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

Latest posts by Sara (see all)

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!

 

 

 

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Anger unchecked is explosive. It can leave physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. Learning how to keep anger from exploding into sin is a must in this society. We must not only teach ourselves but our children what to do when anger arises.

Watching the news makes it pretty obvious that we as a society are not doing a good job. Instead of encouraging others to not let their anger spew, it has become acceptable and encouraged. Then people wonder why it seems like every other day violent outbursts are literally killing others.

Being Cautious with Anger

Anger is a tricky thing because it is not a sin to be angry but if we do not deal with it then we can sin in our anger.

We have a set of questions that gets repeated often with a houseful of strong headed kids. These typically get asked when someone becomes angry:

Is it ok to be angry? Yes.

Is it ok to sin in our anger? No.

It is ok if a situation brings feelings of anger, but it’s how we choose to handle that anger that determines whether or not we sin in our anger. So how do we keep anger from exploding into sin?

When Anger Erupts

The other night one of our precious children’s anger erupted into a sinful flow of burning lava. The child at first tried to control it, but then gave completely into it. The child’s demeanor changed and the anger that was boiling inside his heart was so evidently displayed on the face and spewed out through his actions.

It was obvious that our son was struggling. Wanting to lash out was the last thing he wanted to do but he couldn’t figure out how to keep his anger in check.

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

After cooling down a bit, my precious son walked up to me with a Bible in hand, asking for Bible stories about anger. Knowing full well what this child needed to hear, God put a passage on my heart and his. It was amazing how they complimented each other and taught the lesson he needed to hear.

Holding onto to our anger

Because the anger our son had was geared toward another sibling, I chose for us to read Genesis 4, which is the story of when Cain killed his own brother Able.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:4b-5

After reading that passage, I pulled our son in close and we started to compare his situation to Cain’s.

Me: Did you notice the description of Cain’s face? It was “downcast.”  Do you know how your face looks right now?

Looking into a mirror, he was quickly able to see what a downcast face looks like. His demeanor changed a little upon seeing the anger written upon his face.

Then we refocused on verses 6-7:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

God came to Cain. He asked him why he was angry and warned him not to let sin overtake him. But Cain chose to allow anger to rule his heart instead of leaning in and giving it to God. The result was horrific. He allowed anger to not only rule that moment but his life. He killed his own brother.

In turning back to our son, I asked, “Are you willing to hold onto your justified anger and let it stew in your heart against your brother? God doesn’t recommend it and doesn’t want you to sin by holding on to it. Do you know 1 John  says hating your brother is like murdering him? Do you really want to murder him?

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

Giving our Anger to God

The passage my son asked to read could not have been more perfect for this situation. I was amazed that he even remembered it. We’ve only read the story once while reading through the Chronological Bible, but it obviously made an impact with him. He wanted to read the Number 16, which is the story of Korah leading a rebellion against Moses.

His specific request was, “Mom, can we read the story about when the earth opened up and swallowed those people?” So I’m not sure if in that moment he was hoping for some justification as to why his annoying little sibling should be swallowed up whole or if he remembered how Moses handled his anger. Either way, God was about to use this story to remind both of us of a valuable lesson.

This was the perfect passage because like my son Moses had a reason to be angry, but Moses chose to handle his anger in a completely different way than Cain did.

Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”
Numbers 16:15

Do you see the difference? Moses went straight to God with his anger!  This is exactly what we need to do. When anger balls up in us and we want to lash out, take it to God instead of taking it out on others. Allow God to deal with those who hurt you. Let him dispense justice, but even more pray for them that the person’s heart and attitude will be changed.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written [Deut. 32:35] : “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:19

And boy did God avenge Moses!

As soon as [Moses] finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions…And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
Numbers 16:31,21,35

When Anger Flares up – Stop, Drop, & Pray

Anger much like fire is all consuming. It destroys what holds it as well as everything around it if it is not properly cared for, so when anger flares up in our lives, we need to be like Moses. Stop, drop, & pray!

So that’s exactly what we did. We took the time out to pray and ask God to calm his spirit as well as find better ways of dealing with his siblings.

I don’t want to raise Cains that think it’s ok to let the sin of anger overtake them and unleash their wrath on the world. So we will continue to keep anger from exploding into sin and pray our children will encourage others to do the same as well.

 

 

 

Broken Home Redeemed

Broken Home Redeemed

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

Latest posts by Sara (see all)

Single Parent Broken Home Redeemed

This is personal, from the heart and the message is hope. If only one single parent reads this and is encouraged it’s mission accomplished.

As a single mom I often feel like the odds are stacked against my son and I. We go through seasons where it seems like we are gaining ground, almost catching up to what seems like everyone else’s normal. Then in my fear, anxiety and exhaustion I lose sight of God’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us and the next thing I know I feel like we are back in a season of failure.

I’m coming to know it as the broken home mindset. Whether it is our living situation, finances, or grades I always feel like there is a “them” and “us” dynamic. Always.

Them = the family that has a husband and wife working as a team, with kids blossoming as a result.

Us =Me unprepared hoping for the best and my kid trusting me to know what the heck I’m doing. (I don’t.)

I constantly have to remind myself that our culture’s measure of success is not God’s design. Is raising my son in a broken home God’s design? No. But, since coming to faith I have learned that our home is only as broken as I allow it to be.

Faith Gives Me Power

Faith gives me power over the heavy reality that I cannot change the past. I cannot undo divorce. I cannot erase the hurt it has caused my son. But I can trust God not to waste the pain, that is the power of the grave. I can trust God to use our story of redemption to encourage others who carry the same burden. I can trust God, period.

I am constantly evaluating the ways my household does not measure up. And I’m often frustrated that our wins seem short lived, I’ll be honest that’s how I’m feeling as I type this. Add to that the guilt I feel for having these thoughts because we are blessed in so many ways! We have so much to be thankful for, but the grass is always greener, right? It’s completely unrealistic for me to compare my home to households that have more resources to accomplish the things that I only wish I could. It’s easy to see my son and I at a disadvantage. But I’ve never encountered a resource more life changing than God himself. Where is the disadvantage in that?

Even still, the “if only” scenarios come in waves. The waters calm for longer periods of time, I’m so thankful for that. But the reality of this life is that those waves are unpredictable in their nature and their ebb and flow is cause for many sighs. I cannot just decide one day that I will never again feel sorry for myself. That’s just not possible. There are too many seemingly picture perfect families around me for that to happen, and my core sin is envy. (I know I know, no family is perfect… envy people. It has no filter). However, I can promise to look up and surrender those moments of weakness to the God who promises this…

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Calling Out These Thoughts

For transparency sake, and in case someone is reading this feeling isolated by the thoughts that lead us astray, let’s just call out a few of the thought patterns that create the divide and give life to “us” and “them”.

Guilt – “If only I had done [insert long list of regrets] differently, my son would have a better life.” (Right. Because it doesn’t take two to tango.)

Outcast – “My family doesn’t do divorce. Hardly any of my friends are divorced. How did I end up like this? Where do I fit in?” (According to the CDC website, the provisional number of divorces and annulments in the US were 879,000 the year I became a single mother. Looks like I’m not alone after all.)

Unworthy – “I know I’m not worthless as in worth nothing, but I seem to be worth less.”

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)

From a worldly standpoint it may appear that single parent homes are broken homes. But friends, if God has used this trial to bring you to the foot of the cross and you are raising your kids to know and love Jesus and you are living your life in pursuit of God, then wouldn’t you call that a broken home redeemed? You’d be crazy not to.

Here is what you need to do when that broken home mindset kicks in:

  1. Take those thoughts captive that say you are “less than”.
  2. Say the name of Jesus out loud and claim power over the lies that set you back in your moments of weakness. (Those moments will come, but you aren’t powerless against them.) Ask God to replace those lies with truth.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

You’ve got this, and Gods got you.

 

The Quiet Bag “How To”

The Quiet Bag “How To”

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

A few weeks ago, a post of mine about “The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag” was reposted. It really sparked my thinking.

I have been immensely blessed in my life with several older moms who have shared their wisdom, experience, and humor with me. They have done so with grace, with understanding, and with much love. They help keep me grounded and they help keep me going, even when it seems I will be swallowed by dishes, dirty laundry, and discipline!

I asked several of them the practical “how-to” of putting together a quiet bag for little ones. The following is a compilation of their wisdom and one or two ideas of mine:

The Quiet Bag

  • Do only put quiet items in there. (The noise-making trucks and dolls that cry are mesmerizing to kids, but are like your cell phone ringing–they only ever make noise during the quietest point of worship!)
  • Do switch it out monthly. (Everyone gets bored with the same stuff.)
  • Do store it in a place where your child can’t play with it during the week. (That way, by Sunday, those items are “new” and therefore more exciting.)
  • Do try to wait to open it till the sermon (or perhaps the Lord’s Supper. When my little guy was younger, I would have a special book and fun jewelry for him to look at during the Lord’s Supper and then would open his special quiet bag during the sermon). Don’t waste your bag of tricks until you really need it!
  • If your child has a snack mid-morning, do include a snack in your quiet bag! Just make sure that it is easy to clean up. There WILL be spills. Often on yourself.
  • Try to include things that are church- or God-oriented if you can. (This doesn’t always work, but if you have some Bible board books, it is great to get your little one thinking about Godly things and associating God with worship time!)
  • Do have everything prepared BEFORE Sunday morning. That saves your sanity as well as your time. Somehow, Sunday mornings don’t seem to have as much time in them as other days of the week!
  • Don’t feel bad if your kid doesn’t like what you put in there! He/she is a person too, with their own likes and dislikes. Just switch out the items for something they enjoy more.

Items you could include in your quiet bag

  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers and notepad
  • Fake wallet (It may be unwise to hand them your actual driver’s license and debit card!)
  • Books
  • Soft toys/stuffed animals
  • Lacing cards
  • Mirrors
  • Jewelry
  • Snacks
  • Aquadoodle
  • EtchaSketch
  • Puzzles
  • Items that button, zip, or snap (an old wallet, old Bible cover, etc.)

 

What would you add? God bless you and your littles as you train them to know and worship God!

The Real Love Game

The Real Love Game

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

What is love?

In our house, we decided to turn learning about love into what I call “The Real Love Game.”

So many movies, books, magazines, songs, and TV shows have attempted to answer this question. Although some of the answers (like Saturday Night Live’s skit versions) are obviously not the right answer, there are many others that have added confusion to an already confused world.

The Real Definition of Love

That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite passages.  In black and white, it explains what love – real love – looks like.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hope,
always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

1-corinthians-13_4-7

Every year when February rolls around and LOVE starts to fill the air and the store shelves, we try to instill God’s meaning of love in our hearts as well as our children’s hearts. We do this so that as they grow and are introduced to the things of this world, they will know the difference between real love and fake love.  

The Real LOVE Game & Different Ways of Teaching our Kids about Real Love

Now, stop for a second.  Did you notice anything really interesting?  If you’re a numbers person, you might…within verses 4-7 there are fourteen different descriptions of love.  One for every day from February 1-Valentines Day! A few years ago, when I noticed this, we made a point to make sure every morning when our children woke up a heart with one of these descriptions was hanging somewhere in the house.

There are so many different ways to play with these hearts:

  • For several years, we hung them on a Valentine wreath in the living room.
  • We’ve even given them to our children like Valentines from God, one a day from February 1st-14th.
  • Last year we hung them on our kitchen window, where we do our school work during the day.
  • This year, I decided we are going to play a game with it.  Every morning when our children wake up, they will go searching for love!  Because isn’t that what most of us have done in life? As we are growing up, aren’t we always on the look out for true love? Once they find the heart, we will sit and talk about what it means and memorize it.  Then we can add it to our memory verse wall so we can add to it daily and by day 14 we will have these three verses memorized.
  • I actually plan on having two sets of these hearts.  One set to hide and hang up and the other set to use as a memory verse scramble.  Every time we add another heart the kids will mix up the hearts and then put them in the correct order.
  • What immediately pops into your mind?

 

Let Us Know How Your Family Plays the Real Love Game!

If you would like to play this game with us or your own version, here are the fourteen hearts. We would love to see how you use them.  Share your ideas with us by posting to social media and using #CaGDRealLove

Real Love Heart Game

Real Love Game Printable

Not only do we want our kids to know what love is, but we want them to know where it is found: in Christ Jesus.  If we are letting Jesus fill our hearts with His love, then we will not be easily swayed by the world.  And we want them to know how to share his love too.

Craving God’s Love

There is a song by For King and Country called “The Proof of Your Love” that recites parts of 1 Corinthians 13.  So many people who have only heard this song and have never read the Bible have come up to them and said how amazing and beautiful those words are and how that idea of love just captivates them. You see, the world is craving God’s love and they don’t even know it yet!

As we play this game with our kids, maybe we could also sprinkle some of these hearts around our neighborhoods too.  Share God’s amazing love with our neighbors, with store clerks and with whomever we run into during the day.  Just for fun one day maybe you could go love on some cars by putting these hearts under windshield wipers in a parking lot.  You never know how that little heart just might open someone’s heart to God’s word now or later.

Lord, we thank you for loving us like you do.  We absolutely do not deserve it and yet you give it freely and without reserve.  Your mercy and grace are showered upon us daily.  Our hearts sing songs of thanksgiving and praise for all the love you have bestowed upon us.  Give us courage to freely share this amazing love with others. In the One who did not hesitate to show what true love is all about – Amen!

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Unified Church Living Out Love on Valentines Day Family Prayer Wall Building Up Your Leaders

so-let-my-life-be-the-proof

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

You’re in the middle of worship. The entire church has their heads bowed in fervent, quiet prayer when suddenly your kid erupts like a verbal volcano and discovers that your previously vetted out and carefully chosen toy can be:


  • whacked noisily against the pew in front of you,
  • launched like a Cuban missile onto the other side of the auditorium,or
  • just in general be likened to an explosion of sound and excitement.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that mixture of panic, frustration, and embarrassment. These things never seem to happen in the middle of a great, noisy, swelling song, only during Communion or a prayer! So what’s the secret to making your quiet bag a success? I’m here with the answers. Maybe…

Grace

Pack in grace for yourself. Grace for your kid. Grace knowing that no matter how hard you try or how well you prepare, you can’t always be perfect or utterly quiet or completely still. And that’s OK.

I’m not saying to let your kid run loose on Sunday morning while throwing him goldfish in the middle of the sermon. But I am saying that it’s OK if neither you or your kid are perfect. Give yourself the grace that you would extend to other moms. And find peace in the fact that God sees your efforts and will reward them.

Patience

I know. This is like a dirty word with Christians. The problem with praying for patience is that you get it, right?

But you’ll need it. You need lots and lots and lots of patience to quiet your kids, to miss yet another chunk of the worship service, to smile instead of strangle.

Patience is knowing that you’re doing this for the end game. Nobody in their right mind says, “Boy, that mother of two toddlers and a baby is coming to church and just filling her spiritual cup to overflowing.”

patience

What she’s doing is showing her kids that even when it’s hard for her, even when it’s not ideal for her, even when she may only get five minutes out of the worship service–it is still the most important thing to do. There is nothing more important than going to worship the Creator of the Universe. To give Him the praise and adoration He deserves. And to teach our kids to do the very same.

A Sense of Humor

This is, perhaps, the key to surviving not just a worship service, but motherhood in general! Laughing at the crazy, the ludicrous, and the full moon coming out in your kid (and perhaps you!) is the best way to relieve your stress.

It’s OK to find it funny when your son has a poopsplosion in the middle of opening prayer. And It’s OK to giggle when he happily shares his now-slimy cheerios with the little widow you chose to sit next to this morning. Finding joy in these moments is perfectly OK!

Without joy, you’ll turn into a little ball of stress–and that’s no fun for anyone.

So this Sunday, good luck! And good mothering!

proverbs-22_6

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Be a Bible Class Teacher Praying the Psalms God is in Control Submissive Wife

Pin It on Pinterest