Are You Feeling Toddlerish? I Have Some Fruit That Can Help.

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It’s official.  I’m 5 years old.

I’m fussy.  I’d like to stomp my feet.  I could plop down on my bum and cry.

And I definitely don’t feel like sharing.

I feel like I’ve shared quite enough already.

I’ve long said…well, 5 years long…that it’s important not to make our children feel badly about spending time with their other parent.  And for the better part of these 5 years I think I have succeeded.

But lately, I feel exceedingly irritated about sharing my children.

I think part of the problem is…well, actually there are a lot of parts to the problem.

One part is that I wanna be the fun parent.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the chores, homework, budget, real life living stuff parent.  It’s an age old divorce problem – invariably one of the parents is fun-parent.

But I wanna be a fun parent! (I think I’m digressing – I’m now 2)

And right now I just can’t pull it off.  I’m praying and trying to figure it out.  Honestly, up until just recently…very recently…I hadn’t even thought to ask God to help me find time to play with my kids.  Unfortunately I’m the mom on the culdesac that sits on the curb with a textbook or the laptop…or that takes advantage of them playing outside to get something done inside…or who is sometimes just too tired to race around like I used to L.  I don’t want to be the old tired busy mom…I wanna be fun mommy!

I love the way my children’s eyes light up when I actually stop what I’m doing and pay attention to them. When I get into their world and play.  Lord, please help me find time to do that!  Like today.

So back to my toddler issues…

Another part of the problem…you know what?  There’s no reason for me to go on and on about all the parts of a problem.  Because really it’s my choice to let things be a problem…let my emotions decide my reaction.

So how do I NOT do that?  ‘Cause emotions are very tricky things.  Very.  And I have a LOT of them!

I have emotions, but I also have the Holy Spirit.

I know the Holy Spirit is stronger than all those emotions I feel.  God has called me to love others…even the difficult ones…therefore I know I’m equipped and I suspect that the fruit of the Spirit is a big part of that.

So how do I apply this to my life…to my toddlerhood?

How about each fruit in turn…

Love      Kinda feel like this is an obvious one.  Love one another.  Love your enemies…so I suppose that means I’m supposed to love my children’s father.  The question is what does loving that man look like when I really don’t want to interact with him if possible?

As is so much of this life, it’s choosing to do the hard thing.  Choosing to love when it seems like the obvious choice is to dislike immensely.

For me, it’s being willing to talk when I want to avoid. It’s being willing to smile when I want to glare.  It’s being willing to overlook an offense…or many.  To turn the other cheek.  To speak kindly.  To love like Jesus loves…without condition.

Joy is totally dependent on my relationship with the Lord.  There is a direct correlation between my abiding in Christ and the fullness of my joy.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  John 15:9-11

This joy isn’t because my circumstances are great now, but because my circumstances will be great when I’m with Him.  (John 16:22)  This joy isn’t because life is easy, but because He carries me through this life.  This joy isn’t because I’m happy, it’s because I’m loved.

Practically speaking, how much joy of the Lord am I displaying to my children or my ex if I can’t make the effort to be kind and smile at times?  I need God’s strength to do this joy thing…to love when I don’t wanna.  God says His joy is my strength.  In Him I have the strength to live a godly life…a life marked by joy.

Joy looks like me focusing on Christ not my circumstances.  It means being Christ-like in my attitude about sharing my children.  It means that I smile and thank God for my children being able to visit with their dad regardless of how it makes me feel.

I can’t tell you how often I pray that God will give someone His peace which passes all understanding.  (Philippians 4:6-7) There are so many life situations in which it seems like it would just be near impossible to feel any peace…but God gives peace regardless of situations, circumstances, and people.

He actually gives a formula for peace…two steps…thanksgiving and prayer.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:5-7

I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to the beginning of that first sentence – The Lord is at hand.  It’s that abiding thing!  AND it’s a reminder that Jesus is coming back!  How wonderful is that!  We have peace because we can be thankful for Him in our lives, for the hope of our future inheritance, and for the many blessings He has faithfully provided.

Peace for me looks like this…”Lord, thank you so much that my children have a father, however imperfect he is. Lord, please give me the strength to live in such a way that you are glorified even in my relationship with him.”

Patience…I’d almost like to skip this one…

So in looking up verses on patience I found one that applies…ugh.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26

Patiently enduring…I’m pretty sure that phrase says it all.  I believe a big part of patiently enduring is also trusting that God will indeed work through this whole difficult situation.

Along with that phrase I see kind and gentle…those are Spirit fruit as well.

Kindness – The verse above in 2 Timothy says to be “kind to everyone”.  Not just the people who we enjoy being kind to, but those who don’t necessarily deserve kindness from us.

The one thing I will say is that God doesn’t call us to suffer abuse from others…please don’t put yourself in an abusive position.  Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is stay away.

When I first thought of kindness I thought of Romans 12:18-20

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Might be the wrong motivation but heaping some burning coals sounds like fun…just kidding (sorta).  Although the idea is that there is a possibility your kindness will bring them to repentance…God’s goal is always salvation.

And that should be ours as well…it is not ours to avenge or judge, but rather to allow God to use us.

Goodness – So seriously, this has been the neatest study for me.  I keep seeing the connectedness of Scripture.  If you read the next verse in Romans 12, it is,

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21

God calls us to live an honorable life so that those who would speak against us will see the good we do and glorify God.  (1 Peter 2:11-12).  The goal of goodness is the gospel.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:9-10

This verse reminds me of love and kindness…they are offered to EVERYONE.  There is just no getting around it.  I guess we all have to pray about what that means for us and our ex-spouses.  I think we can all come up with a way that we can do good without putting ourselves in painful situations.  Maybe doing good just means holding our tongues.  Maybe doing good means praying for that person.  Maybe doing good means acting just as we would want our children to act toward a school chum who is less than stellar.  Maybe doing good requires some thinking outside of the box…

Faithfulness – One of the things that has most profoundly impacted me is God’s faithfulness even when I’ve been anything but faithful.  The struggles I’ve had have been real and difficult and I have fallen many more times than I thought possible.  And everytime…everytime…God has faithfully picked me up again…and again…and again.  He has offered me love over and over and over.  Do you see the pattern?  God doesn’t give up on us!  I’m so thankful for that.  And you know what, God hasn’t given up on my ex either.  His choices haven’t excluded him from experiencing God’s grace.

As I ponder God’s faithfulness to me, I feel compassion for my ex and that makes me want to pray for him…for him for his sake and the sake of my children.

Gentleness – I found that most of the verses dealing with gentleness were about how we deal with people who are not walking with the Lord.  Again, God’s goal is restoration.  He set the example.  Jesus was gentle and humble in heart.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

As I read that verse, I’m reminded that the burdens I carry, both the ones put on me by others and the ones I heap on myself, can be given to Him.  I can let Him deal with this situation and I can trust that as I strive to be like Him, He will work in this for my good and His glory.

…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:1-3

Self-Control – Yet another one I’d like to avoid…self-control is something I do not want to be tested on!  I feel like daily I mess this one up! Especially if it is measured by the words that escape my lips.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the following verse in Titus was the word “training”.  God’s grace is training us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives…it is a process of faith and trust.  It is the gospel.  I desire to live this way…to be trained to live this way…because I’m so very thankful for what Jesus has done for me and what He continues to do for me.  And my future hope is my motivation to hang on through the training.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:11-14

I think self-control looks like me not acting as the world would see fit, but rather as God has called me to walk – in the fruit of the Spirit.

This blog was waaaaayyyy longer than I planned, but  I hope it blesses you.  I’ve been so thankful to go through these verses and see how God has worked them all together.  And I’m going to continue to think through how to practically apply the fruit of the Spirit to all aspects of my life, but particularly my “toddlerish” attitude toward sharing. 🙂

Help Me Beez Good

Image  This past Sunday morning, my kids and I were sitting around the living room sharing prayer requests and talking.  As we prepared to bow our heads, my youngest daughter asked if she could pray.   I said, “Sure, sweetie!”

Now Allison can be a little spicy…you never know how much spice is gonna hitcha, but hitcha it will.  So I was expecting something if not surprising, at least amusing, to come out of her beautiful little lips.

I opened us in prayer and then she shared her prayer…

“God help me beez good…”

It was followed by a request that others of the family would beez good as well…we all smiled.

My sweetheart struggles with anger, frustration, and acting out.  Just like the rest of us.

We all needed that prayer.

I definitely need to pray that prayer too.

I just finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.  It’s a beautiful story…a challenging story…a story that puts my struggles in perspective.

It’s beautiful because of God in these people…in Corrie and her family and their friends.

Its’ challenging because I want so much to be like them…like Corrie ten Boom’s mother who graciously gives even when they have so little, who takes the time to reach out to those in need even though she herself is in need, who steadfastly loves God and her family and everyone around her.

I want to be like that.

I want to be good like that…not just for the sake of being good though.  I don’t just want to appear good, I want to actually do good…be good for God.

How many people’s lives were touched because of the simple, loving faith of that beautiful woman?

I know sometimes stories don’t share the rough days when tempers flared or frustrations were evident, but even so, the beauty of a woman willing to love others despite her own poverty and pain…that’s glorious.  That’s good.

Writing about being or doing good is always tricky…especially because I’m all about grace.  I don’t want to live without grace and I want to be overflowing with it toward others.

But God does call us to do good…

And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap,

if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,

and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:9-10

Paul’s description of good, I think, is laid out in the verses before these.  Verses were he shares the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – and in verses where he reminds us to “walk by the Spirit.”  He calls us to do good, but it is with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the realization that it is not within our power to do much of anything truly good without God.

I think the good comes in…when I love well, when I speak words that encourage and edify, when I don’t sin in my anger, when I offer hospitality no matter the inconvenience, when I forgive for the millionth time…those are good things…exquisitely good.  And those things…those things offered as sacrifices of praise to God…that is us loving God.  That is us thanking God.  That is us loving others.  That is us doing good.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have

to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. 

If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength

God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. 

To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 4:8-11

Not good for good’s sake…or good so others can see that we are good…it’s good for God.

As a parent, I don’t want my children to think that they have to be good to earn love…not from me or from God.  But sometimes I think that is the message I give without meaning to.  But God NEVER gives that message to us.

He says, “When you were at your worst, at just the right time, I died for you.”

He says, “I love you and you are precious period.”

He says, “I forgive you.”  There is no “again” at the end of that sentence, because God doesn’t keep count…I do, but He doesn’t.

My heart just leapt in my chest at that realization.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to his children,

So the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:8-14

I can’t be good.  Just can’t do it.  I can pray for it, but really I don’t think I can do it.  But the Holy Spirit working through me can do it!  He can give me the ability to love others well, to serve well, to be all those things I want to be that constitute good.

I think an appropriate list of what it means to be good is 1 Corinthians 13:1-8…how cool that those verse describe God…and God, who is love, is good is He not!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,

but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,

but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

Today when my sweet little Allison gets home from school I’m going to talk to her about being good.  But not the usual talk.  You know the one, “Sweetie, can you choose to be good today?  To be kind?”

I’m going to talk to her about how Jesus is the only one who can truly help us to be or do good.  That I’m so proud of her for asking Him to help her.  And I’m going to ask if she’ll pray with me – that we can both beez good!

stormy skySanity in the Storm
Why is it that I’m most productive, energetic, and awake after eleven pm?  Seriously.  Why can’t I be a morning person?  Actually I think I would be if I would just GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!  I know if I put my head on my pillow I’d be sound asleep in seconds and yet I’m sitting here typing…goofball.

I’ve just gotta get on a better schedule…it’s probably going to mean that I don’t get much done for at least a day…or a night. But golly it would be a good thing to do!

I’m highly motivated to get things done. I’ve started writing down a lot of to-do lists and I’m thoroughly enjoying checking things off.  I feel much better about things…although there are definitely days when I don’t have the pleasure of checking off many things on my list.  Days when things just don’t go as planned and everything goes wonky on me.  

I’m finding that much of my success depends on my attitude. A positive attitude seems to enable me to accomplish more. I think it’s because I’m not allowing myself to feel or be defeated by the day. 

I trust God even when things go kablooey. I know that God will use even the craziest of days to help me be the woman He designed me to be. 

The blog I’m sharing from MomLifeToday.com, Sanity in the Storm, is one a wrote about a totally different kind of list…my list of things that overwhelm.  Unfortunately I seem to be able to check everything on that list almost daily.  I do definitely struggle with the whole overwhelmed thing…entirely too much if you ask me.  Especially considering I KNOW that God loves me and will not give me more than I can handle with Him.

The problem is that I keep trying to handle everything without Him.  Again…goofball. 

I do know without a doubt that God did not make me to be overwhelmed nor did He make me to do my life without Him.  I’m made for so much more…I’m made for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control…all those fruit of the Spirit…and I’m made for relationship with my Lord and Savior!  I’m made to do this life with Him.

And I’m so thankful because I can’t imagine any other way to do it!

Am I a minute from angry? Or a minute from peace?

iced tea photo“Momma! Look there’s a tea with the word Relax on it! You should get that!”

“Yes. Yes I should!” I replied.

And although the tea is very yummy and I’ve had several glasses, it has not helped me relax…or I’m just too stressed for words or tea or anything…

I hate being stressed.

I can feel it. It’s an air of impatience…an attitude of annoyance…and a minute from angry.
In the car today my 7 year old kept asking me questions. And each sentence started with “Mama?” And my response was not, “Yes sweetie?”
It was more like a very testy exasperated, “Whaaattt?!”

I’ll give myself a little bit of leeway being that I was driving in traffic on I-95, but really I don’t deserve much at all. I have darling children…even when they are being stinkers.

I have no excuse for being such a fusspot.

My poor children. Even when they were good today, I wasn’t the sweet momma I like to be. And when they were naughty…yikes!!! Everyone DUCK!!!!
And all this fussiness has made me think of how easily it is for me to apply scripture to other people and even to circumstances, but I sometimes forget to apply it to myself especially when I’m persnickety.

So I’m preaching some gospel to myself…

In the past I used to pray daily that God would fill me with the fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to
Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit,
Let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

But then I realized that I already have the fruit of the Spirit in me because I already have the Holy Spirit and He comes with all those beautiful qualities. It’s my choice whether I live them out loud or not.

If I couldn’t do it God wouldn’t say to us through Paul:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

There are some words in there that really convict me…humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace…all words I want to describe my parenting, my family, and my home.

Humility to set aside how bad my day is going so that I can be a kind mom. Just because I’m the stressed out parent doesn’t mean I get to take it out on those precious children God gave me.
Gentleness in my speech and attitude with my children. I’m modeling behavior to my children. I’d love for them to treat each other with more gentleness. I believe that will start to happen more regularly when they see me speaking calmly, kindly, and tenderly.

Patience being my response to all those silly frustrating things that happen when you live with 5 other people. Probably should have taken a few deep breaths before I responded to my children’s disobedience or just plain childishness.

Loving my family even when they aren’t exactly the easiest people to love…goodness knows I needed some of that love today. That verse “bearing with one another in love” means accepting each other and loving one another even when we are not acting lovable.

Unity…being united in our love for one another and our love for the Lord. Being willing sometimes to put aside what we want or how we feel to bless someone else.

Peace is the tone I want to set for my home. Peace that God is with us always…that He will give us strength for the day and hope for tomorrow.

I feel a little better just having opened the Word and reminded myself that I’m not a victim of my emotions or feelings. I can choose to trust that God has equipped me to live a life that pleases Him even on my fussiest of days.

My Newest MomLife Today post!

This month at www.MomLifeToday.com we are dealing with that age-old mommy problem – anger.  Mom’s March MADness! 

I know that I struggle with this…it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and feel frustrated.  There are days when fire and smoke spew from my ears and words I’d rather keep to myself spill from my lips.  It’s definitely a huge prayer in my life…that God would give me the strength to rise about the frustrations. I would like to really show the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  After all God has already given them to me…why is it so difficult to use them, show them, and offer them? I believe this is another one of those things I do in God’s strength…with God’s perspective.  Let us join together and pray that God will give us an overflowing of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives so that we can bless our children.  And maybe stop the smoke and fire :)!