Thursday, April 29, 2010

Living Fearless In A Fearful World...

"And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” ~Matthew 14:28-30

Did you ever try to walk on water? Me neither. I think sometimes I tend to compartmentalize the accounts in the Bible as not pertaining to me. I mean really- who has had a walking on water experience? I have had my fair share on being overwhelmed and I might as well have tried to walk on water. I used to get panic stricken at least once a week; mostly when I thought about the day ahead of me, the financial struggles we face and all of the "tasks" on my all just seemed like too much to handle.

I have been reading a wonderful book by Max Lucado called "Fearless". His words cut me to my core as I read them. My blinders fell and I realized that my life was not honoring the Lord or my faith in Him.

“Feed your fears, and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.”

If I don’t keep my eyes fixed on our Savior, I start sinking, like Peter. I need to keep my gaze on Jesus and my purpose in life for Him. I have noticed that when a period of time goes by and I do not spend my time and energy in prayer and serving my purpose as a godly wife and mother my attitude about difficult circumstances becomes bitter and irritable. Don't get me wrong. Tom and I are facing major obstacles in our life right now, but it is so comforting to know that we serve a mighty God who is able to not only change our circumstances but change our fears to joy! If we faced the difficulties that we are facing a year ago I am not sure that I would have made it. Seriously. Through the challenges and tests of faith and the failure that I have experienced in recent months God has molded me into a vessel that I believe He has always wanted me to be. Not sure how to explain it. I praise Him for his ability to take away my fears, anxiety, and feelings of insecurity to replace them with His overwhelming grace and joy. Life is good folks...

"Now, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:37-39

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lifestyle of Encouragement

Sometimes it can be very tempting to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other moms. Just the other day, for example, I was struggling at the grocery store with little miss, when I saw a mother of four walking calmly through the isles. Her son was seated securely in the front of the cart, while her three daughters stayed right by her side with their own little carts full of groceries. Meanwhile, I was trying to prevent my one-year-old from opening a bag of cookies or grabbing a random bag of crackers off the shelf. That mom seems to have it all together, what am I doing wrong? Then I start the thoughts of "Well, at least I don’t do such and such like so-and-so. Whether I view myself as being a better or worse in comparison to other mothers, the end result is always negative. I become more self-conscious about my own abilities as a mother, and I diminish my ability to truly love the other mother to whom I am comparing myself.

Perhaps you are tempted to compare yourself to other mothers from time to time. I sure am. Have you ever pointed out another mom’s actions that you disapprove of just to affirm your own choice in handling a certain situation? Or, are you stuck in the rut of trying to impress other moms because you feel like they do a much better job at mothering than you do? In both of these cases, you are tearing the body of Christ down, not building it up. I struggled with this for a long time as I am in the same circles with many wonderful mothers whom I truly admire.

God understands the temptation we feel to compare ourselves with others. But, He also knows that doing so will only bring us down. He desires us to be the best moms we can be. According to God, rather than comparing ourselves to other moms, we should be encouraging each other as women, wives and mothers. When I started doing this, I found that I became less envious, more loving, and much more self-confident as a mother. God taught me to pray for and encourage other moms when I felt tempted to make comparisons. So, when you find yourself dealing with a screaming toddler or a defiant teenager in the middle of the grocery store and spy another mom who seems to have it all under control, first ask God to help you, and then thank Him for that other mom. Ask Him to continue to watch over that mother’s family and guide her throughout her day. You could also give her a sincere compliment. Likewise, rather than justifying your own actions by pointing out another mother’s flaws, ask God to help her and show you how to encourage her. Our heavenly Father knows how much we need encouragement—let it begin with us!

Listen Carefully

Sometimes, as a mom, I feel like I am a broken record. I wonder how many times it is possible to say, “Please don’t do that,” in one day. I thought about taking my daughter in for a hearing test after ignoring my requests repeatedly, but then I realized that she has absolutely no problem hearing me when I announce that she can have a cookie. Even when my daughter does answer my requests by saying, “uh-huh, Mamie,” she doesn’t always follow through and do what I have asked her to do. Of course, I realize that even though I am a mom, I often times choose to have selective hearing myself.

Whether we want to or not, most moms are probably guilty of nagging our children every once in a while. It’s quite frustrating to instruct our children to do one thing and watch them ignore our requests. Why don’t they do what we ask? Don’t they know that we love them and know what is best for them? God probably asks the very same questions about us.

At times, some of us don’t seek out God’s voice at all, while others of us listen to God’s words, and then choose to pretend like we never heard anything at all. Perhaps we get caught up in the business of being a mom—cooking, cleaning, laundry, keeping up with the kiddos, or just managing a household. Or, we don’t like what we hear God tell us to do, so we simply ignore His requests and go on with our day as planned. How different is this from a child who doesn’t want to stop to go to the potty because it will take her away from her toys? God loves us and desires the best for us, even more than we do for our own children. The thought is almost hard to imagine, yet I believe it with all my heart. Today, I challenge you to keenly listen to God’s requests and follow through to do what He asks us to do. We will see our lives change before our eyes.