Monday, April 30

Who's your buddy?

Last week Barb wrote: "It will take discipline, determination, an ability to say NO over and over again and a mindset that is filled with scripture that constantly reminds you of Who is in control. A ‘buddy’ to hold you accountable may be just the ticket to keep you on track. This is another ‘counter cultural’ decision and you will have to ‘stay the course’ in order to see the results you are hoping for."

Do you have someone you can go to who will help you stay the course? Who will keep you on track? Are you that person for someone else?

Throughout the years I have had different friends who have stepped up to the plate to offer me the accountability that I needed in that season of my life. Sometimes we met for breakfast, sometimes we met once a month for a meal and most recently my accountability buddy and I held weekly check-ups via telephone.

It is so challenging to make decisions that are counter cultural. It's never going to be easy, but when you've got a buddy beside you, cheering you on, together you can strive to make better decisions and better choices about how you spend your time.

Instead of waiting for someone to come to you, why don't you prayerfully consider who might be a good buddy for you? Who would be willing to speak truth into your life even when it's hard?

We'd love to hear if you have an accountability buddy and how it's impacted your life....Click on the comment link below and share your experience.

Friday, April 27

A Moratorium on Multi-Tasking?

I wonder if I was to intiate a moratorium on multi-tasking for women it would be similar to 'bra-burning' back in my younger days? It certainly might be just as radical! Multi-tasking is a virtue...or is it? Women are so quick to ridicule a man for not being able to do more than 2 things at a time, but maybe it is the man who is wise in what he is doing.
When my kids were young, I had a poem that I required them to memorize...
"Once a job is first begun,
Do it well and get it done.
Be it large or be it small,
Do it now or not at all"
Maybe that should be our new mantra as women.
As a post script to my last posting, I began focusing on all that I have going on in my life. There are no more little finger prints to clean up after, diapers to change, activities to attend or car pools to drive, so what do I, as an older woman have to say 'no' to so I don't get into the Superwoman Syndrome on a daily basis. I think the first thing I realized was that I have formed habits over the years and now I have many jobs started and rarely do I give myself credit in finishing a task. I chalk it up to my grand ability to 'multi-task'. I think as long as I can keep the balls in the air, I am doing ok. As I ponder this further, I think I need to eliminate a few 'balls' and instead focus like a man and get my jobs done. Richard Swenson wrote a book several years ago simply named "Margin". In it he proposes that we need to make room for 'margin' in our life. A time to sit and enjoy, rather than move from one task to another. That is what we do in multi-tasking. We move from one task then another and another and we are like gerbils on an exercise wheel, in motion, but often without direction.
If we instituted a moratorium on multi-tasking, we might find some 'margin' in our lives and find that we are super in what we do and therefore we don't have to become a'superwoman' to feel successful.

Anyone ready to sign up for my moratorium on multi-tasking? Ok, repeat after me,
"Once a job is first begun,
Do it well and get it done.
Be it large or be it small,
Do it now or not at all!"

Wednesday, April 25

A Quick (?) Question...

I was asked the other day what I thought of the ‘superwoman syndrome’. You know, the woman who gets herself into such a habit of taking on everyone else’s burdens, she is overloaded herself. I was asked if this was a phenomenon of today’s generation, or did I experience or see women in my generation always over extending themselves. Well the quick answer is ‘Yes’! I think both generations have a tendency towards this habit. Can I answer this question by prefacing please listen to what I say and not by what I do? I too, am plagued by the superwoman syndrome. I can relate to it in every respect. Maybe the most help I can give is to say that if there was one area I would like to go back and have a ‘do over’ it would be in this area. No one pointed out to me what a ‘white tornado’ I was…thinking I was taking care of messes, but really just creating new ones. I did it with a sincere heart, but also an unreal expectation of what I could possibly accomplish. I felt I needed to be all things to all people at times. Slowly I have gained perspective and experience. Slowly, I have come to see the need for me to constantly be in touch with the Lord about all that I want to take on. In the book, Lies Women Believe, the author, Nancy Leigh De Moss says the number one lie women believe is “I don’t have time to do every thing I’m supposed to do.” 70% say they believe this lie. Women say they are “so busy…exhausted…can’t keep up with everything…” and that is inspite of having the “equivalent of 50 full-time servants, in the form of modern, timesaving devices…” The Truth is “that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me.” It sounds simplistic, but looking back on my life, I see that I took on responsibilities on my own and became overloaded. By constantly doing that, it became a habit and a way of life. It was my identity to overextend myself to others. I bought into another lie that Nancy mentions and that is “I can do it all”. That is the ultimate superwoman syndrome and the two lies are at the core of her belief system. My answer to this dilemma would be two- fold. One is to replace the lies with truth and that means to fill your mind with what you are responsible for. Take time to identify what your ‘purpose’ is for your season in life and then live within that purpose. Name the people you are responsible for and make sure they are taken care of on a constant basis. Make sure you pray about taking on ONE MORE THING if it is outside your given responsibilities. You see when I was your age, I acted on energy and not on focus. I would burn out only after running out of energy. I have learned to run on focus now and that carries me through on an even keel. I have learned to ‘say NO’ and it has freed me up to say ‘YES’ when I really need to say yes. Constant self-talk and God-talk will slowly replace the lies with focus and Truth.
Secondly, I believe a day of rest was mandated by God and given to us as a command in order for us to hear from God that we need to REST! God rested on the 7th day…not because He was exhausted, but because His work was finished!! He rested and He commands us to do the same. How can we REST on the Sabbath if we are burned out or if our work load never ends? I have come to believe that if I go to God and say I am exhausted or frazzled or frustrated with the lack of time in my life the first thing I would hear Him say is, “What are you doing on the Sabbath?” and then perhaps he would have Dr. Phil follow up and say “How’s that working for you?”. If I don’t take a Sabbath day each week, I can’t complain to God. He would say ‘try that first and then we will talk.’ After reordering my habits, I believe I wouldn’t have to talk any further. My mind, body, focus and family would once again be aligned with God’s desire for me to experience an abundant life, not a frazzled life.
Try applying these two solutions for one month and see if God doesn’t reveal a clarity within you that will allow you to sort out what needs to be done on a daily basis. It sounds easy, but it’s not. It will take discipline, determination, an ability to say NO over and over again and a mindset that is filled with scripture that constantly reminds you of Who is in control. A ‘buddy’ to hold you accountable may be just the ticket to keep you on track. This is another ‘counter cultural’ decision and you will have to ‘stay the course’ in order to see the results you are hoping for.
God bless you. My prayer is that you learn from this older woman so you won’t be wanting to have a ‘do over’ in your precious life.
“Teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom” Ps 90:12 What a great verse to begin meditating on to get you to believe the TRUTH!

Sunday, April 22

"What are you thinking?"

That was a question my husband asked me often when we were first married. I thought it was interesting when he first asked me that question. As we got into our marriage, I thought it was my responsibility to bring the 'softer' side into our conversation, so I always made a point of asking him, "What are you feeling?" I was pretty proud of myself for being so 'wise' in pointing out to him that 'feelings matter'! Over the years, however, I found profound wisdom in what Dean was asking me, if only I had really taken it to heart. I wish I had reacted swiftly every time he asked me 'what are you thinking'. If I had been smart, that could have been a cue for me to really think about what I was filling my mind with. The Bible says to 'bring every thought into captivity' and Dean's question could have prompted me to form some good habits early on. Instead, I have had to work through my 'feelings' over the years, only to find that God addresses my 'thought-life' more seriously. Proverbs 23:7 says, "as a (wo)man thinketh, so is (s)he." So, what are you thinking today?

Thursday, April 19

Is there Hope in the Virginia Tech Tragedy?

"There are a few questions that everyone is asking right now: What happened? How could this have happened? What could have been done to prevent or stop it? Who was to blame? Was the situation handled poorly or well?"

Chip Ingram continues on his blog...

Wednesday, April 18

All you need is love

One of my favorite quotes is: "An emotional feeling is not an adequate basis for an enduring marriage commitment is."

Recently I heard a wise woman say something similar. She has been married 35 years so I think she knows what she is talking about. She too said that marriage comes down to commitment.

If that is true, and I believe it is, what do we make of the popular Beatles song, "All you need is love?"

Marriage involves two selfish, sinful people trying to love one another in their own unique ways. Life brings stress, challenges, trials, temptations and a whole slew of other things. Is love going to get us through? Honestly, there are plenty of days I don't feel like loving. That's when commitment comes in.

Author Gary Smalley says that every enduring marriage involves an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

Enduring is defined as long-suffering; patient; to carry on through, despite hardships; to bear with tolerance. Unconditional is defined as not contingent; not determined or influenced by someone or something else; without conditions or limitations.

We each have a choice to make. I choose unconditional commitment despite the hardships, through the trials, during the dry seasons...

Love is just an added bonus.

Monday, April 16

Ever Thought of Yourself as a Thermostat?!

This time of year I find myself looking at the outdoor thermometer several times throughout the day. I can’t tell what the temperature is by looking out the window. The sun makes me think it could be 70, while the thermometer tells me to put on an extra sweater before I venture out because it registers only 40 degrees.
I am reminded of the analogy I heard years ago from Chuck Swindoll, in his fine book, Laugh Again. He says, “Some people are thermometers. They merely register what is around them. If the situation is tight and pressurized, they register tension and irritability. If it’s stormy, they register worry and fear. If it’s calm, quiet, and comfortable, they register relaxation and peacefulness. Others, however, are thermostats. They regulate the atmosphere. They are the mature change-agents who never let the situation dictate to them.”
As ‘homemakers’, wives and moms, we have such an opportunity to influence everyone in our home. When I was younger, I didn’t realize what an impact my moods and attitudes had on the rest of my family. I have made it a mission of mine to become a ‘thermostat’…the ‘mature change-agent’! Swindoll says it begins with learning to be content. It’s a daily challenge and can be as unpredictable as the weather itself sometimes, but the idea of being a steady thermostat intrigues me more than being a thermometer…that sits out in the cold and is at the whim of constant change.

Come to me

Do you ever find yourself with a heavy heart? A heart burdened for those around you? On this gorgeous spring day in April, that is the condition of my heart. My heart hurts for those who are in need and I find myself asking, “How can I help those around me?”

I want to offer encouragement, support, love, prayers, a meal, a hug, hope to those who are hurting, tired, overwhelmed, sick, or discouraged with the hand that life has dealt them.

How can I, one person, meet all the needs of those around me? Who has enough time, energy, or resources?

Not me.

I could try but I would fail miserably.

So I do my best. I deliver meals. I send cards. I give hugs. I lift needs in prayer and ask God to lift spirits.

And when I’m tired and overwhelmed and still burdened at the end of the day, I cry out to God on behalf of friends, family and even those I don’t know personally. I ask him to heal the sick, cheer the disheartened, and strengthen the tired and weak.

And gently He reminds me of His invitation in Matthew 28: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I think I'll take him up on that.

Friday, April 13

One Quick Tip

Here's a quick clean up tip I've used over the years. When company is coming, get a laundry basket and fill it with all the miscellaneous items that are not where they belong. Stash it in a closet. Then after your company is gone and your house is still tidy, take your basket and put the items back where they belong!

Wednesday, April 11

A mental checklist

From a young woman's perspective, I think our society puts great emphasis on entertaining. It is so easy for my generation to get caught up in entertaining. Magazines, television shows and retail stores offer everything we need to be the perfect hostess: the right dishes, the right furniture, the right recipes, the right atmosphere.

I admit that I get caught up in it as well. I find that there is a very fine line between wanting to provide a cozy, welcoming environment in my home and desiring to present the perfect meal in our perfectly decorated home. I enjoy cooking. I love baking. But having people over for a meal can stress me out. The reason? I'm pretty sure it's because I am striving to entertain rather than offer Godly hospitality. I usually find myself impatient with Ryan as I am preparing for guests to arrive.

Maybe I need to go through a mental attitude checklist whenever I am getting ready to have others over:
Am I striving for perfection or excellence?
Am I creating an atmosphere of love and acceptance?
Am I desiring to impress or to celebrate?
Am I listening for compliments or seeking to be sensitive to the Spirit?

It's these kind of questions that will enable me to offer Godly hospitality and resist the urge to entertain in style.

Thursday, April 5

A Heart for Hospitality

Everyone wants a heart for hospitality, I think. It just sounds friendly. It sounds like the thing ‘to do’. It’s the Christian Way. To be hospitable is to have a virtue that most people admire. I have found over the years that to ‘be hospitable’ and ‘to entertain’ are really two different activities. I think on the eve of Easter, it’s an appropriate time to share what I have learned about true hospitality because I believe everyone can develop a heart for it and it may lighten your load as you look ahead to a busy weekend with family.
First, hospitality is for everyone. It is not optional and it isn’t just for the ‘gifted’. Martha Stewart may discourage many of us who aren’t as crafty as her into thinking if we can’t have everything perfect, we can't be hospitable. If we are striving for ‘perfection’ we may have ‘entertaining’ on our minds. Heb 13:2 says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it”. No one has an excuse to neglect hospitality.

Secondly, when I focus on having a welcoming spirit, my celebrations seem to come together by themselves. If I am straining to hear compliments from my guests on how great things look or taste, I may be trying too hard to ‘entertain’. If I truly enjoy my company, they can relax and be renewed no matter what transpires. What a great help that has been for me. I can adjust my attitude and extend a welcoming spirit much easier than putting on a 4 course meal. If popcorn and a board game is all that is required to be ‘hospitable’, I can handle that!

Finally, entertaining can often be ‘self-centered’…wanting to show others how good I am at impressing them. Creating an atmosphere for hospitality in my home means that I need to be ‘other-centered’! That is always refreshing to remind myself when I am tearing around the house to get it all to ‘look just right’. Instead, if I concentrate on asking questions of my guests, showing interest in them and extending a listening ear, I will have achieved the ’perfect setting’ for my gathering.

Easter isn’t about choosing the right center piece and or trying a new dessert recipe for Homemakers with Hope. It is about extending true hospitality…learning from Jesus who gave of Himself. Jesus’ whole ministry was based on hospitality and loving one another. Jesus Christ came just to be with us. He didn’t come to be entertained or impressed. He came just to be with us. I am going to remember to put on my welcoming spirit and receive others into my home to celebrate that God loves me just the way that I am. That is the Christian Way and that is why we are all encouraged to develop a Heart for Hospitality.

Wednesday, April 4

Baskets...of blessings?

With Easter just around the corner, those of you with young children may have Easter baskets on your mind filled with the usual candy, toys, and plastic eggs.

Last year I started a new tradition called Blessing Baskets. Blessing Baskets are a gift you give to those who have blessed your life. Last year we gave them to our family and friends. This year, I created a few baskets with my small group and we are giving them to the staff at our church to thank them for serving us. We included goofy toys for them to play with, a small gift certificate for a little treat, a book of games, candy, the Jelly Bean Prayer, and a card thanking them for being a blessing in our lives. We included this verse from Numbers 6:
"The Lord bless you and keep you..." It was so fun to work together to bless others!

This year I hope you'll consider creating a few baskets for a friend, sibling, parent or other family member who might need an extra blessing this week!

Tuesday, April 3

Healthy Habits Continue!

I always look forward to 'spring cleaning'. Changing my closet over from the dark colors to the light-weight pastels is always invigorating. It's also a good time to take stock of my habits for the new season. Spring and summer bring more activity and lighter foods generally, so it's a good time to take an assessment of my habits. Here's some favorite questions I challenged the Homemakers with Hope with and I review from time to time. Habits change in very subtle ways...sometimes from good to bad...use these questions to go from bad to good!

1. I eat a variety of healthy food in their most natural form.

2. I eat balanced meals evenly distributed throughout the day—each meal including protein and carbohydrates.

3. I limit or eliminate harmful substances in my diet such as excess fat, caffeine, refined sugar products, salt, junk food, sodas, alcohol, smoking and other possible food allergens.

4. I eat foods considering what is most effective for my particular physical needs. (e.g. diabetes, PMS, fatigue, stress, etc)

5. I take vitamin, mineral, and other helpful supplements necessary for my health.

6. I drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.

7. I exercise for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week or as much as I am physically able.

8. I get adequate sleep—at least 8 hours a night.

9. I rest and relax when I sense my body and inner being needs it.

10. I have effective, positive ways of reducing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

11. I pamper myself occasionally with a ‘home spa’, manicure, facial, or massage.

12. I get regular medical check-ups to assess my physical health needs.

The younger you are, the more important it is to impliment these habits because life only gets busier and habits run deeper as you grow older. Start with one or two habits and keep adding on as you master each one. You will only be good for those around you as you are good to yourself. Happy Spring...Healthy You!