Thursday, May 31, 2018

Christian Woman, What Attitude Should You Have in Tough Times?

My daughter just got married. Through the process, I constantly battled my will against hers. Had I not been a Christian who has Jesus as a model, I might have flown off the handle, so to speak.

Often, in the process, my husband and I got the message that our input wasn't wanted. We had to take a back seat and let them do their own planning. Though we saw flaws with their plans or thought of other options, we had to hold back. 

Even at the wedding event itself, I had to hold back my expectations and desires and take a proverbial back seat to the events. I told my husband I felt like we were just the breadcrumbs, following the whims of the sandwich-eating wedding party. 

Jesus is our Model 

Throughout the process, I was reminded of Jesus as my model. He didn't come to be served but to serve. He urges us to serve others, and consider their interests above our own as spelled out in Phil. 2:3.  

Adopting this attitude isn't always easy to a mom who has been in control for many years over her children. Now as the children are adults, I have to put my own ambitions in check. The bible teaches us to put conceit, strife, self-justification and self-defense into check. I've had to do that often. I'm glad I know my bible well enough to know I'm not losing out when I take on this attitude. I know in so doing, I'm doing the right thing. 

It went through my mind often on the wedding day that Jesus urges us to be humble and told his disciples the last shall be first as sacrifice leads to heavenly reward. I was reminded of Jesus washing his disciples feet. I dismissed arrogant thoughts as often as I could. 

I won't say I did this perfectly. I vented a lot to my husband and to a few friends. I'm not proud of my venting, but I felt it necessary at times so that I could regain perspective. In most cases, God gave me the strength to choose a different reaction that is not in my nature. 

Fortunately, we have this promise when going through patches like this: 

Isaiah 43:1-2 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Lesson on Completing a Cycle and Habit Change

As Christian women, we want to excel and do our best for God and mankind. Sometimes that means breaking old habits and developing new ones. 

I've learned that every old habit needs a replacement habit if we're to truly break it. 

Habit change requires:

1) recognizing an old habit that should change
2) recognizing what the new habit might do for us
3) realizing a shift will occur that may feel uncomfortable
4) implementing the new habit gracefully with patience

We do many things in life out of habit. We simply accept our way of doing things as acceptable. To recognize a habit that needs to change sometimes takes God pointing it out to us.

When I've asked God to help me complete the assignments he has for me, and he has prompted me to see the parts of the process and where I sabotage myself. He sometimes gives me the promptings to change my ways and it is up to me to do the work. 

One of my habits is to be messy. Sometimes I wonder if I have another personality that creates such mindless messes. Sometimes my own messiness exasperates me. 

I had an epiphany a few years ago and realized it would help to do something called "complete the cycle." That means finish what I'm doing, put away what I took out, etc. 

To complete a cycle, instead of leaving a mess, I need to spend the extra few seconds, putting order back into my environment. I need to put trash in the trash can not leave it on my desk. I need to take empty water bottles to the recycling bin. 

I have to remind myself often to complete the cycle.

As I've reminded myself, there've still been times I'm too tired to complete a cycle. Sometimes I leave things. 

Nevertheless, this catch-phrase has been helpful for me. 

I will talk more about habit change in another blog, but for now let me ask you if this catch-phrase would be helpful for you to use? Look around you right now and identify items causing a mess that were put there because you didn't complete a cycle. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Being Severely Tested? Are you Resilient?

I'm in a season of "wake-up calls."  That means some of my assumptions and expectations are being severely tested. I've been reciting the above mantra regularly. 

My angst moreso relates to choices my daughter has made--choosing to drink alcohol, live commonlaw prior to her upcoming wedding, and choosing to marry an unbeliever though she professes to be a believer herself. 

She's angry about concerns we've expressed and she is being cautious about including us in the wedding plans. There's been hurt, insult, and confusion. 

A Slap in the Face

Unfortunately, things she's done and said have felt like a slap in the face. We are learning today's youth want to change all the rules yet again. For instance, a bride's family doesn't put on the wedding--the bride and groom do. We've had to learn to forget what we want--that's considered butting in. Though the parents contribute financially, the bride and groom have the last say. If we butt in that's called having strings attached to our financial gift. 

My husband and I are also angry that God would let our story raising our daughter end this way (although we realize the story is still being written). 

You see, when she was but a few months old, my husband and I dedicated her to the Lord at a public church service. My love for my new baby was so strong, I wanted to quit my job to fulltime parent. I spent years parenting my children believing doing so would help them become their best. 

Now as adults, my reign of control is over. They make their own decisions.The letting go process has been ongoing and challenging.

Why are We Dumbfounded?

My husband and I are a bit dumbfounded because we sought to please God and be good parents. We tried to follow the "if" statements of the Bible. The premise of if statements is that if we do things God's way, good and positive results will follow. The verses point out there are requirements on our part and that the relationship with God isn't one-sided. Here are a few examples of Bible verses with if statements: 

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). 

Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14)

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
2 Peter 1:8 – For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:10 – Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

My Wake-Up Call 

I have believed if I follow God, all will work out really, really well. We all know the Bible verse that says all things work together for our good. So my husband and I have trusted that if we raised our children a certain way, they would thrive and be stars. We poured our lives into our children. 

The feelings we have as we are being tested are deep. We cry out to God saying, "What did we do wrong?" Why did all our good efforts not result in the fruit we'd hoped? Why isn't she not marrying a believer? Why don't we have peace about this marriage? Why is she acting hostile toward us and rebellious to God? Why does she think drinking and marrying a drinker is okay? What are we supposed to do with our unrest?


So as a number of my expectations are being chopped at the root, I'm learning that in life one plus one doesn't necessarily equal two. Life is not that simple and is rarely perfect. 

God's if statements may ring true for me, but they do not seem to extend to other people. I have NO control over other's choices.

In this phase of testing, I'm learning I really need to strengthen my resilience muscle. The Bible does teach resilience though doesn't use that term. 

Rather than write out verses that explain what I mean by resilience, I'd like to refer you to the verses in the lower half of this webpage

Resilience is important to develop if we're to have God's peace and a happy personal life in spite of what our children do, and in spite of the multiple challenges we will face. I am reminded her story is not over. We are resigned to show love and be supportive in spite of our concerns.  

How resilient are you? Do you rebound well from life's challenges?  

Monday, May 07, 2018

Life Balance for the Christian Woman

Ministering to a woman means meeting a need in one part of her being. Of course, we are all physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and social and have needs in each of those areas. We also need rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

I think throughout time, most churches have only focused on the spiritual. Most groups for women are Bible studies. Light bulbs are going off for me as to why I tired of that routine. We need more than Bible study to stay in life balance. 

But I will be first to argue other well-meaning attempts fall short. Many churches put on women's events, for instance, purporting they are for women to relax and rejuvenate. Personally, I rejuvenate better alone than sitting in a group with women hearing a speaker. 

I am drawn, however, to the idea of a church creating intentional social opportunities. Just holding an event, though, is no guarantee that socialization will take place. My husband and I were new to a church when we attending a Valentine's couples night. We sat at a table with new-to-us people and they were SNOBS! Geesh. They were long-time attenders who were ill equipped at making others like us feel welcomed. What a disappointment. 

The idea of creating intentional social opportunities is something churches should study. 

I'm also intrigued by the idea of churches holding life coaching circles, support groups, and having fitness groups. They have the facilities that can be used, in most cases.

Saddleback church is one that has taken the lead on fitness in the church. Read about it here and here

Their purpose statement says this:  

To create a community outreach in a casual setting to testify to the Gospel of God’s grace. To encourage seekers and believers to participate in recreation, leisure, and sports activities which strengthen their family ties as well as their spiritual, emotional, physical, and social well being. Using the strength of the Lord, to lead people into a healthy relationship with God and their own bodies, through Fitness, Faith, Friends, Focus, and Food.

How can your church minister to women's other needs?

Many years ago I was asked to lead exercise classes at my church. I loved it. I know today there are all types of insurance issues to consider. I hate that. Life has become complicated. 

I have found it is difficult at any time of life to find full life balance. Life balance is like keeping juggling balls in the air. 

Married women can lack balance with girlfriends for a time as they focus on their family. Moms of small children often lack social, emotional, and intellectual balance. Work-from-home entrepreneurs can lack physical and social balance.  

I used to feel this sense of lack all of a sudden--like late at night--when it was too late to ask a friend out for coffee. It's hard to prepare in advance to have our needs met. We never know when we'll plummet. 

Some of us fill our schedules with good things--home errands, duties, paid work, but suddenly feel out of sorts. Something suddenly feels missing. We all get this way at times.

I recently found greater life balance in what I call finding a tribe. I've written about it here

If you are feeling out of balance or like something is missing, let me assure you that you aren't alone. We all feel this from time to time. We don't spend our lives up on cloud nine continually. 

Life is full of seasons. Just do your best to enjoy the season you're in and keep taking steps you think will add life balance to your life.