Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dealing With Difficult People (Part 2)

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  Micah 6:8

Recently, I have felt convicted about my attitude towards Mr. X.  In my anger towards the actions of his character, I have wanted only one thing:  Justice.

And then I realized something that in all my interactions with Mr. X, I had overlooked:

Jesus died for Mr. X.

Christ died for the just and the unjust.  There you have it.  There has been something missing from my equation:  Mercy.

[Mr.] X = Justice + Mercy + Humility

Mr. X has a sin problem.  And guess what?  I have a sin problem.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23

Wow.  That's convicting.  Showing mercy doesn't mean I now have to turn over and become a doormat.  But it also doesn't allow me the right to maintain a heart of bitterness.  That's something I need to deal with in myself, with God.

Fortunately, things have gotten slightly better because Mr. X hasn't been getting away with as much. But honestly, that shouldn't even matter.  My attitude should still be one of acting justly and loving mercy.  I can't control his actions, only my attitudes and reactions to the behaviors.  Still, I'm thankful that the Lord has allowed me a glimpse of Mr. X through His eyes of mercy.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dealing With Difficult People (Part 1)

I am dealing with a very difficult person at work.  I'll call him Mr. X.  

Mr. X is shady and currently drunk with power.  Most people who have known him for a while do not trust him.  However, to newer employees, he appears to be the savior.  He can help them advance in their position.  If they have a problem, he will solve it for them.  He will flatter them endlessly.  He will make them feel special by letting them in on little secrets that he claims to know.  Because of the way he makes himself approachable and seems to care, the young and naive share many details about their lives and emotions with him.  He carefully takes note.  

Mr. X is quick to point himself out as the martyr, working harder than anyone else in the company. He claims to be the "go to" person in the organization.  If any of his unethical practices are exposed, he is quick to shift the focus elsewhere.  He is very careful with his words.  

I have a very difficult time seeing other people deceived and led astray.  I despise dishonesty of word or character.  Every ounce of me wants to make it right, especially when it seems that they are getting away with it.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Romans 12:19

That verse has played through my mind a lot recently the more I deal with Mr. X.  In recent weeks he has been laying it on strong.  Some mornings I wake up and it is the first thing I think about.  It starts my day off on an angry note.  I am letting it have control over me.  I have started praying every morning before I go to work that God would deal with Mr. X and help me to have a proper attitude about it.  I have given Mr. X and his actions control over me and I don't like that.  Lord, I need help!

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.  Colossians 3:23

This is the verse I have sitting on my desk to remind me of the real focus of my work.  Sometimes I feel like I have to overcompensate with my work because of Mr. X to prove that I am doing a good job.  As a result, I am letting him win.  Instead of working as to the Lord, I am working unto men.  I need that reminder from Colossians on a daily basis so that I don't lose focus.

As much as I really hate learning valuable lessons this way, I have done just that through this experience.  One thing that I learned a few years back that I feel like I've really improved upon is not responding to situations with jerk reactions.  I especially used to hide behind email and send messages out of raw emotion the moment it came to my awareness.  Then, after I had time to process the situation more clearly, I was often met with despair and regret over responding too quickly.  Once you've said something, you can't take it back.  That valuable lesson has almost flown right out the window recently.  If it weren't for a close friend and mentor, I would have easily lost it.  I'm glad I haven't... so far.  I have taken time to process my reactions and only respond when necessary.  Even then, I am careful to respond factually rather than emotionally.

Dealing with Mr. X is an ongoing experience and lesson for me.  Fortunately, it has forced me to really lean more heavily on God and His Word which is something that I have really needed recently as I have often let the busyness of life get in the way.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Everything I Needed to Know About Parenting I Learned From My Dog

This is Otis.  Isn't he adorable?  We named him Otis after the Otis Elevator Company.  We've only had him for a couple of weeks now, but life with a dog has actually caused me to reflect on my parenting!

For instance, Otis is still a puppy.  He's still navigating the world, exploring what he can get into as well as what's acceptable and what's not.  He knows the command "sit" but other than that, he still needs some training.  Right now, I'm working on training him not to pull on his leash.  He gets very excited when it's time to go for a walk and he just wants to take off and see everything he can see.  He hasn't quite learned yet to walk next to me.  It's for his own good.  I don't want him taking off into traffic or choking himself with his collar.  I also want him to learn who is in charge of the walk.  I've watched videos online of the best ways to train a dog to walk on a leash so, you know, obviously I'm an expert at this.  We've practiced in the house, in the yard, and on actual walks.  He's still not there yet.  He does well for parts of the walk but on other parts, I wonder if he remembers anything at all that we have worked on.  Sometimes I start to get frustrated that he doesn't have this down yet.

Training Otis something new hasn't been an instant lesson learned.  It is taking time, patience, and practice.  The same is true of being a parent.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Training takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes practice.  It can be sometimes frustrating and feel like it's not working.  But it will be worth it in the end.

Another thing I've learned from having Otis is just the value of having quality play time.  Otis loves being around people.  I don't have to worry too much about him running away because he loves to be around us so much.  However, sometimes Otis has to stay home by himself during the day.  When we get home, he gets SOOOOO excited he can't contain himself.  His tail starts wagging at warp speed when he sees the car pull into the driveway.  He watches us walk up through the window.  As soon as that front door opens, he becomes Otis, the psycho spazzy dog.  He runs around the house.  He jumps freakishly high. He runs over for some love and then runs around some more.  He is so excited we are home to see him.  He runs and gets his toys, socks, and children's underwear that he has somehow managed to find to play with and anything else he can find just to spend time with us.  He doesn't just want us to pet him.  He wants to PLAY!  

That has been a good reminder for me.  Often times when we get home, the kids and I are hungry. When we walk in, I put my things down and start fixing dinner as the boys find something to do until dinner is ready.  Often times they start fighting with each other while I'm trying to cook.  We haven't seen each other all day and the first thing I do is start working immediately after we arrive home.  I had made a goal a while back to spend the first 15 minutes when we got home just relaxing and playing with the kids before I started fixing dinner.  I did that for a little while but not long enough to create a habit.  Having Otis has reminded me of the importance of quality play time.  When the kids are older, they are not going to remember what I made for dinner each night as soon as we got home... at least I hope not... I'm not the best cook!  But they will remember the times we spent together having real, quality time.

Anyway, for  now those are the two biggest life lessons I've learned from my dog.  It's been a good reminder to be more intentional with my kids in many ways.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

When Buried Emotion Springs Forth

"But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife... And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife."  Genesis 20: 3, 14

We heard this story this morning at church.  Interestingly, I had never heard this story before.  I'd heard the story of the first time that Abraham told Sarah to pretend she was his sister rather than his wife.  I didn't know it happened more than once.  Anyway, I found Abimelech's response interesting.  Once he found out that Sarah was Abraham's wife and not his sister, he took many steps to make the situation right.

I've been struggling with something recently.  Seven years ago, my then-husband had an affair with a woman in the church.  Since then, although it hasn't been an easy road and many times it's been a few steps forward and more steps back, I feel like I'm genuinely in a place of forgiveness at this point in my life.  Although the relationship is severed on both sides for me, I don't have any ill will for either of them.  I don't think, anyway. 

But there is a piece I still struggle with at times.  The woman at the time was somewhat of a friend.  I was also pregnant during the affair which added extra hurt and hormones to the situation.  When it all came to light, it was a strange and difficult time for me.  At the time, I didn't feel as if the church handled the situation well.  It felt like more of a covering up of what happened, honestly.  Whether or not that was the intent, it was how I felt.  Almost immediately, the woman was restored to not only fellowship but service within the church.  She did write me an apology letter around that time, however she left it on my desk while I was away and we never spoke of it.  That was the extent of any contrition that I observed.  She was soon serving in the children's ministry once again (the same one my own children were a part of), and also singing in the choir in front of the congregation that I was a part of.  It was really hard for me while the overwhelming emotions I was feeling were so raw.

I don't attend that church any more, however I am still friends with many people who do attend there regularly.  I've heard that she has felt remorse and made changes in her life since then and is involved in many areas of ministry since I left.  I don't doubt that she regrets what happened.  And it's been seven years.  I'm sure she has grown up a lot since the young adult she was then.  Honestly, my life is so much different now and the thought of it doesn't come up often.


We have one close friend in common.  My friend is very hospitable and enjoys having friendly gatherings at her house.  Our kids enjoy playing together.  I enjoy spending time with her family.  But it often comes up that I am invited to the gatherings... and so is the other woman.  I wouldn't ask my friend to choose sides.  I simply decline the invitations politely and get together at other times.  It's just awkward and no matter how far removed I feel from that old situation most of the time, that always awakens those old emotions for me and I hate it.  There have been several times that I have accepted the invitation and planned to go and just get it over with.  Maybe it wouldn't be as awkward as it seems it would be and we could make peace and not worry about it anymore.  I really don't usually have trouble getting along with people.  I guess I just feel like the whole situation was never handled very well and there was never any type of restoration efforts towards me.  I'm not talking about restoration of the relationship with the woman.  But just the way that the whole thing seemed to just be swept quietly under the rug and now it's almost as if she is a celebrity in that church while I am a single parent of two young boys.  It still doesn't feel right and I hate that it still gets to me sometimes.  There, I said it.  I don't usually talk about it but now I've said it.  Abimelech wasn't even a righteous man and he still tried to make things right in the eyes of Abraham.

Such is life, I suppose.  We live in a sin-cursed world and these are some of the effects.  Things were never made right with that whole situation.  I just moved on.  I don't want to deny the emotion that does spring forth from time to time, though because it's something that must be worked through.  That's how I came to a place of forgiveness in the first place.  It's just tough when situations bring it to the front of my mind again sometimes.  One day God will make all things new and wonderful.  There will be no more sorrow.  No more pain.  Until then, I do feel a bit better expressing the emotion inside rather than bottling it up.  I'm thankful for Godly teachers who have taught me the importance of doing that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The View From Here: Seven Years Later

A few weeks ago at church we sang Shout to the Lord.  I love that song.  It always takes me back to my life almost seven years ago... in a good way.  My life was so different seven years ago than it is now. It wasn't too long after that, that I started this blog as a way to cope through the grief of separation and divorce.

In December 2007, the world as I knew it fell apart.  I had experienced pain both physically and emotionally before, but never anything like that.  I won't repeat everything from that very first post, but it was honestly the hardest thing I'd ever been through and I desperately wanted something to make the pain go away because it felt unbearable.

The outpouring of love and support I received from my friends and family at the time was tremendous and helped some to focus less on the emotional pain. People commented a lot on how "strong" I was.  I was good at acting that way.  But let me tell you the truth.  I was not strong.  I was terrified.  I felt lost.  I thought tears would surely kill me.  Although somehow my faith never waivered, I was left with a lot of questions.  Especially one in particular... 


I may never know the answer to that question this side of heaven, but I do know the answer to the most important question...


El Shaddai.  God Almighty.  Back then, I thought there must be some mistake.  I was living in a bizarre world that I was sure would eventually come to an end and things would become normal.  I was completely bewildered.  I never in a million years imagined that those divorce papers would actually show up on my doorstep.  I knew that God hated divorce so I didn't understand how He could allow this to happen.  Up until that final moment in a courtroom, I believed with every part of my being that God would step in and make it stop.  But He didn't.  I was left with a very troubling question...


What do I do now?  I had to eventually pick myself up and function in everyday life.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I knew I had to do something.  I lived with my parents for about a year and a half and started seeing a wonderful Christian counselor every week for a while.  That was definitely a provision that God allowed to help tremendously in the healing process for me.  This was a person who wasn't involved in my day to day life.  She was able to see my situation objectively and see down to the deeper core of who I am.  It took me a while to let my guard down.  I ended up switching to a different counselor part way through when my original counselor grew ill.  I was still very guarded. But she was so gentle and patient with me and let me work through what I needed to work through without fear or feelings of condemnation.  She helped me to answer an essential question...


How can I not only move on, but grow and be happy again?  I really didn't think it was possible.  I tried to picture myself years down the road, further distanced from the pain.  I would always look forward to the day when I didn't think about it for at least one day.  Would that ever happen?  I had been so consumed with my feelings of loss.  Amazingly, those feelings drove me to the Word of God.  I spent more time in my Bible during that time than I ever had before.  Sometimes it takes something big and terrible to drive us in that direction.  That was the first positive thing to come out of a terrible loss.  I also journaled a lot to help sort out my feelings.

In the summer of 2009, I started to branch out and become more independent again.  I moved out of my parents house and into a house of my own with my two boys.  I didn't have a lot at the time, but God was gracious and provided for so many needs and then some.  I started to decorate and make it home.

The boys kept me pretty busy.  In the evenings, though, I would start to feel lonely after they went to bed and it was just me in that quiet house.  As I laid alone on the big living room couch, I would remember the times when I would lay on the couch with my husband in the evenings and watch all night marathons of Alias and 24.  I missed that closeness and companionship.  I'd also had a pretty tight knit group of girlfriends from church up until then but when I started attending another church, our relationships changed some.  We were still friends, but we didn't spend as much time together as we had in the past.  I started to feel that maybe if I dated again, it would take away some of the loneliness.  I did date one man for a short time a couple of years after that, but rather than take away the loneliness, it really just distracted me.  I became consumed.  I began to think that if I got married again, I would be happy and all of this pain that I had experienced would simply go away.  It wasn't until it ended that I realized I really wasn't ready for that.  I had foolishly thought that it was earthly things that would fill the empty hole I felt inside my heart.  It was simply a bandage.  True healing only begins with Christ.

So here I am, almost seven years later.  So much has changed in my life.  The day finally came when I didn't think about it every day.  I started to become my own person.  I had been very co-dependent and extremely shy before.  I didn't think that anything I said or did was that important.  I thought that I was only worth something if I was in a relationship with someone who was worth something.  When my ex-husband and I first separated, I used to say that when everything got better and God healed our marriage that we should write a book together because he was good with words.  What had never entered my mind before was... maybe I had something important to say.  Maybe I could make a difference because God has given me unique talents and gifts.

I feel a lot more confident now than I ever was before.  It's not because of anything that I have done but because I have seen the Sovereign hand of God at work.  I have seen that not everything works out like you thought or hoped it would, but God is still in control and He has a plan for each and every life He has created.  I have also seen God's hand of provision too many times to count.  Through that, He has taught me that He is worthy to be trusted.  God always provides.  Always.  We just have to keep our eyes open to see it through the hard times.

My life feels full and complete now and I feel happy knowing that whatever happens, God will always carry me through.  His Word promises that He will never leave me nor forsake me and I have seen that first hand in my life.  Whether the next seven years are full of sunshine or rain, I feel confident in knowing that "He which hath begun a good work in [me] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  (Philippians 1:6)  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What Does the Bible Say?

Last Sunday night my pastor asked a question of the congregation.  Honestly, I can't even remember what the question was, but I remember the answer everyone gave was "no."  No was the correct answer.  But it was the wrong answer.  It was sort of a trick question.  The actual correct answer was,

"Let's see what the Bible has to say about that."

It's so simple.  But honestly, it's not usually the first answer I give.  My kids ask me a LOT of questions about God, the Bible, Heaven, sin... you name it.  I usually answer them based on what I know from the Bible rather than actually going to the Bible and showing them.  So basically I'm really asking them to just take my word for it.  Even if the answer I give is accurate, I don't want their faith to rest on mom's wisdom.

"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.  That your faith should stand not on the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."  I Corinthians 2:4-5

"For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

My goal is to get better about pointing my kids to scripture when they have questions and finding the answers together.  Not only do I want them to learn that the Bible has the answers, I want their first thought when they have questions to be Let's see what the Bible has to say about that!  Mom's not always going to be around.  And mom's definitely not always going to know the answer.  After all, I'm only a sinner saved by grace.

I really want my kids to be equipped with the tools to find the answers they need.  When you teach a child math, you don't just tell him all the answers.  You teach him how to solve the problem.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Disney on a Budget

This has nothing to do with any other topics on my blog, but being the bargain lovin' mom that I am, I thought I'd share a few tips on how to experience Disney for cheap.  Here are a few ways we've saved money and had a lot of fun!
  1. Know someone who works for Disney.
    1. One year my sister had a friend whose parents worked for Disney.  They got us into Disney for free and we even got to take a super secret back way into the parking lot past the storage buildings for their different props, etc and park for free.
  2. Win Disney tickets on the radio.
    1. I was driving home from work one day and they were giving away a family 4-pack of Disney tickets to the tenth caller.  As I was sitting there behind a line of cars waiting for the light to change, I started dialing.  Dial - hang up - redial - hang up - redial - hang up... Persistence paid off!  I won!
  3. Know someone who knows someone who has free tickets to give away.
    1. Last year my sister's friend's daughter was in the Walt Disney World Christmas parade, dancing with Neil Patrick Harris.  Because of that event, they were given three free park-hopper passes.  However, they already had season tickets and didn't need the free tickets so they posted it on Facebook to see if anyone wanted them.  Well, they were from out of state so most of their friends on Facebook lived far from Disney and wouldn't be able to make it there by the ticket deadline.  My sister replied to the offer and hooked us up.
  4. Partake in a random Disney give away opportunity.
    1. Several years ago, Disney had a program where they partnered up with different volunteer organizations and charities.  If you volunteered a certain amount of time, you received a free ticket to Disney.  I volunteered at an Equestrian Poker Run event for my free ticket.  How random, right?
  5. Go on your birthday.
    1. I don't think they actually do this anymore but Disney used to give free park passes on your birthday.  It never hurts to Google before you go to see if there are any special ways to get free tickets at that time.
  6. AAA
    1. I assume you can get cheaper Disney tickets at AAA.  However, since the last five time I've gone to the Disney parks it has been free, I really only know about getting free tickets and not so much about getting discounted tickets.
Those are just a few ways we've been able to go to the parks for free in the past.  But Disney is not just about the parks.  There are tons of things you can do for FREE in the Disney area!  Some ways we like to do Disney on a budget are:

  1. Stay at an area hotel or resort off Disney property.  The last time we went, we visited the Westgate Resorts in Kissimmee.  The suites there are very reasonable.  Included in the price, we were able to play unlimited miniature golf, ride free paddle boats around the lake, take a train ride around the property, visit their miniature movie theater which played Disney movies each day, and watch the Disney fireworks from the balcony of our suite.  Suites were less than $100 per night!  Of course we've also stayed at less expensive hotels like the Comfort Inn and the Radisson for even less on Hotwire but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and extra little perks at Westgate.
  2. Visit Celebration.  Celebration is a cute little area that reminds me of the movie The Truman Show.  Everything is picture perfect.  We enjoy going right into the center of town and visiting the little shops and eating ice cream.  The kids enjoy playing in the water areas.  In the past, during the month of July they've had a fundraising event featuring a lot of reality TV stars from Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Bachelor and other shows.  My sister and I went one year and met them all and got a lot of autographs.  It was a lot of fun.
  3. Take the kids to the Chip and Dale Campfire Sing Along at Fort Wilderness.  This is something we do almost every time we go over to the Disney area.  Fort Wilderness has a large parking lot where you can park for free in the evening to attend the campfire and sing along.  Just tell the security guard that's what you're going to do.  Each night they have a sing along and the campfire going to roast smores and hot dogs on the fire.  Afterwards, you can stay for their nightly movie under the stars or you can venture down to the campground beach where you can watch an illuminated boat parade and the Disney fireworks set to music.  This is all FREE!
  4. Ride the Disney monorails.  This is on the top of the must-do list for my kids.  Since it's outside of the Magic Kingdom gates, you don't have to pay to ride the monorails around and see the sights.
  5. Ride the Disney ferry.  For some, this is just a means to get from here to there.  For kids, it's an exciting experience!
  6. Visit the Disney Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk has visitor parking in the back where you can park for free if there is room.  The inside of the hotel is really neat to tour.  Out on the actual Boardwalk, there are little places to eat and also a lot of street performers.  We've seen jugglers, magicians, musicians and other great acts... again all for FREE!  My kids also like to watch the guys at the pizza place through the pizza dough in the air as they peer through the windows!
  7. Downtown Disney.  Even though it's free to visit Downtown Disney, it's not necessarily really free unless you want it to be.  There are tons of shops and ways to spend your money there.  However, they do have a Lego store there where the kids enjoy playing with Legos and seeing the different Lego creations.  We've also run into Disney characters there from time to time.
  8. We also like to ride the Disney buses around and tour the different Disney hotels and resorts.  You can catch the buses from many different places such as Downtown Disney, the Disney Ticket and Transportation Area, other hotels, etc.
I'm sure there are other free things to do in the area and of course there are plenty of places to go and things to do if you want to spend money.  If you are traveling to Florida for a once in a lifetime kind of trip, then you'll probably want to visit the different parks and spend lots of money.  However, if you want to have a great time but not break the bank, don't forget to check out the many other things there are to do within the Disney area as well.  You won't regret it!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Which (Fill in the Blank) Character Are You?

Lately my Facebook news feed has been overwhelmed with people taking quizzes to find out who they are.

Which Frozen character are you?

Which Twilight character are you?

Which fairytale creature are you?

What state do you actually belong in?

What is your real age?

Maybe I am just way too skeptical and cynical but I feel like all of these quizzes are set-ups for the powers that be to collect data on you.  The same with things that say things like...

LIKE if you love Jesus.

LIKE if you know what this item is.

LIKE if you remember these things from the 80's.

It all seems so fun an innocent.  I say we are way too gullible.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cheerfulness in Serving

"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver."  2 Corinthians 9:7

I have to say that this has become one of my life verses over the years.  Most of the times when I've heard it read or quoted, it has been in the context of tithing.  While it certainly can apply there, I think it also applies to many other areas as well.

I had been wanting to find a place to serve for a while since I had become a member of my church.  I wasn't sure where.  I had ideas of things I'd like to do and things I was passionate about, but the thought of adding one more thing to my plate overwhelmed me.  I think maybe the timing just wasn't right.  I felt excited at the thought but overwhelmed at the same time.  I started by doing a few little design tasks here and there which didn't take up too much of my time.  I felt cheerful and joy in my heart being a help in that way.  I loved the projects and I loved just serving as part of the body of Christ.  At the time, that was all I was capable of and I learned to be okay with it.

When I first became a member of the church there was one thing I feared... because I had children in the children's ministry I feared I would be expected to serve in the children's ministry.  I did not want to serve in the children's ministry.  I wouldn't mind maybe holding babies during the services but I definitely was not interested in teaching toddlers or older children.  I had been there and done that already for many years in the past.  I was ready to be done with it and just enjoy NOT serving in that area anymore.  My two children were enough to handle.

Then last summer, I was asked to help with the children's craft time during the summer mid-week children's program.  I wasn't going to be in charge of the whole program.  I wasn't even in charge of the craft.  I would just be helping with the craft.  I love crafts.  I thought it might be kind of fun.  After all, it was only for about five or six weeks over the summer.  I cheerfully agreed.  And I had a great time.

A few months later, since I had a good time helping out with the summer crafts, I was asked if I would be interested in helping in children's church once a month.  Again, I wouldn't be in charge of anything, I would just be leading the review at the end and the game.  This time I was less cheerful but because there was a need, I reluctantly said I would pray about it.  I decided to sit in on the class one Sunday to get a feel of what I would be doing.  Maybe I would feel more comfortable after that.

At the same time this was happening, I had also been dealing with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks.  (They were separate and not as a result of the children's ministry idea just to be clear).  I was really struggling.  I felt comfort in talking to the assistant pastor's wife about it all who, ironically, was the same person who asked me about helping in children's church.  Funny how that happens.  She was always very kind and sympathetic to my needs.  She obviously saw something in me that I did not see.

The longer I sat through that first children's church lesson, the more and more uncomfortable I felt about it.  My anxiety was increasing.  I sat counting the minutes until it was over.  It seemed like an eternity.  I knew I was going to have to say no but I also felt terrible saying no.  I felt guilty saying no.  Here I was with two kids in the children's ministry and I was unwilling to work in the children's ministry.  What a selfish church member I felt like I was.  But I knew I had to say no.  Or at least not yet.  I could have forced myself to do it but I kept thinking of 2 Corinthians 9:7.  I would be serving out of obligation not as a cheerful giver.  At the end of that service, I explained that I just wasn't ready yet to take on that role.

Several months later my anxiety was well under control and I was asked to lead the craft for the midweek summer children's program this year.  This time I won't be just helping with the crafts.  I'll be in charge of it.  I enthusiastically and cheerfully said yes.  I enjoyed helping last year and I do enjoy being in charge of things as well.  I couldn't wait to go home and search Pinterest for all kinds of ideas related to the summer theme.  It felt good to be involved in something that I enjoy doing and I feel like God has equipped me to do.

And then it came.  The second request to consider working in children's church one Sunday a month.  I promised to pray about it.  I was still unsure if it was something I really felt like I should do.  I prayed all week until that next Sunday.  When the woman in charge came and sat down next to me that week she handed me the lesson for "my" week.  I guess the Lord must have told her I was going to do it before He told me, ha ha!  I didn't know when I walked into the sanctuary that I was going to do it, but as soon as she handed those papers to me, I felt a confidence and excitement about serving in the children's ministry.  It was most certainly a supernatural act of God to change my heart that way.  He certainly did give me the desires of my heart because prior to that, those desires had not been there for a while.

I'm glad I said no that first time.  I really wasn't ready.  I'm also glad I said yes the second time with a cheerful heart.  That Sunday that I taught it was amazing.  I had the best time!  The kids were all really engaged.  They were all able to learn their Bible verse in a fun way.  They weren't wiggling in their seats and talking to their neighbors.  They were all involved and excited!  Even though I had come to be excited to serve in there, I didn't expect how much I would love it.  I currently can't wait until my next week to serve!

It was also exciting just experiencing the process with God.  It wasn't really fear that kept me from serving that first time.  My spirit really felt checked by the Holy Spirit that the timing wasn't right.  I know that God could have still moved in that class if I had agree the first time because, after all, it's not about me.  I just know I would have been serving out of guilt or obligation and it wouldn't be the same.  It's like the safety demonstration on an airplane... in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, they always tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.  That's because you can't assist others if you're not okay yourself.

It was a neat lesson to learn and a great experience for me to walk through.  Please understand that I'm not saying feelings are the test of whether or not you are in God's will.  After all, Jonah felt far from cheerful when God told him to go to Nineveh.  Sometimes it's our attitude that needs adjusting and God will be in every step of that process as we humble ourselves and learn to trust Him.  However I also believe the words of Psalm 3:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thing heart."

I love what Oswald Chambers said once:

When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God's will, and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks.  You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check;  when He checks, stop at once.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Anxiety Training for Kids

I've mentioned before that my nine year old son, Garren has DiGeorge Syndrome as well as autism.  Last year I took him to an anxiety training study at the children's hospital and the techniques we learned and practiced there have really had a life changing effect on him.

Last weekend we went to a bounce house place.  My six year old, Evan was all over that place.  He went on everything.  He didn't care how tall or steep the slides were.  He wanted to go on them all at least a hundred times!  He had a BLAST!

As I sat down to watch my little one run from bounce house to bounce house, Garren chose to sit right next to me instead of exploring.  He didn't like all the commotion of kids "acting crazy."  He didn't like how high some of the slides were.  He didn't like the thought of bouncing around where other kids might bump or run into him.  He just preferred to stay right next to me.

However, I had paid $9 for him to go there and by golly he was going to jump before we left that afternoon!  Plus I wanted him to be able to face his fears and be proud of his accomplishment.

We started out just walking around and looking at all the different bounce houses.  We talked about each of them.  Some had smaller slides.  Some had larger slides.  Some had more areas to jump.  Some had an obstacle course.

Next we went around and touched the outside of the different bounce houses.  We went slowly and just followed little brother around watching him have a great time with his friend who came along.

After that, I encouraged him to sit just on the edge of each bounce house but not go all the way inside. He was a little apprehensive at first so I assured him he didn't have to go in any further than he wanted to as long as he at least sat on the edge for a couple of seconds.  He slowly tried out each one.  After a few stops, he decided to surprise me and even stand up and go in a little further all on his own.  He was so proud of himself.  And of course I whooped and hollered for this great accomplishment.

Now that he was getting a little braver, I encouraged him to not just sit on the edge but climb in part way on each bounce house.  He was happy to oblige. 

The moment was here.  It was time for him to attempt going all the way inside a bounce house.  He wasn't sure whether he had the courage to take on this task.  We chose the simplest of bounce houses as a good place to start.  It was mostly just a flat jumping area with a small slide off to the side.  He waited for it to clear out and then ventured his way in.  This time he didn't just sit in the middle.  He stood up and started jumping!  "Look at me!!!" he said beaming with excitement.

Now he was a pro.  On that one anyway.  Next it was the obstacle course.  It had two entrances and wasn't very busy so I assured him that I would block off one side so no one would come in and bounce behind him.  He went about half way through.  He didn't quite make it to the slide part at that point yet but he did go in far enough that I couldn't see him anymore.

He still wasn't ready to try any of the slides yet and decided he wanted to just take a break and watch his brother.  I tried to convince him that he was really brave and I was pretty sure he would do great on the pirate ship bounce house slide as it was the smallest slide of all of them.  He wasn't so sure. This is where bribery came in.  He loves to watch monorail videos on You Tube so I told him later that day he would be allowed to watch 15 minutes of videos plus one extra minute for every time he went down a slide.  Well, wouldn't you know... he hopped right up and climbed in!

He was still a little hesitant once he got in.  That's when I witnessed a sight that would melt any mama's heart. Evan climbed in with him, took his hand, and led him up to the slide encouraging him that he could do it as they climbed up.  That kid has the kindest little heart!

Next thing I knew, they were both sliding down!  That was the first of twenty-five times down the slide!  He actually tried three different slides that day.  I was so proud of him and let him know.  We talked about how even though he was afraid, he still faced his fears and tried it anyway.  That's courage.

Anxiety training is great.  It not only helps kids overcome their fears, it also develops confidence and courage to try new things.  The same technique has worked with a lot of Garren's fears.  Take it slow.  One baby step at a time.  I don't always have to prompt him every time anymore.  He will try some new things and can't wait to show everyone how brave he was.  His favorite line is "I was afraid and didn't really like it but I still tried it anyway!"

"Wait on the Lord:  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart."  Psalm 27:14

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Is Not Proud

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

Love... is not proud.  I've been thinking and praying a lot about what I wanted to say about this one.  There were a lot of things going through my mind but they just didn't seem like the right thing.  What came to my mind were the words of God to Job in Job 38... Where were you when I...

Today I am going to remember my place.  When life seems unfair I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When I don't understand why things are the way they are I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When I get frustrated that things aren't the way I wish they were I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When things don't happen as quickly as I would like I will remember... 

Where were you?

When I think I know better than God I will remember...

Where were you?

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth[a] in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?[b]
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Does Not Boast

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

During this two week Love Challenge, I've been thinking ahead to the different aspects of love, thinking of what I could do to focus on each individual aspect as it comes up.  Some seem to be more simple and clear cut than others.

As I was thinking of boasting and what it means, I was reminded of something I read by Oswald Chambers recently:

When we are born again of the Spirit of God, the note of testimony is on what God has done for us, and rightly so.  But the baptism of the Holy Ghost obliterates that for ever, and we begin to realize what Jesus meant when He said - "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me."  Not witnesses to what Jesus can do - that is an elementary witness - but "witnesses unto Me."  We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation.

That last line really stuck with me...

We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation.

Today I think I will post that at my desk as a reminder.  I will do my best with the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life of integrity.  When I receive praise, I will remember it is really praise for Him who enables me to live and breathe and move.  I am nothing.  He is all.  I will try not to compare myself to others.  We are all created in the image of God.  When I criticize myself, I am criticizing the One who created me.

I will remember that He is the Master, not me.  I will remember that He is the Creator, not me.  I will remember that He is the Heavenly Father of my children, not me.  I will remember that He is the One who provides, not me.  I will remember that He is the one who protects, not me.

I will remember that He is Lord and Savior.  Not me.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Does Not Envy

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

The last two days in The Love Challenge have been fun.  It's amazing the difference in attitude when you take time to focus on real, Godly love.

Today's challenge focuses on envy.  I've been thinking about it and really, envy focuses on things we don't have.  The Bible encourages us towards prayer and thanksgiving.  Instead of worrying about what we don't have, about what might or might not happen, and how to get ahead, instead take these things to God in prayer and remember all of the ways He has been faithful.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

Today I am going to focus on being thankful.  Thankful for who God is.  Thankful for His constant faithfulness.  Thankful for trials that have brought me closer to Him.  Thankful for the blessings He has bestowed.  Thankful that He is always there and will never leave me.

I attended a seminar one time where they had us take just one minute and write down as many things as we could think of that we were thankful for.  I remember how much it changed my attitude afterwards just during that one minute of thankfulness.  I remember I told myself I should do that every day.  A minute doesn't take very long.  I haven't kept up with it, though.  As least for today, I'm going to do it again.

Today, instead of envy, focus on thankfulness.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Love Challenge: Love is Kind

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

For the next two weeks I am taking what I call "The Love Challenge."  Each day my focus will be on one aspect of God's love as found in I Corinthians 13: 4-8.  I think that if you are a child of God, He enables these qualities of love in us all the time, but sometimes during the hustle and bustle of every day, it can become easy to rush through life not taking time to reflect on these things.

Today during The Love Challenge, the focus is on being kind.  If you are taking The Love Challenge, here are some practical ideas to show kindness:

  • Pray for a family member or friend specifically
  • Bake a treat for someone
  • Compliment a patient mom while out shopping or dining
  • Bring flowers or cards to a nursing home
  • Bring in your neighbor's trash can
  • Buy coffee or a meal for the person behind you in the drive-thru
  • Donate books to the library
  • Donate clothes to a shelter
  • Drop of bus tickets to a homeless shelter
  • Hide dollars at the Dollar Store
  • Help someone with yard work
  • Take coloring books to Hospice for visiting children
  • Leave quarters at the laundromat
  • Leave your neighbor a treat
  • Pay someone's parking meter
  • Send a note of appreciation
  • Send a surprise package to someone
  • Give out panchos and umbrellas on a rainy day to those in need
  • Tape coins at the playground for kids to find
  • Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life
  • Be kind to yourself... give yourself a break
There are many more ways to show kindness to others throughout the day as well.  Consider making today a Day of Kindness.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Challenge: Love is Patient

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

Today is Valentine's Day and I thought what better day to start what I'll call The Love Challenge.  For the next two weeks or so, I've decided to focus especially on one aspect of love each day based on 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

Today, my focus will be on "Love is Patient."  Since I don't know what today holds, I'm not sure what this will entail quite yet but I'm excited to reflect back on it at the end of the day.

Some ways I anticipate showing patience today include:

My Children
My Co-workers
Drivers around me
Someone behind me at the grocery store with a lot of items when I have only a few.
Someone in front of me with a lot of groceries when I have only a few.

I'm excited to see what today holds.  I don't usually ask for comments but if you would like to join me in taking the Love Challenge today (or for the next two weeks), I'd love to know about how you decide to show God's love or specific things that happen today to allow you the opportunity.

Let the patience begin...