue being romantic and showing her lots of affection, she wanted words he didn't say.

She wanted his love to complete her. She expected him to always want to be with her the way she wanted to be with him..in short she expected him to be her emotional crutch. She was determined to have a 'better marriage' than her parents. What were his expectations of her? How did she disappoint him?

Perhaps he expected her not to be so 'needy' since his own mother was pretty independent. Perhaps, he felt intimidated by all these  emotions she wanted to share. He was completely out of his element there, also coming from a background of very little physical affection being shown. His father wasn't  a 'talker'.Little Princess wanted him to open up and share his feelings, but that was against his nature and out of his comfort zone. He felt pressured.

Why was she so obsessed with how the house looked.. why did it matter so much if he didn't put his clothes into the hamper, or left his coffee cup on the counter. Prince Charming was used to being picked up after.. she was Miss  Uptight Put Everything In Its Place and he was Home Is To Relax and Not Stress About Stuff. He didn't want to be nagged about all these little things.. when did she become a nag anyway? So now they're married and she wants to control everything he does? She disappointed him and his expectations of her.

Disappointment has a way of creating a lot of hurt and resentment. 

Little Princess learned all this the hard way.. she, never having had a proper example of how married couples should solve problems, communicate and be tolerant, dealt with her disappointment with hurt feelings, angry words, confrontations. In return, Prince Charming reacted with his own anger, coldness and eventually freezing her out, putting up his protective walls.

This is where the enemy stuck his foot in the door..pride, ignorance, selfishness.. all tools he uses to systematically break down relationships.

This is where the testing of your love begins.. this is where the enemy starts his consistent attempt at breaking down your marriage. How you deal with these early days will make a huge difference to your future. 


In Part Two, we'll talk about the effective ways to deal with disappointment, disillusionment, conflicts and communication.

Hello friends, this is a little something I worked on today after attending a Marriage Preparation meeting last night.My husband and I have been asked to assist and these thoughts came to mind. I'd love to have your opinion so comment away!


Love & Blessings to all of you..shine on, shine strong for Jesus!

This post linked to:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mary Must Shine!

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean


Today is link-up day... accountability for the week's challenge. How have I done? Well, its been an eye-opening experience. I have discovered that, for me, I am receiving the most benefit from the Mary side of this challenge.

I have always been a 'Martha'. Stressing about getting chores done, having lists and lists and plans for doing things. I remember sitting in church one day and having the Lord tell me that I'm too much like 'Martha'. Well, fast forward many years and my life changed to the point where I CANNOT be like Martha too much anymore.

Having a baby with a 10 year gap between her and the former last child has been virtually starting over! All my previous schedules and order got thrown out of the window. I have had to re-evaluate myself and I find that with this challenge, re-evaluation has come again.

Today, we are dealing with priorities.. how do we prioritize our homemaking? One of the truths I discovered in my self-evaluation, examining my motives and purpose is that I do what I do because I love my family. They come first.. always!

What does this mean? Well, I make plans.. its good to have plans... but sometimes my plans aren't going to turn out the way I want. One of my children may be ill and need to be picked up from school earlier. My husband may need me to do something for him.  I have been known to become very irritable when my plans get shoved aside and I cant do what I had scheduled to do. I have complained about it in the past, become resentful that my needs are put last.

While 'Martha' is important.. I feel very strongly that 'Mary' needs to shine. As I said in my mission statement, I am the heart of my home. 

This is what I need to make MY priority.  I am renewed in my purpose and commitment to my family.
I must be joyful in my homemaking.. put heart and soul into it.

My husband and children, while they acknowledge that its nice to come home to a clean house, they feel most loved when I am smiling and spreading joy and love around. What an awesome truth.. and it couldn't have come at a better time!

With Mother's Day this weekend, I can look forward to celebrating my newfound joy in my role, in my vocation... and its a wonderful feeling!

On the Martha side of things... I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. My daughter is coming home from college on Monday and I've been busy cleaning her room up. I am proud of what I have done though. I managed to do the kitchen.. fridge etc. The tops of my cupboards took a lot longer because I also have some artificial flowers and stuff up there and vases and baskets that all were covered in grime and needed a good scrubbing. I did put a beautiful bouquet on top of my fridge and cleared off all the medications we kept up there. Only the necessary items (meds and vitamins) were left in a basket.

I must admit that its nice to look up and see that sunshiney bunch (yellow lillys) brightening the kitchen. Its made me realise that one little thing I add can make a difference.

Looking forward to the rest of this challenge. Thanks so much to Christin and Sarah Mae.. its been life-changing so far!

Hope you all have a really great weekend! Enjoy Mother's Day and celebrate the beautiful vocation that God has given to you. (Rest up.. next week could be challenging!)

Shine on, shine strong for Jesus!

Thankful and Blessed





Counting my blessings as I journey.. time speeding by... trials come and go.. hearts break and heal.. but always..
His Grace is Sufficient


171. That  "weeping may endure for the night, but JOY cometh in the morning"!
172. That His Grace is renewed each morning.
173. That He inspires me every day.
174. For Grace that gives courage to go where He leads.
175. For the constant work He does on our hearts.
176. That He never lets go...I'm firmly in His grasp.
177. For transformation and healing that's a constant work in progress.
178. For love.. faithful,  constant and unconditional.
179. For wonderful chats with daughters.
180. For caring relatives who I can depend on.
181. For the wonderful feeling of knowing I've helped someone.
182. For great advice and wonderful encouragement.
183. For convicting moments before the Lord.
184. That I am constantly amazed by His work in my life.
185. For 'splurging' with my girls.
186. Laughter and giggles and splashing water.
187. Uplifted spirits, joy in my heart.
188. New direction, Grace poured out.
189. Cuddling moments with my youngest.

and most of all..

190. My motherhood, my vocation.


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! God bless you all!

Also linked to:





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Bouquets for God

Free images of Roses



Earlier this week I wrote my mission statement for the Homemaker's Challenge I'm doing on Sarah Mae's e-book 31 Days to Clean. In doing so, I searched for inspiration, some quotes, biblical reference, something that would be my motivational tool.


God had a big surprise for me.. not only did I find it, but it has put a whole new light on my vocation as wife, mother, sister, daughter. A whole new light on my purpose in life. As I examined my motives for being a homemaker and what my purpose is, I was reminded that God has always told me that my life is about LOVE. Everything I do is to be done with love!

With that in mind, I was led to St Therese of Lisieux, also known as "the little flower", a saint whose life embodied this principle. She considered her every action to be one she could offer to God. Everything she did was done with this in mind.. with love for God. She likened it to flowers being strewn along the way for Him.


What a lovely concept... that every action I do today and every day, if I do it with love and the proper motives, I can offer them to God. A big beautiful bouquet to offer to Him at the end of each day!


Within the poem below is all the elements that I strive to live by.. obedience to God, reliance on His provision, understanding that all I do is for love of Him and that I must give all of myself to the life and vocation He has blessed me with.

Upon reflection.. I believe that these elements are what make up our vocation as mothers.. especially the giving all of ourselves, relying on God to provide for us the strength we need, to fill us up when we're on empty. Our faith is the rock on which we build our homes.. with many of us relying on single incomes, we have to be good stewards of what our husbands provide.

We are lights to our children and spouses firstly. We are our children's first teachers and He calls us to lead them to Him.. like beacons.

Our homes are our altars, our work.. our prayers. We must sacrifice our own desires, needs and put our family's needs first. Our lives ARE oblations. If we could but see that doing all we do to the best of our abilities, we could be offering to God a huge bouquet every single day.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day my beautiful sisters.. may God shine His light on you and may you be truly blessed in your motherhood and in all that your busy life encompasses!

This poem is dedicated to you..

I knelt in church the other day
I bowed my head, I sought to pray
My thoughts they whirled in disarray
I couldn't find the words to say

But suddenly my heart it soared
His gentle voice.. it suddenly roared
I knew that words would not suffice
My heart the only sacrifice

Lip service... its all I give
If my heart cannot forgive
If I cannot love despite
If I do not do what's right

He gave His all for me and now
My all I must give somehow
Poured out as an oblation
My life, my heart, my vocation

He stretches out His loving hand
Be not afraid.. you will withstand
I am beside you all the way
Obey and follow, do not stray

Come my daughter, my little dove
Pour out all your life and love
Do all you do for love of me
Accept what I decide will be

All that you are and have is mine
Use it for my glory to shine
Do all that is pleasing in my sight
Go... shine forth...

Be my little light
Lisa Maria 2011

I'm linking this to Chats with an Old Lady


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homemaker's Challenge : My Mission Statement

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean


I'm a couple of days behind, but here is my mission statement. 

I'm a SAHM.. its all I've ever wanted to be.. God has blessed my desire and given me a lovely home and family.  I want my home to be a happy, peaceful place. I want it to be clean and beautiful because I want it to reflect the beauty and harmony that my vocation is supposed to be. Since God is the center of my life, my marriage and my motherhood, my mission statement is actually a prayer:


Dear Lord

Please help me to remember always
That I am the heart of my home

Let my homemaking be a reflection of 
Your great love and provision for me
Let my home radiate your joy and peace

Help me to use my time, talent and energy
To create an atmosphere in my home
That will nurture and encourage those I love

May each meal I prepare, each chore that I do
No matter how mundane...
Be done with love and in a spirit of servitude

May my home be a place of sunshine
Let your light radiate throughout
Bless the work of my hands, Lord
And may all I do.. honour You

Amen


“Oh Jesus, my Love, my vocation.. at last I have found it! My vocation is LOVE” 
St Therese of Lisieux

" Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love." 
St Therese of Lisieux

Update:
I attended Mass this morning and Father quoted St John of the Cross "In the evening of life we will be judged by our love" This quotation is one that St Therese based her life on. What an awesome confirmation for me of what was placed on my heart as I searched for inspiration! 


If you would like to learn more about St Therese of Lisieux , read this.