Parenting

Why we Struggle to Manage our Children.

Consistently addressing the behavior of our children can become frustrating. All the commands we’re repeating wear us down bringing discouragement. When their behavior is corrected, we enjoy a slight reprieve, but who are we kidding? Five minutes later, they are at it again. Can you relate?

I was a Behaviorist in the early years of my parenting. Behaviorism is, as Tedd Tripp explains in, “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” an attempt to control or constrain behavior through offering negative or positive consequences. This method only scratches the surface of the problem. I’ve since grown into the parental shepherd, who shows them their need for a Savior.

I’ve come to the realization, that although their behavior needs to be rectified, most likely immediately, I need to dig a little deeper into the soil of their hearts. For their behavior is rooted in this soil which is contaminated with our sin. Of course, the fruit from their behavior is going to reflect their struggle. The Bible clearly states, our words and actions express what’s in our heart.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

“A person’s life is the reflection of his heart.” ~ Tedd Tripp

We can conclude then, the behavior we see our children demonstrating is a reflection of their heart. To achieve lasting change we need to cultivate the soil of their hearts. Managing or controlling their actions is not sufficient, and this is why we struggle.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

If our goal is to only change their negative responses, when called to do so, there is a possibility we may raise Pharisee’s. The Pharisee’s honored Jesus with their lips, while their hearts were far from Him. (Matthew 15:9). This is a recipe for rebellion. Instead, we’d like our children to honor us with their hearts, not just give us lip service, while resenting the boundaries or discipline within our families. Most of all, they need to own their own faith in Christ, desiring to give Him their all.

So how can we cultivate the soils of their hearts then? Once their behavior has been tackled with, we could consider the following:

  • Asking our children questions that’ll expose the attitude of their heart that resulted in the negative behavior.
  • Explain how this attitude/sin reflects a heart that is far from God.
  • Explain their need for Jesus and the sacrifice He made for them.
  • Once the attitude has been uncovered, replace it with a good character quality. For example, replace hatred with love. (1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 16:14).
  • From scripture, read a story where hatred was expressed, and the consequences that ensued. In this case, you could read the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:8. Hatred was motivated by jealousy and resulted in murder. Other stories that illustrate hatred are Esau and Jacob (Genesis 27:41), and Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37).
  • We can ask our children to memorize a scripture. For instance, “Hatred stirs up strife; but love covers all sins,” (Proverbs 10:12), or “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
  • Consider spending a month of consistent teaching on an attitude that is often dealt with. This will uproot the bad habit and form a new one. A great resource I’ve used is the, “Write upon My Heart,” series by Keepers of the Faith.
  • Pray together with your child, asking God to create a new heart of love within them.
  • Encourage the little improvements you notice, and they’ll naturally want to please you.

We need to know scripture well in order to apply it to our parenting in discipleship and discipline. Consider making a notebook with all the bad attitudes and corresponding good character qualities with scripture references and related Bible stories. A great resource is, “For Instruction in Righteousness,” by Pam Forster. It’s a topical reference guide for child training. All the research has been done for you. I realize this book is expensive, it took me a while to purchase it, but I was not disappointed. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.

We can try to manage our children’s behavior until we are red in the face and exhausted, but it’s not going to bring the lasting transformation we long for. Only accessing their hearts, and leading them to the cross where the Holy Spirit can mold them will bring peace to our homes. Cultivate and plant the seeds of Gods Word within them, and leave the rest to Him.

May the Lord give you discernment as you seek to dig a little deeper into their hearts, and may the Holy Spirit be your inspiration as you shepherd your children.

How else can we cultivate their hearts? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Parenting

When Your Ideas and Reality Are Not The Same (Adoption Journey – Homestudy Pt 3)

There are times in life when the ideas and reams you have in your head and reality don’t end up being the same. I have experienced this quite a few times in life – like when I didn’t get married till 28, when most girls got married at 24. Motherhood didn’t come the way I expected- I thought I would get married, wait a few years, and then have babies. Sadly, that wouldn’t be the way my body would cooperate. Adoption was the way I wanted to grow my family – but after I had some biologically. However, reality and my ideas didn’t line up then… and even with our adoption, there have been parts that have not lined up with reality.

The last day of our home study process was on August 4 – which happened to be mine and hubby’s 2 year anniversary. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary – by finalizing the home study process. The kiddos were going to stay with my parents so we could get a dinner date in – just the two of us. We knew we were going to have a lot to talk about. We were right – but it wasn’t all what we thought it would be.

Our social worker got to our house, and we began our discussion. Hubby and I were prepared for the discussion, and we thought we were ready. The topic- was parenting. No problem. Scott had been doing the parenting thing for 13 years, and I had been at it for 2 – with tons of child experience. We figured we knew all the answers.

Except to the question about when and how we would tell the children we had been “matched”. The magic word in adoption world, that everyone is waiting on. Everyone wants to know that there is a baby on the way – that a birth mom has picked you, and that it is a sure deal. Problem is – it isn’t a sure deal until you get that baby home from the hospital. I couldn’t wait to tell our kids that – to share if they were getting a brother or a sister (or both!).

However, our social worker didn’t think that was what was best. My kids – and my in-loves – have been through a lot of loss. What would happen if we told our kids they were getting a baby sister – and then, we came home empty handed. Not only will Scott and be disappointed and heartbroken – but so would our kids.

Well, I was heartbroken. Being someone who would probably not get pregnant – I felt like I would never get the opportunity to share my good news. That I was going to have to keep a secret from all of those I love dear – including my kids. My dreams and ideas were again gone, and I was left with reality, a hard truth, but one nonetheless.

We finished up our meeting and headed to our favorite reasturant. We began to discuss how we felt about what was shared. Scott, being the more levelheaded, understood our social workers point. All I can see was my hurt and disappointment.

A few days later I talked to my good friend who just went through an adoption – and is going to do another. I asked her what she felt about telling her children about future adoptions. She gave me great advice. “Adoption is a faith journey. For all of us. Including our kids. We plan on telling our kids that there is a birth mom, and she is thinking about our family as a good fit for her baby. The baby is a girl.” That is truthful and honest- without getting their hopes us. We wont be telling them we have been chosen (although I will be screaming it on the inside!) but, they will know what is coming. When we go to get the baby, we will just tell our children we are going to visit the birth mom and the baby. If we get to come home with the baby- the surprise will be great. If not, there will not be as much disappointment for our kids. However, they will still get to pray and wait and enjoy the journey with us.

No, it wont look like me dream, but it will work for our family. Life doesn’t look like our dreams- and I am sure glad it doesn’t. My dreams are nothing compared to God’s – His are always better!

Right now, we are trying to pull together the funds together for our adoption. My idea and dream was that all my friends and family would rally around us, and we would come up with the money no problem. Again, this has not been God’s idea. We have had family and friends support- but many have said they are waiting till we are matched or that they want to do a baby shower. My heart cries as I wish I could tell them that a match doesn’t mean a baby. That they could give to us then – and we still might not bring a baby home. That we don’t really desire a baby shower- we are good with things we have picked up, or already loved items from friends. Right now, we can’t move any further until the funds are raised.

I am so blessed by my friends Misty (from Beautiful Ashes) and Bridget (from Becoming A Godly Wife) and the rest of the blogging community for all the love and support they have given us. This week – and we are running out of days- they are doing an Ebook bundle. For $10.00 (two starbucks coffees or a McDonalds lunch) you get 26 eBooks -worth over $100.00. You can also enter a giveaway (worth over $300.)  Or, you can simply donate. We feel strongly God is going to use people we DON’T KNOW to bring our baby home – because in that, HE GET’S ALL THE GLORY! Not us. We couldn’t get the glory.

Won’t you join us – when a child is adopted into a Christian family, they are going to be exposed to the gospel – and that – could change the landscape of eternity.

Bible Study

Hard Work Pays Off: A Biblical Principle

Hard Work. Either you love it, or you don’t. A good work ethic is hard to find- in the business world, or even just as a volunteer or for a cause. However, hard work is a very Biblical idea- one that started at the beginning of time – and can transcend all areas of our or lives. Today, let’s take a look at Psalm 128:2 and see how:

Psalm 128:2 (ESV) “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”

Farmers work so hard all year long in order for us to eat. They go from preparing the ground, plowing the ground, planting, fertilizing, and tending. Then, they get the joy of bringing in the harvest. Better yet, some of those wonderful goods end up on their very own table. Once, I grew a green pepper plant (Yes, I said once. I don’t have a big green thumb). There was so much work in getting that plant to grow. However, there wasn’t a tastier green pepper that I ever ate then the one I grew myself.

The same is true for our parenting. There is no greater joy then to see our children walk in truth. Yet, any of us that have been parenting very long (especially if you have teenagers) would tell you there is MUCH labor involved in raising children. However, it is so rewarding to see the fruit of your labor pay off in the lives of your children.

Working hard can be tiresome. Recently, I started another year of teaching preschool. On top of all our adoption  adventures. On top of raising three kids. On top of keeping my home. On top of being a helpmeet to my husband. A woman’s work is never done, or so the saying goes. However, we need to be sure that we look at the second part of this verse for some added encouragement. Yes, work is hard. Yes, it is wonderful to eat the fruit. It says that we will be blessed and that it will be well with us when we are productive. However, we need to be sure we ARE being productive! We need to be sure what we are doing is fruitful, and not just busy.

Friends, it is important that we are sure that we prioritize our time. That we do what we do well – for the glory of the Lord. His name (Oh, His great name) is on what we do. When we do it half way – that has His name on it. In order for our work to be blessed – it must be fruitful. Which might mean we need to do LESS work, so that the work we DO will be fruitful.

This week, I have been working hard on promoting our adoption – and trying to help raise the funds we need for our adoption. I have been working hard (along with some of my favorite girls!) – yet right now, I don’t know the fruit of my labor. I have pinned. I have wrote. I have shared. I have cried. Above all, I have prayed. The promotion team has done these things as well. I hope that they will be excited about the fruit of their labors.

If this is the first time you have heard about the Ebook bundle- let me share with you. Two of my greatest gal friends have teamed up to bring 26 eBooks for just $10.00. They had some awesome girls donate some great stuff- and even have a giveaway worth over $300.00 (please go try!) – but you can buy the eBook bundle by clicking the image below. 100% – every dime- is donated to our adoption. If you don’t need the bundle -that is fine- you can still help, by donating at GoFundMe.

Bible Study, Parenting

Living With Infertility

“You have a hormone imbalance.” Simple words spoken by my female doctor that would forever change my life. Being unmarried and 26, I wasn’t sure what those words meant for me. I just knew I wasn’t getting a cycle like I once did. I had gone through some weight gain- and then weight loss – and so I thought my infrequent cycle was due to changes in my weight. The nurse that came to sit beside me smiled and told me we could talk or cry if we needed to. I was still unsure what any of this meant, told the nurse I was fine, and left the doctor’s office.

I went home, and did what any person of the internet age would do – I got on Google. I started looking at what hormone imbalances meant. Struggles with getting pregnant. Medicine – that could alter my personality and how I felt. Whenever you deal with hormones- you are altering more then just the way your body reacts- you are altering who you are. My head began to wrap around the idea. I struggled with something that would require medicine – for a the rest of my life. Or, I would live with the effects.

The doctor had told me since I was not sexually active, nor wanting to get pregnant – that I didn’t need to take medications yet if I didn’t want to. I choose not to. I didn’t see a real reason to change what was working okay for me. I figured when I got married, we would deal with it.

I lived with this knowledge for a few years alone. I didn’t want to talk about it – because I didn’t want to deal with it. I felt like if I didn’t talk about it – didn’t share – that it wasn’t real. Then, I met my husband. Back to the doctor I went. I tried the first medicine, and felt crazy on it. Hot flashes, horrible dreams, and increased hunger. Tried another- similar results. Since I tried some of the medications, I have gained a lot of weight. All the while walking toward my wedding day – and the truth. I was…

Before Scott and I even started dating, he had told me that He had his first wife (who had passed away) had thought they were done with children – and so he had a vasectomy. I told him in the same conversation that I struggled with a hormone imbalance. Nothing big about it – no issue. However, as we moved toward dating -and than marriage –  our desire to have a child together one day grew. I was so excited to become the “bonus mom” to our three blessings – but the longing inside my heart was still to have a baby. To experience life with my child from the very beginning.  Hubby and I talked, and prayed, and cried. Many tears out of our eyes and hearts. I had such adverse effects to the medications I tried – that I just couldn’t stay on them. So, Scott and I sought wise counsel.

We talked to several friends, and older wiser people in our churches. Medical counsel. We came down to some blunt basics. There were choices for me- but they were expensive. IVF  (In Vitro Fertilization) is very expensive and invasive- and it doesn’t always take. My medication was expensive – and had adverse effects (that I didn’t want to have while being a mom – and some of them would effect the physical side of mine and hubby’s relationship.) If we tried just medicine- Scott would also need reversal surgery – which is also expensive and doesn’t always work. Or then there was adoption.

If you have heard much of my story- you know adoption started in my heart from before I was born. I didn’t know my biological dad- and was adopted by my step dad at the age of three. He never treated me different then my siblings. I always knew I was loved. He was a wonderful example of God’s love for us (found in Romans and Ephesians 1:4-6). I had been around families that had adopted and had always thought I would like to adopt after I had biological children. I just never thought it would be the ONLY way I would grow my family.

Scott and I did a lot of praying. We realized a lot of money was going to go into any of our choices. However, we want to be a good steward of the money God has given us. So, we decided adoption was our best bet. The other options didn’t really promise us a baby- adoption had the most promise. Plus, we would get to have an eternal effect on the life of a child, and maybe a birth family. We could be a missionary in our own home.

Currently, Scott and I have paid almost $9,000 for our adoption. Please don’t think that all these fundraisers are a way for us to ask others to do for us. However, we know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns EVERY DOLLAR IN THE WORLD. We know that He has people that He will use to bless us – and to help us bring our sweet baby home.

Every day, I live with infertility. I see “I am pregnant” announcements. Gender reveals. Ultrasounds. And I am excited – for every. single. one.  However, some of the greatest advice I have been given has been to grieve. Yes, I grieve. Three to four times a year, when I do get a cycle, I cry. I grieve for the loss of a child that will never be in my womb. Eyes that wont look like mine. Kicks and flutters in my tummy that wont be felt. Yes my friend, if you struggle with infertility, please grieve. You have a right -you have loss. Most people don’t feel like I have dealt with loss- because the baby was never there. However, it is the loss of what WON’T be.

I hold my hands open. I don’t know what God is going to do. I know in just 3 days, this adoption fundraiser will be over – and although there will still be post about adoption (for education) – we wont be asking for as much help. We have given SO many ways that people can help us. But the days for these fundraisers are coming to a close.

If you were thinking of waiting until we have a “match” to help us –  the reality is, we might not share that information with everyone. We know there is a chance the birth mom will back out. We might share- we might not. We don’t know yet. However, we can’t be matched without the funds. It doesn’t work that way at our agency. There is no payment plan. You don’t get matched without the funds. So, please, if you feel like you are waiting – don’t wait.

Besides the fundraisers listed in the link above, we are selling t-shirts (and we need to sell about 40 more!) and bracelets. If you follow the link from the t-shirt graphic – it will take you to a secure site for your address. You can pay via the GoFundMe Link. T-shirts are 20 – bracelets are 2.00.

 

Then- there is our adoption bundle. 26 amazing eBooks – all for $10.00. The authors are not making a profit- they are giving everything to our adoption. You can get yours by clicking the image below. Also, be sure to check out the giveaway (valued at over $300.00)

 

I live with infertility. Every day. It isn’t going away. I hid and kept quiet for a long time. But, if I have learned anything from this journey – it is that I shouldn’t hide. That there are other women like me out there. We need each other. We need to lock shields, and support and encourage one another. Hold each other in our hard times- and rejoice in victories.

I will worship as I LIVE with infertility. I will live – giving ALL glory to God – for He is going to give me children in a supernatural way.

Worshiping With My Life,

Parenting

Peaceful Parenting: Peaceful Training

The beginning of peaceful parenting starts with planning. We must plan how we want to raise our kids, what we want to teach them, how we will correct their behavior, etc. Once we’ve planned, our plans must turn into action. In order for our homes to be peaceful, we must be at peace in our parenting choices and begin training our children according to those same choices and plans.

Peaceful training comes from peaceful parents. Peaceful parents come from a close relationship with God. His peace passes all understanding and when we’re walking with Him, we are blessed with His peace.

So, how do you implement child training in a peaceful way? What steps should you take to get started?
1. Mind your manners.

Yes, we are the parents and we need to be obeyed, but we must ensure we’re practicing the manners we expect from our children. Sometimes including a please or thank you can instantly change an attitude or a conversation’s direction.
2. Be consistent.

Once you’ve set up the rules or told your child no, stick to it. Don’t give in or change your mind, it simply confuses your child and can weaken your authority. This step is exactly why planning first is key to peaceful training, you must know what your rules and expectations are in order to be consistent.

Peaceful Parenting: Peaceful Training
3. Lower your voice.

Even if you aren’t yelling or upset, the tone in which we parent comes across more harshly than we realize. Take 2 seconds and lower your voice one decibel, you’ll be surprised at how different it sounds to your own ears.
4. Expect your child to obey and do well.

Our kids are very in tune with us and if they sense we don’t expect them to obey or that we think they can’t do something, then they often won’t bother to try. We must believe in our children so they can believe in themselves.
5. Lovingly disciple.

Our children will make mistakes, after all they are sinners just like us. We must take them to God’s word to show them what God says about their specific incorrect behavior and why it’s wrong. Showing them in God’s word teaches them it isn’t our rules, it’s bigger than us, they’re God’s. Parenting requires retraining throughout our kids lives. It’s important to readdress the specific rule or expectation we have that they’ve broken and why it’s important to follow then, each time they’ve disobeyed us because…(see #5) consistency is key.

Peaceful training isn’t an overnight process nor will it happen 100% of the time. We don’t like in a perfect world and we aren’t perfect people.

When we make the decision and efforts that creating a peaceful home requires, we will find ourselves more at peace as parents when the difficulties do come along.

Remember…peace comes from God…

We are peaceful parents when we’re walking closely with Him…

Peaceful training begins with planning and continues with loving consistency.

Bible Study

Knowing Hope

Hope. So many people want hope in the world that we live in. Yet, most people, when they think about hope- they are talking about something they are unsure of. Yet, as we look at scripture, at 1 and 2 Peter, we can have a

knowing hope1We are transitioning in our “Reading and Blogging Through the Bible” study with Courtney from Good Morning Girls from the book of Esther, where we saw a young girl, facing adversity, who needed courage and strength in God to be able to stand during hard time and persecution. Move forward through time and space, and we see Peter giving us encouragement to stand firm and stand fast in a time when persecution is so real. It was real to the believers of his day – and it is real to believers in our day.

Every day, newspapers and television news is filled with ways our world is changing. Persecution used to be quiet – we knew it happened in some parts of the world- but never in our own back yard- let alone our home front. Now, we see it everywhere. Although it differs where I live than other parts of the world, as we watch it fill our tv screens and social media, we begin to wonder when a time like that might come to us.

1 and 2 Peter are books that offer encouragement and hope for the days we live in. It gives guidance on how to stand firm when the world is shaking beneath our feet. It gives us ways that our lives can look different than others- so that we might be a light in the darkness. It gives us knowledge and warning on what to look for in false teachers and those who would be out to harm us.

The biggest thing it gives is hope. A knowing Hope- where we know that Christ has us. He holds our world -even though it seems to be shaking. He is going with us and before us. He has given us instruction – because He loves us so.

I hope that you will join me, as we continue to read through scripture together. If you are interested in joining an accountability group – leave me a message in the comments.

If you are looking for a little more intro, feel free to check out this intro post by my friend Bridget, from Becoming A Godly Wife.

I want to leave you with a word of encouragement found in the book of 1 Peter. I hope that these words will bless you and remind you of where we are going – and that you have hope.

Worshiping With My Life,

Womanhood

True Friendships: Accountability

We all need accountable relationships- but no one really wants them. The reason isn’t because we don’t want relationships- but because we don’t want to be hurt- and we don’t wan tour hurts to be out there for others to see. However, as we look at scripture, we know that accountable relationships are so important. Today, we are going to look at one of the greatest examples in scripture of accountable relationships, talk about why and how, and lastly, I want to share a few of my favorite relationships with you.

True friendship is hard to find in today’s world. Accountability is even harder.

In today’s world – true friendship is rare. The people who will stand beside you – at your worst as well as your best – are rare. They come into your life at the strangest moments. We know that we can talk to them – about anything. Yet, it takes time to build the kind of relationships where you know you have each others back.

Scripture has lots to say about accountable relationships:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 ESV

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

These are probably some of the most frequently used passages when we talk about accountability. However, First Samuel 20 talks very specifically and gives a great example of two true friends: David and Jonathan. These two men had a true friendship for each other- they counted on one another, trusted one another with their lives. David was running for his life- and he was running from Jonathan’s father, King Saul. Yet, Jonathan knew that David was in the right -and that his Dad was in the wrong. Because of their friendship – David was able to keep his life, and become one of the greatest kings of Israel – and we know him today as the man after God’s own heart.

Real friendship is hard to find because it causes someone to look at more then the outward, or what someone can do for you – it requires you to look at the heart. It is someone who will get in, and ask the hard questions in life. Who will be there when you fall – not to wonder why you fell, but to give you hand back up. Between the two of you and God – the threefold cord- you can face the world.

Yes, our spouses should be our very best friends. They should be our first form of accountability. They have earned the right to ask the hard questions – and they see us at our best and at our worst. However, when I look at the examples of friendship in scripture, the one that sticks out is a relationship of two people of the same gender. Two people who can understand each others position. Two people who had each others back.

I have been blessed in life to have some of these kinds of friendships. People who have fought to get into the walls that I have built around my heart. They are ones who ask the hard questions – and wait for an answer. They know when I am “off”. I have all different kinds of frienships- the ones that I like to shop with, the ones the we like to have lunch and coffee with. Yet, relationships are meant to last – and I have gained some in my life that I know are eternal – that the focus started with a mutual sharing of interest – but have gone way beyond that- they have rooted into my heart. They had been there through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today, we live in an isolated society. We don’t want to let others in (and often, that includes our spouse and family.) That was never the way God intended it be- we were created to be relational. There are friends in my life that are way more like family (my kids even call them family !)

We need to hold ourselves to a higher level of friendship. We need to allow ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable. I know friends, it is hard. We are all afraid of being hurt – I HAVE been hurt. Gut wrenching, deeply hurt. However, I know that God intends for me to have these kind of relationships.

God has provided me some of these kind of friendships. When I was just 12 years old, God gave me the friendship of a lifetime- and my bestest Tiffany and I have been through all kind of things together. Relationships, marriages, children, loss – the list is longer than I can share. However, our relationships started at youth camp – and continues to this day. I love watching our kids play together. I have another friend, Christa, who just blessed my heart in more ways than I can share – we became a friend at a time when we were both feeling lonely – and even though we only lived in the same town for about 9 months- we have been in each others weddings, traveled to visit each other, and now we share a similar passion for adoption. Then there is Jen- she was actually my hubby’s friend. They went to college together and she married his best friend. I have shared about how my husband was a widow – and she was very close to my hubby’s first wife. Yet, the day I met her, I met a friend for life. We cried over the loss that my now children and husband had faced – and her loss as well. I miss her like crazy when we are apart – and we connect on God’s Word almost daily. Each of these relationships were built on love, prayer, and most importantly, a mutual love for God’s Word – and sharing God’s Word together. These kind of friendships are not just built over shopping or coffee- although we LOVE to do that too! These girls are my family as much as they are my friends.

Most recently, I have made some new friends as well – except these ones, I have never met. They encourage me to be in the word each day. They write with me – they laugh with me – and they cry with me. They have helped raise a huge chunk of our adoption money. They have become sisters as well as friends. Most recently, you have seen them contribute here at Women of Worship – and we have started a new platform where we share about some of life’s biggest and hardest struggles- and how to Shine Authentic Grace into those struggles. If you haven’t had a chance to go check out my newest adventure – you really should. Misty, Bridget and Rosilind have become way more then faces on a computer- they have become some of my dearest friends. I am beyond blessed that God would choose to make our paths cross. I can’t wait for the day that my arms get to go around their sweet necks and we can do “normal” friend stuff.

Yes, I have been blessed with relationships. However, they each take work. To text. To call. To write. You have to be willing to go bast the superficial and get into the real part of life with people. You have to be willing to get hurt- and to heal.

…but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 ESV

Do you have these kind of realtionships? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Don’t forget- I am offering a few copies of Time Warp Wife’s new book – and it is available TODAY! Check out Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages

Worshiping With My Life,

Parenting

Peaceful Parenting: Peaceful Rule Establishment

We touched on planning being an important first step in the peaceful parenting process. Yet, it can be difficult to find the right balance for peaceful rule establishment.

Peaceful rule establishment is easiest when your children are little because they grow up only knowing the rules as they’ve always been. Often times parenting throws us for a loop and we don’t set up rules when they’re long and then it is harder when they’re older to have a peaceful rule establishment. But, I believe it can be done.

1. Pray.

Especially if your kids are older, because setting up new rules will be “rocking the boat”.

2. Write down the rules you won’t budge on.

You know the no smoking or drinking, curfew is _____ and no later, etc. write down your non-negotiable rules.

Peaceful Parenting: Peaceful Rule Establishment

3. Have a family meeting.

Openly discuss the areas of your kid’s lives that you feel need some sort of direction or rules and work together to establish them. Maybe your kids always want to do homework at a friends house, find a balance together and make it a rule. After setting up the rules that you were willing to work together on, bring up the non-negotiables. Explain why you’re putting these rules in place and let them know that they are non-negotiable.

4. Post the family rules.

Design a subway art or graphic containing your family’s rules and put it up where it can’t be missed by you or your kids.

5. Be consistent.

As I’ve said before, our kids are sinners, just like we are and they will make mistakes. Our consistency in peaceful rule establishment is key for our children knowing what’s always expected. When the rules change or we waffle on established rules, it confuses them and will make them angry when we try to go back and reestablish them.

We must be consistent in all aspects of peaceful parenting. That is one of the most important steps in parenting. Consistency. Without consistency we can not direct our children because we aren’t pointing them one direction. So, as you start planning your non-negotiable rules make sure they’re only rules you can be consistent with requiring and maintaining. Non-negotiable rules aren’t meant to change and disobedience must be dealt with when they’re broken. Ensure you can uphold these with non-negotiable rules before you establish them.

Peaceful rule establishment won’t happen perfectly, but when we pray for direction and wisdom before we begin this process we will have peace inside as we follow God’s will. After all isn’t God’s peace in parenting what we need most?

Womanhood

A Few Steps Ahead: The Value of a Paul Relationship

We all need someone to look up to. I remember as a little girl, I had some famous girls I looked up to. One of my favorites was Candace Cameron, from Full House. She was just a little bit older than me, but she had great hair, she was sweet and she usually went through some of the same struggles I did. Little did I know that years later- I would still look up to her – because that little girl turned into a woman on fire for Jesus. However, the older I got, the more I began to look up to people in my real life-  more than I realized I did when I was younger.  Even today I have women I look up to. Today, we are going to talk about the Value of a “Paul” relationship.

Maybe you have never heard of a Paul relationship before. A Paul relationship is shown in the Bible through the relationship of Paul and Timothy. Paul was further ahead in ministry than Timothy – and he was able to tell Timothy to, “follow me as I follow Christ.” We need women in our lives that can be a Paul to us – and we need to be a Paul to other women (more on that later this week). Today, I am focusing on us looking for the women ahead of us on life’s journey.

I want to start with a small disclaimer. This doesn’t mean you are looking for someone who is older than you in physical age necessarily – although there is some great truth for that (and another topic we will address next week.) This woman should be a spiritual leader in your life. Someone whose FAITH you want to follow – more than just her housekeeping and child rearing – although if you can follow her faith journey – you can probably follow her in other areas of life as well.

We all need someone ahead of us in our faith. Last week, we talked about the David and Jonathan relationship. Those are typically going to be people that we feel like we are close to. We learn from them- but we know we are in about the same place. Today, we want to talk about those who have been walking longer in their faith. You know the women. The word of God just pours out of them. They can’t NOT talk about Jesus, His Word, and what He has done in their lives. They are always TEACHING you something – whether they know it or not!

It is so important to have these WISE women in your life. When you need counsel – you will know where to turn. How do you know if a woman in your life is a Paul relationship?

1) She points you to Christ-  A Paul in your life is ALWAYS going to point you toward Christ. When we read about Paul in scripture- he was always decreasing himself so that Christ could be increased. He was always laying down his desires for Christ. He was constantly sharing his faith and evangelizing. He was always found giving wise counsel from the Lord. If a woman in your life is going to be a “Paul” – she will point you to Christ.

2) Her words are God’s Words- Often, when we seek advice from others, we get a lot of opinions. However, a Paul relationship is going to take you right to scripture for the answer. She isn’t going to give you a bunch of her ideas – but give you Words of Christ.

3) She will be a prayer warrior for you – Every letter of Paul opens and closes with a prayer for the church he was writing to. The same will be true for a woman who is a Paul in your life- she is going to bring you before the throne room OFTEN and she will pray God’s word over you.

4) She is going to love you – We are known of Christ when we love others. Your Paul is going to love you to pieces – because Christ loves you. End of story.

 

I have been blessed with some amazing Paul relationships in my life. Women who were ahead of me in my walk with God who just blessed my socks off. The one I think of off the top of my head is a sweet lady name Marsha. Marsha had a love for God and His Word that was absolutely contagious. When she prayed with me and for me- I knew the mountains were going to move (and often, they did!). When I would talk to her – she would always point me to Christ. Now, sister loved some fashion and shoes- and yes,we could talk about that too – but there was never one conversation I had with her that didn’t point me back to Christ.

Another one was my best friend of 22 years mom, Janna. I will never forget the time she asked me if I wanted to lead teach three year old Sunday school. I had been co-teaching in there for two or three years- but my ministry was moving in a new direction. I was also serving in teens- and the commitments between the two were getting harder. I told Janna I would pray about it (always the right answer!) but the whole time, I was afraid of how I was going to tell her no. I had never said no – but I knew saying yes wasn’t going to be right. The day I was suppose to talk to her about it- I was super nervous. I rehearsed a few times how I would tell her no – and to my surprise, as I sat in her chair – I was telling her yes. She looked at me with love in her eyes, and said, “Mandy, the answer was suppose to be no. I wanted to help you learn to say no – and to see when your plate was too full.” She has taught me MANY lessons – and many of the things I share here I gained from her wisdom- but this was probably the lesson that has stood out the most.

I have a few other Pauls in my life. Dorothy – she taught me about loving – and really, it was through her awesome example I saw that I could be a bonus mom/adoptive mom. She has four children of her own- and four adoptive. With love and grace  I have watched her raise children. We have chatted over many cups of coffee – all over the world. She was there they day I bought the tiara for my wedding – way before I even knew the man I would marry. I bought it while on a mission trip – fulfilling a commitment I made to God that I would serve Him in missions before I got married. I found the perfect tiara – and I walked away. She made me walk back.  She reminded me that God keeps His promises to us- He is not slack!

The last one I will talk more about in another post- but she must be mentioned here- is my dear friend Astrid. Astrid let me live life with her. I watched her discipline her kids, love her husband, but really- she always had a word from the Lord for me. She was my biggest fan and my greatest prayer warrior- I can’t wait to share more about my story with her next week when I talk about Titus 2 women. :) Stay tuned.

Yes, a Paul relationship is important. You need women who have walked ahead of you – so that they can help you. They will point you to Christ and His Word. Do you have a woman life that? If so, share about her here! If not, I would love to pray for you – but I can only do that If you ask in the comments!

Be the Salt & the Light to the world this week and share:

  • Faith in Jesus – What inspired your faith walk with Jesus
  • Marriage – What touched your heart for your spouse
  • Singleness – What has inspired you to reach out to God
  • Mothering – What encouraged you to be the best mom you can be this week
  • Health –  A new recipe that you hope to bless your family with, or health tip that will benefit your family
  • Service –  A story of service that touched you
  • Finances – A tip that will serve your family well
  • Homemaking – Inspiration to make your home a haven for your husband, kids, and guests
  • Time – Share a story that opened your eyes to the use of time in our life
  • Beauty – A reminder of what beauty really is in a world that tries so hard to
This is only a list to get you started as you search for posts that touch you to share with others. Honestly, any online article you’ve read that touched you is perfect for this link up.  We all know that there are great writers on the internet that others just haven’t discovered, use this opportunity to the light shining on some wonderful writer.
Once you’ve found a great article, link it up below and then leave a comment or send an email to the article’s author and let him or her know you’ve shared.  Who knows how such a small act of kindness will impact them.

And of course, if you have written an encouraging post you would like to add to the link up, go ahead link up a second, personal post.

Weekly Feature:

Bridget and I are picking our own favorites each week to feature, so make sure to check out both of our sites to see if you were featured.  My favorite this week was: The Value of Serving Together by Jamie  at Walking In High Cotton.  This post reminds us of how wonderful and valuable it is to serve together ad husband and wife. It is one of my favorite things to do – because I believe we are ministry partners!

Parenting, Womanhood

A Few Steps Behind: A “Timothy” Relationship

“When I grow up – I hope that I am like you.” Those words came so humbling to me from a girl that is dear to my heart. It was in those moments that I knew she looked up to me – that I was a “Paul” relationship in her life. I think that was honestly one of the most scariest things someone has ever said to me – probably only second to me hearing a little girl, walking behind me in pink high heels that were far to big for her, saying that she was going to be like Mommy when she grew up. If you realize it or not- you are probably the Paul to someone  – and having a Timothy in you life is just as important as having a Paul.

In our previous post, we talked about the importance of having a Paul relationship-  someone who is ahead of you in your walk with Christ – so that as you follow and look up to them – you can be seeing a woman of the Lord who is pointing you to God.  However, it is just as important to have a Timothy in our life as well.

A Timothy is someone who is just a few steps behind you. They look up to YOU. Yes, you. You are the one pointing THEM to Christ. You are the one praying for them. You are the one instructing them in God’s Word. You, yes you can be a Paul for someone else – no matter how old you are.

The reason it is important to have a Timothy in your life goes back to that accountability word we talked about last week.  When you know someone is following you – and even walking in your footsteps – you are more likely to keep your life in check. When you know someone is watching -you don’t want to make mistakes. Your going to – but it might help keep you out of some of the harder choices. Having a Timothy increases your prayer life- it gives you someone to pray for – because you desire to see her grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. She is going to ask you hard questions- and need you to help her find the answers from scripture. With that in mind, it keeps you digging each day in the Word of God. Having a Timothy following you helps you grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ  – because you truly want her to be led into a closer relationship with Christ. You don’t want to cause her to stumble.

The young ladies I have had a privilege to mentor have changed my life. They have pushed me deeper in my walk with God- they have asked questions that have driven me to the Word and my knees. We have taken faith steps together. We have climbed walls and seen mountains move. I have watched strongholds come down and God answer prayer.  Yes, I have even cried tears when they have made hard choices. It has been good for me, and my walk with the Lord, to help them on this journey.

We were never made to walk alone. That is why God created a man AND a woman. That is why He has given us friendships. He wants us to have communion. He wants us to strengthen and sharpen one another. So, just as it is important to have women that you are looking to for guidance and wisdom – be that woman in another woman’s life.

I have had the privilege to invest in teenage girls for many years- and have missed it so much since I got married. Those girls are now off in college now -and I still hear from them. They still call (or text!) to get advice about school, relationships, finding churches, and general life. I still pray for them each day – and try to send goodies in the mail! I keep up with them through social media. I couldn’t be prouder of  “my girls” as I have called them since they were just 8-9th graders. Just yesterday, I got a text from one of my girls, Camryn, who just wants to catch up on life. She (and some of the others) have pushed me further in my walk with God than I could have ever dreamed. Farther than any teacher or mentor- because I knew they were watching me. I am so thankful for Camryn, Mackenzie, Katelyn,Brooklynne, Danielle, and Hannah (and many others I am sure I have forgotten to mention) – you girls pushed me like no one else could during that time.

Today, I have some new “Timothy” relationships in my life – my three sweet children. Sweet Friends, if you have children – any children, not just your own – in your life- you have little Timothy in your life. They are watching. They do mimic what you do. You are teaching your children faith. I even feel this with pressure with my niece, who I also hope always knows her Aunt loves her and wants her to know Jesus in a sweet way.  No matter how you are in their lives- if you know children – you are investing in the lives of others.

Having those you invest in is just as important – if not more so in some ways- then having others invest in you. If you just let others fill you up – you will begin to stink. People who are full of wisdom, who don’t give out- become like a sponge full of water. If you leave the water in your sponge- and never ring it out- it will begin to mold and stink. Wisdom that isn’t used rots- and things that rot stink.  Discipleship is a ministry that can happen in our homes, in our church – and in our world. It is a process- and it is what we were left on the planet to do.

Who are those that you are investing in? I would love to hear about who and how in the comments! <3

Worshiping With My Life,