Just Like Dad

Every morning I wake my kids up, we eat breakfast, and then I remind them of their morning tasks. “Get dressed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, read your Bibles…”

Wednesday morning as I was reading one of my younger kids her Bible, my boys came running to me. “Mom look, I washed my face just like dad.” I gave a silent thumb up, as I was still reading, but they continued.

“Yep. We ate breakfast, washed our face, brushed our teeth, and read our Bibles- just like dad!” the next boy exclaimed.

It seemed fitting (in light of Father’s Day) to make note of how much my boys look up to their dad. Yes, they are shorter than him (by a couple feet), but in every sense of the saying- they look up to him. They are watching even when we do not realize it.

Honestly, I have been married to the man for almost nine years, and I didn’t know his routine for getting ready in the mornings. But my boys- they did. And they want to be just like him.

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They see everything. And as mom, I get to watch them imitated their wonderful dad. When they walk into a building my children happily hold the door open for everyone. When they meet someone new at church, they look the person in the eye and give a firm handshake before engaging in conversation. When they walk next to their dad they hold their heads high and walk in confidence.

There’s nowhere the boys would rather be than hanging out with dad. If dad ask for their help in the garage, those boys are down there in a jiffy.

What I love most about watching my kids with their dad is the learning that is going on. When they are wrestling, they are learning. They are learning to never give up and keep trying, even though they know they will never actually beat their dad. They are learning to play and poke fun, but to also be aware of each other. If someone gets “hurt,” they are learning to make sure that person is ok and how to bounce back quickly. My kids will never miss out of an opportunity to have a wrestling match with dad because they love it.

When they are working in the shop, they are mostly learning how to clean up saw dust, but there’s so much more. They are learning how to solve problem, how to work through mistakes, how to build, how to fix, how to try to do something new. One of their dad’s favorite saying is, “There are two ways to do things- the right way and again.” Though they are usually just cleaning the shop and hanging out, they are observing their dad’s amazing work ethic and attitude towards household and/or car projects.

No matter what role dad is taking on at the time, he does it with love and care. And the kids see that. Even when they are being disciplined. They know that dad loves them and wants them to be the best they can. They know that dad is consistent and when they mess up, they expect dad’s correction. They know that dad has high expectations for them, and they want to meet those expectations. Because they love their dad.

If there is anyone I would want my boys to grow up to be like, it is their dad. He strives to live a life for God. However, he knows he’s needs the Holy Spirit to do that. He’s not afraid to say that he’s messed up before and is willing to share the lesson he was taught through that. Their dad has never met a stranger. He would talk about Jesus to a complete stranger for hours if the other person were to stay engaged. Their dad has a heart to share the Gospel.  My kids see that!

When my kids walk into the room and see their dad studying his Bible- my kids see that.

When my kids hear their dad singing out Christian Rock music- they hear that and do the same.

When dad messes up and says he’s sorry- my kids see that.

When dad stops what he is doing to say good night and pray- my kids see that.

Faith is not something that we say we have; it is something we live. It’s not just going to church on Sunday; it’s daily walking with Christ. It’s not living by a set of rules; it’s living for Christ. It’s not telling people what they should do; it’s living the way we should to honor God. It’s modeling Christ so all can see the hope we have.

Kids learn what they are taught. Some of it is literal teaching. Some of it is practice and repetition. But all of it is modeled. I am so grateful that my kids have their dad as an awesome teacher and role model. He never strays from the end goal when it comes to parenting- productive Christian adults. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”

My husband is an amazing example of a man trying to walk in faith. Is he perfect- no way! No one is. He works hard to provide for his family, not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well. I cannot imagine the temptations he comes into everyday as he endures work, ungodly people, temptations to slander, temptations to lust, temptations to gossip, temptations to lie and build himself up, and probably a thousand more temptations I’ll never have to witness. But I can tell you he seeks God. He seeks accountability. He admits when he struggles. He seeks others to pray for him.

It is my prayer that the Lord continues to guide and strengthen my husband. That God will keep him on the straight and narrow path allowing him to stand firm when the enemy comes at him. I pray that my children see their dad as he strives to do God’s will and that they are inspired to do the same. I pray for a family on fire for Christ, serving God together, loving God above all things, and seeking His will in every situation.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

 3 John 1:4

Good Guys VS Bad Guys

My kids really like the show “Wild Kratts” right now. As a parent, I like it too. They get to learn about wild life in an entertaining way. Since my kids are into the super hero thing, the good guys verse bad guys approach while applying science couldn’t be more perfect for them.  Yesterday my son says to me, “Mom I like the bad guys in Wild Kratts, but I don’t like the bad guys in real life.”

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Yep, kiddo! I can relate to that. BUT… who are the bad guys in real life? I mean seriously. When we are watching a movie or television show it is obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. We can see the scheming, plotting, lying, and misbehavior. But in real life… its not so easy to see. We are easily deceived. Sometimes we trust people who are untrustworthy. Sometimes we too get caught up in “bad-guy” activity. Sometimes covering up something small seems in the best interest at the time… but then that snowballs…

All we have to do is turn on the news to see this. It’s amazing how two different television stations can air the “same” news story yet leave you thinking two different things. Each station has their own agenda with their own backing. They tell the story through those lenses.

For example, the news back in early 2000s had us all thinking Iraqis and Afghanis were all terrible people and terrorist who wanted to destroy America. We feared them due to 9/11 and the media hype around the situation. But my husband, who served for the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, would tell you most people who lived there just wanted to be left alone. 98% of the population were good people. Those stories were never told, because in order to support the War on Terror, we needed to be scared.

People do the same thing. We all have our own lives. We all have our own agenda… and we all want to be liked. So, sometimes we fall victim to the schemes of the enemy and tell a story from our perspective that stretches a detail here or there, and now we have an innocent person believing a story that has only a little truth in it.

It’s not so easy to see the good verse bad when we are in the midst of it. But here’s the truth: the enemy is not a person. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).” Satan is the enemy and we fall victim to his traps very easily.

This is why we must guard our hearts. We must not fall victim to the traps of gossip, the traps of twisting truths and lying, the traps of building ourselves up while tearing others down.  So many times, when we think good and evil we think war, physical fighting, and murder. But I see the struggle with good and evil as truth verse lies. Wars do not start for no reason. Hate is not built over nothing. Something… or someone starts all that…

The truth is there is one good guy and one bad guy in this world. Obviously, Jesus is the good guy. Everything He does it to bring God glory. Not so obviously, Satan is the bad guy. He puts up little road blocks and detours so that we are led astray. He wants to separate us from God. He wants us to live in the world for the world.  We are either influenced by good or evil, and our actions are an overflow of our hearts. Unfortunately for most of us, we are influenced by both- the good guy and the bad guy. Only we cannot see all the behind the scenes in real life. That is why putting on the Full Armor of God is so important. Arm yourselves with the word of God. Be prepared to stand against the schemes of the enemy- they are coming. You have to be prepared.

Now Jesus and Satan are not equals. Satan was an angel, a created being. Jesus is God. Satan’s equal would be Michael the archangel. One offers us eternity with God in Heaven, the other offers us instant gratification with a hole in our hearts. We all have a longing in our hearts. We are all searching for that something. That something is a peace only God can fulfill. Please remember- this world is not our home. Don’t get comfortable living your life the way you think you should live it. Live your life the way you know God wants you to live it!

I think much like my son, the reason I like the good guys verses the bad guys in the movies is because we know the good guys always win. Well, good news- the good guy has already won! Jesus has already defeated the devil! He crushed his head when He rose from the dead. AND he’s coming back! We know the end- Jesus wins!

 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.…”

1 John 5:3-5

The Comparison Trap

Last week I was able to take my kids on an outing that had a huge rock climbing wall! My oldest three happily stood in a long line to complete this task. As they reached the front of the line the workers helped each kid into a harness. Then they went onto the wall. They were happily climbing when my oldest stopped. “Mom, I’m scared.”

“Keep going. Your brother is almost at the top,” I replied.

He looked up. Considered going higher but pushed himself backwards repelling off the wall. Seconds later, his bother rings the bell showing he had reached the top.

As the oldest got down I could see he was disappointed. I told him good job and gave him a high five.

When his brother came down, he was gleaming with a huge smile. I gave him a high five and told him I was proud of him.

My oldest started tearing up. “Mom, you are proud of him and not of me…”

WHAT!!! How did you hear that? I never said that… I never implied that… I never even thought that…“No way kiddo. I am proud of you, but your brother just reached the top! That’s an accomplishment! We need to celebrate it.”

I didn’t mean to create a competition between my boys. I just thought a little encouragement and motivation may help him face his fears. Instead, my son saw that since his brother did better than he did, his accomplishment was nothing.

Man, I do not want my kids to think that! It took me years to realize how badly I struggle with the comparison trap. Hear me closely everyone, Someone else’s accomplishment does not take away from yours!!!

Some competition is good. It is good to be pushed to be your best and to do your best. It is good to learn to win and learn to lose. But these competitions should never affect our self-worth, the value we see in ourselves.

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Growing up I struggled with constantly comparing myself to others. As I got older, this had an impact on me. First, emotionally- I cared way too much how people viewed me and sought approval in odd places. It also affected me socially. I was constantly comparing myself to others. So, if I thought another girl was pretty, all the sudden I didn’t feel pretty. Then I was intimidated by her. The next thing I knew I had created a wall in my head that she and I could not be friends. Because of my own thoughts… nothing else.

If someone was better at something than me, I took it personally. If I could not easily get better, I would make an excuse or just quit all together. This is not something I grew out of. In fact, I did not realize I had this problem until I was well into my adult years.

I remember walking into a new church several years ago. There was this nice lady who welcomed my family and me. She helped us check the kids in and walked us to their rooms. She led us back to the main area, and then my husband and I went to find seats. After finding our seats and meeting up with the couple who invited us, I learned who the lady was and what other people thought of her. People thought VERY highly of her, and they all really liked her. Suddenly, I was like, “Wait- why don’t people think this of me?” “I’m better than her at x,y, and z.” I was completely intimidated by her, so I began rationalizing why I was better than her. Instead of recognizing it, I put up this wall up because of what others thought… And their thoughts were all positive. My thoughts were distorted.

The only person this wall hurt was me. I told my husband about it years later. He honestly had no clue these thoughts floated through my head. His response was, “Why?”  Why? That is a good question. And a question I now have the answer to.

The enemy completely had a foothold in my heart. He had apparently had that foothold for quite some time too. I can look back at this situation and see the errors in my ways. “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble (Proverbs 4:19).”

Comparison has cost me relationships. It has cost me time. It has cost me peace. I praise God that he revealed this error in my ways. The only person I need to be comparing myself to is the person I am today to the person God designed me to be.

Part of my struggle with comparison is due to my desire to please man rather than pleasing God. Since I weighed other’s opinions highly, I internalized their positive opinions of others to be negative towards me- which couldn’t be further from the truth. However, as I have learned to see myself the way God sees me, I have been able to stop comparing myself to others and start celebrating them. I have stopped searching for man’s approval and sought to be obedient to God and His plan for my life. I have seen good fruit, a healthy heart, and a peaceful life.

Celebrating someone else’s accomplishment, talents, or value is something we should do. We should build each other up in brotherly (or sisterly) love. Just because someone else painted an amazing picture, does not mean your picture is not good. Just because someone else looks beautiful, does not mean you are not beautiful. Just because someone else is blessed, does not mean you are not blessed.

If you struggle with the comparison trap affecting your life, please know I have been there.  It’s hard to be genuinely happy for someone when you are not fully happy yourself. Please look in the mirror and see what God sees- He sees you- His perfectly and wonderfully made daughter. Be in prayer and ask God for the help you need. What you see as a flaw, God tends to use for His glory!

 

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10

Check the Box

It’s time for Summer Reading Club at the library!!! YES!!! My kids love reading! As I have written before, it’s not unusual to find my children in their rooms reading books for fun. It’s like the favorite past-time around my house. If they’re not reading story books, they are looking through non-fiction books, searching puzzle magazines or looking for words in word search books. Books! Books! And more books!

So, when Summer Reading Club started, I knew it would be a hit! I explained to my kids for every twenty minutes you read, you get to fill in one bubble… There’s only 50 bubbles… 1000 minutes… we will get this done in no time… ok well, 10 hours. With as much as my kids read, we should have this done in less than 10 days… right… wrong!

All of the sudden the joy of reading has been sucked out of them. Suddenly they’re watching the clock instead of getting into their books. Whereas before, they could read for hours and be in love with their books not wanting to put them down… now 20 minutes seemed like a life-time. All of the sudden they don’t want to read.

WHAT!!! 2 days ago, they would have happily been reading! Two days ago, I wouldn’t have had to tell them to get a book, it would have already been in their hands. What happened?

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Sadly, I know exactly what happened. Telling my kids that they have to do something has taken the focus off what they normally do for fun. The intention is good- read. Reading is good for my kids. The incentives are awesome! Who wouldn’t want a free T-shirt, coupons for free food, and coupons for free outings??? The problem is now we are reading for those reasons, not for personal growth and fun. Now their focus is on the physical goal of filling in that bubble after 20 minutes.

This has happened more times than I would like to admit in my prayer life.

I end up restricted to a set time. The kids are getting up in 20 minutes… or…My kids are watching a TV show for 30 minutes. I’ll try to squeeze in time with God here… I pull out my Bible read a quick passage and say a quick prayer. Done in record time.

That’s great- you spent time with God today. CHECK

But was it really quality time with God? Or was it a check off my good Christian list?

I know the answer to this… it’s no different than my kids looking at a book and not really reading it for 20 minutes just to fill in a bubble on their Summer Reading Program Sheet.

The joy, the fulfillment, the purpose is completely sucked out when we treat our prayer life as a check list. The time is ultimately wasted time. My kids are better off to put that book down than to pretend to read… Am I better off to just skip my time with God than to force a quick prayer session? I think the answer depends on you. But for me, crammed time results in the same as no time.

I get it. Some days I am busy. Some days my kids wake up before I am ready. Some days I am rushed.

But on those days, my peace is disrupted. Because I have set other things before God.  When God told the Israelites to have no other Gods before me. He didn’t mean in a list format. 1. God, 2. Family, 3. Money … He meant “in my presence.” No other gods in His presence.

Am I allowing my obligations to become a god?

Truth… Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I allow my family to become a god- a priority over God… Sometimes I allow my job to become a god- I mean I have to make money and God did bless me with this opportunity… Sometimes I allow busyness to become a god- because life just gets too busy and the only way to deal with being busy is to become busier. But these are all excuses.

The reality is that I GET to pray! Hear me carefully- My time with God should never be a “have to” but a “want to.” It is a privilege that I get to spend time with my Father in Heaven, talk to Him, and read His word. Jesus was beaten, nailed to a cross, and ultimately died so that I could have this privilege.

Praise God we live under the period of Grace! Otherwise I would have to offer plenty of sacrifices for my failure to keep other gods out of the presence of the One and Only God.

The only way to make sure I am not doing this, is to make sure that I am spending time in the presence of my Heavenly Father. No checking the box. No obligated set timer. No memorized or set prayer. But actually sitting in the presence of God, because I want to spend time with Him. Reading His word to grow closer to Him AND praying because I want to talk to Him and grow in relation with Him.

To ensure that I am allowing no other gods before my God, I must be active in my prayer life. I cannot treat it like a check list. No filling in the bubbles. I need to spend time with God because I love spending time with Him. No other reason!

 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The End of the Thomas Phase

This morning I sat in awe as my boys gave their little sisters all their Thomas the Tank Engine trains saying they do not play with them anymore.  While I watched the interaction occur I felt proud. Proud that they realized they do not need those toys in their room since they do not play with them. Proud that they passed them down to their sisters knowing it would bring them joy. And proud that they had finally realized they had moved on from Thomas and Friends. For a quick moment I felt relief that the Thomas stage was finally over. Then I quickly felt sad.

Thomas the Tank Engine has been a huge part of my house every since my boys brought home the first Thomas book from the library 3 ½ years ago. I’m pretty sure the Thomas the Tank Engine early readers were the first books that my oldest read on his own. After a few months of reading these books, I finally agreed to let the kids use their TV time to watch Thomas and Friends. Before I knew it Thomas, James, Henry, Percy, and Gordan were the majority of conversations, drawings, stories, make-believe play, toys, and games that filled my house with laughter, comradery, and fun for the kids.

I will admit, I wished for this day to come for some time now. (There’s only so much train whistles you can hear in a day that do not actually come from a train.) I had noticed the fade, but to say it is over… it’s bitter-sweet.

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The days of the kids running around in a line pretending to be train cars are over. Pictures that covered my fridge in trains are now replaced by super-heroes. The television shows and games they choose are now so varied and vast that I cannot predict who they are pretending to be as I type this blog.

But for a short period of time, it was predictable. When my kids were playing pretend, I knew exactly which engine each kid was assigned. When they sat down to color, I knew exactly what each kid will draw and which color it would be based off their engine of choice.

My kids grew during this phase. Yes, physically but also together. They had a common interest and supported each other in that interest. I don’t know many young girls who would choose trains over dolls, but my girls did. And I happen to know it is not because that was their preference, but because they wanted to play with their brothers and embraced the opportunity.  They willingly embraced less than desirable characters such as James and Gordon to be part of the Thomas and Friends craze.

Do I take on this attitude when it comes to my relationships? Am I willing to fulfill a less than desirable role so that my relationship can grow?

I’m sorry to say, this answer is not always yes. I can’t even tell you how many arguments my husband and I got into early in our marriage over the kitchen. Yes, the kitchen… Let me just throw this out there- I was not prepared for any duties in the kitchen when we got married. I seriously had no idea how to even make rice. I joked that if there were not directions on the back of the box, I could not make it. It was not a joke. It was 100% serious. For the first part of our marriage, I made frozen dinners every night. That got expensive fast and did not taste too good either.

Dishes! Oh dishes! To tell you how many arguments we had over the dishes. In truth, it was because I saw dishes and cooking as a chore… not as a responsibility… and definitely not as an opportunity to serve my husband. My heart actually grew to hate dishes, and this caused feeling of resentment towards my husband.

I wish I could tell you there was a switch that went off quickly. That God quickly convicted me of this, and I changed my heart in a matter of moments… but that would be a lie.

It took practice. First, I had to learn to cook. Yes, 26 years old and I had no idea how to make a pot of chili. I had to let go of my pride and ask my husband to teach me. Then I had to commit to doing the dishes without complaining. It took effort, but I put in the effort. Sadly, my works reflected a change, but my heart was still not thrilled about this change.

Then I ran across this blog. (Man, I wish I could redirect it to you, but that was almost 6 years ago.) It talked about how our family includes the most important people in our life, and sometimes we do not treat them like we should. Sometimes we take them for granted. The woman went on to talk about how she made a lasagna for her sick friend’s family. Her kids watched and anticipated eating that lasagna as she cooked it, but then they took it to her friend’s house. For dinner her family ate left-overs. While her family ate dinner she could see the disappointment all over her kids’ faces. The blogger said from that moment on, when she cooked for someone else- she always cooked 2 because her family was more important to her than any other family.

It was a simple blog post about serving your family. But the Holy Spirit used it to convict me. Am I serving my family like they are the most important people in my world? Because they are. The people closest to you shouldn’t get your left-overs. They should get the first serving with room for dessert.

After reading this, my perception on the kitchen changed. I wanted to give my husband and my kids a good first serving and good left-overs too. I wanted them to know that I wanted to serve them. It was my joy to take care of them. I needed that attitude change. That attitude change has blessed me in more ways than I can count.

I actually no longer even see the kitchen as a less than desirable role. I am happy to cook dinner, happy to clean up afterwards, and eager to show my love to my family…Probably the same way my girls never saw a problem with taking on the role of James and Gordon. They happily embraced the characters and claimed them as their favorites. It is where they fit into the puzzle and a role they proudly played.

 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.   1 John 3:18

 

Imitators

 

A few days ago, I apparently left my shoes out in the living room. My 3-year-old comes running to me to show that she was wearing my shoes. When my 4-year-old saw me smiling, she asked if she could wear my shoes too. I tossed her a pair of my shoes and sat back to watch.

My daughters ran around the house calling each other “mommy” while pretending to do my chores. One of them pretended to dust, while the other was asking if she could make her sister lunch.  The whole time they were shuffling around in shoes WAY too big for them.

I just smiled. It was honestly adorable to watch my girls imitate me. It was also a sigh of relief to see them modeling some of my good traits.

Sitting back smiling as they imitated me actually had me wondering if this even a fraction of how God must feel when we make the effort to imitate His Son?

I mean my kids could imitate me and probably not be modeling the best behavior. (I’m human after all…) But when we imitate Jesus, we are shining His light into a world that is filled with darkness. We are showing the world how awesome He is! Everything good and perfect comes from Him!

Jesus told his disciples, “Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father…” (John 14:9) In other words, Jesus did only what He saw His Father do. By observing the character and actions of Jesus, we see the nature of God the Father! Everything Jesus did was to do the Will of His Father and bring Him glory!

When people see me, do they see Jesus? Do my actions reveal that God is alive in me and shine His light?

Do I take the time to pray and devote time to God like Jesus did?

Do I show love and talk to the outcast or those who are racially or culturally different than me like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman… or do avoid them?

Do I pray for those who are sick and hurting when they ask for prayer? Or do I simply say, “Oh yes, I will pray for you…” and then forget?

Imitating Jesus is not an easy thing to do. We are called to be set apart, called to shine His light for all to see. We are supposed to be different. John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We do not want to simply honor God with our lips, but also with our hearts. Our actions are an overflow of our hearts. So today, make an effort to imitate Jesus. Make an effort to show His love for His glory.

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As I put on my shoes that my kids once used to imitate me, I pray that God will help me imitate Him and show the world His goodness!

Asking For What I Need

My kids are big readers. They love their books. It’s not uncommon to walk into their rooms and see them all reading for fun. To say reading is one of the favorite hobbies around my house would be spot on.

Even though they love to read on their own (even my 1 year old), my kids will still ask me to read to them. Sometimes they ask me to read to them because they don’t know all the words. Sometimes they ask me to read to them because they like the funny voices I can add to the story. But usually they ask me to read to them just because they want to spend time with me.

The other day one of my girls was having a rough day. Her siblings did not seem to want to listen to her while they were playing outside. Then she had to come inside and change because she got her favorite shirt dirty. Overall, she was just having a rough moment. She was trying her hardest not to have a melt down and came running to me for a hug. While I was hugging her, I saw her glance at the bookcase. “Mommy, can you read me a story?” she asked.

Of course, I can. I knew that she did not really care about reading a book. I knew that what she needed, in that moment, was some quality time with her mom. She needed to feel loved and get away from the things that had her upset. So, we sat down on the couch together and read a book. By the end of the book, her tears were gone, a smile was on her face, and she was ready to go back outside and play with her siblings.  

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Somehow my 3-year-old daughter knew exactly what she needed and was able to ask the correct question to get it. Me… not so much… I might know what I need, but I fail time and time again to appropriately communicate that… to my husband… to my friends… to God…

For example, the other day my husband and I got in an argument. I said what I felt like I needed to say, let him say what he needed to say, and then I walked away from the conversation. Honestly there was no use in arguing. We did not agree. I knew that I had upset him, but I did not feel like my request was out of line. In fact, his response is what actually upset me. I know he was not responsible for my feelings, but my feelings were hurt.  

I could sit around all day thinking about how much he hurt my feelings… how upset I am with him. I may have even prayed a selfish prayer that God will convict him…By doing this I was only hurting myself and our relationship as I spun my tornado of emotions.

But then when I went to the Lord in prayer (after I stepped back from my emotions), I asked for God to change my perspective. Help me see past my feelings. Change my heart.

See- I cannot be a victim and a victor. I have the choice to sit in wallow in my emotions or to rise above them and see the truth. I cannot change someone else. No matter how hard I try. God reserves that authority for Himself.

Taking my eyes off what I perceive as the problem and focusing on growing in faith and obedience has had a huge impact on all my relationships. As I pray for a change of perspective, my eyes are open to the truth.  Most of the time I am not right. Now that doesn’t mean my husband is always right either. It means there is a middle ground to stand on. See marriage takes 3. When we are both trying to be right and trying to “win” an argument, we lose. We have to take that step back and ask God to change our hearts, change our perspective, help us see things the way God sees them.

One time I was actually praying a prayer that God would convict my husband of how harsh he was being. I was even making a list of the things God should convict him of… instead I heard in my heart, “Renee, love keeps no record of right and wrong.” Come on God, let me be upset. He wronged me. “No, Renee, love keeps no record of right and wrong.” Alright God, I get it.

I have learned that this life is not about getting what I want. It is not about being happy. It’s about being holy. It is about growing in obedience and trust in God. I had to let go of my “list” of things that had been done wrong to me. Not because the list was invalid, not because my husband was right, but because in doing so, I was growing closer to God.

Like I said before, I cannot change anyone. No matter how hard I try. But when I take the step back to grow closer to God, I can see Him also working in my husband. Not too long after I had the conviction to let go of my list, my husband also shared his conviction. Reading straight from the Bible he told me, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them- Colossians 3:19.”

How awesome is our God! While He is working to refine me, He is also at work in those around me! When I can change my focus on growing towards Him, I can see Him alive in others! Trust Him! He  knows what He is doing!

Since this experience, I’ve learned to pray prayers that improve my walk when I am in these situations. Pray for a change of heart. Pray for perspective changes. Pray for the person who has hurt me. Pray for the person who drives me bonkers. Pray to be more like Jesus.

Seriously it works. In my experience, God is not necessarily changing that person (though He may be). He is changing my heart towards that person. There are times that God does change my husband, but what I have found is that if I focus on God, and my husband focuses on God, God becomes the glue of our marriage.

As I pray these prayers I begin to see God at work in so many ways. It is my on-going prayer that God will use me and my family to do his will.  I have started praying that God will open my eyes to where He is already at work. As I have grown closer to God, I have realized my desires begin to change to meet His desires. I’ve realized prayers I have been praying all my life have a deeper, more meaningful sustenance.

Prayer is the greatest tool we have! Thanks to Jesus and what He did on that cross, we have the ability to go before our Heavenly Father and ask for what we need. However, many times what we think we need and what we actually need are not the same thing.

It is my prayer for you that the Holy Spirit continues to peruse you. That He continues to change your heart to a heart more like Christ’s heart. That God’s will becomes your will.

 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

I John 5:14