Be Still

Be Still

It’s early morning in my house – all are sleeping, all is quiet. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. No rushing, no deadlines, no last-minute search for backpacks and jackets, keys, and purse. There is something about the sense of quiet, the stillness.

In a world of constant noise, I find that “quiet” has become a precious commodity. Did you ever notice that almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes? I think we all need to “unplug” sometimes.

The other day, in the midst of looming deadlines, orders piling in my inbox, church meetings, and school activities, I decided to stop at a little park down the street with my kids. It was a GORGEOUS day. My three-year-old & five-year-old were thrilled! I sat in the grass and stopped to take it all in. I listened to their laughter. I pushed them on the swings. We all sat in a swinging chair and counted the cars on a train that went by us – 133 cars! They thought that was something!

We looked at our little part of the city from up on a hill, then we sat down below on a bench and talked about how the view changed. We listened to a bird with a very interesting call, and soon a few sticks on the ground became staffs that would forge a new path into an unexplored patch of trees. The kids thought they had quite the adventure when a nearby dog began barking at them and they rushed back to the safety of mom’s side!

Finally, we all laid in the grass and looked at the clouds. We watched the breeze move through the trees, and let the sunshine warm our faces. How wonderfully therapeutic it is when we “unplug” from the noise of the world and become aware of the unrushed world of God’s creation. In the middle of my “busy” God lead me to a pocket of peace, a place of stillness where I could take a deep breath and recharge.

I want to encourage you to find that place of rest today. Take time to quiet your mind and be still. Take time to be aware of your children and your spouse. Be present in your heart and mind. Breathe deeply. Let God speak to you. What a difference it will make in your life when you choose to protect your peace, when you become intentional about being still and at rest.

You’ve only got one life to live. Don’t let deadlines and “to-do” lists drag you through it. You can still be productive – sometimes more productive – when you “stop and smell the roses.” Memories aren’t made in the “busy-ness” of life, but in the moments that we choose to make special. Make some memories today. Your children will thank you for it later!!

Gratitude – The Key to Victory

Gratitude – The Key to Victory

Are you overwhelmed by the circumstances that you find yourself in? Are you stuck in sadness, self-pity or depression? Do you want someone to show you the way to victory?

What if I told you a simple truth; that gratitude is the key to having victory in your circumstances. Not long ago our pastor did an amazing, life-changing teaching series called Thanksgiving Victory. I’ll never forget the impact it had on me as I considered what God had to say about being thankful, and in contrast, what He had to say about self-pity. Now, any time my thoughts and emotions start to move me in the direction of sorrow or self-pity I am quick to rehearse my blessings.

The truth is that we can all easily take for granted the good in our lives, and focus on the “bad.” As humans we tend to magnify problems. We focus intense amounts of energy on thinking about those problems, and those thoughts are expressed in our lives through worry, fear, anxiety, sorrow, anger and general STRESS.

Like a hamster on a wheel, those thoughts run and run and get us nowhere! The problems aren’t resolved, the circumstances haven’t changed, and we have only succeeded in “spinning our wheels in the mud” and getting more stuck than before.

The danger is when we entertain self-pity. The belief is that our circumstances are somehow more difficult than everyone else’s. Our problem is unique, and the pain far greater than what anyone else is experiencing. It is unfair and we are entitled to be experiencing something better (like everyone else)! Here is why it is so dangerous to think this way: you make it impossible for God to extend grace to you. Why? You feel you deserve it! Grace, by its very definition, is undeserved. It is favor that is given, not because it is owed, but because of the loving kindness of the one who extends it.

When you wallow in self-pity and depression you are absolutely cutting yourself off from the grace of God which is the ONLY thing that is going to affect REAL change in the circumstances you are so depressed over!

So what is the answer? Gratitude. Gratitude expressed in giving thanks for all the GOOD in your life! If you are reading this and scoffing at the narrow-minded simplicity of this solution in the face of your “very real” problems then you are exactly the person this message is for! Truth will set you free, but it does leave some feeling offended. Jesus set a lot of people free AND He simultaneously offended a lot of people. You can’t control every circumstance that surrounds you. You live in a fallen, cursed world where people have a free will to do all kinds of things that aren’t the will of God or the plan of God. Sometimes their free will infiltrates your world and the result is bad things happening to “good” people. You can’t control every circumstance around you, but YOU CAN control how you choose to respond!

You can stand right now, lift your hands and your heart to God and say THANK YOU LORD that I’m alive!

Are you healthy? Thank God! Do you have a roof over your head and clothes on your body? Thank God! Do you have food to eat today? Thank God! Do you have an income? Thank God! Do you have friends that love you? Thank God! Do you have a God that loves you and is for you? Thank Him! Are your children healthy? Thank Him! Is your car running? Thank Him!

As you begin to SAY, out loud, all that you are thankful for, as you rehearse how blessed you are, as you declare God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of even the WORST circumstances, you give God permission to release His favor and grace in the situation! So do it! Right now where you are. Be grateful! Be thankful! Rehearse your blessings, and continue to do it daily! Then stand back and watch how God brings you out of the pit and into victory!

The Value of Godly Motherhood

The Value of Godly Motherhood

This last week I was reading from some women that inspire me, and it really got me thinking – deeply – about the lost art of godly motherhood. I can think right now of so many women in my life that exemplify what a godly mom is, and it’s not their perfection, it’s their sacrifice that humbles me and inspires me to be more.

There was a time in my life when I had more personal freedom. Not that long ago I could leave the house, go grocery shopping, or see a movie without having to do much planning or preparation. I could meet up with a friend, or go out with my husband, and I didn’t even have to call or notify someone that their childcare services were being requested! Now grocery shopping requires carefully planned strategies, and seeing a movie is a rare (if ever) occasion. I have always been a very driven and productive person, working my whole adult life and “getting a lot done” every day, but when God blessed me with more babies, my efficiency seemed to taper off a bit.

At one point in my life I was a “world changing” missionary teaching in Bible College, pastoring women, holding Bible studies every week and crusades every weekend. I was up at 4am, teaching devotionals at 5:30, and leading staff prayer at 1. My days were productive and my nights were filled with sweet sleep!

Now many days are spent making block castles with William, being a cheerleader for Grace as she learns to crawl, and sitting outside naming the different animals we see or all the colors that God made. Hours are spent cleaning up messes, and reorganizing toys that will all be on the floor again in a few hours, and guess what? Nobody sees what you do day in and day out except God.

Is it less glamorous? Yes. Is your work rarely acknowledged? Yes. Is it less important?

NO.

In the eyes of the world you are “just” a mom. You are “tied down” by these needy little creatures that need constant instruction and correction; that have meltdowns at the most inconvenient times; that cry until they are taught to communicate, and can’t even comprehend being grateful for your sacrifice until they are much older. Yet laying down one’s life for another is the greatest example of love, and it was Jesus that demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice for us.

In the words of one godly mother,

Productivity is not God’s highest goal for this season of my life; obedience is. Success in His kingdom is not measured by numbers of people reached, quantity of books written, or worldly accolades received. Rather, He says, ‘…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant’ (Matt. 20:26)”

It was Jesus that taught us to get down on our knees and empty ourselves of position and reputation, and to value and highly esteem the privilege of serving others. Godly motherhood is a priority to God, and it is in living this poured out life – one that we “lose” for Him – that we truly find a life of abundance.

God has been teaching me to slow down, and to cherish this time that I have with my children. What I invest as a mother now will produce such a glorious harvest in time to come. I have a brief window to give of my time, talent and energy – sowing seeds of righteousness in my children’s hearts. In the words of Paul, “I will gladly spend and be spent,” for their little souls to know Christ.

For all of the moms who daily choose a life of self-sacrifice, and who may think that it doesn’t matter or that it’s keeping you from doing something “more important” for God – be encouraged today. What you do as a mom matters, and it is very valuable and precious in God’s eyes.

Mommy is Queen

Mommy is Queen

There is something about a mother that is so divinely purposed by God – an innate ability to nurture, protect, and love her children. A woman of godly character that sees the value in, and invests in her children is something so precious, and so rare. The quote above is one of my absolute favorites because it recognizes the powerful influence a mother has, not only in her home, but over nations!

I have a confession to make. For the last twenty years I have been a working mom. I always believed it was harder to work outside of the home, and in some ways it is; but, I have been blessed by God to be a stay at home mom for the last 5 months, and I must admit that it seems harder on some days to be at home than it is to be at work! Maybe it’s the lack of adult conversation, the fact that there are no lunch breaks, or the never ending repetition of questions, crying, and correction – but there are some days I want to work just so I can have a break from my 24/7 job at home!

There was actually a video that went viral on YouTube that featured a man interviewing people for a job (the job was being a mom). They didn’t know what the job actually was, but as he described their duties, one by one, they began to declare this job was impossible to do. If you haven’t seen it, watch it below:

In honor of mother’s day, I just wanted to send out a big thank you to all of the mommies out there that give of themselves sacrificially to help mold and shape the character of the children who will be our future leaders, each in their own spheres of influence. Don’t EVER underestimate the value and inestimable worth of a mother in the lives of her children! What you do matters, and though what is done in your home with your children may only be seen by you and by God, it is to be acknowledged and praised!

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:25-31

This week, remember the important place that you have in your home. It is a place of strength and honor. It is a place of value and worth. It is a place given by God, and it is to be highly regarded and highly esteemed! What you invest of your time, energy, love, patience, and strength in this present time will one day be the very thing that is blessing you, and praising you before God and man. Mommy, you are a QUEEN with a powerful scepter, building the character of your children for eternity. You have a VERY HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

For Kids Who Don’t Like Vegetables

For Kids Who Don’t Like Vegetables

So, being that I am a health conscious person, and I appreciate the beauty of what raw fruits and vegetables do for the body, I have been really trying to get my toddler to eat his veggies (and not just corn). The only problem has been that he will usually begin to chew on some veggies, and then he’ll spit them out. We’ve tried spinach, broccoli, asparagus, kale, carrots, bell peppers, and a number of other veggies, but mostly he likes corn!

I have tried cutting things very, very small. I tried hiding some veggies in pizza sauce, but he detected that! I’ve gotten away with spinach in some things, and steamed carrots with some butter and brown sugar, but in the past he’s had a real aversion to the greens!

One thing that I have found is my best strategy for getting the greens in him is smoothies! He really, REALLY, likes smoothies, and I can add a variety of veggies and greens in the right amounts so as not to throw off the sweet, fruity goodness. Almost every day we share some smoothies for breakfast or as part of lunch, and we both feel good about what we’re eating!

I wanted to share one of our favorite smoothie recipes to inspire you to try making your own! This recipe is for a Mango Peach Smoothie with Kale.

Ingredients:

1 C Frozen Mango chunks

1 C Frozen Peach Slices

1 C Apple Juice

2 Leaves of Kale (Pulled from stem and chopped)

1/2 C Fat-Free French Vanilla Yogurt

2 Tbs. Milled Golden Flax Seed

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a blender until pureed and smooth! Drink & Enjoy!

Here is some awesome nutrition information on some of these ingredients:

Just 1 Cup of Kale has:

  • 329mg Potassium,
  • 133% of your Vitamin A 
  • 134% of your Vitamin C

Just 1 Mango has:

  • 72% of your Vitamin A
  • 203% of your Vitamin C
  • 20% of your Vitamin B-6
  • Rich in Fiber

Just 2 Tbs. of Flax Seed has:

  • 3.6g Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Good source of Fiber & Protein

In addition, yogurt is rich in Calcium & Vitamin B-12, and is great for aiding in digestion and the absorption of nutrients; peaches are a moderate source of antioxidants, Potassium and Iron, and Apple Juice is another good source of Fiber & Iron (the cloudy apple juice is the healthiest).

So that’s my trick to getting my toddler to eat greens! What’s yours? I’d love to hear some more ideas in the comments below!

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