The Biggest Mistake Christians Make

biggestmistake

Recently, I have been struggling with feeling very discouraged about all the trending topics in social media and the news. I see posts and comments daily criticizing Christians for our faith. We are frequently villainized and our opinions are discounted simply because we claim to follow Christ. We are, rather ironically, called bigots by those who refuse to make an effort to understand our point of view. We are ridiculed, stereotyped, and called ignorant for our beliefs. We are accused of being hypocrites by people with a limited understanding of God’s word- even people who have convinced themselves they are experts on the topic.

But.

The part of all of this that really makes me feel a bit sick is that there is an element of truth to all of that. The body of believers has not been presenting as a unified front. Much damage has already been done to our witness. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sincerely understand what all that entails. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ live a life striving to be like Christ, as we’re commissioned to live.

All through school, I followed the rules and continually made an effort to please my teachers and personal sense of accomplishment by living up to set expectations as best I could. I know. I’m a nerd. I can’t help it. It’s my personality (and actually, I’m quite content being a nerd). I can think of many times in school and beyond, when a few other people made irresponsible decisions and lost privileges for the group as a whole. I always had trouble understanding how some people could act like they just don’t care how they represent others, or about how the consequences of their actions may affect more than only themselves.

Considering this thought from a more experienced point of view- maybe for some, it’s just that they don’t realize their behavior makes a difference for the whole. We all come from different histories with different learning experiences and different personalities. Most of us don’t even realize the impact we can have on those around us- but we all have one.

There are many different spiritual maturity levels among individuals claiming to belong to the Church. Some accepted Christ but never made an effort to mature, and some spent time in the world and with spiritual leadership but then made choices to live how they want to live. Still others strive daily to live a life pleasing to God. But as in many situations in life, a few people can ruin a good thing for the group. A portion of the group can destroy the reputation of the rest.

 

In our situation now, it seems like there are few Christians who truly live as Christ-models. Sure, we get the basics, but tend to justify things that shouldn’t be justified while looking over things that should be given attention.

So, now to what seems to me to be the biggest mistake made by Christians today:

We are not fulfilling the Great Commission.

The body as a whole has not been a living example of who God is. We’re not showing people what God’s love is about.

By recent history, the church overall has seemed to look the other way when faced with many sinful situations, even within the church itself. We’ve been so concerned with wanting to not offend others, to not make situations uncomfortable, to not lose church members, to not lose tithes, or to not be called out for our own poor decisions, that we hesitate. When we hesitate, we often decide to not respond at all.

Scripture tells us that if a fellow Christian is making sinful decisions and we know, we are to go to them and lovingly discuss the issue with them. If they do not listen, we are to take one or two from the church to discuss it again. Does that ever happen? Or do we look the other way so we don’t have anyone do the same to us?

Let’s face it. We are human. We are individuals who, by design, only see from our own perspectives. If we are striving for wisdom, we will make a strong effort to understand the experiences of others, but it does take effort. It doesn’t always come easily.

Because we are human, mistakes are easy to make. Maybe that’s why the Hebrews were instructed to not stop meeting together with other believers. Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote about the benefits and combined strength of like-minded friends in Christ.

Accountability.

Where is it?

We’ve become so timid about approaching fellow Christians about sinful, selfish behaviors that when we DO take a stand on a specific issue, we look like hypocrites.

Notice how that is in bold AND italics?

Perhaps this has something to do with the “don’t judge me or you’re a hypocrite!” mentality that seems to be floating around these days. Side note – is it REALLY judging if God has already proclaimed the judgment in advance? Anyway. That’s another topic…

But, what happened? I’ve heard before that if a frog is dropped into a pot before the water is heated to a boil, it will die before jumping out because the change is so gradual, it doesn’t recognize the threat until it is too late (ok, I don’t know that it is true, and I wouldn’t encourage trying it, but I intend it simply as an analogy).

Have we as a whole really been so comfortable in the water that we don’t snap out of it until something we find shocking happens?

Christians. Seriously. Are we handling “current” sins wisely? Lovingly? It’s easy to become defensive and not present ourselves in a very Christ-like way (especially from behind a keyboard).

We have been called to show others God’s love. Are we picking and choosing which sins to protest? Why are we not holding one another accountable? If we love one another, we need to do that. We need to lift each other up in prayer and offer encouragement. Is that happening as often as it is needed?

Pro 27:6 KJV Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

If we don’t love others and build a mutually respectful relationship with them, what on this earth makes us think they are going to suddenly repent or even try to see our point of view? If we are viewed as the hypocritical enemy, why would they want to listen?

We are not the enemy and we can’t act like we are. I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I am pleading for Christians to evaluate where we now stand from a different point of view. I have very intentionally left out the naming of any specific sins in the post. Sin is sin. Simply put, sin is choosing to do what we want over what God asks of us. Sin is being selfish.

So. Speaking to any Christians reading this, please allow me to be an accountability partner for you today.

Are you choosing what God asks of you over what YOU want? Or are you indulging in something God has guided you to leave behind you?

Be careful about where you put your energy. Stand firm in what Scripture says, but do it in Christ-like love, and in all things- not only the ones most uncomfortable for you. After all, the frog was comfortable too.

 

Keri

Maranomi – The New Normal

As we come to the end of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I wanted to share a post I wrote a few months after our baby girl went to Heaven in 2011.

 

After The Rainn

Saturday, August 27, 2011

 

The New Normal

There is no word for this. There is no word for this beautifully excruciating state of being, in which a parent has been separated from her child by death. There is no term to express the existence of a parent on earth while her child lives in Heaven. Why is that?

A person who has lost a spouse is a widow or widower. A child who has lost her parents is an orphan. They have terms to describe the change that took place in that moment of loss. They have terms to label their “new normal.”

I don’t.

I’ve thought quite a bit about the phrase “new normal,” as I have heard it referenced many times since we began this journey last December. I look back at what was once normal and it seems … young. In a way, it was like graduating from grade school and going directly into college. It’s a whole new level… a whole new normal. What was true then is still true now, but it’s so much deeper and more expansive. While I knew such a loss was possible, I had no way of fully knowing the impact of it until I experienced it for myself. I had no way of knowing the unique mixture of joy and sorrow, and peace in pain. It’s more than just being sad and missing someone.

The new normal is ever-changing. Who I was before is being continually re-defined. I don’t think there’s really a point when it is possible to say, “ok, I’ve moved on, I’m good now.” When a rock is thrown into a lake, the ripples continue after the initial impact. Maybe I should say, rather, when a rain drop hits a lake…

The new normal is an odd mix of anticipation and sorrow, with renewed purpose and utter exhaustion. The new normal is being surprised when tears suddenly spring up in my eyes at the most random reminders that she’s no longer with us on earth, yet feeling joy that she was my baby girl. As painful as it has been, I can’t make myself wish for the old normal. The old normal didn’t include my babies, and in the old normal, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of Heaven.

There should be a word for this.

If I were to choose or create a word to label this new normal, I’d want it to reflect how the experience is never truly over, but it is ever-changing and developing. I’d want it to reflect how a parent’s way of relating to others morphs into something different and the view of the world and its priorities shifts significantly. I’d want it to be clear that, although a sense of humor may still be present, there is a continual, unspoken somber air that clings to the parent of a child in Heaven. We’ve glimpsed the other side…. And the other side seems more real than this one.

A term to describe a parent who has lost a child would need to incorporate the idea of a challenge, a journey, and being broken. It would reflect a new character and a new’ way of relating to life.

I think of the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. After losing her husband and sons, Naomi returned to her former home. When the women there saw her, they said, “Can this be Naomi?”

 

“20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”” (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

Naomi, whose name meant “pleasant,” told them to no longer call her Naomi. She was different. She preferred to be called by a name that meant bitter. “Bittersweet” is a term I’ve found myself using frequently over the past months. We know God is working, even through the painful parts of the experience. I’m not sure how to take Naomi’s response. I hope she eventually found the joy in the sorrow, though I don’t get the impression from that brief passage that she had yet. I hope that when she saw her faithful daughter-in-law, and as she held her grandson, Obed, she felt the sweet that went along with the bitter.

Regardless of whether or not Naomi found the sweet with the bitter, it is evident that she was a changed woman. Loss does that. Painful life experiences open our eyes to deeper truths about our existence.  According to Paul, our sufferings produce perseverance, or the ability to keep on keeping on. (“ 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5)

            “We also glory in our sufferings.” Glory… as in magnificence, splendor, wonder, etc. … in our sufferings. The sufferings are part of the journey. It’s easy to become bitter at the sufferings… but then we miss out on the glory of them. Sufferings lead to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to HOPE. Thank God, we have that hope (‘cause wow, what a mess I’d be without it). I have hope because I know the story isn’t over. My identity is not bitterness alone.

Though I’m no longer who I once was, I’m not entirely bitter. There is some sweet in the mix. I’d rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. God gave us so much through her, and it has been bittersweet. I’m not a Mara… I’m a Mara-Naomi… a Maranomi.

 

Keri

The Traumatic Life of a Betta with a 3-Year-Old


Stephie189 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 B (the betta) escaped trauma a few nights ago because after giving my three-year-old his allergy medicine, he put it in his mouth, then bit off a piece and ran to B’s tank to drop it in and “feed” him. I couldn’t catch him quickly enough to stop him, but I rushed and got B out of the tank to empty and clean the tank.

Today, however, I joined Paxton in the living room after he’d been there a few minutes. Not immediately after, I turned around and noticed that the lid of the tank was standing upright and there was water all around the tank. I scrambled to get the lights on because that corner didn’t have window light like the rest of the room and was dark. When I looked back over, I couldn’t see B in the tank. “Where’s B???” Then I saw him. Poor little B was lying BESIDE the tank. I didn’t know how long he’d been there. I grabbed a piece of paper to try to scoop him up and put him back in the water, hoping it would be less likely to hurt him more… if he wasn’t already dead.

I admit; I was upset. With dismay in my voice (and probably a stronger reaction than I should have had), I said “Paxton!!!! You killed your fish!!!”

I know he’s three and curious, and I didn’t want to be too hard on him, but I wanted him to know how serious it was because I have told him many times to not open the lid of the tank or put his hands in.

For a moment, seeing the look on my face, I think he got it. His little eyes looked very sincere and solemn.

I asked if he thought we should pray for B and he said yes… so we prayed for his fish. Then, unprompted, he told B he was sorry.

I wonder how often we do things out of curiosity, knowing that we “shouldn’t,” but not fully understanding the implications of our actions. Spiritually, there is a maturing process that takes place too. Until you face the trials in life that are required to develop maturity, you don’t have the understanding our Father wants us to develop.

My little guy knows he’s been told not to open the fish tank, but he doesn’t have a full grasp on the concept of dying. He knows about Heaven and knows his sister lives there, but he’s still too little to fully understand what that really means.

“He’s okay,” he kept saying.

“I don’t know, buddy… I don’t know if he’s going to live or not.”

There are many instructions God gives us that we may not really understand WHY He gives them. If we are following His instructions and striving to live as He calls us to live, we will continue to grow and mature spiritually. Until we have that deeper understanding though, we just have to trust.

Trust that God has a reason for giving us the instructions He does. Trust that God loves us and His plans are out of that love. Trust that He’s not going to do things that will harm us in the big picture. Trust… and don’t traumatize the betta. Even if you don’t know WHY you’re not supposed to touch it the fact that He said to leave it alone is enough until you are mature enough to understand the why.

B tried a few times to swim up off the bottom of the tank, only succeeding in a crooked, awkward movement- at first. Within about 30 minutes, miraculously… he was swimming seemingly normally, eating, and acting like nothing had ever happened. The therapist in me wonders just how traumatized he is after today’s adventure out of the water!

 

James 1:2-5

New International Version (NIV)

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

Keri

How’s the Atmosphere?


kevin dooley / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

How would you describe the tone in your house? Is it relaxed? Tense? Anger-filled? Dark and depressed? Chaotic? Stressed? Peaceful? Do you and your family tip-toe around for fear of someone’s outburst?

Every household has an atmosphere. We may not always be fully aware of the atmosphere in our own homes because home is our comfort zone. Sometimes, though, our comfort zones are not very comfortable.

We’ve all been around people whose attitudes are contagious. Positive or negative, the people who surround us may be capable of setting the tone of our own mood if we allow them to do so. After a while, mood can become habitual. I’m sure you could probably think of people who are in the habit of being in a bad, negative mood, and you could probably also think of people who are in the habit of being optimistic and cheerful. Which are you?

If your atmosphere is draining you, maybe it’s time to work on it.

  • Call for a family meeting to discuss the atmosphere and ask for possible solutions. TALK about the issues everyone tries to avoid. if your family has difficulty doing this on your own, seek help from a professional counselor for your family. Misinterpretations, hurt feelings, etc. may cause tension in all families at one time or another. Remember that when issues are swept under the rug, they do not disappear; they only pile up and cause everyone to trip.
  • Monitor what you allow IN your home. TV shows, Movies, Video games – the themes matter! If you allow your home to be filled with violence, horror, disrespectful attitudes, etc., it may very well set the tone for you.
  • Make spiritual growth and family time top priorities, and learn to say “no” when it would be best for your priorities to do so.
  • Model a godly atmosphere by responding as lovingly as humanly possible in ALL situations (pray often!).

 

Philippians 4:8

New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

Keri

What do you expect?

Angoscia
Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

As a therapist, I have found myself on many occasions discussing some of the reasons why clients experience problematic symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger. Through those many discussions, it has become clear to me that such symptoms occur when there is a conflict in some area of our lives, and those conflicts occur when our expectations don’t meet up with reality. This kind of interference may be related to any area of wellness (such as emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc.).

Typically, it isn’t possible to change the reality of the conflict (we can’t make other people do what we think they should do, and we can’t make the world work how we think it ought to work). Acknowledging the fact that in reality, things don’t happen like we think they should can help us adjust our expectations and alleviate some of the conflict.

If we tell ourselves people should always be loving and kind, we will likely find ourselves indignant when we encounter situations in which people are not loving and kind. The reality is that we can’t make everyone be loving and kind. Though it would be wonderful, all people are not loving and kind. It would be preferable, but it is not realistic to expect such a thing to happen. The truth is, we live in a fallible world, surrounded by fallible people…like us.

With that all said, I’d like to encourage you to examine the expectations in your relationships. What do you expect of your loved ones? Do you expect your spouse to respond to difficult situations in the same manner you do? Do you expect your children to respond like miniature adults? Are your expectations realistic or idealistic?

It’s easy to get stuck on an idea of how we think things should be. Take, for example, fashion magazines. We’ve been so inundated by the images of flawless beauties that we strive to do what we can to attain the same characteristics. We’re pressured to diet, tan, dye, bleach, wax, paint, and cover. The reality is that the models are typically made up and photo-edited. It’s an illusion we’ve been bamboozled into perceiving as reality. In marriage, a husband may expect his wife to run the household like his mother did, or a wife may expect her husband to respond like the character in her favorite chick flick.

“Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

When you catch yourself expecting the unrealistic, challenge it with what you know to be true. “He should have known better!” Sometimes we just don’t know. “She should have had that done already.” She had a lot of things going on that required her attention. “I have to have it all finished tonight.” 20 years from now, your To-Do list for today isn’t going to matter- prioritize. “The kids should never misbehave.” Kids will test their boundaries, it’s how they learn.

Take time to just observe your families. Make an effort to examine your expectations of them. When you feel anxious, depressed, or angry, ask yourself if your expectations are realistic or if you need to make an adjustment. Satan is the father of lies, and will make any effort possible to distract you from what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Challenge the lies and focus on what you know to be true. Your loved ones will thank you!

Keri

1 Simple Tip for a Happier Household

SMiLE!
Toni Blay / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I was recently inspired to write an article about something that could make a quick difference to my readers. I spent some time thinking about something simple that anyone could do that would help increase peace and love in a home.

Then, I realized there was something I started doing that makes a world of difference for me. So, I knew what I wanted to share.

While what I am about to share is applied to life with children, the tip is not limited to interactions with children, so stick with me. I recently left my job in community mental health to stay home with my two boys rather than returning to work after maternity leave. My oldest son is almost 3 and is just about as strong-willed (or overly-determined, as I like to say) as they come. Some days, when the baby is screaming, and the 2-year-old is doing everything he can to get my attention back to him, it can be tough.

In those moments that I have to issue a consequence because of directions not being followed or because of disrespectful attitude, my sweet little boy can act pretty hateful. He tells me I’m mean (is that an innate reaction or something?? I don’t know where he got that!). He screams and cries. Most days it’s mild and short-lived, but regardless of how grumpy he gets with me during a tantrum, I’ve learned to do one thing.

Hug him.

It amazes me how, even when he is furiously mad at me because he’s not getting what he wants (I mean, seriously, wouldn’t you be upset if mommy wouldn’t let you pet the Betta?), he still responds to me when I hug him and tell him I love him.

“Yeah, you too, mommy.” All while still crying. Even so, he knows that when I say no, I mean it, AND that I love him even when he’s being grumpy with me.

So, my one simple tip for a happier household is this: 

Always Show Love. Especially when you are most frustrated.

Not only am I amazed when my screaming, tantrum-throwing child wraps his arms around me and lays his head on my shoulder, following my lead, I’m amazed at what a difference I feel. It helps me stay calmer.

To break it down, when you catch yourself feeling like you’re about to have a temper-tantrum/ break-down yourself (whether dealing with a child or adult):

1. Pray. Even better if you can invite the other person to pray with you. Praying as a first resort can help keep you more focused on being loving in any interaction.
2. Keep your voice tone as calm and loving as possible.
3. For the kids, get down to or below their eye-level.
4. Acknowledge how they may be feeling (ex. I’m so sorry you’re disappointed that you couldn’t do what you wanted. -Even children’s emotions are real and deserve to be respected, regardless of whether or not they make sense to adults.) and what they have been saying.
5. Hug him/her (if they will allow it).
6. Say sincerely, “I love you.” (if the kids are still mad and try to argue with you and tell you that you don’t love them… because they do things like that…. either refrain from commenting, or if you feel the need, simply repeat, “I Love You.” )
7. Remember, arguing in that moment will do nothing but escalate the situation. If there are behaviors that need to be addressed, try addressing them after the tantrum is done (unless they are in danger of hurting themselves, you/others, or property).

Yes. I am fully aware that it may sound cheesy or awkward (at first), but let me give you three good reasons why it can work.

  • Many arguments occur because the other person does not feel heard. Acknowledging what they are saying and how you think they may be feeling can help diffuse the situation and present an opportunity for any clarifications to be made.
  • Reminding your loved ones that you love them helps put things in perspective for both them and you.
  • It’s how God deals with us. Even when He tells us no, He will still comfort us and reassure us of His love. 

 

What ways have you all found to diffuse tense situations while showing love?

 

Keri

 

 

 

 

 

(**Please note: all articles here are written with the assumption that both parties in a relationship are making an effort to be loving. If you are in an abusive situation and do not feel safe, please seek outside help.)

The grass is always greener…

Pampa - Santa Fe, Argentina
Claudio.Ar / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The grass is always greener… in a well-manicured lawn. No, really, how do you think it became so green? It’s easy to look at other couples or families and think, “wow, they have it all together… they have the perfect life.” It’s just as easy to then look at your own life and compare the two. The problem is that this often leads to discontentment.

In reality, relationships take work. To work on a marriage takes self-sacrifice and a willingness to put your spouse first. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Healthy relationships with your children take work too. It’s tempting to want to be your little one’s best friend, when what they need is for you to be their parent.

As a therapist, I have had many people present their children for therapy and tell me, in one form or another, that their children have behavior problems and they won’t respond to parental correction. As the conversation progresses, however, the parents will begin to tell me of the inconsistencies in their own parenting techniques. They may know what needs to be done, but it doesn’t get done for various reasons. For example, I’ve been told many times that Time-Out doesn’t work because the children won’t stay in Time Out. I’ve also seen the same children respond very well to Time-Out when the parents consistently and calmly follow through. Initially, the children will kick, scream, flail, and try to bite, but eventually they will realize the parent is going to follow through and they will relinquish control to the parent. It can be heart wrenching to watch the process, knowing that the child is doing what he has learned to do to get his way (after all, we all have that selfish, sinful nature that strengthens if not checked), but doing your best to remain loving, patient, and calm while setting boundaries is important. Remember, you are modeling God’s love to your child!

When trying to make major changes, it always looks like it’s getting worse before it gets better, but in dealing with something like children’s behavioral problems, it’s important to know that if you make a big effort to be consistent and give up after an hour and a half of the child screaming and struggling with you (hello, exhaustion!), you’ve only wasted that much energy and your child will then be reaffirmed that if he fights hard enough and long enough, you’re going to give in. It is our responsibility to teach our children how to cope with their emotions (disappointment, frustration, etc.) rather than simply reacting to them.

When making changes in other relationships, whether with your spouse, a friend, family member, etc., It will also take a lot of work.

  • Practice controlling your tongue so you’re not throwing verbal jabs when your feelings get hurt.
  • Make it a concentrated effort to approach the other person lovingly when you feel like running away/avoiding any and all contact with them.
  • Set aside your own pride and hurt feelings to look for compassion that may help you better communicate with them. You don’t have to agree to have compassion!

So now we come back to the lawn. How much is it worth to you for your grass to be pretty and green? How much work are you willing to put into your relationships? It’s up to you, of course. You can’t have the results you want if it’s not important enough for you to put in the work.

 

Keri

 

 

 

TuesdaysButton[1]

Attention, Wives!

This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to review Darlene Schacht’s new book, The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth. Darlene is a New York Times Best Selling Author and the creator of The Time-Warp Wife blog.

The book, currently available for Kindle (and will be released in paperback soon) is an 18 part study designed to help women grow closer to God and closer to their husbands. Darlene begins by digging deeper into what it means to be virtuous, and establishing a better understanding of what virtues are. The next 17 lessons focus on specific virtues for readers to explore and strive toward in their own lives. Included are: Purity, Self-control, Love, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility, Faith, Forgiveness, Joy, Passion, Radiance, Encouragement, Balance, Goodness, Trustworthy, and Courage. Each lesson ends with a corresponding passage of scripture for further reading, prompts for journaling or small group discussion, and a virtue-driven prayer for personal growth.

Darlene’s transparent approach to sharing what God has done in her own life lends itself well to the informal nature of the study, setting a friendly, non-judgmental, and conversational tone. Her openness and honesty are refreshing and encourage the reader to be honest about her own areas of weakness and potential for growth.

As I read, I found the lessons to be very timely. With recent changes in my own family (including a new baby), I’m finding a new balance. Each day, I’m working to actively love my family more (sometimes this may simply look like me trying my hardest to keep my cool during a toddler meltdown!) and to be more diligent in my efforts as wife and mother while balancing all my responsibilities. The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife was both encouraging and inspirational for me. I hope many of you will also check it out and challenge yourselves to be more intentional in what God has called you to be in your marriage.

 

“I’d rather be a crown than a trophy wife; I’d rather have virtue than vogue.”
-Darlene Schacht

 

Keri

 

 

5 Reasons to Take Time for Your Family

take timeOne morning, when our oldest son was just 18 months old, my husband was running late (or at least later than he wanted to be) for work. He seemed stressed. As he was rushing past, our son lifted a book up to his daddy. “Pae?” (Please)

I watched as my husband stopped rushing and leaned over to Paxton, took the book, and calmly read it to him. I had one of those “I-think-I-just-fell-in-love-with-you-all-over-again” moments that I seem to have frequently.

I continue to see actions such as this on a regular basis, but in this particular incident, it was a short book and probably didn’t take a full minute. I’m sure it would have been easy for him to say, “not now buddy, I’ve got to go.” But he didn’t. He took a moment to demonstrate that our son is important to him.

It seems that all of us feel rushed from time to time. Unfortunately, families who always feel too rushed to take time for one another often begin to fall apart at the seams.

5 reasons to take time for your family

1. Stopping for even a moment to do something positive can help put your stressors in perspective and improve your attitude (read your child a story, tell your spouse your top 5 favorite things about him/her, and listen to your child’s long, rambling story/cheesy joke).
2. Taking time for your family reassures them that they are important to you, which will strengthen your relationships and you may be surprised at the response you get in return!
3. When you take time for your family and strengthen your relationship with your children, your discipline efforts are much more effective, leading to a more stable and secure household. (After all, discipline without relationship leads to rebellion!)
4. Taking time for your family, improving behavior management, and promoting a stable, secure household sets the tone for an improved, intimate marriage relationship and decreased stress.
5. Jobs come and go, but the best relationships last forever.

According to scripture, we were made in God’s image and God IS Love (1 John 4:8). Love is relational, and Love is unending. Our priority is to be a godly example to our families. If we are too busy to take time for them, we are not showing them love. Modeling God’s love to those around us (especially our families) is the most important thing we could possibly do on this earth!

 

Keri

God Our Father

2 Corinthians 1:2
“2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

God. Our Heavenly Father.

What does that mean to you? I know it’s a phrase we often use to describe God, because Scripture tells us that God is our Father… but what does that mean? To You?

Our perception of God when described as a parent can be heavily influenced by our earthly parents, or for many, the lack thereof.

Maybe your earthly father was never around, or when he was, he was harsh, unforgiving, and demanding. Or, maybe you had a kind and caring father. Regardless of what your father has meant to you, once we have a meaning attributed to a word, it’s as if that meaning becomes the glasses through which you view anything attached to the word.

What has your view of God been throughout your walk? God is not the harsh, legalistic, demanding father He is often made out to be. God is a Loving Father who gives us boundaries for our own good. He allows pain because He has a loving plan for us.

As a mom, I’ve had to allow my son to go through the pain of the shots at his regular well-child visits because I knew the vaccines were for his health. It broke my heart as he played and smiled, having no idea what was about to happen, but I gladly cuddled him while he cried and recovered from the ordeal. I picture God looking at us with sadness when we’re facing painful experiences in life – Because He’s a loving Father. I want my son to always know that if I allow something like that to happen, it’s because I love him.

I want my son to know that when I tell him “no”, and when I put him in Time-Out because he wasn’t listening, it is because I love him too much to give him the control he’s not mature enough to have. I want him to know that even when he’s not happy about the decisions I make, he can trust me to have his best interest in mind. I want him to know that I’m not going to be removing privileges for my own enjoyment, but because there is something he needs to learn so he can have a safer, happier life.

I want my son to know these things because it is my responsibility as his mother to model to him the love of God –as a parent. If I were to allow him to be disrespectful to me, to disobey without consequence, to have the control before he has the maturity to know what to do with it, how in the world could I ever expect him to respect our Heavenly Father? If I were to allow him to exhibit such behavior, I would be teaching him that it’s acceptable. He may know (through scoldings or repeated, empty warnings) that I’d prefer he not do such things, but he would not understand respect to be an expectation. Preferences and expectations are two entirely different things.

Please, teach your children that respect is an expectation and not just a preference. It is your responsibility as parents to teach them who God is, as their Heavenly Father. Make your time with them count – they grow up so quickly.

 

 

Keri