Shame on me….time to refocus and CHOOSE JOY!

In our home my husband and I both work full time, we blessed with 5 animated, active, industrious and busy children; the daily routines and responsibilities are usually layered with elements of commotion and chaos. Since school began 3 and a half weeks ago, football and cheer practice and games in full swing and activities at church on top of keeping up with meals and house work, it feels like we are trying to fit into 24 hours what should take us 36 hours to complete, always rushing and never having enough time in the day to balance all of our responsibilities to the best of our ability.

I am so incredibly blessed, my life is full of answered prayers- God is good all the time! I am a mother to 5 amazing children, a wife, football and cheer mom, I work full time as a nurse practitioner, volunteer at the free clinic 1-2 times a month, women’s group a church, helping with the preschool class at church on Wednesday evenings, community group with church family on Sunday evenings…and last but certainly not least a follower of Christ. Of all of my duties and responsibilities—–being a follower of Christ is by far the most important but yet I have been allowing the hustle and bustle of our routine take over and giving only what’s left from my overstuffed and exhausting day to my relationship with Christ…..that’s not the example I want to set for our children. I want my energy and focus to go first to Christ. How can I teach my children how to live a Christ centered life if I cannot set an example for them to follow in?

The sermon today was quite convicting for me and has moved me to want to be more bold, dedicated and determined in my example of Christ to my children, I am being convicted in a big way and feeling very led to step up to fill the role God has called me to be in. I wouldn’t be here in this place of my life if God did not think I could handle all this. He made me for this, He knew what I was going to be capable of, He knows what I could handle, and this is not a mistake. God does not make mistakes. Yes, this season in my life is so full it is almost busting at the seams and while it all feels so overwhelming to the point I want to scream and cry at times, but I just need to stop take a time out and need to look at it in a different way. How AWESOME that God has given me such huge responsibility, what and honor and blessing that He made me to have all of this in my life! I need to step up and carry these responsibilities for what they are, a blessing directly from GOD, not a burden or stress or too much for me to handle, He wouldn’t have me here if He didn’t equip me to carry out these responsibilities.

I want our kids to look to me and feel Christ’s love and see my joy in Him. Unfortunately this is not the example I have been showing these past few weeks. I have allowed the day to day routine, stress and the extreme busy in our lives overcome me and dictate my moods and steal my joy. Shame on me! Our kids for the past three weeks have looked to me and have the impression of stressed and busy means you need to be rushed, short-tempered and grumpy after a long hard day. That’s it!!!! I refuse to let all of the blessings of this life stress me out and dictate my emotional forefront and allow the circumstance of my stressful day steal my joy in the Lord. I want my children to look at me on the busiest and most stressful days and see not just a smile on my face but see joy and feel Christ like love.

After sitting down with my amazing husband and reflecting on how we have handled the last 3 weeks with our children, we have identified the areas that we are lacking, where we need to make some changes and we came up with a plan of how we can work together as Christian parents to better lead our children by our own example.

#1-One area that my husband and I have done well in, is starting our day together reading scripture and in prayer. We get up early every morning, and over a cup of coffee we sit in bed, read scripture, discuss if anything spoke to us from our reading and pray before we begin our day. This is all wonderful except that during this time all the kids are fast asleep in bed and don’t even realize we are doing this. They should see us reading our bibles regularly; we need to lead by example. We will continue with our morning’s devotional time, this is important for us to start out day with the Lord and quiet time together. To be the example so our kids can see us reading our scripture we will take 10 minutes at the end of the day after whatever activities the evening kept us busy with and sit on the couch and read while they are getting ready for bed, so they will see us doing this.
#2-Our oldest three are in the car for at least 20-30 minutes to and from school each day. During our morning ride in I am going to have them each take turns reading out loud from the bible. Reading the bible is not something that they are going to ‘choose’ to do on their own and not likely something they will want to do but it is so important to instill this in them. It will be something we start with small, I am going to start at the beginning and have them work their way through the bible, only require them to read 3-5 verses each. I will be working on making this a priority with them during our morning routine and setting this example for them.
#3-We are going to work together to keep the stress, schedules, on the go, chaos each day brings us from taking our joy, to be able to smile and support each other through the most trying and difficult days, so our children can see the joy of the Lord through us.

I choose joy….the joy of the Lord is my strength

I choose to live in God’s presence.
James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance’

I choose joy on the days when everything feels like it is falling apart, when all 5 children are acting out, all I want to do is cry and start the day over while there are endless things to be done to survive our day….I will still choose JOY
Philippians 4:4-5 ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.’
I will grow in my joy when my children can see Christ in me.
I choose Joy…
Hebrews 12:2 ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
I choose to find joy in my life praising God

“Heavenly Father,
You are so awesome and so mighty! Thank You for all of Your grace and mercy in our lives. Thank You for loving us unconditionally. Thank You for your blessings. Thank You for sending Your son to suffer for our sins. We do not worthy of all that You have given us, yet our lives our full of undeserved blessing, Thank You for always providing for us, thank You for answering prayers even if the answer is no, for being with us and equipping us to live in this sinful world. Thank You for Your word and direction on how to live our lives and serve You.
You know my heart, please forgive me for not seeking you first, for letting the details of our busy lives overtake my time with You. I confess my weakness in being overcome by stress and circumstance. I need You Lord, my strength comes from only You, I cannot do any of this on my own, without You I am powerless. Lord please give me power to be the woman You created me to be, I pray if my words or actions begin to step out of Your will please give me guidance to fall back into Your will.
I come to You today in surrender, I seek Your wisdom and strength as a mother, to live my life with a joyful heart always, whatever the circumstance of my day I pray to have a joyful heart in You Lord. I ask for wisdom and guidance in all my roles and responsibilities, please lead me and guide. I pray to always keep You center in all that we do.
I pray our children grow to know You, to serve You and love You, that our example in their lives lays down the foundation for their faith, they grow into godly people and they can go out into this world as an example of Your love and share You with those around them.
I pray for Your protection over my children, protect them physically, emotionally and spiritually.
In Jesus name I pray- AMEN”

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Letting go…finding complete surrender during difficult times

” If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it you surely will”  Abraham Lincoln

That quote really strikes me deep this morning.  I have been caught in a growing struggle over the last few weeks.  I am facing some unconventional parenting challenges and this has really been especially difficult for me.  These challenges have really left me looking for the bad in my kids and overlooking to good, how true this quote really is.  Shame on me!

After being with their father for 3 weeks of summer my children come home confused and corrupted.  How can I teach them right from wrong when they go spend time with their other parent and learn that wrong is right?  Where are the articles, books and advice columns on facing this challenge!  This puts a whole new spin on parenting and I feel like I am failing. 

I understand that they will be exposed to things of the world and negative influences through their peers at school and in various situations outside my home, and I am prepared to fight those battles.  But when I look at the situation of my children going into their other parents home and are being taught and shown the opposite of the values and morals I am working to instill it feels like a losing battle and I don’t stand a chance.  Where are the self-help books on raising your kids to know Christ and stay in Christ while learning how to be a bully with a potty mouth and how to not believe in God while spending time with their other parent! 

Of course they love their other parent and look up to their father, that’s natural, they want to do and say things that please their father, so they are being taught to please him they should have a potty mouth and treat people disrespectfully and how fun it is to be sinful and live only for yourself at the same time being criticized and ridiculed for believing in God.

I just feel so stuck, I see all of these negative things coming from my kids and have been so focused on ‘undoing’ what has been done.  But that is proven to be wasted time and effort.  I need to regroup and focus on the positive and what I can do, focus on what power and influence I do have and trust God to fight the battle for me.  I realize I have been hanging on…. have not been able to truly let go of this and give it to God.  I know that I need to trust Him, He knows whats best for my kids and He has a plan for me and for them.  I have been praying over my kids but I have been fighting to keep control and have NOT truly surrendered this to God.  This is so much easier said than done to give up control….Lord give me strength.

Today I need to a reminder that God is in control.  God gave me the privilege of being their mother and stepmother because He made me and knows what I am capable of so obviously He has equipped me and will continue to do so to be the best mother and stepmother I can be for our children. 

1- PRAY-PRAY-PRAY and then PRAY some more, constantly be in prayer for over children, constant communication with God.

2-Instill God’s love and law in their hearts, bury it deep, so that when they are being submerged into worldly ways and sins whether it is with the influence of their other parent or kids at school, God’s love and law will be written in their hearts.  God has control over the rest, it is my role to teach them and plants the seeds deep within them.

3- Reenforce in them with my unconditional love, I don’t want them to think my love is conditional, I will strive for them to know that I will love them no matter what they do or say, my love is unwavering and forever and I will forgive them just as God forgives me, I will love them by example, I will strive to be an example of Christ’s love in how I show my love to our children.

4-Do my best to gently and firmly correct their negative behavior, feedback and attitude without dwelling on it.  Try and focus on the positive attitudes, rewarding the good behaviors.

5- More consistent and intentional family devotion and prayer, continue to instill God’s words and love into their hearts.

6- PRAY-PRAY-PRAY and then PRAY some more, constantly be in prayer for over children, constant communication with God.

7-When I start to feel defeated, like giving up, discouraged and like I am failing as a mother, to stop and remind myself, this is not my battle, this is God’s He is fighting it for me, I need to trust Him, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME, ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!!!!  He is there in every situation, He will always be with my children, when I am feeling discouraged I need to remind my self to let go and trust in God, one of my favorite verses is a great reminder of this- “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

8-Don’t dwell on my past mistakes or failures, move on and learn from them, stop criticizing myself and stay positive.

9- Concentrate on where we do have influence over my children, in our home and conversation and activities, let God’s love and light shine bright enough in our home and hearts that it outshines the darkness they encounter everywhere else.

I feel like the Lord’s Prayer is very appropriate and fitting today…

“Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.”</

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Welcome to the country!

I was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in the suburbs of Chicago where I lived until I enlisted in the Navy and moved to Virginia in 2000. I lived in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia from 2000 to 2013 when I moved to the middle peninsula of Virginia. So gradually over time I have moved into areas that are less and less populated. I have always considered myself a ‘city-girl’ but this past year I have fallen in love with what is considered a ‘rural’ area so maybe…just maybe I am a country girl at heart.

 

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I moved to Gloucester, VA at the end of March in 2013 as I made my career transition from Registered Nurse to Nurse Practitioner. It was my career that moved me from Chesapeake, VA to Gloucester but there are so many reasons I am thankful God led me here. Tonight I will reflect on all the reasons I am thankful that the Lord brought me to the country.

1- I am thankful for God’s mercy, forgiveness, love and grace. He led me here and has filled our lives with blessings. Over the last 13 years even when I was not living my life faithful to the Lord He was always there with me guiding me and protecting me. NO matter what storms life may bring to me I know God is going to be there with me. When I encounter something that at first appears impossible I remember all the difficult times God brought me through before and I know He can do it again. I have constant peace within as I know that God is always with me and He will always love me.

2- Moving here led me to meet Matt, the love of my life, my husband who shares in my love for Christ, best friend, spiritual partner and the most amazing man I have ever known.

3- I have been told, “Welcome to God’s Country” in a way it is almost like a whole other world out here, this area is full of believers, there is an atmosphere of love among most people here, everyone smiles and waves hello, you actually feel like a person living in a community with others who care about you and are happy to see you. I have never felt more welcome or wanted in a community or town than I have felt here.

4- Smaller towns means smaller schools, my kids get more one on one personal attention in their classrooms and schools here, they are not just lost in the crowd they are a child that is cared for and loved by their teachers.

5-I live in a town of less than 40,000 and commute to work in a community with less than 9000 each day, I have NO traffic, a bad drive to work is encountering a tractor or school bus, which gives me a peaceful 25 minutes to pray, sing worship music or have quiet time to myself before or after work without having to fight hundreds of other drivers for space on the road, thank You Lord for country life with no traffic!

6- My church family.  I had an incredible church home in Chesapeake, but the church home I have been led to here in Gloucester is beyond what words can describe, I have never felt more welcome than I felt my first day at Newington Baptist.  My church family is amazing.

7- I can really enjoy God’s wonderful creation here, there is just a short drive to enjoy a beach, woods, mountains, farms and not too far to get to the city if we are in the mood for the hustle and bustle of an evening on the town.  At night if you go outside, it is pitch black, you can see every star in the sky and nature chirps a wonderful serenade.

 

Welcome to the country!!!  I am so thankful the Lord brought me to this area.  I know I am most likely missing a reason or two for reasons I am thankful to be away from city life but bottom line is I am thankful, for the Lord, my salvation, my life, my family, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

“As for God His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” Psalm 18:30

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

God is always patient…I am not…

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Over the last several weeks I have struggled with anger and frustration over situations beyond my control. I have been guilty of allowing these feelings of anger and frustration have power over my thoughts, actions and words. These past few days God is leading me to learn how to let go of these destructive feelings. This has been quite a struggle and challenge for me and I can now see so clearly I need to be patient. I need to be patient with God’s plan, to really be able to embrace Him and trust Him during difficult situations.

I have really felt the Lord working within me, I am learning and growing in being patient and have so much to learn. I am and always will be a ‘work in progress’ as I grow as a Christian, this is an ongoing process, as long as I am breathing on this Earth I will be learning and growing in my relationship with Christ.

I need to be patient in all areas:

– with God’s plans for my life

-in my relationships, with Matt, our children, my family

-with myself

-with my words and actions

-with the hustle and bustle of the daily routine

So as I embark on this journey with Matt to lead and guide our children to become thankful children of Christ I set my prayer and focus on learning and growing in patience. I will choose to let go of control, anger, frustration. I will allow the circumstances of each day and each challenge to change me into the woman God has made me to be.

My scripture reading tonight led me to James 1:2-4
“My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

I absolutely love this passage, the truth in how testing your faith with trials produces patience, that God will test us to bring out the best. I am always in awe when I take time to reflect on all the trials I have faced over my life and see how awesome God was in each and every trial. Even in the times of my life when I was not faithful to Him He was ALWAYS there with me. When I was blinded by the ways of the world and hiding from God He was patient and faithful to me- God’s love never fails, my heart needs to change and extend the same patience God has for me to all areas of my life starting in myself, my family and home.

“Dear Heavenly Father
Thank You for blessing me, for loving me, for not giving up on me, for the sacrifice of Your son for my sins. Thank You for Matt and his love for me and our family, thank You for our children and the privilege of being parents. I pray to grow and learn how to be patient, to show patience in my words, actions, thoughts, I pray to learn how to be patient in all areas my life. I pray that with each trial I face I can become more patient. Lord You know what is best and Your will be done in my life. I pray for strength, courage, wisdom and guidance as I take this next step in our journey.
Amen”