Whatever!

phil4v8

My heart is stirred by these words. As I sit and consider the things I spend my time thinking about, pondering, dwelling on.  Is God pleased? Is He comfortable in my thoughts?

As I examine my own heart, I also have to question myself regarding my children. What do I allow and encourage THEM to dwell on? What do I permit them to listen to or to watch?

Matthew 6:22 says “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

As a mother I have to ask the question, am I being the covering for their minds that God has called me to be? Am I being a blinder for their eyes when it’s necessary? The minds of our children can either be a place where the Holy Spirit resides, or they can be a play ground for the devil and his schemes. What they see, hear and ponder as children will take root and grow with them into adulthood. What type of seeds are being planted?

We hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about shaping our children’s hearts, their characters, their wills. How often do we talk about protecting their minds? You see, what goes into the mind will ultimately affect their hearts, which in turn will affect their wills, which leads to the shaping of their characters.

When are we going to fully grasp that the culture of our day seeks to steal our children, not only from us, but from God.

My heart is saddened by what is being allowed and invited into Christian homes all over our nation. The movies we watch, the music we allow, the internet access that’s given so freely. Parents now decide if their children should watch a movie based on how many curse words it has. “It only has 3 or 4 bad words.” they say “It’s not TOO bad!!” – Are you kidding me?

What offends God should offend us! When His most precious name is cursed and taken in vain, it should repulse us. It should cause us to become angry. It should affect us so deeply that we are unable to watch, listen to, or look at those things.

Remember, the eyes are the lamp of the body! When light enters, light dwells. When darkness enters, darkness dwells. What fellowship can light have with darkness? NONE! With each curse word, inappropriate picture and act of violence our children are exposed to, pieces of their hearts are being torn away, and a new seeds are being planted.

Moms, I beg of you. Do not be complacent. Be a guard for the hearts and minds of your children. Just as Noah built an ark to shield his family from judgment, we should also be making a safe place out of our homes; an ‘ark’ so to speak. If we are not willing to step up, be proactive and be a shield for their eyes and minds, then we should not be surprised when our child walks away from the God we raised them to serve. It doesn’t happen overnight. The seeds that are planted in childhood will grow into weeds, and eventually choke out their faith, right under your nose.

As mothers we can show our children the value of dwelling on righteous things. Things that are true, lovely, noble, right, praiseworthy and excellent. Those good seeds planted in our own, and our children’s hearts will produce good fruit, sweet fruit, fruit that will last.

“Lord, help us to use wisdom when influencing our children. Help us to be a guard for their minds and a protector for their souls. Amen.”

Chicken Drumsticks, Peas & Choosing Joy!

Sometimes it’s good to look back and remember lessons that God has taught us. I recently found this journal entry from 2008. We were moving from Alaska to Tennessee. Jasen stayed in Alaska for a couple of months to wrap up his business, while the kids and I went to Florida to be with my parents. The children were young. Really young!

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“Today I woke up and almost immediately asked the question “who took my children?” I was convinced from very early on that Curious George and his friends from the zoo had come in sometime during the night and replaced my dear ones. It just seemed like from the moment they stepped out of bed things went downhill.

They were so loud! Jaden and Adam fought continuously. Leah was having intestinal problems, which resulted in a funny dance type move and trips to the potty every 5 to 7 minutes. There was bouncing from bed to bed, couch gymnastics, yelling, screaming, arguing, and general horrid behavior. For most of the day I felt like I was going to pull my hair out, and on more than one occasion I just had to walk away.

We are in transition. Grandpa has been gone for a few days and they are still adjusting to being away from their daddy, life is confusing right now for our little ones; I have to be understanding. So many things going on I am starting to wonder if I am going to get through it with my sanity.

Leah was tough today, whined and cried all day. Not sure if it was because of her bathroom issues or what, but you never quite know with little Leah. I love her dearly though, she is my girl.

Then dinnertime rolled around and things were looking up a little. We had made it through the majority of the day without an ER visit and without me checking myself into that ‘special place’ people go to ‘rest’ and ‘get better’. I had a healthy meal prepared, oven-fried chicken, broccoli, peas, potatoes, and some kind of fruit. They all seemed pleased when it came to the table, “good” I thought, “maybe things are turning around”. We said grace, and all seemed well. With the kids settled at the table I left for a few minutes to tend to something else and upon my return found a sight that made me laugh so hard I had to leave the room. The twins were playing baseball with their chicken legs and peas! They were so intense and so encouraging of one another “good one Leah Lou!” Evan said as Leah hit a home run across the table. It was one of those moments when as a mom you have a choice. I ‘should’ have done something, handed out some form of discipline for bad table manners but I couldn’t, I just didn’t have the words. It’s times like this that I have to relish the gift of motherhood, the bad and the good, and determine to enjoy every moment. To realize that sometimes laughter is the best medicine”

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I can look back on this fondly and be thankful. My children, who had been the source of my frustration all day, were actually the ones that turned my heart toward the Lord. I find that discouragement is always around the corner waiting to pounce. He is teaching me that very often my response to things determines the behavior of the people around us; our husbands and children, the lady in the grocery store, the difficult customer service rep on the phone

My continued prayer, even years on is that when faced with a situation, no matter how frustrating, I am able to CHOOSE JOY!

 

Thanking God in the Chaos!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22 NLT

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us as mothers is the ability to find joy in the midst of chaos. If you think about it, we have many opportunities throughout the day where we could choose joy and laughter over frustration, irritation and anger. We can laugh with our kids, many times at them. We can laugh at our husbands taking care of our kids. We should also take the opportunity to laugh at ourselves and the ludicrous things that motherhood can sometimes make us do! It is not only uplifting and healing to laugh, but sometimes it is all we can do in a certain situation. There are days that are so overwhelming, the last thing you feel is joyful. On days such as this, I encourage you, laughter truly is the best medicine, and our children seem to instinctively know that! Like I said earlier; God presents us with many opportunities to choose joy, and most of those come through our children. The question is do we see them, and do we choose well?

God promises that we will go through trials, we will faces challenges, however they are balanced and outweighed by His tremendous blessings, encouragement and love.

As a Christian family, going to church on Sunday has always been a priority for us. As parents we have instilled in our children the importance of giving our Sundays to God, and being together as a family. This being said it doesn’t change that fact that when Sunday rolls around, I am never excited about the prospect of getting everyone up and ready for church in the morning. I’ve often wondered if it’s just us, or if there are other families that experience something similar to World War III on Sunday mornings. You are fighting to get breakfast eaten quickly, trying to explain to a three-year-old why he cannot wear his Cars swimming shorts or Incredible Hulk pajamas to church, and scrambling to find a pair of shoes that match.

I am always the last one in the shower, which gives me approximately six minutes to somehow make myself look somewhat presentable.  Then there is my husband struggling to put on little girl tights, (on our daughter, not himself!) When we finally manage to corral everyone into the van we are met by pushing and shoving and daughter pulling her ponytail out.

We eventually arrive at church, always a few minutes late. We are hot, sweaty and more often than not, annoyed. However, somehow a truly miraculous transformation takes place as we step out of the car and walk into the church building. We are now the Cleaver Family; happy, all smiles, put together, not a trouble in the world!  Often times I smile to myself as we find our seats. I wonder how many of the other ‘happy’ looking couples walking into church with their families drove there in complete silence, because of the big fight that occurred over little Johnny’s shoes moments before leaving the house. Let me tell you about one of those particular Sundays.

…….’It was Sunday morning in 2008. I had four children ages, 7, 5 & 3 year old twins. We were visiting my parents in Florida. Unfortunately my husband was not with us on the trip, but I figured I could handle things! We could do church! Right?!

I had just come out of the shower after enjoying a fairly relaxing fifteen minutes void of anyone banging on the door with a near 911 emergency. Daring to pat myself on the back in satisfaction, I reached for my hairdryer. Alas, my peace was short lived. I heard commotion outside the door. “Oh dear”, I had ‘atta boyed; myself a little too soon. “Mama!” Came a little voice through the door, “Evan pooped on the floor!” “Great” I said under my breath, “I just sat him on the potty minutes before my shower.” I quickly wrapped my hair and headed out to survey the damage.

As I approached the bedroom I hung my head; there standing in the middle of the room surrounded by poo was my sweet Evan. “Went poopy Mommy” he says with a panicked look on his face. “Oh Evan! It was truly all I could say! Thank goodness for my oldest, Jaden, who jumped in and grabbed the wipes, the Resolve, and wet rag.  I wiped down Evan’s foot, then my own. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we both stepped in a pile!

 

After the Operation Poo clean-up, the rest of the morning went pretty smoothly. We actually arrived at church  on time. We enjoyed about 10 minutes of the service and then decided I should either head to the nursery or risk being thrown out for disturbing the peace. Snacks, plastic animals and crayons spread everywhere, our pew closely resembled a daycare floor. The deciding factor was when the offering plate was passed and one of the children knocked it on the floor spilling pennies, nickels & dimes everywhere; leaving my mom and a very irritated parishioner on their hands and knees retrieving the coins!

As I sat in the nursery alone that day watching my kids play, a realization came to me.  You could call it an “aha moment” I prefer to see it as God speaking clearly into my cluttered, overwhelmed heart. Rather than sitting there feeling like I was missing out on ‘me time’ at church, and seeing my nursery duty as an inconvenience, I started to see it as a blessing. I started to choose joy!

Observing Leah conquer a new shape sorter.  Watching Evan take complete delight in Homer Simpson plowing down The Beast with a cool red sports car, then in the next breath seeing him tenderly tuck in a baby rabbit into bed, “nite, nite, cute bunny” he says. My heart melts. As he looked at me with a sweet smile, “I love nursery Mama” said a contented Evan, who then immediately runs off to find something else to satisfy his need for activity. It struck me that day more than ever before, life is all play and fun for my little ones, that’s all they care about right now, and let’s face it, that is all they should have to care about.’

How many times do we miss out on cherished moments because we are so focused on our own wants, needs and desires. We choose to wallow in our ‘poor me’ pity party and fail to see what God is trying to teach us. I realized that day that I have the rest of my life to sit in church, but only a small window of opportunity to watch my children grow. A window that once closed, will never reopen. May we look for, recognize and gather those many blessings and be thankful. May we laugh and choose JOY!

God’s word promises us everything we need to live joyfully and succeed in what He has called us to do, in your case it’s being a mother to those he specifically chose to bless you with.

Psalm 121v1-8

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.3 He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Precious Mama, as you are faced with the day to day, seemingly mundane tasks that seem to fill your life remember to look to Jesus. He has promised not to let you fall. He does not sleep and is in complete control. He will not allow harm to come to you, He loves you. We will often times have to make the conscious choice to look to Him, just as we have to make the choice to be thankful. Remember that your children are sponges, everything you pour over them they will soak in. Cover them in joy and thankfulness and watch the fruits of you motherly labor grow and flourish.