Are You Praising Her?

Are You Praising Her?

“Her children praise her…” –Proverbs 31:28 (CEV).

Even though I have a multitude of conveniences most of us consider necessities, I occasionally enjoy washing dishes by hand. I didn’t buy my first dishwasher until my second son was born in 1981.

My generation was raised to believe women did all the housework. Times have changed. My generation had mothers who were stay-at-home moms. Most of us came home from school to homemade snacks followed by a made-from-scratch dinner.

My mother seldom bought store-bought cookies, and although T.V. dinners debuted the year I was born, they weren’t a regular staple on our kitchen table. Pre-made or convenience meals were almost unheard of during that time. Eating out was a luxury and fast food was a rare treat.

Because dishwashers weren’t commonplace in households until the 1970s, my sister and I learned to wash and dry dishes without the advantage of a machine. I can recall our mother inspecting the dishes to make sure we had properly cleaned all food residues from the interior and exterior of each one. If we overlooked any remnants, she would promptly return the dish to the sink for another scouring.

While I’m sure my sister and I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my mother’s desire to teach us to do a good job and take pride in whatever we did carried over to other areas of our lives. Instilling responsibility in her daughters meant we completed a list of chores posted on the refrigerator every Saturday morning before we went out to play.

Even though we didn’t have the conveniences now taken for granted, I think life was much simpler back then. The days of hand washing and drying dishes, preparing healthy food at home and hanging clothes on an outdoor line to dry had some benefits.

I contemplated this recently as I washed and dried a sink piled high with dirty dishes. I hadn’t started my full dishwasher yet. Busy with activities that had kept me on the run, I knew my mother, if she were alive, would have lectured me about the mess. However, I found solace in the simple task of putting my hands in the soapy water, scrubbing and rubbing until each dish and piece of silverware was clean.

Another word for solace is peace. After hectic days of rushing from one activity to another, I found comfort in a simple task requiring no thought, no conversation and no planning.

During that peace-filled time, my thoughts turned to my Creator who knit me together in my mother’s womb. Letting His peace settle around me like a blanket of love, I thanked Him for a mother who taught me the value of responsibility and doing my best.

After my mother died in July 2004, my sister and I discussed those things she had taught us. More than a homemaker who cooked from scratch and made all of our clothes, she taught us organizational skills and instilled in us a work ethic remaining today.

My mother also modeled compassion. Whether it was home-baked food or a kind word, she reached out to others in need. She instilled in her daughters a legacy that only love can buy.

As Mother’s Day approaches, consider the following anonymous quote: “No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you—life.”

Are you praising her?

Carol Round

Check out the author’s website at www.carolaround.com.

Leave your comments for us on our Facebook page.

 

Do You Have the Right Vision For Your Life?

Do You Have the Right Vision for Your Life?

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. “-Proverbs 29:18.

Last year I had dinner with a homeless man at McDonalds. After we got past the small talk he started to open up about his life. Although he’d been on the streets since he was 14 and was now 29, he was trying to figure out how to get some income.  He told me how important it is to have goals. Today he was just trying to survive; tomorrow he hoped he could get a job and afford a nice clean place to live. Though he was at his lowest point in life, he still had a vision.

I’m also currently reading Arthur Brooks’ “The Conservative Heart” which does an excellent job explaining why it is better to allow people the room to pick themselves up. In his book he tells stories of several homeless men and women, criminals, and drug abusers who found self-respect by being given a job -even cleaning the streets of New York City. For the first time in their lives they not only made a little money, but they helped people and were creating their own future.

These two stories remind me of the Bible verse in proverbs “Without vision, men perish.”  Without vision many of these men and women mentioned above probably would have perished, either a physical death, but perhaps one of character, or spiritual too.

I’ve always seen the importance of setting goals for my own life; I like to create really small, manageable goals, broken down so they are easier to accomplish.

For instance, this year my goal is to be “healthy-ish.” Who’s with me? I’ve both not cared about my health at all, and been unhealthily obsessed with my health. This year I am striking somewhere in the middle: trying to be a little healthier, but also refusing to feel guilty if I make chocolate chip cookies after a long day.

I also have more lofty goals: This year I’d like to make headway with my writing, although I’m not sure how yet. I’m still praying through what that may look like while doing research on my own about writing opportunities.

Lastly, my goal is for a changed heart. I want to be the type of woman who wants to mentor other women, and will rejoice in their successes. This hasn’t always been the case with me as I’ve struggled to compare myself to more successful women. I also want to learn to be a more hospitable person by opening up my home more and being more generous with my time and money.

These are my visions.
For the vast majority of us, myself included, I’ve used the above verse in Proverbs – coupled with stories about people succeeding – to show that as women we just need a vision to feel contentment. We need the NEXT BIG THING:  The next job where we’ll finally show off our skills; the next haircut that everyone will want to copy; the next diet plan that makes us feel fabulous; the next move to an exciting city.
But you know what? While these “visions” will only bring us temporary happiness and satisfaction. And then – you guessed it – we’re looking for the next big thing again.
I don’t know about you, but I want lasting visions. I want results that bring me joy – not just temporary happiness. I want visions that have eternal and heavenly consequences – not just ones that affect today.
Let’s now look at the verse from a different translation, the Good News translation:
18 A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order. Happy are those who keep God’s law!
No matter what translation you look up, it’s pretty clear that vision is not supposed to be our vision, but God’s.  It’s His vision for our lives.  Now let’s read the verse that way and make it personal.
Sarah [Insert your name here] will PERISH without God’s guidance and Word. BUT…. if she keeps His law and follows His ways, she will be happy!
Now that’s a quote to hang on your mirror.
But remember – either we die because we’re following our own visions, or we live in happiness because we follow God’s.
Go ahead and try to eat healthier, learn to be more confident at work, start your own business, or even sleep more this year – these are good goals.  But don’t obsess over them. Instead, let’s ask God to plant His desires in our heart. Let’s also ask ourselves how we can glorify God in our work, relationships, health and even thoughts, instead of how we can “boost” ourselves.
Will you join me? If so, I think you’ll find the other “visions” falling into place without all the straining, stressing and sighing.
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Read more from Sarah @PrettySimpleIdeascom
Are you seeking God’s vision for your life?  Leave us a comment on our Facebook page

4 Ways to Stand Firm

stand firm

I love to wake up early in the morning to enjoy the quiet peacefulness of a new day with my Father. After breakfast, I slip on my shoes, grab my Bible verses and take a prayer walk.

One morning the sky was filled with dark heavy clouds.

I glanced at the sky and decided to take a chance. While I was saying my verses, I kept a watchful eye on the sky. About half way through the rain began to fall. A few yards ahead, I saw a dry spot in the road; the overhanging trees offered a little protection from the rain. I hurried to the dry spot and waited. As the rain poured down I thanked God for keeping me dry in my sheltered spot.

I was tempted, as the rain became particularly heavy, to leave my dry haven and dash for home. After weighing my choices—dashing or waiting—I decided to wait. After all, I was barely even wet despite the downpour. While I was passing the time, I could sense God had a lesson for me.

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.”

Proverbs 10:25

As of late, my life has been a little turbulent and unpredictable. Usually my first reaction to trouble has been to run from it as quickly as possible.

I’ve spent my life running. From conflict. From fear. From change. From criticism. I’ve been a runner.

But God wants me to stand firm, to quit running and trust He will work all things for my good. Instead of running from the storms of life, He wants me to stand firm in the shelter of His presence. When I am under His cover the only things that can come to me are things He allows. In His presence I am in the storm but protected from the storm.

As the rain poured down and I stood firm,

I heard my Father whisper in my soul, The danger is not in the storm but in the running. Stand firm.

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25

In the storms of life, God deals with the wicked and takes care of the righteous. Forever.

4 Ways to Stand Firm

1. Change your self-talk. Instead of rehearsing over and over how you will fail, fall or disappoint God, talk about how He is helping, strengthening, and leading you.

2. Memorize scripture. Memorizing scripture will subdue your enemies, your fears and will help you with your self-talk. Speak scripture into your circumstances. Replace the lies of your own self-talk or lies of the enemy with scripture.

3. Replace worry with prayer. Every time a worry or fear pops into your head, change it to a prayer. Ask others to pray for your to stand firm. Make your prayers more powerful by filling them with scripture.

4. Go forward. Walk by faith. Make no decision based on fear. Think of a person whose faith you greatly admire. Ask yourself What would so-and-so do? and do it. God did not bring this challenge to you so you would fail. And if you do falter, get up and try again.

Stand Firm.

Mary Kane

Visit Mary @onlybyprayer.com

Leave a comment on our Facebook page

Dear Tired Mom: You Are Not a Lost Cause

mom

One of my favorite moments in movies is the epic speech belted out by a commander, leader or king to rally the troops before battle. It’s not very girly of me, but in those moments, I’m so filled with zeal that I want to pick up a mace and charge through the TV screen.

Thankfully, this hasn’t actually happened yet.

Battles look very differently on the big screen than the ones in my own heart and mind. I often think, “I’m just tired. Once the kids start sleeping through the night again, I’ll be fine.”

However, when I started feeling symptoms of depression attempt to grip my heart a few months ago, I realized I needed more than sleep and caffeine.

Sometimes, I could really use someone to rally me with one of those “You can do this” monologues as I try to quiet the self-doubt and mom guilt that washes over me throughout my week. Sometimes, it’s fatigue or falling behind on the housework or going to someone’s house that makes my three bedroom rental look like a walk-in closet.

One particularly exhausting morning, I failed to peel myself out of bed when my alarm went off, so I missed an hour of writing before my two children woke up. I knew I missed my creative window AGAIN, so I sat down with a bowl of Mini-Wheats and opened my Bible to the book of Proverbs.

I just love Proverbs. It’s like a book of multivitamins for the soul, applying to every aspect of my life, from faith to marriage to finances. Sometimes the vitamins hit me like shots from a paintball gun. Other times, like this particular morning, a single verse will quietly knock on the door of my heart and wait. Here is what it said:

“The horse is made ready for battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” – Proverbs 21:31 NIV

When I feel the most like a failure as an adult or a mother or a career woman or a Christian, it’s typically in a tiny moment that pokes a hole in my energy tank. It’s an unfinished project that mocks me in the corner of my living room or not hitting my daily word count or not receiving many words of encouragement or much help around the house from my busy husband.

Then, I think about that proverb and realize that the victory rests with God.

Ladies, we still have a role to play in this battle for our joy, but we’re never alone. I can’t help but picture God crying out to us like William Wallace standing before his fellow Scots, imploring them not to give up.

We can fight Satan the Deceiver as hard as we like, but only God is powerful enough to defeat him. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

But when did you honestly last resist the devil?

My pastor said something about this last Sunday that felt like a pitcher of water being tossed in my face. Total wake up call. He said:

“If you’re not resisting, the devil’s not fleeing.”

Satan never calls us up and warns us that he’s bringing his best legion of demons to attack our confidence and self-worth next Tuesday. The Bible says he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).

How do we fight that?

Well, I don’t know about you, but Satan really likes to use the voice in my head against me. It’s like Simon Cowell, judging my every thought, decision, conversation, and, dare I say it, dream. There’s not even a British accent to make it sound interesting. Jon Acuff put it best when he said the “voice in his head never has anything good to say about him.”

Truth, Jon. Truth.

Face that truth. Wrestle it to the ground. Once I was able to understand that, I started to rise up from it like Bruce Wayne overcoming his fear of bats by standing up and stretching out his arms while they screeched around his head in Batman Begins.

(I know I keep bringing up guy movies since I grew up with all brothers, but I couldn’t figure out how to work in a quote from Downton Abbey or Pride & Prejudice. Maybe next time.)

Watch for the quiet moments when your inner voice settles in. You’ll know it when you’ve started telling yourself the lies again.

I don’t deserve help.

I signed up for motherhood, so why should I complain?

None of my friends are struggling like this.

Remember:

  1. The voice in your head has nothing good to say to you.
  2. The voice in your head lies.
  3. Your voice is heard by God.

Allow Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and giver of good words, to knock your socks off like she did mine recently:

“For the mom feeling weighed down by guilt and doubt at the end of the day: You have the exact qualities God knew your kids would need in a mother. So, when you get up tomorrow, hold up your willingness and ask God to make you the best version of you that you can possibly be.”

Moms, we can’t remain silent when we’re hurting. Nor can we sip our coffee and sit miserably by as the devil tries to rip apart our marriage, our family, and our strength. I’m learning this firsthand and passing it on to you. Look to God and ready yourself for battle, remembering always that the final victory rests (keyword RESTS) with the LORD.

Laura Harris

Visit Laura @PiggyBankDreams.com

and leave her a comment on our Facebook page