Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

I want to take a moment to wish all my friends in the blogosphere a very Merry Christmas! May your hearts be filled with wonder and thanksgiving as you consider Jesus - the Savior King.

I'll be taking a blogging-break now. Will be back after the first of the year.

Love to you,

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Monday, December 22, 2008

God Changed My Heart

We just spent the weekend with the Hossink side of the family to celebrate Christmas. It's always nice to be together with all the family, but if I am to be honest (And you know I always am here!) there is one person I look forward to seeing more than anyone else.
That would be my sister-in-law.
She is my age, she's a mom, and she is also my sister-in-Christ. I love spending time with her talking about mom stuff, kid stuff, and how God holds it all together. And as we talked this weekend, God showed me one more thing about my sister-in-law. She's brilliant!

We were talking about the times when our children are asking for something and we are saying, "No." And, at least for the two of us, sometimes the NO is coming selfishly. In those instances - when our children insist on knowing why we're saying NO - we realize our selfish attitude, we're convicted by the Holy Spirit, and we want to change our answer. (OK, we don't want to change our answer. But the Spirit of God has a way of getting us to do what we do not want to do!) My sister-in-law said at those times she tells her daughters they need to thank God for changing Mommy's heart.

And that's when I recognized her brilliance.

I thought about how many times I have struggled with changing my answer in those situations. The realization of my selfishness and my desire to change most often comes in sync with my child pestering me with why's and please's. And I hesitate to change my NO to YES, because I do not - in any way, shape or form - want to reinforce begging. I do not want my children to think if they just pester me long enough about something, I'll give in.
So I am reluctant to change my answer because, if I do, what else are they going to think except that their begging paid off?

Now, thanks to God speaking through my sister-in-law, I know what to do. I just need to tell my children the truth.

"God changed my heart, so I am changing my answer."

And if this new response motivates my children to flood heaven's gates with requests that God change my heart, well, how wonderful would that be??!! *grin*

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Are You a Burnt Out Mom?

I have a stat counter linked to my blog and every now and then I like to log on to it and see how many people are reading here. (That lets me know there are a lot of "lurkers" out there...Some day, won't you please leave a comment just to say, "Hi"? Pleeease!)
One of the things I like to look at on the stat counter is the "Key Word Activity." This feature lets me know what words people use in a search engine which bring them to my blog.
Lots of people are searching for information on the Pass the Parcel game, and that makes me happy - knowing they'll have some fun with their kids.
I regularly see people searching for a survival kit for motherhood, and am hopeful that mine will be helpful to them.
It makes me laugh to see so many people looking for information on removing armpit stains. And I'm glad I posted about that topic.
And it simply delights my heart to see several people wondering how they can trust God. Not that I'm glad they're having difficulty trusting, but since they're questioning Him, I am glad He has led them to my blog post about the same issue and I pray He'll speak through it.
But there is one key word phrase which comes up frequently that just makes me sad.

Burnt out mom

Whenever I see those words in the Key Word Activity, I sit and wonder what the woman who typed those words is going through at the moment. Is she crying? Yelling? Slamming things? Walking around silently with a hopeless look on her face? I hope she's praying.
And then I have days like the ones I've had recently, and I think I might know very well what that woman was feeling.

Last night Brian was reading through some Proverbs with Joshua before bed. I was standing guard over Matthew to make sure he stayed on task getting ready for bed. (Watching over the shoulder of my little ADHD friend is sometimes necessary. Last night he couldn't stay focused to save his life!)
As I stood watching Matthew, frustrated with him because he wasn't listening to me, I heard Brian read a proverb about the look on your face being a reflection of your heart. And I imagined what the look on my face was at the moment - thankful I wasn't near a mirror to actually see it. I knew my expression was not one of peace and joy. I thought about that proverb, and my heart, and leaned my head against the wall as I sighed, My heart is tired, Lord.
There are so many good things going on - class parties, writing our Christmas letter, getting ready to go see family, making treats with the kids. There are lots of necessary things - appointments, correspondences, assisting with tasks. And things I fully enjoy - speaking, working out, and - yes - writing blog posts.
But last night I realized just how much all these "things" are weighing me down. As I contemplated the fact that I didn't think I could muster up a joyful look for my face, I realized, I am that burnt out mom.

God used my realization to remind me I need to get away with Him for a while. I need to be in a quiet place without appointments to keep or tasks to accomplish so I can simply receive His love. And it's a snow day, so I know it isn't going to happen today. But that's my new goal - to find a day, soon, when I can get away.
Until then, I know God will sustain me. I know He is good and He will carry me. And I long for the day when He can just hold me.

How about you? If you're feeling a little burnt out, too, may I encourage you to seek time to just be with God?

I also want to invite all my Burnt Out Mom friends to visit my website for a free copy of the Irritable Mother's Survival Kit. May God use it to help bring hope to your heart.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News You Can Use

Do you remember when I wrote about the Dream Calendar?
My Dream Calendar arrived the other day, and I'm telling you, it is the most gorgeous, beautiful, precious, lovely, you-have-got-to-get-one-too calendar I have ever seen. Each month has an adorable picture of a child who has a life altering condition, along with that child's "story." These children - and their dream to have a safe play ground - tug at my heart.
C'mon now, 2009 is coming soon. If you still need a calendar for the new year, click here and get this one!

AND, if you are still hoping for a chance to win a free copy of my new book, Finding Joy, click here. Mary Beth and I had an interview, and she is giving away a copy of my book. Hurry, though, she's drawing the winner Friday!

OK, that's the news for today!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Need Relational Help???

Anyone anticipating some relational, uh, challenges with upcoming family gatherings?

Check this out! (And get ready to laugh. ***grin***)


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How Much Can You Handle?

I do not remember where I was when I heard this, or who it was that said it, but last week someone made a statement to me which is really ringing true tonight.

She said to me, "You know how some people say, 'God won't give you anything you can't handle?' Well, I don't believe it. God gives me lots of things I can't handle. And He handles it all!"
Can I get an "Amen!" on that one?

How many times has someone tried to encourage you - or have you tried to comfort someone else - with that statement?
God won't give you anything you can't handle.
Because as I have gone through life - especially since I have been a mom - I have come across more and more circumstances which I simply cannot handle.
Need to love a child who is prone to angry outbursts and fits of rage. Can't do it.
Must be patient with an ADHD child, who simply cannot maintain focus. Can't do that, either.
Compassion required for individuals who have made foolish choices. Don't have it.
Need to serve my family selflessly, even when they don't seem to appreciate the time and effort I put in. Yeah, I don't think so.

Shall I continue?
I could give you the play-by-play of this evening's activities...

The point is, God has given me so much in my roles as wife and mom which I simply cannot handle. And because He is so good He gives me the grace I need, moment by moment, to make it through.
I don't have the capacity to love. My patience is much too thin. Compassion is lacking. And there is still too much of me in me to do much of anything selflessly. I cannot handle all God has called me to be and do!
So I fall at His feet - needy and grateful for His grace in my life, for God's ability to handle all He has called me to be and do.

I leave you now with the final verse I read to the kids before bed tonight. Yeah, this verse which fits me so perfectly, from a psalm I "randomly" chose to read. I soooo do not believe in randomness. Clearly,God picked this psalm out tonight!

Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.

Psalm 70:5

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Monday, December 08, 2008

God is Good!

Last week I told you about the message I was going to be presenting to a group of women at an Advent Breakfast on Saturday.

Today I want to tell you about how good our God is!

Friday night I arrived in Ohio and had dinner with the women on the committee who had put the Breakfast together. After dinner we went over to the church and spent time praying for the women who would be in attendance Saturday morning. We went around the room and prayed at each table, at each seat, for each woman.
It thrilled my heart to consider the fact that God knew exactly who would be at the Breakfast, and as I prayed I asked Him to speak through me to the heart of each woman.
When Saturday morning came and I stood in the church watching the women arrive, I began to feel insecure. I looked at these ladies walking in and I started to think, What do I have to say which will minister to these women in any way? Who am I to think they will want to listen to me? Why am I here?
But God reminded me He is the One who arranged this event. He chose the speaker and the listeners. He inspired the message. And though my mouth would be moving, He would be speaking.
So I quit worrying and spent more time praying.
And when it was time, I got up to share the message God had planted in my heart.Though there were still moments when I doubted myself, I spoke the words God placed on my heart and continued to pray with each one.
And our God - because He is so good and so faithful, He showed up and spoke to those women. After the Breakfast was over I stood outside the sanctuary and greeted women. Some shared with me through tears how God had spoken right to their situation. They told me, "This is just what I needed to hear today." I heard stories about illnesses, reconciliations, heart breaks, and hope. And each of the women who shared these stories told me they understood that God's timing was perfect, and they knew they could trust Him - even when the timing didn't make sense to them.
I had gone to speak for these women with a great desire to be a blessing and encouragement to them. But I stood in the back of the church as the recipient of blessing, because God was using these women to show me His goodness and faithfulness.
I'm telling you, God will never cease to amaze me. He allows me to see my inadequacies. He lets me remember that I am nothing. He permits me to doubt my abilities. Then God swoops in and displays His power, His love, His faithfulness. And I stand in awe of our great God!

Please take some time today to reflect on God's faithfulness in your life. Remember who He is, and what He has done.
If you're in the middle of a difficult circumstance, ask God to remind you of the times in the past when He has seen you through other trials. God never changes. You can trust Him to do what is good and right!

And before I go, here's one more picture from Saturday. This is me with the Advent Breakfast committee. They were a lovely group of women. *grin*

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Time Is It?

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) and everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:1-7
Is this a well-known passage to you? Perhaps you grew up hearing it read every year right about now? And maybe it's so familiar that you tend to breeze through it without giving much thought.
That had become my habit. You know, Oh, I know how this story goes. (Brain shuts off.)
One of the many wonderful things my mentor has taught me to do is to read through scripture slowly and meditate on it - allowing time for God to speak. And do you know what happened when I did that with this passage from Luke?

I found myself thinking God was crazy!

As I worked my way through these verses, one of them jumped out at me and I couldn't let go of it.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
Luke 2:6
Does that statement strike anyone else as odd?

As I thought about it, considering the fact that God is supposed to be in control of everything, I wondered why He didn't work out the timing of Jesus' birth better. Why didn't He arrange events so that when the time came for the baby to be born, Mary would have been home in a comfortable place - where her mother could have been around to help her out? God knew when she was going to be taking this journey with Joseph. Why didn't He adjust the time when He caused her to become pregnant, so she wouldn't have been on a long journey when she was about to deliver?
I kept going over and over those thoughts in my head. God, why didn't You work out the timing better???

But do you know what? God worked the timing and details out perfectly. Jesus was born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecies about Him, and God knew exactly what He was doing!

Having convinced me that God - in fact - did know what He was doing, His Spirit went on to show me something about myself. I realized there are so many times in my life when the timing just doesn't seem "right" to me, and I question God's actions. I have in mind the way things should go, and if God's plan isn't in line with mine, I tend to doubt Him.

Know what I mean?

Yet when I remember Who God is, and remind myself of all He has done, I know I can trust Him to work out the details and the timing perfectly.

I am looking forward to sharing this message with a wonderful group of women at an Advent Breakfast at Cornerstone Alliance Church in Marion, Ohio this coming Saturday. Registration has "officially" closed, but if you're going to be in the neighborhood, I bet they'd welcome you. Give them a call. I'd love to see you there!

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