Category Archives: young moms

Lessons Learned from Adele

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spilled milkThis is Adele. She is the daughter of my friends Adam and Emily and she is also Graham’s little sister. Adele is a beautiful child. She has big brown eyes and a happy smile on her face most of the time. Her mom posted this picture on Facebook this morning, the post was titled “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk.” I laughed out loud and immediately asked Emily for permission to use it on the Pensees blog.

Look closely at the photo. I learned several lessons as I giggled at Adele’s predicament.

Lesson One: Let your child learn lessons on her own, even if you have to clean up their messes while they are young. Mess ups are more expensive when they are teenagers.

Lesson Two:  Look over by the door, there is a neat mat with children’s shoes that are removed. Excellent habits are encouraged by parents but seldom is perfection achieved.

Lesson Three: See the puddle of milk behind her, it didn’t take her long to realize that she blew it. She went looking for help. When children mess up they know it, they are looking for understanding not ridicule.

Lesson Four: Notice she is still holding the cup. Don’t let your child hold on to  evidence of the failure and don’t bring it up their entire life. Encourage them to let go of the mistake. Allow them to forget. Lavish them with your love and mercy. There is not a person in the world who makes only one mistake in their life. Everyone needs a do over from time to time.

Lesson Five: Don’t cry over spilled milk. Unless Adele gets on her knees and licks up the milk there is no way to change the circumstance. Emily can’t get the milk back in the cup, even if she wrings out the shirt. Why not simply say, “Oooopppsss, it’s okay.”

Lesson Six: Knowing my friends Adam and Emily, I am sure they quickly cleaned her up and gave her more milk. Restoring her quickly and gently will change her view of mistakes. Restoration rebuilds healthy self-esteem and frees the child from a fear of failure.

As adults we mess up, too. But we have a heavenly Father who meets us in the middle of the messy parts of life. This is January 1, 2014. Let’s learn from Adele and from God’s Word. Nehemiah 9:31, speaks of God’s character and care of His people, “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Don’t cry over spilled milk this year. Move on and do like Adele pour yourself another cup and simply start over.

Facebook and the Green-Eyed Monster

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green-eye jpgWhat kind of emotion does Facebook evoke as you look at the news feed each day? I asked myself the same question the other day. I have been a part of Facebook for several years. It is a great way to network, promote, and market. I like it because I can stay in touch with friends and family, too. When I started using it, I was thrilled to see faces I haven’t seen in years. With a few words and a little time, I could reconnect with others. I enjoyed celebrating the posts of an ever-growing friends list.

But the other day, I realized I have a bad attitude when I look at Facebook. The old green-eyed monster, also known as, envy has an ever-growing corner of my heart. I log in to Facebook and I see people (Facebook friends) living in beautiful, decorated homes. I notice others on exotic vacations to sunny destinations. Still others have seemingly perfect kids and grand kids. Their lives look like a celebratory observance of the ordinary.

My life repeats itself daily. I get up, go to work. I come home and fix dinner. I go to bed and get up and do it all over again. On the weekend, I get up and do laundry, I run errands and run myself ragged fb-depressed1getting it all done. That doesn’t make for a an interesting feed on Facebook. If I made up information I couldn’t live with myself. That is my reality no matter how I dress it up or embellish it.

So, what is one to do when you notice a bad attitude in the heart? First, you recognize the problem, then you confess it. Finally, you nip it in the bud (Barney Fifeism)! Simply and quickly I plan on uprooting the sin from the corner of my heart.

Envy slowly spreads and infiltrates our entire being. In scripture the book of wisdom is Proverbs. In Proverbs 14:30, it says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Today, I honestly write this blog with authenticity and transparency. Lord, remove the envy and replace it with a heart at peace.”

What feelings surface in your heart when you look at Facebook? Comment below, we can all learn from one another.

Do I Look Like Wonder Woman?

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wonder womanA few weeks ago we had a staff retreat. The goal was to do team building exercises and planning for the next year. Since super heroes are popular again, the first ice breaker question was, “If you could have one super hero power what would it be?” I loved everyone’s answers and since I was last in the circle, I had plenty of time to think.

My power didn’t have a specific name but when I said it, everyone knew what I was talking about. I chose Wonder Woman’s ability to let bullets bounce off her metal wrist cuffs. And then I quickly added, “I would also love to have her lasso of truth.”

Someone asked me at lunch why I chose Wonder Woman powers. I openly answered, “Don’t you think itlasso of truth would be great if every time someone aimed something critical or ugly your way, you could simply cross your wrists and let it bounce off you?” As another person in fulltime ministry, my co-worker laughed and heartily agreed. I went on to explain that a lasso of truth would have been great when I was raising teenaged boys. I could wrap it around them and get all the honest details of where they had been and what they had done.

i can do all thingsOf course, each of us wish for this kind of power at some time in our lives. The good news is if we are Christ-followers, we can be Wonder Women because we already have supernatural power in our lives. We have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God Himself living inside us. So, when people hurl evil insults our way or when life throws something dangerous at us, we can remember the promises found in scripture. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

How will you use the supernatural power that you have this week? Will you use it to fight a verbal attack or will you use it to find Truth in a new way?

Don’t Miss the Signs

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tsa agentA friend of mine has several children and each year she takes one of them on a special trip with just her. This year it was her teenaged daughter’s turn and it was going to be her first plane trip. As they arrived at the airport, she used the time to teach her teenager the ins and outs of flying. She walked her through the check in process and everything was going well.

As they approached the security area, she explained in detail what to do. She told her daughter to watch her and do what she did and it would all go smoothly. They took off their shoes, jackets, and backpacks and placed them in the bins. Then, my friend went through the metal detector. No problem, no noise, no nothing. Right on her heels was her daughter, following her mother’s lead.

When the teenager tried to enter the machine, the TSA agent held up his hand to stop the daughter from entering the detector until high fiveher mother had cleared the scanner. Instead of stopping, she thought he was giving her a high-five. What did she do? She gave him a high-five back!

No kidding! She did! Did you know you aren’t supposed to touch a TSA agent? The gentleman proceeded to scold her, humiliating her in public.  Of course, my friend politely set him straight about her daughter misinterpreting his sign. It all ended well, but her daughter learned a valuable lesson that day. It’s important to interpret the signs correctly. 

haltSigns are a part of our everyday lives. They are everywhere. Even the Bible speaks of signs. In the Old Testament God used signs and wonders to reveal Himself to mankind. In Daniel 4:3, the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar finally interpreted what he saw correctly. He acknowledged the Most High God because he recognized God’s signs. Nebuchadnezzar declared, “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders!…”

Today, I say to you, “Halt! Open your eyes. Don’t miss the miraculous signs and wonders of the Lord.” They are everywhere and they are awesome. Join me in prayerfully giving God a “Holy High Five.” His wonderous signs deserve it.

Use What You Have

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About 5:30 on Friday afternoon, I realized I didn’t plan anything for dinner. That is usually solved by a take out pizza or a quick burger to go but we had that twice this week. I know, shame on me. Right? But there comes a time when a man use what you havewants a home cooked dinner instead of a cheap substitute. I had to quickly solve the problem of what to fix for supper? We have a garden this summer and the vegetables are being harvested a few at a time. I looked in the refrigerator and in the pantry and I took an inventory. There was plenty of food already in the house.  The question was how to use what I already had and turn it into something wonderful?  All the ingredients I found seemed like it would make an Italian or French dish. If Giada and Ina can cook, so can I. (by the way, the photos in this week’s blog I actually took myself, thanks Oklahoma Women Bloggers http://www.oklahomawomenbloggers.com/ for the blog tip)

I used eggplant, a small zucchini,  garlic, onion, peppers, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, a little Herb de Provence, salt, pepper, fresh basil, and dry white wine. I opened up a can of white Cannellini beans (if for no other reason than they sounded Italian) to add some protein. I put it all in the pot and let it simmer until it was a nice consistency. Voila´ratatouille! While it simmered, I made mushroom risotto for the side dish since I had all the ingredients on the shelf. Risotto is basically Arborio rice that is slowly cooked in white wine and broth, stirred constantly with the lid off. Once the rice is tender and creamy, you add parmesan cheese.

Voila!Mark was surprised when he walked in the back door. He smiled as he smelled the finished dishes and he was excited to sit down to a special meal. I was thrilled to be able to use what I already had to make healthy, satisfying food and to please my husband at the same time.

Our lives are a lot like dinner that night. We can look around and wonder what to do with ourselves while in reality, we have all the ingredients for something wonderful right before our eyes. 

Each of us has been given talents, personalities, the ability think, and the capacity for love.  If you are a Christ-follower you have more available in your pantry, additional spiritual ingredients like: fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the Bread of Life (John 6:32-35), new wine (Proverbs 3:10) and oil (Psalm 45:7). What an amazing list and that’s only the beginning!  We have the ingredients, we simply have to use what we have.

When will you take a personal inventory?  Look at your resources. What ingredients do you have that are not being used? How will you use what you have so you can experience a rich and satisfying life?

  

Rainbow Shooters

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rainbowA couple of years ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult time. She had weathered numerous storms in her life but this time, there were several stressful things happening all at once. Trials with her health, difficulties with her children, and even family issues were taking a toll on her. She was suffering spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She said to preserve her sanity she had pulled away from a lot of relationships. This young woman who was always an outgoing, sanguine personality had to set distinct boundaries in her life in order to survive during this time.

As she poured out her heart to me, she explained the hurtful conversations she had with others when she tried to maintain relationships with her friends and family. Through her tears, she told me that being around people with seemingly perfect lives made her angry and sad. She said, as she was looking for hope and mercy just to survive each day, those people complained about everything. To make matters worse, she said they offered her meaningless advice and empty platitudes, to try to help. I asked her how that made her feel and I will never forget how she described those people. Her voice broke as she cried, “They are nothing but a bunch of rainbow shooters!” At that moment, I totally understood. 

Later I spent a lot of time pondering her description. I decided you could take the term “rainbow shooters” a couple of ways. Did she mean they offer a shot of something to make her feel better, like the “rainbow shooter” drinks that are served in a bar? Maybe a quick, “you will feel better soon” or “this too shall pass.” rainbow shot A small shot of mercy that might deaden her pain for a while.

Or did she mean, while she was looking to the Lord for hope and mercy (like the Biblical promise in the rainbow)  they took aim at her heart and shot down her rainbow? Were they shattering  the Lord’s promises which was all she had to hold onto during this time?

To this day, I am not sure what the meaning is but there is one thing I know for sure, I don’t want to be a “rainbow shooter” to my rainbow gunfriends and family. It is always hard to watch someone struggle in their lives as they face things beyond their control. But, I am learning to be slow to speak and quick to lavish others with my love and prayers.

God gave the rainbow in Genesis 9 as sign to Noah and to us, so we will remember God, His promises, His mercy, His hope and His everlasting covenant. Genesis 9:16, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” The question for us is this, will we point others to God’s promises or will we be “rainbow shooters?”

  

Scarred for Life

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bandaged ladyHave you ever seen anyone who has terrible scars due to illness, accident, or trauma?  I remember seeing a young woman on a talk show who was terribly disfigured because her father poured acid on her face and hands.  The burns healed but she would need numerous plastic surgeries. Through her tears, she said, “I’ll never be the same on the inside or outside.”

This courageous lady, broke down and cried when she talked about her life. She openly admitted that the hardest part was going out in public where others could see her scars.  She said people either gasp and stare, turn away shocked, or they approach her, ask questions, and offer her their compassion.

Not many of us escape this life without an event or trauma that leaves us changed forever. All of us are scarred in some way. For most of us, our scars are on the inside, not visible to others. I wonder what it would be like to go out into public where everyone’s internal scars are exposed? Imagine walking down the street and actually seeing the visible scars of mental abuse, failure, public sin, disappointment, loss, depression, and persecution.

How would we respond and react to one another if, we knew their scar filled story?  Would we stare and secretlyhands compare our wounds to theirs?  Would we be thankful that our hurts aren’t as bad as theirs? Would we turn away shocked to see someone so exposed and vulnerable? Or, would we take time to approach them, ask questions, and extend heartfelt compassion and care? 

I pray I would be like Jesus. He was an advocate for the down and out.  He came to the rescue of those with internal, as well as, external scars. He reached out to the demon possessed, those caught in adultery, and even prostitutes who sold their self-esteem and reputation for a bit of bread. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that he has made.” May we follow the example of Jesus, the one who extended compassion with perfection.

Women of Iron

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woman lifting ironTuesday night I took a giant leap of faith and I attended a local writer‘s group called WordWeavers. Several months ago a friend told me about them but I couldn’t muster up the courage to go. I didn’t feel like much of a writer anymore. I wasn’t seeing  growth in the blog and it had been a year since I had posted anything.  About the time I was going to give up on my writing dream, I felt this gentle nudge. The nudge was soon followed by a strong desire and then the desire compelled me to act.  I emailed the friend who previously invited me. Guess what? That day was their regular monthly meeting. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe the Lord nudges us through His Holy Spirit‘s presence and His timing is always perfect.

As I prepared to leave for the meeting, I noticed I had butterflies in my stomach. These weren’t ordinary butterflies but those that flip, flop, and flutter. I didn’t need to be nervous. When I arrived, the members were friendly as they welcomed each new person.  The writer’s group has male and female members but on this night only women were present. The first thing I noticed about each author was her passion for her craft. These women were all ages and their writing styles were as diverse as their personalities.

After they took care of the evening’s business, the president led the group to a time of short story review. These stories were written by members of WordWeavers. As each author spoke, they offeredwoman with computer honest, constructive feedback and criticism. They exchanged ideas with civility instead of hostility. They encouraged instead of discouraged, they were building up instead of tearing down. I noticed the absence of pride, as those, whose work was critiqued; accepted each honest assessment with great humility and gratitude.

I sat quietly. I watched, listened, and learned. By spending time in the presence of these wonderful women, I became better, sharper, more focused, and definitely inspired to chase the dream that the Lord planted deep in my heart many years ago. I can’t wait to become friends with this group of gifted people. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Based on this verse, I quickly came to a conclusion. The women I met are “women of iron.” As iron sharpens iron, the “women of iron” will sharpen me with great  skill and their tools of the trade will be pen, paper, and a computer. I promise to keep you posted (weekly I hope).

Thank you Jesus for stirring my heart once again.  

 

Fill My Mouth With Worthwhile Stuff

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My friend Linda B. gave me this little prayer written on a 3×5 card. I have repeated it numerous times. “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said enough.” Amen

A few months after Linda gave me the prayer, my son was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when I realized Christians say the darndest things! When someone is facing the crisis of cancer, well-meaning Christians struggle to find something worthwhile to say and they always say way more than enough!

Last week a friend sent me a link to Jon Acuff’s blog, Stuff Christians Like  http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2012/06/what-not-to-say/  the title of the post is What Not to Say When Someone Has Cancer by Tracey Solomon.

With humor and honesty, Tracey painfully pinpointed the wrong things to say to a person when someone has cancer.  I personally heard the same remarks when my son was ill plus a hundred more of the  insensitive platitudes.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

You might ask, “What is the right thing to say?”  I am not sure there is a right thing to say. What gave me comfort during those hard times was when a friend simply said, “I love you, I am here for you, and I am praying.” Knowing that people were  using their lips to talk to Jesus about healing my son meant more than any words spoken to me.

Who in your life has received a cancer diagnosis?  How generous will you be in offering prayer on her behalf? What wise words will you speak  to bring encouragement to her life?

Heavenly Father, Fill our mouths with worthwhile stuff and nudge us when we’ve said enough. Amen

Would You Do It Again?

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Last week, I couldn’t bring myself to write the usual Mother’s Day devotional. I couldn’t find the uplifting pretty words to talk about the most difficult job in the world. While it is wonderful to honor mothers once a year, I can’t help but think about the mothers who are hurting because of their children. When our children are born we watch them struggle as they learn to talk, walk, and run. We watch them struggle with separation anxiety as they go to school for the first time. In new surroundings, they have their feelings hurt and their knees skinned. As they grow, they experience the pain of the first break up and they realize there are people who don’t like them.

Some mothers are hurting because they lose their unborn babies and they spend a lifetime mourning that loss. Every day young moms lose their children as babies before they have a chance to know them. The loss of a child can be experienced when the young man or woman walks away from their family and decides to walk the path of the prodigal. Accidents, illness, drugs, and war take countless children from us. 

So, I have to ask you a week after Mother’s Day, would you do it again? Knowing about the hurt, the pain, the loss, the tests that come with mothering would you do it again?

I wonder how Jesus’ mother, Mary, would answer that question. She was given the ultimate responsibility of carrying and caring for the Son of God. She watched Him grow as a child. How did she feel when he skinned His knees and bled down to His toes. Did she panic when He lagged behind at the Temple and they couldn’t find Him? When He neglected nutrition and rest to serve in ministry did she question the call on His life? When He chose to spend time with twelve men instead of His family, did she feel neglected and abandoned? What went through her mind when the persecution started and He was arrested and nailed to the cross? Did she lose her breath when she saw with her own eyes her beloved son hanging on the cross agonizing and writhing in pain?

So Mary, would you do it again? Without hesitating, I think she would say yes!

In Luke 1:46-53, Mary rejoiced at the prospect of carrying God’s Son. For most women, motherhood is a time to rejoice. Carrying a child and giving birth is an honor.

In Luke 2:33-35, When Jesus was dedicated at the Temple, His mother and father were amazed at the things being said about their son. But Mary was also warned about the pain this Son would bring to her heart, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul-to the end that thoughts from many hearts be revealed.”  It doesn’t take long to find out that our children experience pain in this life and that breaks our hearts.

Mary had the joy and privilege of carrying God’s Son but she also had the duty to bear the pain of His loss. I think if we asked her personally, “would you do it again?” She would jump at the chance to reassure each one of us as mothers. She can reassure us because now her perspective is an eternal perspective. I like to imagine that she might look each one of us in the eye and say, “it is hard being a mother but…like my Son, Jesus, each child is born with a purpose and a plan for his/her life. It hurts to watch them struggle with the hardest parts of life. But even in the pain, there is purpose.”

What in your child’s life has caused you pain? If you knew what you know now, would you become a mother again?

Heavenly Father, Touch the hurting hearts of mothers today. Please give us a glimpse or even an eye full of your eternal perspective. It’s an honor to serve you by serving our children. In Jesus Name, Amen