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Self-Centeredness

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I was reading a blog post from The Unlikely Homeschool, since I am a homeschooling mama, this morning about shyness.  It was quite eye-opening because although I have been labeled an extroverted person I tend to be extremely shy about public speaking.  Don’t get me wrong I love doing it but my nerves get to me every time.  I do not personally feel I am an extroverted person because like introverts, I prefer being alone or one-on-one rather than in large gatherings.  So I am not sure if my shyness is due to truly being nervous about public speaking because of being in front of a large group of people or if it is due to my own selfishness because of wondering what people would think of me.

If truth be told it is probably a little bit of both.  When I am speaking I like to remind myself just Who I am representing and would feel bad if I did not represent God well.  Which is a plus because my ultimate goal when speaking is to glorify Him in an effort to help people glean or build on their relationship with God.  The negative side though is that there have been MANY times when I have opened my mouth to add my two cents to something but I sound, to others, condescending and self-righteous, or so I have been told.  It is not my desire to reflect that behavior but it has happened and because of that there is always this internal fight I have going on in my soul whenever the subject of God, religion, church, etc., comes up.  The positive side of me tells me to say what I am thinking because it may just be that one thing God needs that person to know and He is nudging me to be the person to deliver the message but the negative side of me feels as though if I open my mouth someone might feel like I am being holier-than-thou again, giving them the desire to discontinue further communication with me.

This verse has taught me to be zealous for the Lord, not shying away due to my own insecurities but instead reminds me to have self-discipline to pray before speaking so that I may be able to distinguish between a want (self driven) of speaking and a need (God driven) of speaking.  I do not want to be timid when speaking of or for the Lord but just have to be ever mindful if that is in fact what I am doing or if I am speaking for the sake of speaking.

I want to be God driven and prayer is the only way to succeed at that, unfortunately not everyone is going to see it as such so that is where grace steps in.  If I am speaking for Him and someone displays an attitude of irritation towards me because they see me as being pious then I will need to learn how to freely give grace.  Shyness, though, is no longer an option for me.  Thank you theunlikelyhomeschool, click here to read more on the story I mentioned.

Zealous not Shy!

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31)

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:21-23

Every day is new!  I have made a lot of mistakes in the past and sometimes I cannot believe I am still standing but then with the dawning of a new day I am reminded of His promises….they are new every morning.

A couple of months ago I had to get up early for something, I don’t remember why but I do remember I was ugly towards my husband the night before and woke up feeling horrid because of it.  I had set my alarm early, earlier than even the sun and was lying there just consumed with embarrassment and guilt for my actions.  I decided to continue to lay there and speak to God, in my heart, about my heart.  I spent a significant amount of time lying there with my eyes closed and as I closed my prayer could see brightness through my eyelids.  I went to the window and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen, with a multitude of colors, as the sun began to peek over the mountains.

“They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” just pierced my heart as the verse came to mind in that moment.  His compassion never fails and I am so grateful because it gave me the opportunity to speak love towards my husband in the form of an apology; which was well received.

For all we have and will do to Him, He is justified in any wrath He wants to bestow on us but thank goodness He chooses compassion.  GREAT is HIS faithfulness!

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31)

 

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

I was reading some scripture yesterday by the beloved David, thinking of my own beloved while he is away.  King David loved the Lord so much and even though he made some big mistakes that cost him dearly, he praised Him with an unbelievable amount of admiration and love.

In Psalm 56 David is upset because of how people are treating him.  He has moments of fear but immediately recognizes the faith and trust he has in God and begins to praise.  I am always amazed at how fully he pours out his love for God as though God is his spouse.  I know that sounds weird but today’s society places the love of one’s spouse or children above their love for God.  Society has it all backwards, our love for God is supposed to be greater than our love for a spouse or our kids; He should receive the majority of our attention and affection.

I am not altogether sure why I am amazed by David’s declarations maybe it is not so much amazement but like Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Pea-green with envy.”  I love the Lord and work daily to make Him my first and foremost but unlike David it doesn’t just naturally pour out of me so I am a bit envious at how he displays his love for God.  I desire the same and have been taking steps in my walk to draw even closer towards Him.

In the past, when my lovebug has been away for work I have had major insomnia partially because it is hard to sleep without him (putting the love for my husband first) and partially because of fear (not praising God and relying on Him).  However, last night after reading Psalm 56 I spent a great deal of time talking to God asking for His protection and putting my trust in His word.  I am happy to report I fell asleep at midnight, way earlier than normal, and was nightmare free.

Goodbye fear, hello trust!

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31)

“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”  Proverbs 12:4

The New Living Translation uses the description of “cancer in his bones.”  I have been witness to a few people dying of cancer, it is not for the weak of heart.  They are in so much pain from the inside out that although their outside appearance may look bad it is nothing to the way the inside looks and feels.  Their bodies are rotting.  I am not saying this to make anyone feel bad and if you are someone who is walking through cancer right now please know I am not wanting to offend you in any way but the hurt you feel is what God uses to describe the pain a “poisonous” wife (spouse) can cause.

My husband and I are around many people in many different settings and it never ceases to amaze me how horrible wives and husbands can be towards each other.  Now don’t get me wrong, we too have had our share of a few bad years and it was mainly due to the lack of respect we shared for and towards each other.

When we were getting in a bad place I felt God turning my attention to who I was becoming, a poisonous wife.  Although society may say my behavior was justified because of his, God does not say that.  He brought me to my knees to see I needed to humble myself to be the wife of HIS desire not of my husband’s or my own.

I began thanking my lovebug for the small things he would occasionally do, eventually those small things became bigger things and more frequent.  We stopped speaking ill of each other, even to our closest friends; it is just plain disrespectful to do such a thing.  I started loving him deeply, looking past all of the things that at one point got on my nerves.  We became a team again; two finally became one flesh.

I have over the past five plus years began to ache for the husbands I hear talking trash about their wives or the wives belittling their husbands because I was there once and all that created was more hurt and bitterness.

We have really close people, in our lives, that still to this day talk trash about one another when the other is not around; makes me wonder how they treat each other behind closed doors.  I actually become so uncomfortable around these people that I feel very out-of-place at times.  I feel as though God is turning my attention, once again, not to who I am becoming but who I can prevent them from becoming with just a gentle reminder of giving each other grace and displaying love and respect whether you believe your spouse deserves it or not, after all you are not doing it for them but for HIM.

Make no mistake, when you get married it is a COVENANT you both make with God.  Show Him that it means something and stop being poisonous towards each other but instead lift each other up, show your spouse what love really is, never let them wonder if you really care about them.

Several years ago, seven if I am not mistaken, my best friend’s husband died on July 9th at the age of 34.  Her heart was shattered because of all the things that were left unsaid, all the future she would have to live without him and never being able to feel his touch or hear his voice.  She went through a period of the “what ifs” and “did he know that I loved him” thoughts.  The fact is that we do not know when our time is up, please don’t let your spouse wonder when you are gone whether you really loved them.  God does not want you to bring death to a person but life, speak life into their soul.

I am extremely grateful for the parents I had.  Before my Daddy passed away, he and my mom just adored each other.  They had their share of arguments but displayed love so generously towards each other, us kids and people they came across.  After he passed, there was never any doubt of his love for her.  Their example has been a constant reminder of what a good marriage ought to look like.

Coming from someone who has been on both sides of the situation, when you speak poorly of your spouse thinking it is all in good fun or that they deserve it, please note that most people who hear those words you speak are beginning to see decay setting in on you.  Look like a crown for him/her, for your marriage and most importantly for God.

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

When I was younger, 10-22 years old, I was convinced that God didn’t know who I was or at the very least didn’t care.  I was one of those kids your parents told you to stay away from because they are going to get you into trouble.

For the record, my friends (the good ones people believed were innocent but in reality they were more like “Preacher Kids”) were the ones getting me into trouble.  Eight out of ten times they would be the ones committing the crime or indiscretion but I would be the one who got blamed.

After a few years of being blamed I just became what people believed me to be.

I had heard my mom, her friends and random strangers tell me about how God is always with them but just thought they were making stuff up.  I certainly didn’t feel as though I had witnessed anything like that.  In fact one bad thing after another kept happening to me.  I was beginning to have the “Eeyore” mentality; woe is me, everybody hates me, nobody likes me, my life is horrible.  Anyone ever had the pleasure of dealing with a person like that?  Can I get an AMEN.

Well that was me.  Everything seemed to be going wrong and no matter what I did to try to change my outcome, it never did.  I felt betrayed by God.  Why was every other person worthy enough to receive His grace and love but not me.  It just seemed as though He had given up on me or separated Himself from me because I was just too much to handle.  Can you even imagine?

On my wedding day, when the pastor told us to pray silently together, I wanted things to be different and felt like the only way to accomplish it was to challenge God.  So I prayed that God would forgive me.  It went something like this.  “Dear Lord, I know I was saved and Baptized when I was eight but I don’t think I ever felt the connection with You that people talk about.  I have messed up a lot since then.  My relationships have been horrible and I don’t want to get divorced again.  I want to be the wife, mother, friend and godly woman you desire me to be but I cannot do it alone.  Will You please help?  I want to make the commitment to take my relationship with You seriously.”

Now I am not saying that I stopped having issues right away but instead of feeling alone while dealing with them I felt His strength and love.  Life got better so much so that when I look back on my old life I don’t even recognize that person any more.

He reminded me that “nothing can separate us” from the love of God.  He is ALWAYS with me.  It feels quite lonely when we try to run our own lives and it is meant to feel that way because when we do that WE, not God, are trying to separate ourselves from God, which is impossible to do so it feels wrong for a reason.

Do you feel all alone on the path you are walking?  If so, maybe it is time to stop and pray for direction, HIS direction.

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31) 

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23

Have you ever come across a person that makes you physically ill?  Although I have known, for a long time, that the Bible requires us to pray for everyone, even our enemies, I very seldom did that.  If truth be told I often did the opposite and just felt condemnation towards them.

Several years ago I was sitting in a women’s conference on parenting, listening to the speaker talk about a lady that she truly could not stand because she was constantly way too positive.  The speaker admitted to trying to avoid her at all cost because she would say things like “praise God for the sunshine,” “thank you Lord for this chair I am sitting in,” “bless you Father for the noisy traffic zooming by.”  She didn’t understand why someone could be so positive for things she did not think were that positive.  A short while later that same, positive, lady committed suicide.  The speaker was devastated and vowed to not turn her back on anyone, especially those that rubbed her the wrong way.

I saw first hand her hurt and began to think of all those people who rubbed me the wrong way.  In the past I would wish bad things on them because in my opinion they deserved it for how they were acting.

Recently, my family had to deal with a tough person that caused a lot of problems for us.  Frustration soared through my body, all the while the only thing that kept coming through my mind was that speaker’s experience.  I hurt for that person, prayed for their health and still pray for their safety and the safety of those around them.  I would not wish what they are going through on anyone.

I vowed not to sin against the Lord by pushing that person to the side, ignoring their issues, but instead I am praying continuously for their heart and soul.

Do you have an “UGH” kind of person in your life?  Pray for your heart to change for them.  Every perspective is different when looked at it through another’s eyes.

My husband and I watched the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” last night (pretty cute if you like the stories behind the stories kind of movies).  In this movie there was a chauffeur that kept talking about how beautiful the sun was, thank God for the sun, and the lady could not understand why he was making such a big deal about something the quite often occurs in “sunny” California.  She even went as far as to say that rain is better because it gives life, to which he replied so does the sun but she still could not understand his obsession with it.  After some time had passed in the movie he explained that he had a daughter who was wheelchair bound and the only time she could get fresh air to feel better was when the sun was out.

“UGH” people are not “those people” just because, maybe they are in need of a little sun or Son in their lives.

Not Yet But Getting There (notyetproverbs31)

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” Proverbs 31:28.

In keeping with the theme that I am not yet a Proverbs 31 woman, let me tell you why.  I do feed my kids, change them or give them clothes to wear (whichever is age appropriate for whichever child at the time), keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe, keep a clean house, educate them and of course love them.  However, I feel like the Proverbs 31 woman standards are impossible expectations to meet, I mean have you ever really read them?  Or compared them to today’s culture’s view of what it might look like now?  YIKES.

Here is my reality:

1.  My kids get fed, it is not a gourmet meal, Betty Crocker probably wouldn’t even look slightly impressed, it is never what they want because if I tried to cater to seven people I would be in the kitchen before the sun was and long after the sun set.  Sometimes my food is boxed TV dinners, sometimes we have cereal for dinner, sometimes we have some sort of pasta concoction all week long because it is easy to make, etc…you get the idea, the important thing to remember is that the only time anyone starves in our household is from their own making because they have chosen not to eat the dish that is being served.

2.  My kids are dressed, maybe not to the liking of society, if truth be told they are sometimes not dressed to my husband’s liking either.  My kids never dress inappropriately.  In fact I do not even let my older girls go shopping without me because all clothing has to be mom approved.  Their clothes typically consist of thrift store finds (obviously except for undergarments) because our family usually lives by a motto we heard from another family, “by used and save the difference.”  Every now and then I will go out to get a brand new dress or outfit for each of them, from a retail store, but only on Resurrection Sunday and Christmas.  The attire I am referring to that my husband isn’t too fond of is pajamas.  I love them, my kids love them, God was a genius when He put that knowledge into someone’s head, GENIUS!  Did I say G-E-N-I-U-S!  Other than the love of my life, our family loves putting on jammies after a long day, or staying in them way to late in a day when nothing is going on.  As a side note:  my husband only wears real jammies in the winter when it is cold but will wear basketball shorts during the warmer months…around the house when he is not working….even though they were not labeled pajamas in the store we got them from, it still counts because they are jammies to him.

3.  My kids are safe, in my opinion.  Obviously there are people out there that are disgusting and will do horrible things to people that I have no control over but I do have control over what my kids watch, who they play with and how they act.  I allow them to be a little dangerous at times, riding their bikes in the middle of the cul-de-sac, sliding down the staircase on a cardboard box and jumping from the trampoline to the pool but all while being supervised, not because I think one of the adults watching them will prevent any accidents but just in case accidents happen (and they have) someone is there to kiss a boo-boo, dust off a bottom or even drive them to the ER if need be.

4.  My house is clean, not spotless and we definitely have our fair share of excess but it gets vacuumed, swept, mopped and scoured at least once a week.  Throughout the week it gets picked up but with seven people in one house it rarely looks like it.  Another side note:  I think us mothers do each other a major injustice by cleaning our houses spotless before company comes over and here’s why…we clean our house spotless to give the illusion that our house is neat but then the people that come to visit inevitably go home and spend hours comparing their house to that of the person they just visited, “why can’t our house look as clean as so and so’s house?”  The reality is that your house was no cleaner than theirs was just before you “visitor” cleaned it but their spouses don’t know that, all they know is your house always looks amazing when they come to visit.

5.  My kids are educated, not the way I would have liked them to be but there are somethings I can’t control.  My two oldest are in public high school and middle school because I have shared custody with my ex-husband and he does not believe I am educated enough to educate them so the courts decided that they will remain in traditional public school.  I went to a public school for awhile when I was growing up but wouldn’t wish it upon any of my kids, especially when I live in a state that is like the 49th on the list of best state standards…49th out of 50, that says something.  My two middle kiddos are homeschooled and I could not be happier.  I often feel inadequate with how I educate them but then I realize that is just lies that Satan is weaseling into my head.  My baby boy will be homeschooled which will be quite interesting since I have heard boys are a bunch more bouncy when it comes to sitting still for learning.

6.  My kids are loved, none of the other stuff matters, 1-5 is not the least bit important because if I love them well all other things will fall into place.  How do I love them?  I kiss them, cuddle with them, teach them, discipline them, support them, listen to them, tell them, and many other ways.

I love them by showing them, as best as I can, how God loves them and that is all that matters.  So my kids might not call me “blessed” but I feel blessed to have this job called “mom” even on the days when I feel the need for a day off.

Growing up I do not remember ever calling my mom “blessed” probably, knowing my past, just the opposite.  Now that I have lived and have become a mother of five, I can call her blessed because I know what it is like to live through parenting as she has.  My mother is pretty amazing and maybe one day I will live up to the Proverbs 31 woman and my kids will think the same.

Not Yet But Getting There! (notyetproverbs31)

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