Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Surrender All

It's a new year.  Instead of resolutions I threw myself into working on multiple areas of my life.  Last year I tried to work on the same areas but tried to take baby steps in hopes of being successful.  This year it's all or nothing.  Things cannot continue the way they are.

For a little while now I've been struggling with anger issues.  I go from okay to raging like a flipped switch.  I say and do things I wholeheartedly regret.  I hurt those closest to me.  I've turned into the parent I never wanted to be.

Well this year I'm putting all that to an end.

I'm taking another step in my walk with God.  Last year I set a goal to read a chapter of my Bible every day.  I am happy to report I can count on one hand the number of days I missed or forgot.  This year I am continuing to read a chapter a day but I am also adding a chapter of Proverbs and Psalm a day as well as writing at least one verse from each chapter in a journal.  I'm so excited for the growth I know is to come.

I'm also working on truly surrendering every aspect of my life to God.  I've prayed things in the last few weeks that I never thought I would.  But I'm also feeling and sensing God in ways I never have before.  This life is not my own.  My children are not my own.  God is the Lord and creator of all and it is time to truly live that out in my day to day.  I am a masterpiece created by the most high God.  I have to stop taking his promises for granted.  I have to stop relying on my strength.  It will never be enough.  I am only as strong as my relationship to God.

In years past I've made a goal to read a book a month.  I have yet to succeed but I'm giving it another go.  Due to the anger issues I mentioned above and the desperation to change myself as a parent, the book I chose to read in January is Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids.  So far I love it.  Instead of focusing on the child(ren), it focuses on what you should be doing as a parent and how to work on yourself.  It's exactly what I need.  I'm only in the first chapter and I already, with God's guidance and conviction, feel so empowered.

I got to chat with Emberlynn today and have given her permission to call me out if I start to yell or get physical with her.  I'm using the Orange Rhino Challenge as inspiration and that will be our safe word.  When I start to loose it, she is allowed to say Orange Rhino to me.  I can already tell there will be some adjusting.  We talked about how I'm no longer allowed to yell at her, smack her hand or spank her.  Those moments are times she needs to remind me Orange Rhino.  She's pushing to have time out prohibited as well.  For now it stays.  I will also be making a sticker chart.  Instead of it being a behavior chart for the kids, it will be a behavior chart for me.  If I do well at controlling my emotions for that day then I get a sticker.  The twist?  Emberlynn (and Zoe as she gets older) gets to decide if I've earned a sticker for that day.  I realize I must sound crazy.  Why would I give my child that kind of control over me?  It is an idea the book presents and for me it was instant love.  I do not believe my role as a parent is a dictatorship.  My children are not mine to control.  They were given to me as a gift.  I am responsible for being a vessel of God's love to them.  God does not beat us into submission.  He allows us to explore the full realm of our free will.  I am responsible for keeping my children safe, to ensure they feel loved and respected, and to let God guide their steps.  He created their individual purpose long before they began to grow inside me.  I do not want to get in His way.  As far as giving my children control, I don't believe I am.  Who is a better judge of if I am being a respectful parent than my children?  I'm simply giving them the say in their own lives that they need.  If they can't communicate to me when I am hurting them, emotionally or physically, how will they learn to communicate that to future friends or boyfriends?  I want them to feel secure in themselves enough to stick up for themselves when they are being mistreated, even by me.

I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning.  Today I am surrendering all.  Tomorrow I move forward in my journey.  I will make mistakes.  There will be days that Emberlynn doesn't feel like I've earned a sticker.  Those days will be teaching moments for our family.  We will learn from them and move on.  We will trust that God is in control.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Mommy Porn"

Yes you read that right.  A babywearing group I am in recently had some turmoil regarding pictures of men babywearing being labeled as "mommy porn" or a turn on or other equally sexual labels.  The group was quite divided.  Some women saw no issue with the terminology.  They said that 'porn' is a widely used word that does not mean just pornographic pictures/videos.  Others took a stand that it was indeed wrong.  Such references and comments of a sexual nature have since been banned from use in the babywearing group but all week I've been thinking about it.

I see two major issues with labeling photos of men cleaning/cooking/babywearing (and any other activity that should just be mundane) as "mommy porn".

First it does in fact degrade men.  Women would never tolerate men talking about us that way.  Why should we expect our men to suck it up and take being treated as objects.  I would be furious if my husband were in a facebook group and posted a picture of me doing some sort of seemingly male activity (like taking out the trash or fixing or building something) and it was labeled as "daddy porn" and men ogled and commented vulgarly to the photo.  Although why do we never hear "daddy porn" in the same context that we hear "mommy porn"?  Because it's assumed daddies are looking at the real deal.  Regardless, I do not want a photo of my husband and/or children talked about in that manner.

Secondly, using the word porn in such a flippant way normalizes it.  It makes it seem like porn is in fact okay, healthy even.  Well I don't want my children growing up thinking that porn is normal.  I don't want my children using porn to judge their own sex lives or their worth.  I want them to value sex for what it is, a God given gift meant to bring a husband and wife together in a way unlike any other relationship.

I'm glad the issue was addressed within the group and is now not allowed.  I now won't be exposed to that kind of talk on a daily basis and I can enjoy all of the blessings of being a part of such a wonderful group of parents.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nashville Half Marathon 2014

Today I walked my first half marathon.  Yes all 13.1 miles.  I've received many "Good job"s and "I'm proud of you"s.  Each one makes me feel just a little lower.  I don't feel like today was a major accomplishment even though I know it was.  Seven long months went into training for today.  I proved I could set my mind to something and follow through.  I can be active and healthy.  I can set fitness goals and reach them.  I can do something all for me.

But all of that feels a little undone by watching others who were quick to admit they did not train, sail smoothly through.  Right now in the midst of the soreness I can't help but think to myself "What was the point?"  If all these people can just show up and do it why did I put so much hard work into it?  Why did I even do it at all?

Honestly I'm not sure races are for me.  I don't get caught up in the hype or adrenaline.  I don't find them super exciting or enjoyable.  Mostly I feel insecure.  Like I don't belong.  Instead of feeling like I belong to a team, I feel really quite alone at the start line.  Maybe it's because I feel like I'm still a newby.  I'm worried all these seasoned athletes will take one look at me and laugh.  I'm not comfortable in my skin when it comes to physical activity and exercise.

I have a long journey ahead of me.  Yes I plan to stay active and keep walking (although probably not 13 miles).  Yes I still have goals to reach.  I'm praying today will sink in and once the soreness is gone I will have an easier time accepting the praise.  Although by next month I'm sure no one will remember what I did today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reminders from God

Today God reminded me of a few things I need to work on if I want to truly fulfill His purpose for me.  I feel led to share them with you.

We are called to be a light to the world.  2 Timothy 1:11 says "And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News."  I have been called and placed exactly where I am for a divine reason.  I was called to work with our youth group to minister to and encourage our teenagers.  I can use my testimony to benefit them.  To be there for them and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.  I am also blessed to be a part of a military wife group called Combat Boot Divas.  This group allows me to meet other military wives which allows us to strengthen and encourage each other.  Even if a person upsets me, I must live out my call.  Allowing someone to shake me gives that person the power to interfere with my purpose.  No one should have that power but God.

I need to stop reacting poorly to anyone who upsets me.  Two verses from Matthew 5 give us clear instruction for how to handle opposing people.  Verse 28 says, "But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."  Verse 44 says, "But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!"  I should never even think about wishing anyone harm.  I should not desire for others to suffer.  It does not matter what they have done to me.  Instead we are told in James 1:2 "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."  I am supposed to rejoice at tests and trials.  I am supposed to remember how blessed I am to serve the Lord Almighty.  My God is bigger than any wrong done to me.  My Savior is greater than any insult or injury.  He heals, restores, calms and strengthens his children.

We are instructed very clearly to forgive those who wrong us.  Matthew 6:14-15 tells us "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."  I don't know about you but I cannot afford to not be forgiven.  I have done wrong.  I have wronged and hurt others.  Even if a person is constantly doing or saying hurtful things I must forgive each account and move on.  There are no exceptions.  There are no "well once they've wronged you X number of times you don't have to forgive them anymore."  If God were to allow us a limit on how many times we must forgive someone, He would have to limit how many times He forgives us.  Thankfully Lamentations 3:23 tells us "Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh every morning."  Once we have repented of a sin it is forgotten by God.  He does not keep it in his mental record to bring back up later.  He moves on like it never happened.  I believe we are called to forgive in this same way.

Not only are we called to reach the lost but we are meant to influence and strengthen other believers.  Proverbs 27:17 words it like this: "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."  If I'm not building up other believers then what am I doing?  Probably hindering their walk with the Lord.  I do not want to stand before my God on judgment day if I am not sharpening my spiritual brothers and sisters.  I have been blessed with so many uplifting people in my life.  Friends who inspire me, keep me accountable, encourage me, love me at my worst and accept me as the precious gift I am.  I should be constantly striving to be like that to those around me and so should you.

I believe each person we interact with has been placed in our path by God.  There are no coincidences.  I meet who I meet for a reason.  I may not always know the reason but that is irrelevant.  God's ability to work in me and through me does not depend on my own understanding which to be honest is a huge relief.  As I look around at all the people I interact with on a daily, weekly or monthly basis I can't help but feel overwhelmed.  The impact I can and should have on this world is far greater than I have ever realized.  From a passing "Have a blessed day" to the lifelong commitment to my husband and children, I am making a difference.  My prayer is that I am changing, shaping and encouraging those around me for the better.

I hope these messages from God can inspire you the way they have inspired me.  Right now, in the middle of the storm, nothing is better than feeling God's loving embrace.  I'm so blessed.