Monday, December 26, 2011

Part 2 - Look to God

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28 )  Sometimes family life is hard.  The housing market crash and economic nose dive in California severely affected my family leaving me weary and heavy laden!  Working on my goals was not on my radar during this crisis.
Before setting my goal in Jan ’09 to be like Mrs. Duggar, I had been asking God in daily quiet time to gently show me what I was unwilling to turn over to Him.    My inability to always have a meek and quiet spirit is one thing he showed me.    I thought I was a pretty average homeschooling mom with a pretty mild temper.  Obviously God thought I could have something so much better.
God invites US to come to HIM.  I have to recognize my weaknesses so that God can change them. Whether known or unknown, God will not automatically change or remove my disposition, the way I  think, feel, act or react, because that would be taking away my free will.  God is a gentleman.  He will not violate my free will by forcibly taking these things from me.  It has to be an offering of myself that I’m willing to give freely. 
What if I don’t know what my weakness is?  I didn’t know of my weakness either, but in looking to God in my daily quiet time and asking Him in prayer to reveal what I needed to change, the answer came unexpectedly.   One day I watched the Duggar’s show on TV, it jumped out at me and caught my attention in a very unforgettable way (read part 1 for details).  If I had not been praying I may not have noticed a thing.  I’ve  since watched that episode over and over and that moment that changed my life, happened so quick.  It would have been so easy to miss amongst my other, seemingly bigger life problems.  That’s where God comes in. 
When God speaks to me, it amplifies all the senses – I hear more, I see more, I feel more, I know more and I do more.  Instead of the thought diminishing over time, it stays right there, at the front, constant and persistent.  God promises thru His Word to show me my weaknesses so that I can give them to Him. “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) 
Our Heavenly Father is such a good and loving Father.  As I lay myself before Him, He promises that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It’s a choice.  God is waiting at the door - we have to knock!
This is a 6 part series:

Part 5 Daily Spiritual Checkpoints
Part 6 Prayer

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Part 1 - Overcoming Weaknesses

Every January I write a goal list for the New Year to give me a vision of what’s important, what I dream and hope for and what I want to accomplish.  In January 2009 I wrote on my goal list "Learn to be kind like Mrs. Duggar".  She's the mom star of “19 Kids and Counting” on The Learning Channel (TLC).  Why did I make this goal?  A couple years ago, I was watching their show when Michelle was getting a Mother’s of the year award on Mother’s Day. A few children commented on why their Mom was so special but one son in particular said something I’ve never forgotten.  In fact, thru the wonders of technology I’ve been able look it up and write it down. He said, “Most people, when they discipline their kids, they’re more angry. But my mom, she’s real calm and she disciplines us that way. So I like it.”

 I’ve watched most episodes of their show and read both Duggar books.  I’ve never met Michelle Duggar but I consider her a mentor of sorts.  I’ve seen so many desirable, Godly attributes in her like the respect she shows her husband, her meek and quiet spirit her ever present smile and encouraging words, and even the tone of voice she uses.  I know she gets angry but her response is different than the norm...instead of yelling, she instructs and basically tries to be an example of Jesus.  In her own words she says "I want our home to be a safe place where our children feel love and acceptance.  Anger is a destructive force (and) can destroy everything we are trying to teach our children. It can build a wall between them and us"A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work, p. 219).  I truly want to learn what she has learned.
Fast forward to Jan 2010…  Here I’ve been working on this goal for a whole year and in my mind I’ve made no noticeable progress.  I’m still the same old me!  So here we go again - “Learn to be like Mrs. Duggar”  I write on my 2010 goal list with the resolve to work on it harder.  I don’t know from experience, but surely it’s possible to be as 1 Peter 3:4 says, to "adorn myself with a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 

Many more months go by-no noticeable progress - when one day I’m on the phone with a long distance friend. My friend says to me, “Will you excuse me just a moment?”  I hear her voice drop real soft as she addresses one of her children and then she quietly send them on their way.  I didn’t think much of it at that moment, but the memory of that event kept coming back to my mind, over and over again, till the awareness fully dawned on me – She knows something you don’t, so you need to ask her.

I did talk to my friend.  She taught me some important Biblical principles about child training and discipline that I didn’t really know or understand.  In hindsight I see now that I needed to learn and implement these principles in my life to enable me to reach my goal. 

I’m trying to be very real and very honest as I “spill the beans” on myself and tell you how God is helping me. The whole point of my new blog is to embrace my God given life mission and share what I have learned with my family and anyone else who God leads to this blog.  I’m going to chronicle this journey of Overcoming Weaknesses in a 6 part blog. Watch for them!
Part 5 Daily Spiritual Checkpoints
Part 6 Prayer

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Organizing Happiness

“Why didn’t I think of that?!? It’s too easy!” That’s what I thought when I started reading Mrs. Lorrie Flem’s e-book  "Organizing Happiness."  

In "Organizing Happiness," Lorrie gives tips or habits to inspire you in 4 areas:

  • 7 clutter keepers
  • 7 Habits that will make you and your family happier
  • 7 spiritual weapons for Happiness
  • 7 quick organizing tricks.

Right off the bat, I got excited when I read Lorrie’s 7 clutter keeper ideas. Hey, I’ve got clutter! My bedside table was quite the little eyesore with all of my reading materials scattered here and there. Not anymore! Now it looks so inviting with a cute, cute basket, perfectly shaped for holding my books. It’s my own bedside library. It makes me want to go to bed and read! I look forward to implementing Lorrie’s clutter catcher ideas thru the rest of the house. I can do these ideas today, right now!

Lorrie's e-book, Organizing Happiness, specifically addresses quiet time as a habit that will make me happier. As a homeschooling mom of 6, my life can get very busy as it seems I’m always in demand. With this new school year, my personal quiet time often went by the wayside because I couldn’t seem to fit it in. I realized I was setting a new habit, and not a good one, that left unchanged would leave me to face my day alone without God. That just doesn’t seem like a good option but my choices were making it a reality.

Lorrie says "being consistent is what makes or breaks great people and great lives", thus, for the past few weeks I’ve been grading my own spiritual consistency. Am I praying in the morning and having my quiet time? Am I feasting on the word of God? Am I opening the scriptures with my children daily and giving them spiritual “food” to chew on throughout the day? Are we praying together? Am I thanking God at the end of my day? With Lorrie’s encouragement I’ve been able to get things back on track. Perfectly, no, but each week I’ve been taking baby steps and it’s starting to add up.

Spending this last month focusing on Lorrie's "7 habits that will make you and your family happier," one thing I’ve learned about changing habits is how easy it is to go back to my old way of doing things, especially if I’m trying to make a drastic change. Lorrie reminds me of the long term goal when she says, “Instead of being so concerned that you get off to a strong start make sure it becomes a new habit over the long haul. Once the habit is instilled, it will be much easier to raise the intensity.”  This reminded me to keep it simple.  Take one small action at a time.  For me that translated into setting my morning alarm a little bit earlier and make sure I have a quiet time first... not checking my email, eating my breakfast, starting the laundry or other things that I like to do before the little ones wake up.

One thing I love about Organizing Happiness is Lorrie’s upbeat writing style and sincerity. Lorrie makes me feel so optimistic and encouraged. I feel like I'm sitting on my couch with a good friend, one who always makes me feel better after having spent time with her. I feel like she's sitting in the trenches with me and truly understands my struggles. She reaches my heart in such an encouraging way that I have no time to feel bad about what I don’t accomplish. Instead I feel energized and begin to see the possibilities.

If you want to be encouraged like I have been, go here and sign up for Lorrie’s newsletter and you can get "Organizing Happiness" for FREE! You can’t beat that for an after-Thanksgiving deal!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Power of Words

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get it.  It should seem obvious since the Bible says it over and over on the first page!  I’m talking about the power of WORDS.  God said, let there be light, and there was light.  If God’s words are so powerful, what about my words or the words of others? 

My friend used to say to me, “Hung by the tongue,”  if I said something negative like, “I can’t do _____.”  She was trying to teach me how powerful my words are in my life.  If I say, I’ll never have a clean house, I probably never will.  I don’t think I fully understood what she was trying to teach me until a few years ago.    It started when I read some books on being a Godly wife that had a profound impact on me.  This message changed me instantly.  It moved me to repentance.  It moved me to submit to my husband’s authority as an act of my own free will.  It moved me to even change my thought patterns.  It’s like I’d been walking down one path in life not realizing exactly how bumpy and dim it was till I discovered a new path that was so much smoother, easier and brighter.  I’ll never be the same woman again because of the power of the word.  I get it! 

Why do many religions teach us to read the word of God daily?  Because of the power of the Word;  The power to move and inspire us onto a brighter, smoother path. The path that brings us joy.  The path that brings us nearer to God. 

True principles work in every aspect of life.  The power of the word is not limited to God’s word alone.  Let me give you an example.  Suppose you’re struggling keeping your house clean. (I wouldn’t know anything about that….wink, wink!)  Did you know that there are men and women who are passionate about cleaning and have spoken and written books about it.  They believe that what they know is so good,  too good to keep it to themselves.   They’ve taken the time, money and effort to write of their passion, their expertise, their WORDS, to help others.  Never underestimate the power of words. 

Try this little experiment.  Take one of these books, written by someone with passion and read from it for 20 minutes a day.  I believe you WILL be inspired.  You’ll probably be inspired enough to actually do something they suggest. 

You may be saying, but Deanna, I read a book about cleaning once... about 20 years ago, and my house is still a mess.  I know, I know, I’ve been there myself and I’m still working on it.  But scripture teaches that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  What truths do we learn from this?  How often must we eat bread (food) to live?  Daily!  How often does God want us to read his word? Daily!  If this is God’s pattern, shouldn't it be your pattern too?

How often should you read about cleaning if you want the power of their words to change you?  You got it, daily!  I don’t mean that you’ll have to read about cleaning daily for the rest of your life, but daily until it has produced a significant change.  Till it has sparked a change in you that you could not have done on your own.  Till you feel the power of the word in your life.  Don’t forget that Christ says, we can do anything thru Him.  If you seek changes in your life that are scripturally correct, right and good, God will help you as you persevere and ask His help.

God spoke, and by the power of his word said, “Let there be light.”  If we truly grasp this principle of truth and strive to bring the words of life, truth, hope, prosperity, goodness into our lives,  there will be light and that light will be beautiful to behold.   

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Practice on the Dog - Love your children!?!

How is it that extraordinary things happen in such ordinary moments? I was on the porch sorting thru my Sunday paper.  The only treasures I expected to find were my coupons when I spotted Buddy sitting on the lawn.  He's a relative's dog whose been living with us.  I don't like Buddy!  I don't want Buddy!  He's obsessed with me and follows me constantly!

Then it happened, a thought crossed my mind out of nowhere: "Be nice to the dog!  Love the one you don't want to love.  Speak kindly to him when its the last thing you want to do."  As I wrote this moment in my journal, Buddy kept bringing me his ball to play fetch, when I didn't want to play fetch. It's so obvious that God is trying to teach me more than how to love an annoying dog. 

I often struggle with similar situations & emotions in the day to day life with my 6 children whom I dearly love.  The longer I sit on the porch with Buddy, the more similarities between the dog and children I see.  He slobbers on me, he wants to play with me when I'm busy or after the point I'm done.  He follows me like a shadow, and he quickly forgets every wrong with a simple word of kindness. No wonder God wants me to practice on the Dog! 

I've had it written on my goal list  and in my daily prayers, for a couple years now, to be like Michelle Duggar (no yelling, be patient, keep a kind expression on my face).  Is this God's wisdom to teach me how to do what I really want to do but keep missing the mark?  Practice loving whom I don't want to love and maybe I'll be successful with those I do.

3 Months Later... Buddy doesn't live with us anymore, but God helped me do what He asked and I was able to love Buddy and be kind, gentle and accepting of him till he went back home.  During this time, God has done a great work in me to help me reach my "Mrs. Duggar" goal.  My 15 year old daughter says I'm at least 90 percent there.  So Buddy, I don't want you back, but thanks for all your help!

Update: 9 months later... I've continued to learn so much from learning to love Buddy.  I would gladly take him back.  We've even gotten 2 dogs since he left and I'm acting out in love to one of them who is hard to love.  Thank goodness love is a choice and love is an action instead of just an emotion.  My emotions have followed my decision/action to love as I take him on walks and works with him on his doggie issues.  It's also so much easier to choose love for my family members over conflicting emotions I may feel in the moment.  God amazingly uses small things to bring about great things in my life.