Control Issues

Control Issues

Sara

Sara

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara

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Oh man, seventh grade strikes again. It was torture enough the first time around and this go-round with my soon-to-be thirteen-year-old is no more enjoyable. However, he has a couple of things going for him that I didn’t at this painfully awkward age–good looks and confidence. And he has such a huge heart! Seriously folks, I could gush about him forever, but I digress. Grades. The struggle is real. I know there are plenty of parents who feel me on this.

Parenting isn’t for the Faint of Heart

September 29, 2015, was a day that I could not have felt more inept at the game of parenting. During the short drive to school my son again informed me he didn’t know what he needed to follow up on with his teachers. At this point I’d done everything in my power to help him be successful (or so I thought). I’d bought all the necessary tools, sat with him for hours to help with homework, and made lists for him. You name it, I addressed it to no avail. He hadn’t changed a single approach to any of his classes or assignments.

I lost it. I yelled, he cried, it was ugly. He got out of the car and just like that I’d ruined any hope he had at a successful day. He likely wouldn’t operate well under that kind of stress. I was at a total and complete loss and in that moment begged God to step in, saying,  “I’ve got nothing left here, please help us! I can’t watch him fail and I don’t know what else to do!” I’m not sure I prayed too much about it before this point. Yet somehow I thought I’d already done everything I could do. The very second I finished praying I got a text message from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in some time. It read:

“Good morning, friend. Prayed for the Lord’s help in the decisions that you have to make. I saw you open-handed toward God, as though saying ‘I have nothing, I need your help.’ He sees you, and loves both you and Andrew so much.”

Overwhelmed by God’s Response

Commence the uncontrollable sob fest that lasted the whole way to work, a good thirty minutes. I’m not talking sad cries–I really don’t know the appropriate descriptor for it–but I was overwhelmed by God’s amazing response to my plea. She had no idea what was going on at that particular moment! I hadn’t spoken to her about this struggle, and we hadn’t even kept in touch like we used to. So for her to reach out with that timing and those words was the perfect way for God make 100% clear that He heard, He cared, and He was already in it. But I could not quite make sense of the part of her text that mentioned decisions I needed to make.

Since that day his grades have improved. Great news, right? Kinda, but not really. I’m coming to learn that this is only half the battle. Maybe more like a quarter of the battle. The problem is that his habits have not changed, and neither have mine. I’ve become a drill sergeant and I’ve tried taking control by micromanaging the status of all his assignments and scores in each class. Thanks to technology and online gradebooks, this is possible.

Learning to Let Go of My Control Issues

Maaaybe not such a good thing. I’ve effectively conditioned my son to take direction from me rather than take initiative for himself. It is like I’m taking seventh grade all over again and there is this nagging voice in my head asking, “Shouldn’t your approach have changed after God’s message back in September?”

Enter the part about the decisions I have to make. More than one person has suggested I let him fail, because “maybe it’s the best way for him to learn.” I sit there and nod my head in agreement but cringe on the inside. What kind of parent would I look like if he had bad grades? I’m a single mom and he comes from a broken home. I loathe these stereotypes and what people expect from these circumstances.

So I’m fighting it to the death and it is my selfish pride that is interfering with the very work I’m pleading with God to do in my son! Will I get out of the way and give control over to God? Or do I care too much about what people will think of me to allow God to teach my son how to succeed in his own timing without me interfering? Without me forcing results?

I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the “let go and let God” part, but I’m a work in progress. We’ll be taking this one day at a time, the kid, God and I. The part of my friend’s prayer that made the least sense to me at the time is now the focal point of my dilemma. God help me in the decisions I have to make!

He Cares for You

Several months ago God gave me this verse for a struggle I was not going to overcome without His help.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:7

(It seems I’m a slow learner.)

While we should be obedient and trust God, this verse reminds us that He doesn’t ask us to give our struggles to him because he has control issues. It is a love-driven invitation to watch God do beautiful works in and around us. What reason is there not to accept?

Is God asking you to release control over something you are trying to manage on your own? If the answer is yes, then like me you have a decision to make.

How have you seen God show up in your life when you stop trying to take control? Encourage us with your story in the comments below!

 

 

 

The Great Unknown: The Land of Obedience

The Great Unknown: The Land of Obedience

Ali R

Hey! While most of my life was spent in Colorado, I am happy to now call Oklahoma my home. I am amazingly blessed to have a supportive and God-fearing husband who is also a terrific dad to our four kiddos (who we had in a 3 year 9 month time frame). I love to drink coffee, sing, hear people’s stories and have dance parties. I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and desire to share that gift with every person that I meet. My hope is that I can encourage someone today with and through the Word of God and His steadfast love. ::psalm 27:4::

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“Then the LORD said to him,

‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said,

‘I will give it to your descendants.’

I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’”

– Deuteronomy 34:4

 

I have read this passage about God speaking to Moses multiple times. Every time, all I have ever seen was the love of God as He let Moses actually see the Promised Land even though he wouldn’t be able to enter into it (Numbers 20:12). Blame it on my optimism or my view of God, but I have never looked beyond that sweet act of mercy. It was almost as if God had told Moses:

“I made a promise years ago and you have always trusted in that promise.

You may not have understood where I was leading you, but you always followed.

I led you into a land of unknown for forty years and you never stopped seeking Me.

 It is because of this that I will show you what I said was true.

I want you to know, my son, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”

How could you not be overwhelmed with the grace and love of God in that moment? He is so good to us even though we don’t deserve it. Because of this great truth, I looked at the passage differently last week when I read it. I could not help but look beyond God’s blessing and look at God Himself, as Moses did. Even though he knew he would not inherit the blessing of the Promised Land, he continued to trust and serve the Lord. Just knowing God was enough reason for Moses to obey all those years spent wandering in the wilderness. It didn’t matter where he was going or what God would give him in the end. If God said “Go,” Moses started walking.

Of course, God, in all his perfect timing, placed this truth on my heart in a season where there are many unknowns and uncertainties of what lies ahead. In a season like this, doubt and fear can easily infiltrate my heart if I do not hold on to God’s promises. Friend, if you find yourself in the same season of life, my hope and prayer is that these words the Lord placed on my heart would also encourage you…

“I made a promise years ago and I need you to trust in that promise.

You may not understand where I am leading you, but I need you to follow.

While I lead you into a land of the great unknown, never stop seeking Me.

I will show you what I said was true.

I want you to know, my daughter, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”

So what do you say, beloved?

The Great Unknown_ Call to Action

A Restless Mind and Where to Find True Rest

A Restless Mind and Where to Find True Rest

Sara

Sara

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara

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A Restless Mind

Rest is often elusive for me. My mind goes crazy at night. I lie in bed with my eyes closed, desperate for sleep to relieve me of my thoughts. On a good night it takes about an hour from the time my head hits the pillow to the time my thoughts become dreams. Almost always my thoughts and dreams are driven by whatever my last focus was before going to bed.

If I checked my work email then I’m mentally mapping out the next work day. If I checked my son’s grades online I’m stressing about timelines of projects he has due. If I watched TV my mind runs wild with meaningless nonsense. If I’ve read my Bible I’m thinking on who I’ve read about and pondering the lesson learned, which almost always leads to prayer. That is when I stumble into a state of peace and my body releases the weight of all of life’s preoccupations. This is when I don’t toss and turn, when I allow my faith to usher me to sleep through the truest form of rest, God’s word.

 

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Mentally Checked Out

Many of us have days where we come home from work tired and spent with not a whole lot left to give. I’ve commiserated with friends and family who also have to commute to work about the zombie-like state that sitting in traffic puts us in. Walking through the front door sometimes feels more like sleepwalking through the front door.

These are the days that I just want to spend the evening retreating from anything requiring brain activity. On goes the TV, occasionally followed by a glass of wine. The kid will have to grab a can of something out of the cupboard for dinner. The Mom in me is a no-show. The employee in me has clocked out. The friend in me is off the radar. I just need to not be needed in any capacity and rest.

So what about the Christian in me?

Does the Christian in me get to check out when I’m tired? The answer should be “no”, but the reality is that a lack of discipline will result in just that. Ironically my vices for “rest” are anything but. They do nothing to draw me nearer to an honest encounter with renewal, and instead leave me feeling guilty. The guilt? Only makes me more tired. Clearly checking out in front of the TV and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook only makes things worse.

I experience the opposite when I train myself to take a more disciplined approach. When I choose to open my bible, listen to worship music, or watch an online sermon, the things that occupy my mind which make me so tired take a back seat. The result is that when I do turn the lights off and close my eyes, my preoccupations are no longer center stage. They do weave their way back into my thoughts, which is an opportunity to take my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), and that is so much easier to do when I’ve just finished reading scripture. It gives me a mental focal point to draw back to, a truth to rest in.

Tossing and turning night after night is a frustrating experience, but a friend reminded me recently that it is a process of training ourselves to take our thoughts captive. It does not happen overnight. It is a process that we can trust God to solidify in us if we are willing to stay the course.

How do you find rest?

What are the vices for rest that you use to distract yourself from the pressures of every day life? Have you experienced true rest from those things?

What thoughts do you take to sleep with you on a daily basis? Do you have scripture readily available to combat Satan’s schemes? Are you equipped to take your thoughts captive?

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More Encouraging Posts:

Bold Prayers Your Worth Speak Life

What Happened When I Deleted Facebook

What Happened When I Deleted Facebook

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Social Media is Good…Except When It’s Not

This is not your typical talk of social media cleanse. You see, I’m on social media all the time–undoubtedly more than I should be, but nevertheless I usually feel no guilt. I enjoy keeping up with my friends and family. Those crazy articles keep me entertained with the comment section. I love reading blogs and encouraging posts from some of my favorite Christian authors. Those tasty cooking videos inspire me to cook dinner. I enjoy Facebook and other social media throughout the day and I feel no shame!

Except for when I’m on it too much. When I can’t even hear God’s voice because I’m so tuned in to the voice of everyone else. I knew I needed a break, so I planned a trip to my in-laws. It was the perfect set up. They would play with my toddler and I could dive into the Bible and spend some much needed time in prayer. The part I felt most convicted about? A break from social media. Five days!

This wasn’t coming from a negative perspective, as I really do enjoy social media. One of our awesome contributors Megan, wrote about how social media can be a tool and I love, love, love her perspective on that! And earlier I wrote about how I was trying to achieve balance with my phone time. I knew I was starting to get consumed again and I was running out of steam. I needed to go offline. No big fuss. Just a quiet break.

Deleting Facebook

To prove my commitment to myself I deleted the Facebook app from my phone! About five minutes later I started to feel the weight of what I was doing. I picked up my phone out of habit and went for Facebook, but of course, it wasn’t there. “This might be harder than I thought,” I said to myself. Suddenly I felt a little bit of freedom. This was going to be a personal retreat–a time to leave all of my distractions behind and embrace God’s presence.

I could tell that Facebook was desperate for my return–not my friends–actual Facebook. My email inbox started filling with e-mails about the notifications I had piling up and posts my friends were making. I felt tempted to log on, but I didn’t! I made it through the five days without Facebook and I was so proud of myself for sticking to it!

So other than an exercise in self-control, what did I gain from this experience?

Time to think. The first day I had some quiet moments and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. But I learned to spend those moments in God’s Word. I worked my way through more of the Bible in those five days than I have in a very long time. All that reading gave me more dialogue with the Lord, and God revealed so much to me. I realized that I’m probably missing out on a lot of what God wants to show me when I’m overly consumed with social media.

When my five days were up I excitedly downloaded the app again, and enjoyed updating myself on everyone’s happenings. I saw two pregnancy announcements, one engagement, and another had their baby. As excited as I was to be back in the loop, I had a new excitement–the excitement that comes from turning off social media so that I can hear the Lord.

Hosea 6:3 says,

Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring. (NLT)

hosea-6_3

I’ve seen this to be true in my own life. When I take the time to seek God, he is always there to show me more. We can’t always get away for five days (wouldn’t that be nice!) but we can still find time to hear God. We just have to look for the spaces in our day that we are filling mindlessly. There is something to be said for putting our time with God first. I don’t want to discredit that! If you are searching for more time with him though, this might be your answer! If you can, take a personal retreat sometime, even if only for a day. Turn off your social media apps, take a little time for yourself, and a lot of time for meeting with God. He will respond! 

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God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Say What?!

Yes!  He will give you more than you can handle!  I know the above statement will upset a lot of people because “It’s in the Bible.”  No, really, it’s not.  Find it.

Everyone believes that it is Biblical for two main reasons, I believe.  First, we want to believe that life as a Christian will be easy, that we will have few problems.  Well, without these challenges in life, we could not have the opportunity to grow in Christ.  The trials and tribulations we endure mature and cause us to grow as Christians.  If our life is perfect and we never face difficulty, we will not see our need for God.  Remember, the only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that a Christian has accepted Christ as his Savior.

Secondly, there is a verse in the Bible that is similar and has been misquoted to say that God will not give us more than we can handle.  If you looked up a verse, it was probably this one.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) states, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

1-corinthians-10_13

Let’s look further into this verse.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man.”  There is temptation all around us.  We face it everyday.  However, temptation is not a sin.  Remember, Jesus was tempted.  The sin is giving in to temptation.

How Much Can We Handle?

“…And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can handle turning away from.  He will leave you a way out so that you can “walk away” from the temptation without giving in to it.  God does not want to see us giving in to sin.  He always has a way out prepared for us, but we do not always go in the right direction.

Nowhere does it say in that verse that God will not give us more than we can handle.  This verse is about temptation, not about what God allows us to go through.  God wants us to turn to Him.

Do you turn to God?

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Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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Sin Is Not a GameHave you ever played the “hand slap” game?

In this game, one person’s hands are held palms up. The other person holds their hands hovering above with palms down. The person with their hands below tries to slap the top of the hands of the other person by either being fast enough or by being tricky. My kids love this game!

Once, when we were playing it, I had a thought from which an impromptu lesson flowed.

It was my turn to be “the slapper.” My hands were on the bottom and I was trying to slap the tops of my son’s hands. His two brothers watched in excitement to see who would be the victor. I was bringing my hands up every few seconds, not letting much time lapse in between strikes. My son sat on the edge of his seat in full alert mode, laser-focused, soberly watching for my next move.

I was missing his hands quite a bit!

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Then I changed my strategy.

I just let my hands be still. I didn’t strike. Instead, I let time pass while I calmly lay in wait. I waited until my son started to relax. He began to nervously giggle and even exclaim, “Mommy! What are you doing?”

I just smiled at him, kicking back my feet. Then I started to jerk my hands a bit, but no movements that alarmed him enough to be overly concerned. It didn’t take long for him to become used to even those jerks and so comfortable with it all that he let down his alert and relaxed his guard almost completely. When I saw that happen, with a maniacal laugh, I swooped up and SLAP!

I caught him off guard!

Laughter all around!

Sin Is Not a Game-2

The Trickery of Sin

Once we settled down–and I did my victory dance–I told them the game was like the trickery of sin.

I pointed out how I frequently missed his hands when he was on high alert, watching me like a hawk and pulling his hands back often. This is like a person who practices this verse:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

 

1 Peter 5:8

This person is watchful, looking out for the deception of sin. He pulls back from it when he sees it coming. This person also reads the Word of God so that he can discern what sin is, right from wrong, according to the Word and flee from it.

But when I changed my strategy to staying still, I pointed out that he became relaxed and let down his guard. Even when I jerked a little every so often, he got used to that movement also and let his guard continue to fall until SLAP!

This is like a person who becomes numb to the sin in their life. They let down their guard enough to let in “little sins.” Sins that they might consider unharmful. At first, the “little jerks” of the Holy Spirit stir their conscience, but eventually they become used to that stirring. They relax even further, letting in more and more sin until SLAP!

Bad things start happening and they wonder how they got to where they are. The bad things can be obvious, like going to jail or falling into different life-controlling addictions. Or perhaps the bad things are more subtle, like a dead prayer life, a lost desire to know God and read His Word, or an inability to even recognize sin anymore through justification of actions.

How Little Sins Lead to Bigger Sins

I now open up, saying that at different times in my life, I have been both of these types of people. Already fully knowing their mother is a seasoned sinner, they look unsurprised (Ha!). A good discussion followed on how little sins might cause numbing in our hearts. We talk about how little sins can lead to bigger sins, followed by a hard SLAP–either in this life or in eternity.

On a personal note, I know I need to read God’s Word more diligently. By doing so, I will be able to discern right from wrong and know Him more. I know I should memorize more scripture so that I can use it against the enemy’s lies about sin.

Since the beginning of this school year, I have started praying this verse over my children, myself, and my husband. Now I pray it over you who are reading this right now.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

 

Philippians 1:9-11

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To what sins have you become numb?

Do you consistently do anything contrary to God’s Word?

Do you know His Word well enough to know if you are acting contrary to His Word?

Feel free to share in the comments and we will pray with you.

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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