TagsAdoption Become Bedtime Routine Bible Character Children Decluttering discipline DIY Encouragement Faith follow through Girl stuff God God's word Gratitude Healthy Eating Holy Spirit Home Infertility Intentional Life Jesus Jesus Christ Joy life change Marriage Meal Planning Meditation Minimalism mom Open Adoption Organization Parenting Prayer purpose Rest Self Control Simplify Smile transformation Trust Vacations Waiting For a Baby Who I Am Becoming Words
Author Archives: Alissa Perez
No mom would be proud to say they feel disconnected from their kids. No one wakes up and says, “Gee, I sure hope I don’t connect with my children today.”
Nope. No one. Ever.
But, it happens. And I would venture to say…to most every mom.
I may be with my children everyday, all day, but yet last night I realized this has become a truth in my own life.
I am disconnected from them.
Last night I laid beside Gavin at bedtime. We went through the usual routine: prayer, story, song.
I usually ask him what was good about his day and he replied as he does often, “Daddy coming home.” They adore their father, they get excited when he walks through the door, which I am so thankful. This is probably normal for many stay-at-home moms. But tonight, I pressed a little deeper-maybe because I was feeling a little left out, “What was something good about your day with mommy?”
Nothing. Blank stare into the side of the bed. I asked him 2 more times, each time with a smile and a change in my voice inflection, trying to get him to say something!
Now at this point, I was trying to figure out if he was just tired, was he thinking about something else, was he distracted (which is common for a 4 year old) or was he really struggling to find the good in his day with mommy? I leaned over to look at his precious face.
Nothing. He was just staring blankly at the bed.
It hit me at that moment. For a four-year-old life is about fun and joy and playfulness..but for him today there had been none of that with mama.
Now, in my mind I was thinking, ” What? We went for a play date today, I made you lunch, I let you watch some shows, I…..”
Then it hit me. I did nothing with him. Taking care of his necessities of bathing and feeding and cleaning up toys didn’t give him any joy. I was saddened at that moment.
Then after a long silent pause, he turned and looked at me and said, “Playing with mommy.”
I said nothing.
He rolled over and I sang him a song, I prayed over him, kissed him good night and walked out. Saddened that the one thing he finally spoke of being good about his day with mommy—never happened.
I never played with him.
And I must confess it’s been a long while since I have sat down and played with him.
I spend everyday with him. We go for walks, we read together, I do educational games with them, I work on his alphabet and numbers, I take them places, I take them to the park, play dates, I clean his room, I let them play outside.
But play with him? Nope. I haven’t done that. Not for awhile.
Now I know that it isn’t possible, necessary or healthy to play with our kids all day long. They need time alone, to be creative but they still in their hearts long to have those precious moments of “play” time with mommy.
The truth is difficult to swallow sometimes. He longs to play with me, to laugh with me, to have fun with me. His mommy. He longs for me to enjoy being with him.
But I’m always engaged in something else. Always I’m multitasking because that is the only way I’ll ever get anything done and I have SO much to do. Always I’m consumed with accomplishing something. Always something else takes priority. But just being here with my children doesn’t translate to connected parenting. I’m disconnected from my children.
So what does it mean to be connected?
It means to be joined, linked together or plugged in.
I must plug into my kids. Be linked together with them, joined with them, be a part of them and their lives. Just living with my children, feeding them, taking care of their necessities isn’t being connected to them. I must seek out ways to connect with them. If I want to be connected with them as teenagers, I need to learn to connect with them today.
Having multiple children poses even more of a challenge. Each of my children is unique, as are yours, and connecting to them looks different for each child.
I must get to know each child. To know how to best connect to them.
And it’s not just about “playing with them” although at my children’s ages this is important, but its about truly connecting , loving them where they are as they are. Engaging them. Seeing them for who they truly are. Enjoying them. Studying them. Knowing them.
So, here are 3 ways the Lord has shown me what to do when you feel disconnected from your child.
3 Ways To Connect With Our Children
1. Engaging them. Nothing substitutes time spent with our children. To engage is to consume all of ones’ attention, to participate in an activity. Spending quality time with them while engaging my whole being-mind, heart and soul. Be all there.
2. Enjoying them. Take delight in them. Have you ever been with someone you knew wasn’t having a good time? It makes me uncomfortable. I can’t be me when I’m worried they aren’t enjoying themselves. I can’t be joyful knowing they are not. This is also true with my kids. If they don’t see joy in me when I am with them, it’s hard for them to enjoy themselves. They know when I’m only there in body and not having any fun. Kids are very perceptive. Enjoying them means receiving benefit from having been with them. Do they believe I have benefited from time with them or that I went through the motions?
3. Knowing them. I have been convicted lately to start studying my kids everyday. Taking notes. Paying attention to what they like, don’t like. What makes them tick, what brings them joy. What their love language is. To know someone is being aware of information that is known to few people. I get the blessing of knowing my kids, of knowing the details that few people will ever know about them. In our culture of superficial relationships and busyness, most of us will remain anonymous to others. Who we really are will stay unknown to most. And if no one dares to invest in us, to really get to know us, we will more than likely have difficulty knowing our true selves and an even harder time believing in a God who knows us intimately.
Being known means someone knows the truth about who we are in our hearts, minds and souls and loves and accepts us as we are. Being known gives us confidence to become who God created us to be.
Much of our troubles today come from being unknown to anyone. A lack of connection to others and ultimately to God.
I am so thankful for this moment with my son. Don’t let these moments reveal your shortcomings, let them remind you of a God who reveals truth and shows us a better way.
Please share ways you have found to connect to your children.
“Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.”–Joshua Becker
Isn’t that beautiful?
I love this. Memories are so much more important than things. Our family will remember fun times and special moments far more than any thing we will ever receive.
I sort of stumbled upon the idea of minimalism. I’ve always felt called to lead a simpler life, yet the process of getting there has always seemed a distant wish rather than a current reality.
But as I began to read about minimalism and what it entails and the life it embraces, I’m all in.
This is what my soul has been seeking.
A life free of clutter, free of stuff, a life lived with purpose, freedom and focused on what is truly important.
Who wouldn’t want this for their lives?
So what exactly is minimalism? Let me quote you Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com:
“It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.”
Minimalism is freedom.
A friend of mine said this to me several years ago, “Everything you bring into your home, you become a slave to.”
So profound. It’s one of those statements that we say “YES!” to. Yet, living this out is far more challenging.
The same holds true for living a life of minimalism. It’s easy and exciting to read about it, to agree with and desire. But, it’s a whole other animal to live it.
It isn’t just about having a garage sale to get rid of some things. Living a minimalist lifestyle will first of all look different for everyone. But for me, it’s about changing my heart and what’s on the inside while changing my external world. Because just getting rid of stuff will not satisfy. It’s a heart issue. A heart transformation issue to be exact. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)
Our treasure is either in Jesus or in this world. It cannot be both.
So for the last several months I have been on this journey, initially just to get rid of things. But as I listen to God speak to my heart, it’s more about transforming my life so my soul can breathe.
It’s not as much about removing stuff as it is about living life-to the fullest.
Why I Want To Live Minimally
1. Freedom. I want to be free. To be a slave is to be entirely dominated by some influence. For me, I’m a slave to my stuff. Freedom is defined as ‘not taken up by scheduled activities, unconstrained’. Freedom for me is loosening my schedule.
Freedom is choosing to play a game with my children without feeling shackled to my to-do list. And as a mom, my to-do list is never ending. I am not foolish enough to believe that minimalism is the answer to everything. To-do lists will always be necessary to keep track of those things that need to get done. But “need” being the key word. What if I lived with less, so I had less to manage, and ultimately more time? What if I had the freedom choose?
2. Makes room for what’s most important. Too much stuff crowds out relationships. It crowds out time to invest in my children, my husband, friendships and family. I am constantly trying to find balance between my to-do list and people. I realize that life demands us moms to manage our home and wear many hats throughout our days. But how much of this balancing act is because of the management of things in my home that don’t really matter?
3. Diminishes clutter: from my counters and my mind. Clutter sucks the life out of me. I spend more time moving things around than investing in those things that really matter. I look around and see the piles of things that need to be put away. I am consumed with finding the best way to organize it all. And yet, when I go to get rid of things I justify why I might need it someday. Ugh. I read this once–“Quit organizing and just get rid of things.” Live with less.
4. Allows me to do God’s will. What if I had enough time and a free schedule and a less burdened mind to actually hear from God? What if I had the freedom to reach out to a neighbor in need, to invest in friendships, to do those things that God is nudging me to do? What if I had more time to serve at church, or the women at the shelter in my town? What if I could spend my days being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of a slave to the things in my home? What if I had the freedom to love God, love people and serve His kingdom? Imagine the difference my life could make.
5. Saves time-my most valuable resource. I need margin in my life. Do I have room in my schedule to do what’s most important? I constantly feel as though I never have enough time. I blame my messy house, my chronic tardiness, and my forgetfulness ALL on my “lack of time”. Excuses. All of them. Excuses for my lack of planning, and my lack of treating my time as a priceless commodity. Dave Ramsey is the king of budgeting our money. God is the King of managing our time. He knows everything we need to accomplish in our days. And so much of what consumes my time…is unnecessary.
I have always felt drawn to the pioneer and the Amish lifestyles. My husband tells me I couldn’t possibly live either one of those lifestyles. Maybe this is what my soul has longed for-minimalism. Pioneer and Amish might not be a reality. But, this is achievable. This can be true in my life today. Living minimally.
Seeking God: Lord, show me what minimalism looks like for me. Give me eyes to see the unnecessary in my life and to be free from the grips of materialism. Give me freedom to choose what’s most important today and be Lord over my time. Help me to truly live as Psalm 73:25 declares, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Amen.
Stay tuned as I continue to post about My Journey to Minimalism.
Walt Disney World.
A magical place. The funnest place on earth. That recognizable trademark on many of your kids toys or movies.
Well, we too have joined the ranks of millions that choose to vacation in this fabulous world where imagination explodes.
Yes, we took our children, ages 2, 3 & 4, to Disney World in February of this year. We all had a marvelous time! My parents and my mother-in-law also went with us, which certainly helped. And it was my husband’s first time as well. So that was a bonus!
Although I personally have been to Disney World many times in my life, I knew that we would have to make some adjustments with my 2, 3, & 4 year old. So, I did a little research-on Pinterest of course- about the “Do’s and Don’ts” of traveling with little kids. Very helpful!
However, I discovered a few things that would have been helpful to know in advance. So, now having lived the experience, I would love to share my thoughts with you.
All You Need to Know About Disney World With Little Ones
1. Do NOT plan to go to the parks on the day of your arrival. This is HUGE! Use this day to relax and settle into your hotel. The kids have most likely been traveling all day and it’s good to let them unwind before heading to the parks the next day. We made this mistake. Heed my warning.
2. Plan to spend most of your time at Magic Kingdom. This is the most popular park and has the most for children under the age of 5, in my opinion. All the parks have attractions for their ages, but Magic Kingdom was our favorite.
3. Try to avoid traveling during the busy times of the year. A good travel agent can help you with this. My good friend, Leslie, is a certified Disney Vacation Planner. And late February, turned out to be a great time. We had warm weather and, although always filled with people, the lines were very manageable.
4. Avoid going to Magic Kingdom on the weekend if possible. This will be the busiest time for this park, as more of the locals will head out on the weekends. We went on a Saturday and then again several times during the week and it does make a difference. Less congestion during the week.
5. Get cheap prizes at the Dollar Tree before you leave. This was a tip I gleaned from someone else. Saved us a ton of money. At their ages, they just like to get any little trinket. And a simple surprise periodically kept them satisfied. They honestly didn’t ask for anything at the parks. Buy the glow in the dark necklaces and wands from Dollar Tree for night time. That way they won’t ask you for the expensive ones sold at the parks.
6. Bring rain ponchos from Walmart. You never know when it will rain in Florida. Thankfully, we only had 1 afternoon of mild rain, but having those ponchos saved us money from having to buy them at the park.
7. Consider having a day of “NO PARKS” mid week where you can enjoy the hotel. This is one thing I would have done differently. There is usually a lot to do on site at your hotel. And it would have been nice to just have a day in between to just relax and reset.
8. Plan to have their nap schedules off. We tried the first day to have them come back and nap at the hotel. Are you kidding me? It was like a crazy house. They were so wired from the excitement of the day, there was no way they would take a nap. We still came back usually everyday for a few hours, but there was no napping. If they napped, it was usually later in the afternoon, or early evening in the stroller at the parks. Which then enabled us then to stay out later at the parks when it was less busy at the attractions.
9. Rent a stroller from Orlando Stroller. A friend recommended this the week before we left. What a life saver! The strollers that you rent from Disneyworld are just old and not comfortable to sit or nap in. The stroller we rented was a nice Baby Jogger Double stroller. We spent about $100 for the stroller for the week, but very worth it.
10. Put a flag or bandana on your rented stroller. There are a LOT of strollers at the parks and there are only certain designated stroller parking areas, so the workers tend to move your strollers around without you knowing. This will help locate your stroller much easier. Also, we put on a flashing bike light that worked great to find our stroller at night.
11. Plan for the kids to to get 1 prize at the end of the trip. We told them upfront they could get 1 thing before we left. They were completely satisfied to pick out one thing. We got ours on our last evening at the Magic Kingdom. Totally did NOT have an issue with them wanting things. The little $1 trinkets they got daily, were sufficient. Probably wouldn’t even need to give them one daily.
12. Purchase the Memory Maker from DisneyWorld. This allows the Disney photographers to take your photos throughout the parks. This will allow you to enjoy many of the moments without having to battle your kids to stop and take a gazillion photos. Keep you enjoying the moment instead of digging in your camera case. And you can add fun characters and stickers to your prints!
13. Purchase the dining plan. We were lucky enough that Disney was offering FREE dining plans for the month of February. Score! But it was so nice NOT to have to fork out cash every time we wanted to eat or knowing that we were racking up a bill on our debit card. They just scan your wrist bands to deduct the meals. We got 1 quick serve meal, 1 sit down meal and 1 snack for every day we were at the parks. This was more than sufficient.
14. Reserve character dinners in advance. We spent 5 days at the parks so we had 5 sit down meals to plan with or without Disney characters. I recommend eating with the characters for sure. We planned this 2 months in advance and there were still some we couldn’t get. So, do this as soon as you book your trip at MyDisneyExperience.com. If you have a daughter, plan for the Princess Lunch at Epcot. My daughter loved it!
15. Pick one thing each day that you really want to do. The rest is then bonus. This helps to calm your spirits a bit and not try to do EVERYTHING at each park and feel overwhelmed. You got that one thing done…awesome. Walk slowly. Enjoy your time.
16. Sign up for the attraction Free Passes to help cut down with wait times. This was very helpful. Again, this is done on MyDisneyExperience.com. Very easy to do. You are allowed 3 per day for each family member. Sign up as soon as possible.
17. Bring snacks from home. We brought these in a separate suitcase, along with our prizes, blankets, rain ponchos, etc. These helped tremendously at this age when they are hungry every hour.
18. Take a backpack to the park. This kept all of our kids snacks, prizes, sweatshirts, sunscreen, hats, etc. Much easier than carrying around a diaper bag.
19. Buy the Hopper pass. I was hesitant about this one, but indeed it proved to be very beneficial. Like I said, we only went to Hollywood Studios and Epcot for half days, then went back to Magic Kingdom in the evenings. Very worthwhile, especially if you have character dinners planned at multiple parks.
20. Go to the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom. I am pretty set on my kids going to bed at their bedtime of 7:30pm, however, at Disneyworld, everything was changed up a bit. This parade is way worth it. Also, during the parade it’s a great time to hit up the rides you missed or ones your little ones want to ride again.
21. Download the My Disney Experience App on your smart phone. Very helpful to organize before and during your vacation. Also helpful to check wait times for attractions while at the parks. Cool technology.
22. Pre-plan your days at the parks. I used MyDisneyExperience.com to plan which parks we attended each day and I mapped out where all of the Free Pass attractions were. That way we had somewhat of a plan each day and weren’t just wandering aimlessly through the parks.
23. Stay on Disney property. If you are able, I highly recommend staying at one of the Disney hotels. There is something magical about the Disney atmosphere. There are a wide range of affordable hotels there. A place for everyone.
24. Go ahead and buy the toddler leash. Quit feeling guilty about putting your child on a leash. No they are not a dog, but do you realize how many people there are? Do you know how quickly those little little buggers can get away from you? Let them play with it beforehand and it won’t be an issue. Well worth the money. I bought mine from Amazon. It had a little backpack on it, so Cruz thought it was cool.
25. Lastly, and most importantly…HAVE FUN! Be flexible. Do not try to get it all done the first day. Nor do you need to hit every attraction in each park. Smile! Laugh! Be goofy. Let them blow milk bubbles, stay up late, eat chocolate! Enjoy this time! Although you may always be able to come back to Disney in the future, you will never have this time again when they are these ages.
We had so much fun. There are so many people with young children there and we all survived and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
So, there you have it!
ALL you need to know about Disney World with little ones!
If you have any suggestions that I may have missed please add to the comments! Also, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me.
Finding out I was having a daughter, I couldn’t wait to accessorize her with hair bows! And I made sure from the time she was born that she got used to wearing headbands and bows. With longer hair, we’ve now added ponytails and barrettes. And with all these accessories comes mass confusion.
How do I keep all her hair accessories organized?!
I have a cute Princess wall sign with ribbons to hold all of her bows. But the drawer with her ponytail holders, extra bows and barrettes has been a disaster.
So, one night as I stood there in the doorway staring at the giant mess while my kids were in the bathtub, I had a genius idea!
I’m currently in a mode of simplifying and minimizing my life. So, rather than going out to buy more organization junk I really don’t need, I decided to think outside the box…actually outside of the eggbox.
DIY Girl Hair Accessories Organizer
Needed: 2 egg cartons
1. Take 2 cardboard egg cartons and cut them in half. Any carton will do, I just prefer the cardboard over the Styrofoam. I also used a 12 and 18 count egg carton, but 2-3 dozen cartons would work as well.
2. The bottom part is used to separate all the hair ties by color and for organizing the small elastic bands and barrettes.
3. I used the top part of the carton to collect all the small bows or the ones that won’t hang on the ribbon.
It’s truly amazing how easy it was to do this and the best part…it was FREE and easy to keep it organized!
Bonus tip to organize your jewelry: Use the same type of egg box and organize earrings on the bottom and bracelets in the top half of the carton. Who knew egg cartons could be so versatile.
What other ways have you used everyday home items to keep yourself organized? Please share!
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Shield defined: As a noun, it’s a protective covering. As a verb, it means to hold back a thought or feeling about something.
God has been persistently reminding me to be quiet, to use less words. He has given me this verse to meditate on that last few days.
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.”
Paraphrased–A truly wise woman uses few words; a woman with understanding is even-tempered.
Women use a lot of words throughout their day. I would admit that if there were a range, I would probably be at the upper end of the curve. In kindergarten my report card said, “Alissa likes to talk”.
Ha! How perceptive of that teacher! I guess I’ve always felt if one word was good, then more words must be better. It’s only been recently that I am finally listening to the Lord’s wisdom in regards to my words.
2 Things God Is Teaching Me About My Words:
1. I must choose my words carefully. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Wisdom says ‘use less words’, speak slowly, be intentional.
2. I must not live in reaction to the words of others. This is where learning self control is imperative. Self control is such a broad, important fruit of the spirit. It means we are concerned with managing our own heart, not interested in controlling others. Because truthfully, that is impossible. But it IS possible to control ourselves. Self control gives us the ability to respond to situations as opposed to reacting to them.
I am a shield.
I am beginning to think of the shield of faith in Eph 6. A shield is a protective covering and the shield of faith protects us against the flaming arrows of the evil one.
We may or may not realize Satan attacks us daily. We read about it, we may even believe it, but as I read Ephesians this weekend, a new image came to mind.
Imagine walking about your day, in your home, at work, playing with your children, all the while being shot at with fiery darts. Most of us don’t even realize the destructive potential these arrows have upon our lives. Satan is freely shooting at us. And we have forgotten we have the greatest protection in our faith. It is our shield. Our faith in Jesus Christ helps us to stand firm, to resist and protect ourselves from the Enemy’s attacks.
But we fail to use it.
Instead, we give in to his lies.
Flaming arrows or fiery darts can be anything Satan uses to hurt us: anger, discouragement, jealousy, discontentment, unforgiveness, bitternessfear or any type of reaction in our sinful nature.
In relation to our words, the Lord showed me that Satan can use the words of others as flaming arrows to hurt me and my relationships. Especially in my closest relationships. Satan has NO interest in building my life, my marriage or my family. His goal is to destroy anything good, anything having to do with Jesus Christ.
He will do everything to make the truth of the gospel void in my life.
Words may leave my husband’s mouth with kindness and good intention. But somewhere between his mouth and my ears, something happens–they are set on fire by Satan himself, so by the time they reach me they are in fact flaming arrows intended by Satan to stir up strife. Instead, I perceive his words to be accusatory, hurtful or spiteful.
But no, Satan isn’t done yet. He set the flaming arrow into my heart, which in turn causes me to react. We react in many ways, our body language, eye rolling, walking away, but primarily, we react with our words.
Our words then, in turn, become flaming arrows shot in the direction from which they came. This isn’t just in our marriages, it’s with our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors. Thus, He has succeeded. A war has begun and we didn’t even realize it.
Satan is in the business of destroying. If we don’t use our words wisely, he will use them for his gain.
I, then, have a choice.
I am a shield.
I can put up my shield of faith to block these flaming arrows and choose not to react, not to let them hit me deep in my heart and soul. With my shield of faith, they will bounce off of me, leaving me unscathed, uninjured. Because once I’m hurt or injured, it’s so much easier then to hurt others.
My faith in Jesus Christ protects me. His covering over my life keeps me pure and righteous, and holy. Not because of anything I have done, but because of who He is. It’s a trust and complete resting in knowing that He is our shield. We need to do nothing but trust in Him.
I love how shield is defined as a verb: to hold back a thought or feeling about something.
I am a shield means to NOT react, to hold back.
So the next time you have this sudden urge to shoot a fiery dart at someone else’s words, remember…I AM A SHIELD.
Let the Enemy’s intentions to hurt you bounce off. Be self controlled through the Spirit of God and choose not to react.
Words can be powerful. But nothing matches the Power of Jesus Christ.
How would truly living this way, God’s way, transform your relationships?
I would love to hear from you. Let’s encourage one another!
A recurring theme in my life: I talk about doing things more than I actually do them.
Currently, I do this with prayer. It’s this ‘I need to pray more’ statement that keeps circling my thoughts but never seems to land. I know God is nudging me to focus on this spiritual discipline. But, I find myself distracted and challenged to invest the time.
And the more I think about needing to pray, the more I feel like I’ve actually prayed! It’s crazy! But, isn’t this true of so many things? How about exercise? We tell ourselves that we need to exercise so much that we convince our subconscious we’ve already done it. This is deception at it’s finest!
James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Ok, I get it. Quit talking about it. Just do it. Follow through. Be intentional. Plan. Live on purpose.
Every new year, we all begin with grandiose ambitions about what we want to accomplish, what we hope will happen throughout the year and how we wish to change. But more often than not, we quit halfway through.
Why is this?
Why is it that our greatest intentions become our biggest struggles or disappointments?
Here’s where I fall short. I try to “do it” in my own power. Whatever the “it” is; praying, eating healthy, serve more, speak kindly, love better, stop yelling at my kids.
But do you want to hear some AMAZING news? God never intended us to live a life of obedience in our own strength and power! Yay, God! He knew we’d fail. He knew we’d fall short-way short sometimes. He looked upon us with compassion and love and when he said he’ll never leave us or forsake us, he meant it! He knows I have great intentions, and a pitiful ‘follow through-er’. So, he knows I want to pray, he also knows I can’t do it in my own strength for very long. But at the end of me, is where His strength begins.
In Acts 1, the disciples were listening to Jesus after his resurrection. They had to be wondering, “Ok, what now?” They asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”(v. 6)
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Then he left them.
Acts 2 tells us that when Pentacost came they were all together in one place. With wind and fire…”All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
As the Spirit enabled them.
All we want to do or attempt to accomplish, as in the words of Solomon, are “meaningless” without God’s power.
I certainly am not saying that making plans and striving to achieve them is meaningless. Creating goals and plans is imperative for a well-lived life. However, much of my planning, doing, and striving are devoted to my own desires and wishes, not giving much effort into searching God’s will and plans for my life.
My verse for this year is Matt 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you.”
I tend to do the planning and thinking, before I do the seeking and praying.
Do you want to stop feeling powerless to change your life and see lasting transformation? Do you want peace and a rest from your striving?
God is showing me I am lacking in two of the most important spiritual disciplines: prayer and meditation.
2 Powerful Ways To Change Your Life
- Prayer. Prayer is nothing more than communication with God. It was meant to be an ongoing conversation. However, much of the time, I’m the only one talking. I tend to use way to many words. The Bible instructs us to ‘pray without ceasing’. I see this as a daily humble dependence on God’s grace.
What is God telling me? Stop talking. Use less words. Less of everything-really. Strip away all that is unnecessary. Listen for the whisper of God’s voice. Away from all the distractions. Talking to God is important, but so is being quiet.
In Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
- Meditation. To think intently and at length on God’s word. I read the Bible. Probably more inconsistently than I’d like. I know it’s important to memorize scripture. But I’ve never put forth much effort into it. For me, it’s always… “somewhere in Ephesians I think it says something like this.” Not exactly what God had in mind.
In Old Testament times they didn’t have the written word. It was ALL memorized! So what’s the difference today? My mind is too full, too cluttered. So, how can I give my mind a rest? Fill it with the words and messages of God.
Isa 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
What is God telling me? If you want change, peace and a mental rest, meditate on my word. Pick a verse a week to memorize and believe. Stop reading everything else right now and read the Bible only. Oh…I’ve been battling this one.
I love to read but I need to love to read God’s word more. I’m not telling YOU to stop reading. And I sure hope God isn’t telling me to stop reading books. But for now, it’s about emptying my mind of all the unnecessary clutter and filling it with His truth and peace.
Through prayer and meditation we unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for it!
Joshua 1:8 (NLT) “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written inn it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Motherhood is a full time job. We all know this. It’s 24/7. 365 days a year. We don’t even get a “sick day”. We are the mama. We wear many hats, and wash, clean and organize every one of them. We have numerous responsibilities and countless sacrifices. My job description is similar to most of yours. The exact situations will vary, but raising children is cross generational. I love how MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) puts it:
We are raising the world together.
Every mother has an enormous impact on the future generation. Our children will be tomorrow’s life-changers. At least, that is certainly how I want to see my children–world changers. I want my children to live so differently that the world pauses and takes notice. Envisioning our children’s future is awesome and scary at the same time. And so very important.
We live today what we plan for tomorrow.
But, honestly, today I was just plain selfish, and irritated and tired. Period. I didn’t see my sweet cherubs as life changers, I saw them as little turkeys who were just plain driving me to need a long bath (that I would take if we weren’t in stage 5 drought restrictions). And yes, as a mom of 3 preschoolers, I have many days like this. I have many great days as well, but too often I find myself sitting in a place of complaint and frustration and self pity. That place that says, “This is really hard. And I’m failing at this. And I need to change their behaviors. And I can’t ever get ahead of their mess.” Yes, those days. Please tell me you have them, too.
It’s on these days, in these moments, however, that God-if I choose to listen-can speak most dearly to my heart. It’s days like today when His love surrounds me and redirects my focus back to Him. In the midst of my selfishness, my discontent and my crummy attitude, he extends His grace to me. He reminds me that being a mother is my job, my first priority. For me, it’s a beautiful life I longed for and chose with excitement and ambition. But somewhere along the way, I can lose my focus. I get caught up in me instead of God. Instead of my children, my husband, my family. I have been praying Romans 12:2,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This is my life verse for Living Differently. But specifically this morning, I focused on the -renewing of your mind-part. I will share with you how God renewed my mind on a late afternoon walk with my children.
10 Questions To Renew Your Mind As A Mother
1. Do I see my children’s ages as a season to get through or as a time to be treasured?
2. Am I dealing with my preschoolers behaviors or am I loving them?
3. Do I yell and roll my eyes in frustration or do I smile with joy?
4. Are my children an interference or a blessing?
5. Am I angry and resentful or am I grateful and content?
6. Are they in my way or my way of life?
7. Are they distracting my focus or are they my focus?
8. Are they irritating or inspiring?
9. Do I discourage their “why’s” or do I encourage their questions of life?
10. Do I look forward to them sleeping or enjoy them while they’re awake?
Yes, it’s truth to admit that our lives as mothers will continually be an ongoing struggle between these varying attitudes. But as I spoke all of these into my phone on my walk, I felt the sharp pang of conviction. This, my friends, is the work of the Holy Spirit. My attitude needs renewing. My heart needs transforming – far more than my children’s normal childish behaviors. I am thankful for a God who reaches deep into my heart and painfully reveals who I am, but loves me enough not to leave me there.
If I want to live differently as a mom, I need to start thinking differently in my mind.
As a mom, how have YOU struggled between these differing attitudes?
Who doesn’t want their kids to have a strong character? I know I certainly do. But “hoping” they develop good character traits and being intentional with building these are two different things.
Last year I began focusing on one character trait per month. There are so many character qualities I want them to have and it just seemed overwhelming to focus on ALL of them at the same time. So, breaking them down into monthly bite-size pieces just seemed to make sense to me.
I choose one character trait and one verse per month.
For example, this month’s word is ATTENTION. Our verse is Proverbs 4:20-21:
“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”
I repeat this verse at least once a day for them to hear it and hopefully memorize it (mostly the 2 older ones). As we go about our day, I will remind them often that God is asking them to pay ATTENTION to mommy. We talk about paying attention with our eyes, our mouths, our ears and our hearts. We played a game today on the swings where I was not listening to them, or looking at them and they had to tell me whether or not I was paying attention. They were laughing and having fun. I try to incorporate this mostly in our normal daily activities.
Honestly, many times, it doesn’t seem they are even listening to me. (Toddlers and preschoolers tend to be great at tuning us out!) But, then at some random point, Gavin will repeat what I’ve said or Annabella will repeat the verse with me and I’ll remember that they are absorbing it. Repetition is key with little ones! But then again, as God reminds me, repetition is key for me to learn as well!
And yes, there are days when I don’t even talk about our character habit. We get busy and life happens and I forget. I am learning God’s grace is sufficient. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. Moving forward. Staying in the game. Trusting God.
12 Character Traits I Want to Build in My Children This Year
1. January: Trust.
Proverbs 3: 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”
2. February: Love.
Matt 22: 37-38 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
3. March: Attention.
Proverbs 4: 20-21 “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”
4. April: Obedience.
Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (We did this one last year as well! At my children’s ages, I feel this is worth repeating!)
5. May: Thankfulness.
1 Thes 5: 16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
6. June: Courage
Deut 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
7. July: Forgiveness
Luke 6:37 “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
8. August: Self-control
1 Pet 4:7 “Be self controlled and alert.”
9. September: Joy
Proverbs 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” (Focusing on the importance of a smile) And repeating 1 Thes 5:16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
10. October: Usefulness
1 Timothy 5:10 “She is well known for her good deeds…helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”
11. November: Gentleness
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
12. December: Serving
Gal 5:13 “Serve one another humbly in love.”
Resources for Habit and Character Training:
I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I have more pins than I’ll ever do in my lifetime, but if I’m working on Thankfulness, for example, I will type in “teaching children thankfulness” and it can give me several ideas to implement that month. Pick a FEW ideas, and let the rest go. You can’t do them all!
Charlotte Mason, in Laying Down the Rails, recommends changing habits every 6-8 weeks. You might say, “Wow, that is only 6 habits per year!” But, if you consistently work on habits regularly, you will have instilled at least 60 strong character traits in your child in the course of their first 10 years. Remember, training our children in strong character isn’t a race…it’s a marathon, it’s a journey. We have 18 years to love on and train them. I feel developing their habits and their character is one of the most important aspects of our parenting and worth the extra attention.
There are SO many character traits to build in our children. Make your own list, be intentional and have fun! Let me know what you are working on this year!
Remember, Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Share how you have helped to build your child’s character! I would love to hear from you.
What is YOUR passion?
What is it that ignites your soul? Brings you to your happy place? Calms your senses?
We all have something that is calling to us….inviting us to accomplish, pursue, grab ahold of. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, that’s ok! But God has given each of us a talent, a gift, a “bent” towards something. That helps define and create the person He intended us to become. Something that will bring glory and honor to Him.
My passion…is reading and writing.
Honestly, both are things I’ve always enjoyed. I will usually have about 4-5 books going at the same time alongside my regular Bible reading. I absolutely adore sitting with a book, some coffee, or a very occasional glass of red wine. I would say I mostly read Christian nonfiction, but currently I’m reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
With 3 children keeping me pretty busy during the day, my time to read is at bedtime after everyone is settled in and the house is quiet. To my fault, I can stay up way past my bedtime just absorbing information and knowledge. Ah…
So, where did the writing come in? Well, it’s been there all along, but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve listened to God’s nudge to begin letting others read what is on my heart. Since a very small girl, I’ve kept a journal.
Yes, you can imagine some of those early entries in elementary school …the dreams and aspirations of a child. There are precious memories that go along with all those many journals stuffed away in a box in the store room.
Memories are one of our most treasured gifts. Through my journal writing and taking photos, this has been my way of recording these cherished moments in my life. So naturally, I have discovered blogging to be an amazing way to record my life, my memories, the moments that truly matter and to communicate to others how God is transforming my life!
When I first found Christ, 13 years ago, the Lord ignited a small spark in my heart to write a book. Of course…someday. Maybe when I was older, had experienced more, had more to write, and had much more wisdom. I had no idea that small spark would continue to grow and burn deep within my soul.
And here I am. Thirteen years later, and that spark is now a flame. Burning. Waiting to get out. I believe God has created me with a voice to share His heart through my writing. And yet, it is fear that has kept me quiet. Kept me from pursuing this dream, this passion, this nudge from God.
Instead I have chosen to believe the lies.
“Who am I?”
“I really don’t know how to write.”
“Who would read it?”
“What makes what I say important?”
“There are way better writers out there.”
I spent almost a year pursuing this dream. Going to conferences, reading, starting a blog, networking with other writers/bloggers.
In July 2014 I went to the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference in North Carolina. What an amazing conference and a wealth of information and encouragement! And yet, after coming home from there and meeting a plethora of other like-minded women and speakers and writers, rather than jumping head first into this dream, I became paralyzed with fear. That question of “who am I?” has caused me to runaway from my dream, just like Job did from Ninevah.
Fear turns you away from the direction God is calling you.
Fear kills a dream.
But God is the God of resurrection. Of bringing back to life that which has died. I felt like everything I was pursuing was maybe not worth it. That maybe I had heard God wrong. Maybe I wasn’t meant to write.
But God, in his great love, has reminded me that I am His. He has called me to use my voice. For His glory. When I am weak, He is strong. What He has began, He will bring to completion.
Well, although I still struggle with fear, especially that “of not being enough”, through Christ, I’m gaining the courage to try. Courage to embark on a journey God began in my heart many years ago. Courage to fulfill a dream that has been pushed aside. Courage to believe in myself. Courage to trust God and His plans for me and for my life.
I still play the “what if” game. But I’m learning to play it out God’s way.
What if no one reads what I have to say?
But, what if they do?
What if I never write a book?
But, what if I do?
What if pursuing my writing/blogging has nothing to do with anyone but God and my relationship with Him and my obedience and my trusting in who He is?
What if the courage it takes for me to begin writing, to pursue my passion is imperative to teach my children to pursue their own?
What if having courage and faith in the face of fear, is exactly what God is calling me out from? A life of freedom from fear. Free from things, from expectations, from the world!
Freedom to live an abundant life!
Pursuing writing is not as much about the writing as it is about pursuing the deep well of passion the Lord has placed in the depths of my heart. It’s about being obedient to the call of God on my life. It’s about saying YES to God…going to Ninevah, even though I’m afraid.
All of this….all of life is truly about God.
Pursuing a God who loves us abundantly and whose love will cast out ALL fear.
And who loves us enough to never give up on us, never let go of us and draw us to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life.
So, this is my heart. I have been afraid for too long. Fearful of the ‘what if’s’.
Today, I will write. To God. From my heart. Giving all glory and honor to the Creator himself for the memories he has created and will continue to create in my life. For the passion he’s given me in my heart.
To help push through my fears, I have challenged myself to this:
START WRITING–without worry of a picture, a photo, without judgment of myself, comparison to other bloggers or worrying about who will read my blog.
Pursuing the call of Christ has never been about me. It’s all about Him.
Here goes everything…!!!
What is YOUR passion? What is keeping you from pursuing the call God has given to you? What challenge do you need to give yourself to be obedient to this?
Oh, it’s good to be back!
Where have I been, you may ask?
Well, I’m not really sure, honestly. Busy. Unfortunately. Too busy.
But, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed writing. Just sharing my thoughts. I’ve missed pursuing God’s calling on my life. I’ve missed sharing what God is teaching me, what He is changing within my heart. I’ve been too busy. Too busy to write, but even worse, too busy to listen.
I’ve been busy being a mommy. A wife. Playing, cooking, teaching, leading, organizing, preparing, cleaning. You know…mommy stuff. Important stuff.
But, busyness is just an excuse for not seeking the One thing that should be most important.
I’ve come to this place just recently where God has been whispering to my heart:
Turn your focus to Me
My perspectives are changing.
I have been striving, self-focused, trying so hard to be “better”, more organized…dare I say to be the “prefect” mom.
Does she exist? No. Never.
But in my mind she haunts me. The harder I try and then “fail”, she reminds me that I’m not enough, I’m not “her”, I’m not ever going to keep my house organized, I don’t laugh enough or play enough with my children, I don’t serve enough. I fall short in her eyes. Always. She brings out my ugly, my comparing tendencies, my heartache and insecurities. She reminds me of who I am not.
So, I keep striving. Keep trying harder. Until now, recently, I have heard it within my soul, that longing that there is more than this, that I am missing something.
God is whispering to my heart.
Do I hear Him? Am I pausing long enough to recognize his voice. He’s beckoning me to be still and know Him. Love Him. Trust Him. Believe Him. Rest in Him.
Just Stop Striving
My life is consumed with so many moments that don’t matter. Yes, managing life is necessary, but should never be consuming. No…life is about God, loving God, loving my family, loving His people-those all important relationships in my life.
The more I have struggled to find organization, peace, to “get it together”, the more my life has spun out of control.
I have been looking for peace. When all the while, I have Peace living within me. Whispering my name. Waiting for me to respond, to believe.
Too consumed with myself and my lists, I’ve missed it. And in truth I know life isn’t about me. But, unfortunately, my life speaks differently. It’s about God. It’s about filling my exhausted, weary soul with His spirit, his breath of life.
I’m sitting outside right now listening to those ever present night-time noises, gazing at a magnificent, glowing, serene full moon.
These are the words a weary soul longs to hear, to experience, to believe in.
I am so small. God is so BIG! So…well, everything.
I am not.
Lord, help me to see my place in your story, your kingdom, your plans. Forgive me for making my plans and then trying to include you, rather than trusting in You to create the plan for my life. Let me seek you. Always. I will find ways to go around you. Sadly. To busy myself…again. Please remind me of who You are Lord…again and again.
Busyness sucks the life out of me.
Say No to the Unnecessary
Say Yes to God
And to those things that fill my soul with joy and bring a smile to my face…
- Being with my children
- Connecting with my husband
- Investing in my family
- Building friendships
- Encouraging women
- Reading God’s word
- Reading books that I love
- Writing words that inspire
- Listening to relaxing music
Seek what your soul has been desiring my dear friend.
He is there. Waiting to embrace you and fill your weary hearts with an overflowing love. But you will have to pause long enough to hear his gentle whisper.
He is there. Close your eyes. Breath deeply. Rest. Your mind, your body, your soul.
Don’t miss this moment. Don’t replace it with an insignificant one.
Do you feel it? The deep inner whisper inviting you to Rest…to slow down?
What is your soul longing for?
Don’t miss it. Especially this season. Especially now. Especially today.
Have courage to REST, to breathe, to say NO, to just “be”, to simplify, to say yes to those things that are important.
Today, I am seeking REST. Please say you will too! Let us leave a legacy that brings peace to others’ weary souls.
Lord, let us mamas make every effort to enter the REST you have called us to. Give us wisdom and guidance, perspective and truth. Help us this Christmas Season to be UN-busy. To stop and smile. To look at our children with wonderment and adoration. Help us to model kindness and generosity to our children. Isn’t that more important than the presents, the shopping, the cultural Christmas norms? To build their character, OUR character? Help us to be intentional with our lives-every minute of every day. Let us not waste what we have been given. May we seek YOU and to glorify you in all we say and do. And let us NEVER forget the Son you sent for us to save us from ourselves. To give us grace and mercy where we need it most and to give us everlasting life with YOU. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough. But, may our humble hearts serve you this season with a heart of joy and gratitude. Amen.
Hebrews 4:11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
Please share how you are seeking REST in your lives today!