Friday, February 26

'An Awesome, Sacred Responsibility'

My husband & I were not raised in Christian homes, so we started all of our faith traditions from scratch--or from borrowing other people’s ideas! We hope some ‘winners’ will stay in our kids’ hearts and become part of our family legacy over time. Here is how we got started on this awesome, sacred responsibility.

We decided early on we wanted our faith to be ‘caught’ as well as ‘taught’. Through listening to worship music together and reading some wonderful Christian children’s books together (in addition to finding a good church home & praying together), we hoped our kids would ‘catch’ our joy as Christ followers, our values and beliefs. We wanted them to see us living out our faith Monday through Saturday, too!

But of course that in & of itself wouldn’t be enough, we also wanted to follow the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, so we made time for evening devotional time together on a nightly basis from the time our children were very young.

On special occasions (Easter, Christmas, birthdays), we selected age-appropriate bibles or devotionals and wrote a few words of encouragement inside along with the date. These have become treasures over the years! We also picked up some great CDs by Steve Green called “Hide ‘em In Your Heart”…a super tool for scripture memorization!

My kids were early readers and many a night little Ryan would read his beginner Bible and ask me questions. To be honest, there were times I was learning right alongside him! :) Sophie picked right up on the enthusiasm for family devotional time.

My husband suspects the kids were sometimes motivated by delaying bedtime (I have been known to allow extra reading time—if it’s reading the Bible or a devotional!), but we all treasure these special memories and I know many seeds were sown in our children’s hearts this way. I wish I’d been like Betsy and celebrated my kids’ spiritual birthdays! What a beautiful idea. For us, knowing that our children have a relationship with Jesus their Savior is a gift like no other. (Finding ways to keep that precious relationship a protected, nurtured and growing priority is the stage of parenting I’m in today. But that’s a story for another time.)

I hope I can encourage you that you are equipped to talk to your kids about God. You were chosen for this job! You are a missionary in your own home. You don’t need to have it all figured out or worry about having all the answers! Just get started—the sooner the better! Be authentic and real, no matter where you are on your faith journey. If you don’t know the answer try saying, “That’s a great question! Let’s be sure to find out…together.”

(This posting is continued from yesterday 2/25/10, written by Katy!)

Thursday, February 25

Pssst...Pass It On

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Hi, my name is Katy and I’m a Homemaker with Hope! Fan of these women & this website, I love the challenge & inspiration to become more intentional and faithful in all areas of life. Lately the above verse from Deuteronomy has been on my mind and heart.

I want to make my home a sacred, special space for my family, a shelter from the world beyond our walls, a warm & welcoming safe haven. My goal/dream is to have our household running in such a smooth & well-organized fashion that we consistently have more time to do the rest of life—fellowship, worship, be outside, volunteer, explore, learn new things, extend hospitality, lend a hand—without getting bogged down by the “tyranny of the urgent”. (While I’m sharing my dreams, pristine cleanliness 24/7 would be lovely, too!)

“Home is where your story begins.” I love that quote.

I’ve been married for 16 years now, and a mom for nearly 13. I have spent those years trying to build my home, like the wise woman in Proverbs. But looking back, I know there were times when my homemaking priorities were not exactly in line with God’s priorities. I was sometimes (OK, often) a “Martha” when I should have been a “Mary”. I’m going to admit something here: More than once it took sheer force of will not to organize toys & tidy things up when I sat down to play with my toddler & preschooler (who didn’t seem to inherit my delight in order). There just always seemed to be something needing to be done. The busyness of life is a sneaky time thief without constant vigilance against it!

Although I can’t get those Martha Minutes back, by God’s grace He opened my eyes to the other important work He had planned for me. We each have the same 24 hours in a day, the difference is in how we spend them. I want to share tomorrow about some of my time that I am certain was well-spent…time I spent talking to my children about God.

(This posting is by a guest blogger, Katy. A teacher, a former MOPS coordinator and a mother of 2, she has lots of experience and wisdom....Thanks, Katy!)

Wednesday, February 24

a few more ideas. . .

As I stated yesterday, my journey has only begun. I think in many ways it is difficult to grow up in a Christian home where the things of this world are not encouraged. There is a fine balance between sheltering and preparing our children for the real world. This is the journey we have now started with our girls. We want to give them the practical tools they will need to sustain their relationships with the Lord. Since Maddie’s decision last week, we have decided to change how we do a few things to be more intentional about what we are teaching. We have added a family time right before bed the last few nights and the girls have loved it. We do not have a huge plan other than a time to talk with the girls about their relationship with the Lord and what tools we can help them learn. Some nights we read from a children’s devotional, other nights we sing praises while daddy plays the guitar, other nights we review their bible verses for AWANA. We end our time by each praying for one thing for ourselves or each other. All in all it lasts about 15 minutes. Some nights it doesn’t work to have us all there, but that is our goal. If truth be told, it is really hard sometimes after a long day to be intentional with this time, but both Jeff and I think as parents this is our job. It is our job to be involved and active in their spiritual development. We have decided to be open to however this bedtime family time looks like. We do not want to get caught up in what we do as much as we want to be caught up in doing what is right for our girls. Does that make sense?

As Barb stated early this week, teaching our children about Jesus starts with our own relationship with Jesus. Are we tapping into the vine so that He can speak through us to meet the needs of our girls? If I am working on my relationship with Jesus, the easier it is to put the time into meeting the girls’ needs. I won’t sugar coat it-it is hard work. We send our girls to church and AWANA and they learn a lot of great things there, but it is still our responsibility on a daily basis to be teaching and modeling good choices. Barb is right-our kids are watching us. They see what we do with our time. They see what we watch, what we read, what we eat, what we say while we are on the phone. . .they are learning not only by what we teach them, but even more by our actions. And I know that if left to myself, my actions would not produce the outcome I want for my girls. I need to be plugged into Jesus so that His strength comes out of me. I need to check my priorities with His so that I know I will have the energy to deal with the task of raising godly children. My goal as my girls’ mother is to give them the best possible start in life so that they have a greater chance of choosing God when they are older. I want to look back one day with no regrets. There are no guarantees in parenting. God gave my girls free-will just like the rest of us, and I am positive that Satan will know just how to tempt them one day. My goal is to do my part then leave them in the hands of Jesus and pray that they will make their own good choices. It is so comforting to know that God wants what is best for my girls even more than I do. They are His daughters on loan to me. I can only pray that God gives me what I need to help raise them to glorify Him.

I'd love to hear how you are teaching your children about Jesus. . .please share your thoughts in the comment section. Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 23

celebrating your kid's Christian birthdays

My husband and I have been praying for our girls’ salvation since before we had children. It has been my main goal as a mother since we actually had kids. Abigail, my 8 year old, became a Christian on May 31, 2005 and last week my 4 year old asked Jesus into her heart right before bed on February 14. Needless to say these two events made my heart more than happy. This is what I have wanted, my girls accepting Jesus as their personal Savior. Even though these two moments were incredibly special and memorable, I soon realized that while helping my girls realize they needed Jesus as their Savior is only half the battle. And if truth be told, this was the easy part, and it wasn’t that easy. As a mother of two young believers it is now my responsibility to help them learn how to grow in their walks with the Lord, even at this early age.

I am a product of a Christian home, and while I feel so fortunate to have been brought up in an environment like that, the one thing I really struggled with was I had no memory of asking Jesus into my heart. My mom told me the story of how my brother was teasing me that he had Jesus living in his heart and I didn’t. After spending time talking with me on the front steps, I became a Christian at the age of 4. While in high school I struggled with how do I really know. . .I decided that when our girls asked Jesus into their hearts, I would do everything within my power to help them have the memory for themselves. When Abigail asked Jesus into her heart it was over dinnertime. Since I knew I wanted to record it all, I quickly grabbed a pencil and paper and my camera. As soon as we were done talking with her and she prayed the prayer after her dad, Jeff and I frantically wrote down our conversation. I then proceeded to take photos of the moment. We read the book 3 in 1 and then asked her how she wanted to celebrate. In true Aba fashion-it was cupcakes and party hats. We also called the grandparents and allowed her to share her exciting news. In the next few days I put together a scrapbook for her. She can look at it anytime she wants, but every May 31st, she finds it on the kitchen table along with a decorated table just for her. May 31st is her Christian birthday and we celebrate it! Depending on what life brings it may not be an all-day celebration, but it is still a celebration. Each year we give her a small gift of something that will continue to help her grow in her walk with the Lord. We usually buy her an Adventures In Odyssey CD set. She loves to listen to Adventures in Odyssey and it is an awesome tool to help her learn more about Jesus. My main goal with these celebrations is to make a big deal about the most important decision my girls have made. I want them to remember their day. . .their decision. Each year I add a page or two to the scrapbook with journaling from the past year that shows evidence of her walk with the Lord. I am hopeful that one day she will take over updating her book, but until it can be more of her own, I am the one who has chosen to help her remember this moment. I encourage all of you, in your own way, help your children celebrate their Christian birthday. Here are a few photos of Abigail's celebration last year. . .

Jeff and I wrote evidence of her having Jesus living in her heart or choices she has made to further her walk with the Lord (i.e. carries her bible in her purse, takes notes at church) on paper hearts that I hung from her doorway.

Monday, February 22

Who is God, Mommy?

Are you prepared to answer this question when your child asks you?

If you have a personal relationship with God, chances are your kids will ask you sooner rather than later as he/she observes the way in which you live.

That's a good thing.

I've heard the Christian Way of Life described as, "a radical way of life, made possible in Christ, resulting in real, unshakable happiness."

If you are living this out, your kids may ask you why you are so happy rather than Who is God, but either way, you will need to be prepared to give an aswer.

While it is extremely important for a child to realize he/she needs to make a decision to become a Jesus follower by believing that God sent His son to die for our sins, it is also extremely important for a mom to be building her relationship with Christ all along the way. When your child does ask about God, it will be second nature to explain Who He is.

What you tell little ears about God won't be as important as what those little eyes and ears see in their home. If you are growing in an intimate relationship with God, it will be a natural overflow of your heart to share with your children. What captures our hearts will naturally spill out of us.

This relationship is an on-going relationship not just a one time decision. Yes, kids need to decide to become a follower of Jesus, but then they need to know that a relationship with Jesus is life-changing. It is something the two of you can discover and grow together in the years to come.

This week on the blog, young moms will share their real-life experiences with their kids and questions about God.

Friday, February 19

One dinner at a time

I'm going to add my two cents about family dinners...

First, Heidi I am so amazed at your determination to have family dinners even though your husband gets home after 6:00. I am not sure I would be as diligent as you if I was in your shoes. You inspire me!

Secondly, I too firmly believe in the value of eating together as a family. I always thought that when I had a family we would all eat dinner together. And this past week all four of us were in the dining room at the same time for dinner. I think that might be the first time since my 5-month-old was born!

It rarely happens that my husband and I eat at the same time as my 16-month old.
He is very active and eats food at an incredibly fast pace. As quickly as I can cut the food he shoves it in his mouth. So right now I spend dinner cutting his food and give him "mo, mo, mo (more)." When he is done eating, then I usually dish up my food. I know that some day we'll all eat together at a much slower and leisurely pace...laughing, telling jokes and stories and learning about one another's days.

Sometimes I have to fight the guilt or expectation I put on myself that our dinners are not more enjoyable and less chaotic. But these are the days of "mo, mo, mo" and they won't last long. So instead of unrealistic expectations, I'm trying to take it one dinner at a time!

One Last Word About Family Dinnertime...

"If it were just about food, we would squirt it into their mouths with a tube," says Robin Fox, an anthropologist who teaches at Rutgers University in New Jersey, about the mysterious way that family dinner engraves our souls. "A meal is about civilizing children. It's about teaching them to be a member of their culture."

Thursday, February 18

Late Dinners

I know what some of you may be husband gets home way too late to have dinner as a family! Late dinners and small children seem like a recipe for disaster. However, I am finding that by rearranging my afternoon schedule, my daughter can wait for dinner.

My husband gets home between 6 and 6:15. By the time he changes we are usually beginning dinner around 6:20ish. Ideally, I would have dinner around 5:15. This used to be a really hot topic in our house. My husband couldn't get home earlier and I had a really crabby toddler on my hands. But family dinners are important to us! We both had them in our families growing up and decided this is too important for us to give up because he gets home a little later.

So, I feed lunch a little later and then give my daughter a snack around 4:30. Don't get me wrong! We still have a pretty crabby time between 5:45 and 6:15, but I have decided that eating together is worth it. Not to mention that teaching my kids patience isn't a bad lesson either. :)

Even if you husband gets home a little later, I would urge you to try to adjust the dinner hour. I am sure that this small time of discomfort will bring times of great encouragement as my children grow.

a book recommendation to go with yesterdays post

If any of you are interested in fun ways to decorate your tables, I would like to recommend the book Return to the Table by Dana Christine. My snow table photo came from her book. She has great ideas and really fun things to celebrate. She also uses a lot of things you already have around the house. Hope it will be helpful as you plan fun ways to bring your family back to the table!

Wednesday, February 17

Setting the Table

I apologize that this post is a day late. I was having trouble uploading the photos I wanted to include yesterday. . .

I agree with Barb whole-heartedly about mealtime and the importance it has in the development of the family. I am a product of a family that ate together. Isn’t it funny that sometimes we need studies to tell us what is productive for our families when if we would just stop and think we could have figured it out for ourselves-common sense really. If we spend time sitting down, eating as a family will we just not naturally talk about life issues? Isn’t it more difficult to hide having a bad day if you have to sit and talk with your family? Doesn’t it make more sense that sitting down eating, laughing and talking would improve your family’s relationships? This is what I want for my family.

I want my girls to have fond memories of our time around the table. I want to provide a place where they feel safe to talk and share their feelings. I want to provide an environment where they feel I have thought about them. That is why my girls will often wake up to a decorated table in the morning that will stay that way throughout the day.

I decided early on with young children that cooking was not my strength. I can cook, but I don’t like it. I make a few things well, but I do not like to try new things, but I do love to entertain. I love to decorate a table and make my guests feel like they are important and that I am glad they are in my home. I decided that this is how I want my girls to feel, so for holidays and just-because days I will decorate the breakfast table(I do not do this everyday). I love to see their faces light up when they drag their sleepy bodies down the stairs for breakfast to see the table decorated just for them. Sometimes I go all out and other times it is just simple little things that let them know I was thinking about them. An added bonus that I have noticed is when they invite someone for a playdate they want to help set the table to make their guest feel welcome and loved. (Abigail helped decorate the bags in the photo below).

I think a lot can be taught around the kitchen table. My hope is to share my love of entertaining with my girls in a way that will make them feel even more special than the guests that enter my home. My hope is that our kitchen table will always be a safe place where we come together as a family to reconnect. I don’t think it takes that much to make that happen. We just need to be intentional!

Tuesday, February 16

The Dinner Table

When I decided I wanted to establish dinnertime as a sacred time for my family, I had to be realistic and patience. 'Rome wasn't built in a day'...and neither was my family dinnertime!

The Table was what I focused on first. I wanted to surround my family with beauty and a sense of peace to set the tone for our dinner.

One of the best tricks I learned to encourage me along was to set my table in the morning. Most of the time I never knew what we would be eating, but just seeing the table set gave me HOPE! Dinner would appear and there would be a place to serve it.

I used colorful napkins. That gave me the energy I needed by 4:30-5:00 at night. I would stuff the napkins in the drinking glasses. As I passed the table throughout the day, I would be encouraged to take one step more towards having a family dinnertime.

When my kids were old enough to help, I drew placemats that indicated where the fork, spoon, knife, and glass were to go. All my kids learned to set the table...not just as a chore but because the family would gather around their efforts and be blessed.

Sometimes I hid questions under the plate to stimulate conversation. That carried over to when we had company with kids. It was a good ice breaker and kept the kids attentive as they interacted with the questions and gave their answers.

When I made a new recipe, the kids could only comment on it by filling out a 'report card'. That eliminated alot of complaining and moaning about the food. If they didn't like what was served, they could voice their 'opinion'. They would learn soon enough if others held their same opinion if I never made that meal again!

I have to confess, I never was a big fan of cooking. Mealtimes were a chore for me, but recognizing the value of dinner together helped me find ways to make it fun for me...and that carried over to the family.

Lighten up when you think of dinner tonight. Do something colorful and perhaps abit crazy to get your family's attention. Take baby steps to make your dinnertime unique and fun. It might take abit more time up front, but the benefits will soon pay off as your kids get older.

Did stuffing napkins into drinking glasses really convince my kids not to take up the habit of smoking? I like to think it did set the atmosphere for some lively discussions around The Table.

As the Homemaker of your home, accept this responsibility as an honor. Your job as chief cook and bottle washer will end, but your family will reap great blessings that will continue on long after they leave The Table.

Monday, February 15

The Table

For over 25 years I thought it was my unending words of wisdom and consistent discipline that taught my kids to refrain from smoking, drinking, illegal drugs and promiscuous behavior. Recent studies prove me wrong!

The National Addiction and Substance Abuse center says that it is Family Dinnertime that fosters these good habits in children.

Families that eat together make better choices.

Do you believe that?

16 month old Samuel was over for dinner this weekend. It was just the 3 of us so I pulled his high chair up to the table to test this concept. As my husband and I ate, he observed our food and our interaction while chowing down his portion. He didn't really care where we were in the process, he just shoved his food in until he was full.

Clearly, family dinners take time to establish a pattern, but just realizing their value is important.

Looking back at family dinners, I can see where simple lessons were taught as our kids sat around the table and we ate as a family. They learned at an early age to:
*sit in their seat
*wipe their hands
*ask for food with manners
*refrain from interrupting
*take turns to talk
* they pass food to others

But where do they learn not to take drugs, drink and smoke?

Gayle Peterson, PHD says, "Consistently having dinner together as a family keeps us in touch, allowing us to trouble-shoot problems in daily living, as well as keeping us abreast of our family members' activities and life experience. It is in the family group that we develop an ability to discuss, to express our opinions, to be ourselves and allow others to be themselves."

Like every other good habit, it's the consistency that makes it work.

I think it's sad that the family dinner is perhaps a dying tradition or one that has to be recognized as being valuable. It used to be just a given.

Join us this week as we are going to look at the fun aspects of the family table and how to make your dinnertime memorable and effective.

Friday, February 12

What kind of wife am I?

I loved Barb's idea to take a fast from criticizing my husband for a week. For me, I think I might have to try to fast for just one day!

This is an area that I need great improvement on. With two little ones, little sleep, not enough energy or time in the day...there is much to be done around the home and somehow my husband never does it quite to my liking. 

He said to me the other night, "It's never good enough is it?" 

I have pondered that statement because that is NOT the kind of wife I want to be. I don't want to be a never-good-enough kinda wife. I am married to an imperfect man. 

And you know what? 

He's married to a very imperfect woman.

So I'm going to try and take Barb's challenge this Valentines weekend. I'll start with Saturday and see how I do. No criticizing. For one day. Not about how he cares for the kids, cleans the kitchen...nothing. 

I am grateful to have a husband to celebrate this Valentines with. And, I am grateful he loves me in spite of MY imperfections.

Thursday, February 11

Oh how I love Valentine's Day! I have always loved this holiday. Even when I was single I loved it. However, this year feels a little less romantic to me. I have two babies. I absolutely love my babies but they have changed some things around here. I have spit up on every outfit I wear. Unfortunately, that spit-up usually smells. :) I no longer feel as confident about my post-baby body. My four month old HATES bottles and refuses it passionately. That leaves me with a three to four hour date window. To top it all off we are tired. Like really tired. Like so tired we both get jealous of our 20 month old's 8:00 bedtime.

Despite these circumstances, I know that I love my husband and I want him to know it without question. I think it is really easy to get so wrapped up in mommyhood that I forget that the best gift I can ever give my girls is to love their dad like crazy. The demands of parenting are great and it is easy for me to spend all of my energy on my kids and have my husband get the leftovers. This is not how healthy marriages are sustained. My husband and I are a team and we are in this together.

So, my challenge for us all is to celebrate Valentine's day more than once a year. Love your husband well. Speak kindly, respond to him graciously, and give your marriage priority.

Wednesday, February 10

Keeping your eyes half shut. . .

I am going to piggyback off of Barb’s post on Monday if that is okay-mainly because I think it is that important.

Before my husband and I got married we loved to read books on marriage, and one of the best pieces of advice we gleaned from one of those books was to “. . .keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut after marriage.” Think about that for a minute-let it soak in.

Think of the marriages you know, did those couples examine their marriage with both eyes wide open before they said, “I do?” Did they look with a critical eye asking themselves if those things that bothered or annoyed them were things they were willing to live with? Then once they were married do they now look at their spouse with eyes half shut? Not knit-picking apart those things that are unimportant?

I made a commitment to myself (and Jeff) early in our marriage that I was not going to talk about my husband, in a negative way, in front of others. Does my husband do things that annoy me? Sure. Do I do things that annoy him-you better believe it, but I make a conscience effort not to talk about those things with others. Not because I want others to think we have a marriage with no fights, but because I decided that I wanted to love Jeff enough to honor him by making him look good to others. I want us (just Jeff and I) to work on those things in our marriage that need to be worked on. I do not need a team of women backing my point-of-view when we get in a fight. If I do that, am I not just looking to be right? And shouldn’t a marriage be about working at it together and seeing each other in the best possible light (seeing your husband as God sees him)? I want to look at the positives that Jeff brings to my life and by not talking to other women about the stupid everyday annoyances it allows me to see him in a better light. I truly believe that what we spend our time focusing on is what we will see. For the sake of your marriage this Valentine's Day, keep those eyes half shut and start building your marriage by keeping your mouth shut!

I hope you and your husband have a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9

A Valentine Card to YOU...Be Happy!

I would assume that most of the readers of this blog are women who are looking for good marriages. They want to do what it takes to make their marriage work...and really be happy.

I have contended for many years that one of the best ways to make your marriage work is to be happy! I know I am as guilty as any woman in this area. For some reason we think our husbands are here as a sounding board, ready to absorb all our discontent and complaints.

Men generally are ok with their marriages. Most would probably say they are Happy. They are just unhappy that their wives can't be happy...because that is an attitude we love to convey to our mates.

Years ago, I used to go on a 'date' with my husband...with pen and paper in hand. I was always wanting to improve some aspect of our relationship or our family. I couldn't just Be Happy! Needless to say, it was my attitude that had to improve in order to make 'date night' or any other aspect of my marriage better.

As you plan for Valentine's Day and for your own date nights in 2010, consider the condition of your heart. That is what matters.

I know there are always things to be improved upon. There will always be situations you want to be different, but complaining and criticizing only closes down your husband's heart.

Here's an early Valentine card to you this year:

Dear Homemakers with Hope Anywhere and Everywhere,

1. Don't be critical with/of your husbands
2. Be Happy

...and have a wonderful Valentine's day all year long


Monday, February 8

Want the PERFECT Valentine's Gift for your HUSBAND?

Make 2010, a Valentine's Day to remember for your husband.

2010 is a year to be intentional. So be intentional with this gift.

Be intentional and go on a CRITICISM FAST for one week. No critical remarks, no complaining to others about him. Intentionally think good things about your husband. Choose to see the man you are married to, not the man you think he should be.

We just came off a week of blogging about our thought life and our mind. This is a perfect time to put alot of that insight into practice.

If you find you need to clarify something to your husband because he said or did something that really offended you or ticked you off, lead into the discussion with good intent.

"I know you didn't intend to upset me but what you said really hurt my feelings. I know you meant something different, but you came across harshly."

This approach in correcting your man teaches him what he did and why you responded the way you did...without criticizing him.

It's a challenge, but what a gift for the love of your life to receive for one week. NO CRITICISM. That means no grumbling to your mom, girlfriends or even your babies! It means thinking great thoughts about him.

Watch your words

Consider your facial expressions

Don't let your body language speak negatively

Bring every thought about your husband into captivity and replace the negative thoughts with thoughts that build him up in your mind (if you have to go back to your dating days to conjure up those thoughts, do it!)

Check out Ps 141:3 and post this on your mirror until Valentine's Day.

"Set a watch over my mouth, O Lord
Keep watch over the door of my lips"

When Valentine's Day comes on Sunday, trust me, your husband won't be looking for any other gift from you.

Thursday, February 4


What do I often find running through my brain? Worry. How can I get this baby to sleep through the night? Is she eating enough? Am I playing with my toddler enough so she feels important? Are they reaching the developmental milestones they should be? Is my husband feeling supported? Am I a good wife, mother, friend, sister, homemaker, etc.? These are only a few of the things I worry about. When I dwell on these thoughts I feel stressed. When I am stressed I respond impatiently and that usually leads to more worry.

I am currently reading an EXCELLENT book. It is called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This part really made me think.

"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives. Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others or our tight grip of control. "

Convicted. That is how I felt when I read that. Not in a shameful, I want to run from God kind of way. It made me want to turn from what I dwell on and give all of those thoughts over to a God who is big enough, loving enough and who cares deeply about me. God does not want me addicted to worry. He wants me to know He is enough. I can love Him with everything that I am and He will guide me. He will give me the strength, patience, endurance, grace, etc. to face each new day and circumstance. That is what I want to dwell on. Oh how very thankful I am that I know God.

Wednesday, February 3

being a mom helps with self talk. . .

Self-talk is such a hard topic to narrow down to one blog post, but it is something very much worth writing about. I think as women we struggle with self-talk and we need to address it as such. I struggle with negative self talk as much as the next person, like right now I catch myself thinking I am not qualified to be writing this post. If I kept thinking that over and over I could eventually talk myself into not posting. I may not be an expert on self talk, but the truth is since I am a child of God, desiring to be an intentional women who wants to encourage other woman to pursue what is best, then am I not as qualified as the next person? I need to be constantly aware of the lies I tell myself. What is Satan keeping you from doing today because he has “talked” you out of it?

What I am most surprised about with self-talk is how it just creeps up on you. The verse Philippians 4:8 is posted in my home, and it is a good reminder of what I should be focused on. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy THINK about such things. Yes, this is a tall order, but if I spend my time focused on those things would my self-talk be rooted in the Truths of God’s Word or in those things of this world? I know that I cannot do this in and of myself. I am as busy as the next woman and get pulled in every different direction, but I think being an intentional woman involves consistently being aware of our self-talk. We need to be plugged into the Truth of God’s Word. We need to be armed with the Truth so that when the lies are identified in our self-talk we can combat them with that Truth.

One thing I’ve realized lately is that as a mother of two young girls I am very aware of what they are putting into their minds. I watch very closely what they watch on TV or video, what they listen to, what they play on the computer, what they read. . .the list goes on. As a mother I desire for my children to not be exposed to those things in life that they are not ready for or should never be putting into their minds. Shouldn’t I be as concerned about what I put into my mind and what I choose to tell myself? I marvel at God’s design. How He uses those things in my everyday life to continually draw me back to Him-if I will only take the time to pause and listen.

I encourage you today to stop and really think about what you are telling yourself. Are you telling yourself Truth? Are you looking at yourself through God’s eyes or are you busy telling yourself the lies of this world-you’re not good enough. . .your not pretty enough. . .fill your mind with the Truth. God made you just the way you are for a purpose. No one else can fulfill that purpose but you!

Tuesday, February 2

Become a Student of What You Think

So how is your mind today? Have you been tracking your thoughts? Your self talk?

If you have given it some attention, you will notice that the health of your body does indeed affect your mental state and that is why it is so important for a woman to take care of herself in all areas of life.

That is easier said than done if you are a young mom with dependent kids who demand your attention all day long. But even a busy young mom can become a student of all that she thinks.

The words we mutter to ourselves have great impact. Our 'soundless thoughts' have the power to encourage or discourage us. They can motivate or deflate us. They can speak joy into our lives or take us on a downhill spiral.

"It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well." (Rene Descartes)

This subject is much bigger than a few blog postings can handle, but it's like all the other topics we touch upon, I hope it will begin to make you mindful of how you are using your mind.

A big breakthrough for me as I tried to discipline my thoughts and my self talk was to express my thoughts as silent prayers. When I worry, I pray...and then I follow it up with a prayer of thanksgiving. Seeing self-talk as a constant stream of prayer keeps my mind set on things above. Easy to do? Not in my own power it isn't. Only the Holy Spirit can keep me in prayer.

I've also found that if I discipline my mouth along with my thoughts, I speak what I seek rather than what I am afraid will happen.

Trying to be productive with my self talk and thoughts is better than wallowing in fear and

Who I spend time with also reinforces my positive or negative thinking. I have found that my negative self talk increases when I hang out with negative people.

Self talk is like every habit we talk about in Homemakers, it's the progress we are making that counts...not perfection...that we can't achieve anyway!

Monday, February 1

What's on Your Mind?

"Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts." That's a quote from Benjamin Disraeli

Have you ever been asked 'How is your mind today"? That's probably just as important as asking a friend how she is feeling. A healthy mind produces joy, like a healthy body produces energy.

A healthy mind is important for a woman who wants to be intentional because it's the mind that will keep her attention on her intention!

Becoming highly sensitive to what you think about most often is the quickest way to build intentionality into your life.

Last year, in Homemakers with Hope we focused on 'Self Talk'. There is so much we discussed, but this week we will give you a few things to think about as we review what we learned.

"Approximately 90% of today's thoughts are repeats from yesterday and the day before", according to Tommy Newberry, author and speaker.
With that in mind, it is a major undertaking to change up our thought-life. The time to really concentrate on your own thought life is before your kids start talking! Their thoughts only add to the mix and then you really have a full tank.

Newberry says that 'what you persistently think eventually but inevitably crystallizes into the words you speak and then the things you do".

That's what Luke 6:45 says "The good woman brings good things out of the good stored up in her heart, and the evil woman brings evil things out of the evil stored up in her heart. For out of the overflow of her heart her mouth speaks." (I changed the pronoun to a woman)

As women, we have control over our thoughts. Learning to focus on our thoughts and have authority over our self-talk is an exercise that we never out-grow.

Newberry goes so far to say that "you are writing your own life story with each subtle and soundless thought you think." I like the vision that 'soundless' brings to mind...a soundless thought can have such impact.

This week consider what is on your mind as we share briefly about our thought life and self-talk.