Monday, April 29, 2013

Encouragement for Frustrated Moms

I received this text from a friend a few days ago:

Can you remind me that I don't suck because I yell when I lose my temper sometimes?

I replied to her this way:

The same is true for you, my friend.
My frustrated, tired, irritable, overwhelmed, trying-really-hard-to-get-it-right-friend.
God - who is perfect in every way - loves you in every moment. Even when you blow it sometimes and do the things you really don't want to do.
I am convinced HE looks on you with love and compassion in those moments, wanting for you to come to Him for the help and grace you need. His arms are open and His love is unending.

Run to HIM!

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.

Isaiah 30:18-19 (NLT)


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Forecast: IRREGULAR

The other night I had a blog planning session.

That is, in the moments before I fell asleep, I was thinking realistically about my ability to maintain Monday through Friday postings over the next few weeks.

I am going to be attending a women's conference later this week - Thursday to Sunday. I am sooooo looking forward to it. Very excited about the extended time alone with my Lord. But I also understand the reality of what that time away will do for my ability to prepare other things - this blog included.
The following Sunday I am speaking at a women's event. It's a talk I have given before. Just making some minor changes. But I do need to dedicate some time to refreshing and preparing. I owe that to the women to whom I will be speaking.
Twelve days after that talk, I am giving a new talk to a MOPS group. I have started writing this new talk, which is based on the devotion I wrote for the NIV Mom's Devotional Bible. (Due out soon!) I basically know what I want to say, but I still need to work out the details. I want to honor God with the opportunity I've been given to speak to these moms. Therefore, I want to devote enough time to prayer and preparation.

For these reasons, my plans for this blog over the next few weeks are - well - irregular.
I'm not saying I won't be posting at all. I just don't know when I will.

So, feel free to stop in any time. Just understand you might see "old" material.
And - of course - I welcome your prayers as I attend this conference, and as I prepare and deliver these talks. To GOD be the glory!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Laughter is good for the soul.

During our lunch break Wednesday, one of my co-workers pulled this video up for all of us to enjoy. We had so much fun watching it!
Go ahead and enjoy it for yourself. And, um, I dare you not to laugh! *wink*


Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Self-Talk

I've mentioned that one of the ways I am combating depression is with improving my self-talk. When I do something which would typically send me downward, I literally say to myself, "It's OK," and I move on with life. It's a pretty good set up.

So, last weekend Brian was watching me make dinner. I was browning two pounds of ground beef and he commented something about that being a lot of meat. I went on to explain that I'd purchased a two-pound package and put it in the freezer without breaking it down first. (I probably said, "It's OK," when I realized my oversight. *wink*) So as I was making my menu plans for the week, I decided to make lasagna one night and tacos the next. That way I could use up all the ground beef in two nights. Voila! Problem solved.
And, right on cue, Brian said, "You're awesome!"
I looked at him and smiled. "Thanks. I needed that." He asked me why, and I told him I'd been feeling down because of some stupid/forgetful things I'd done. (Or NOT done, as the case may be. *ahem*) And, right on cue again, he asked if I'd been practicing my self-talk. I assured him, I was. Several times that day I had told myself, "It's OK." Avoided the downward spiral, but I still wasn't feeling very good.
Then I had a light bulb moment and said, "I know! I need to change my self-talk. From now on I'll say, 'It's OK. And I'm AWESOME!'"

Yeah. That ought to make me feel good. *wink*


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Are You Aware?

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

~Brennan Manning
My friend texted me this quote a few days ago and, on my first read, I agreed with it.
Yes, indeed. I am deeply loved by Jesus and have done nothing either to earn or deserve it.
I could agree with that. For sure!

But then I read it again, and the first phrase caused me to question my agreement. I know I am deeply loved. But that part about it being my deepest awareness of myself? I wondered, is that really true of me? Am I that aware of Christ's love for me?
Honestly, I don't think I am. But I want to be!
And so I pray God will continue to transform my heart and my thinking. Father, please take me to the place where my deepest awareness will be that I am deeply loved by You.

How about you? What is your deepest awareness of yourself?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beauty and the Beau: Email Edition

I didn't mean to peek. Really. I didn't!

I simply opened my computer and there it was, right on my screen. My daughter's open email account.

And it was opened to an email from Beau. Made me smile as I read it was to "The Best Girl in the World Elizabeth".
My peripheral vision told me it was OK to look at the context of the message.
Honest! I wasn't peeking on purpose!
And as I read the message's contents, I was even more delighted. Scripture verse after scripture verse. I could tell by the topic of each verse that Nick was helping Elizabeth plan her upcoming study for the Good News Club. (A Bible study she co-leads at school.) And it simply blessed my heart to see him supporting her in this way.

Yeah. He's a keeper! *smile*


Monday, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Don't take it personally.

It's really hard sometimes, but we need to do it.

Or, NOT do it, as the case may be.

We were sitting in our staff meeting Monday morning and a couple of my co-workers were discussing a "situation". Seems a family member of one of the residents talked with one of the kitchen staff over the weekend, and that particular staff person took offense at what was said to her. She thought the family member was rude and mean and she was quite hurt by the way that person spoke.
As my co-workers continued talking about the situation, more things were revealed about the circumstances facing that family member: difficulties dealing with her mother, trying to manage her father's back pain, frustration with mixed up communication, and on it went. Until someone piped up, "She probably didn't mean to be rude. She was probably just tired from everything else going on in her life with her parents." And another added, "Yeah. We can't take these things personally."

In the moments which followed that revelation we all agreed - many of our interactions with family members of residents fall under the same conditions. Most of the time we are dealing with rude people, it isn't because they're malicious. Rather, they're tired and are responding to their frustrating circumstances.
We do everyone a disservice if we take a bad attitude personally.

That conversation got me thinking about interactions I have with people outside of Edgewood. How many times do I get bothered by the way someone treats me, feeling like they're just being mean? Yet I really have no idea what they've been facing that day. It could very well be they aren't being mean on purpose. They might just be having a rough time with life - and I happen to be on the receiving end of their frustration. Oh, how I would benefit by letting those rude comments roll right off my back.

Can you see how you would benefit in the same way?

The next time you're face to face with someone who is being less-than-sweet to you, and you feel like getting upset because of their treatment - try remembering that they might be in the middle of a hard time, and it may be they're just blowing off steam.
Then do yourself a favor: Don't take it personally.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

What I Can't Say


I want to say so much. But I can't.

I want to say, "Seriously??? Do you see the double standard here? Why are you so concerned about her feelings and being nice to her when she does this kind of thing to you? Don't you see that she's doing the very thing which she says she doesn't want you to do? Do you see this whole thing is really all about her? What she wants, according to her time-frame, and on her terms? Why do you let her do this to you???"

One of my daughter's *best* friends is being - imho - incredibly selfish, self-centered, and unreasonable. I can make this observation, because I have acted the same way before. And it drives me crazy to see my girl so torn up about it - wanting to please and appease this friend, while still fulfilling her other obligations. The mama bear in me wants to tell my daughter what I really think about her friend's behavior, and release my girl from all feelings of unreasonable guilt. But I know such a rampage would accomplish nothing for the benefit of anyone.

So I won't say it.

Instead, I will remember I was once a teenager who acted in a similar way.
Still do, some days.
I was a girl in need of guidance and grace.
Still am.
I will remind myself how I benefited from time and maturity, and trust the same will be true for my daughter's friend. I will pray for her. For both of them! And I will ask God to give me the wisdom I need - to produce the words I can say - which will help my girl and her friend through this bump in their relationship.

LORD, please help me!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Read this quote yesterday.

Left me feeling kinda dreamy.

Kinda HOMEsick.

This is and has been the Father's work from the beginning - to bring us into the home of His heart.

~George MacDonald


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Please Excuse Me While I Climb up on a Soapbox

I watched this video clip with my husband Sunday morning. And we shook our heads at the notion that anyone needs more of an excuse to blow off personal responsibility.

Moments later, Brian was getting ready to head out the door with the camera. He needed to do some recording, and said, "I hope the battery doesn't run out on me." To which I replied, "Did you think of this last night?" Meaning, It would have been a good idea to charge the battery before you needed to use it. *ahem!* And I followed up with a comment about the personal responsibility issue we'd just been discussing.
Then a light bulb came on and we both said, "But it's the family's camera!" So we're all responsible for charging the battery! I told Brian if the battery died on him in the middle of the recording, he could blame me. It would be my fault. And just as quickly he said it would also be Elizabeth's fault. And Joshua's. And Matthew's! But not Brian's. No sir.

Because why should we take personal responsibility for anything?

OK. I'm finished now. Climbing down. *wink*


Monday, April 08, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Sometimes sunshine is shaky, wrinkled, and forgetful.

What do you think of when you say the word, sunshine?
Do you see images in your mind's eye of a bright blue sky surrounding a giant yellow orb which shoots out long rays of shimmering beauty? Maybe with alternating flecks of orange?

Ooo! I just Googled "sunshine images" and found this one. Yeah. This is what I'm talking about!
It's beautiful, fresh, and full of life. *ahhhhhhh*

However, I've been observing a different kind of sunshine at Edgewood.

I have a habit of greeting particular residents when I come into work by saying, "Good morning, sunshine!" And the smile they return for my greeting is one which truly does warm my heart, the way sunshine warms my skin.
Yes, I would certainly describe these residents as warm. But to say they have anything else in common with my image of sunshine? I really couldn't do it.
Perhaps 40 or 50 years ago they could have been described as beautiful (or handsome), fresh, and full of life. But today those words just don't match. Today they struggle to stand up. They pass gas frequently and openly. They can't keep their hands still. And, quite frankly, sometimes they really don't look very good at all.

Yet, every time I see them I am compelled to say, "Hello, sunshine!" And the way their face lights up with my greeting always, always warms my heart. So I will continue my sunshine greeting with these folks, in spite of the fact they aren't very 'sunshine-y'. Because I am learning to see them in a different light. And in this light - they are beautiful!

Sometimes sunshine is shaky, wrinkled, and forgetful.

Is there someone in your world who needs to know you see them as sunshine?


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Preach It, Brother!

As a pastor, I am constantly trying to challenge our parents with the verse, 'His mercies are new every day.' So we have to let ourselves go a little bit—because here's what I've found with Christian parents especially: we take too way too much credit and way too much blame for the way our children turn out.

~Ted Cunningham on Focus on the Family interview, "Moving Beyond Performance-Based Parenting"

I read this quote on Sara's blog and wanted to hear more from this man.
Because what he said about credit and blame resonated with me.
So I did a little Google search and found the interview. Oh, so glad I did!
He has a lot of good stuff to say.

If you have half an hour, I highly recommend giving it a listen.


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

I Want to be HIS Instrument

I felt a little awkward recently.

And a little too "good".

I was on the receiving end of gushing compliments and thanksgiving for the work I did in organizing the Among Friends Conference at my church last month. I was told what an amazing person I am, how wonderful it was that I put in so much time and effort to bring the conference to Lansing, and how I made a difference in the lives of so many women.
And - while it felt shamefully wonderful to have such kindnesses showered upon me - I knew GOD is the One who deserves the glory.
A couple days later I was praying, confessing my pride - and declaring my desire to honor God, alone. I told God I never want to steal any of HIS glory. And I asked forgiveness for taking any of it in the aftermath of Among Friends.
And as I sat there with my Father, pouring out my heart and asking Him to cleanse it, HE gave me a wonderful picture. I told God I want to be His instrument, and He moved me to think about a grand piano.
Have you ever heard someone play one of those? I mean really play one? As in - a trained, gifted, dedicated pianist who can produce sounds you never would imagine could come from just one person and a piano? I have been blessed to hear some of those performances and as I considered those moments while I was praying, I had a delightful "revelation".
I have never - not even once - at the end of one of those performances been moved to approach the piano and tell it how amazing it was during the concert. Even the very shiny, beautiful grand pianos which sparkle just so when the lights hit them have never been the recipients of my praises. No matter how beautiful the music was.
Because the piano is simply the instrument, and the praise belongs to the pianist.

Are you seeing the picture God was painting for me?

I sat on my bed, hugging my Bible, saying, "Yes, LORD. Yes! I want to be Your instrument. I want to be used by You to do beautiful things. I want You to do things through me which I cannot do on my own. I want to bring glory to You. But I don't ever want to steal Your glory!"

So now, whenever someone starts complimenting me because of what God did - and I start feeling like I'm more than I am - I pray God will cause me to think of a piano and the lesson HE graciously taught me. Because I really do just want to be HIS instrument.


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Please Pray

I am very excited about today - particularly, this evening. I will be speaking for a Moms' Night Out at the United Methodist Church of Ludington.
Over the past months, I have spent much time praying for this event. I've been asking God to bring women in who need to hear about the hope HE has given to me. I've been asking HIM to make a way for each mom who thinks there is no way she can make it. And I would like to ask you today to join me in prayer for tonight.
Please pray that every scheme of Satan to keep women away would be foiled. Please pray for child-care to be found, and for schedules to be cleared so moms can come. Pray that God will be preparing the heart of each woman who will be there - that she may be ready to hear everything HE wants to say.
And pray for me - that I may speak everything and only what HE wants me to say. I want to be God's instrument of grace and hope to mothers who need encouragement and peace.

The program begins at 6:30 tonight. If you can make it, I'd love to see you there! (More details in the sidebar to the right.)

Oh, and I'll have a long (late!) drove home after the event, so I'd appreciate prayers for that time, too. Thanks!


Monday, April 01, 2013

The Reason I Don't Have a Video Today... because I was doing this on Thursday:

Yes, it's time for us to start visiting colleges - so Elizabeth can begin to make a decision about where she wants to attend. Thursday we visited two schools in Grand Rapids.

And this week we'll be visiting a couple more. Then, there are the ones outside of Michigan in which she's interested...Not sure when those visits are going to happen. Actually, when I think of my baby girl going to college - there are many things of which I am not sure. Oh, so glad God knows!

And that will be the devotional thought I'll leave with you today: When you consider how much you don't know, you can be sure God sees it all - and HE knows what to do. May you find joy in trusting HIM today.