Monday, January 28, 2008

Searching for the Good

Searching For Good

Johann von Goethe said, “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”[i] Goethe’s very own mother was a perfect example of this positive outlook as it was said of her:
She had such a sunny, unselfish nature, that she was always happy herself, and always tried to make others happy. Her eyes only looked for all that was best in other people, and fault-finding was unknown to her. [ii]
Don’t we all want to be like Goethe’s dear mother, only seeing the good in others? It’s easy to focus on what our kids are doing wrong. But in the watch duty of searching for what they are doing wrong, we sometimes forget to look for what they are doing right, even if it is a simple thing. For instance, when is the last time you scolded your child in the check out line at the grocery store because he was whining and complaining. Did you think to say anything on those occasions (rare as they may be) when he was good in the checkout line?
Let’s determine to be like search lights, hunting down those stellar moments and taking the opportunity to acknowledge our kids for them. “Honey, you were so kind to the lady at the library today. I really appreciate that.” “Sweetheart I noticed your patience while we waited for your sister at the doctor’s office. Good job.” You’ll see them smile and sit up a little higher knowing their good qualities have been noted.

Family Fun: Create a “See The Good In Others Day.” Encourage your kids and husband to choose to look at the positive side of each person they encounter throughout the day, beginning with family members. For older kids give them several colorful index cards and have them write a note to others telling them of the good they see in them. Younger kids should be encouraged to tell others what they see. You may even buy an inexpensive pair of bright sunglasses as a reminder to each of the family members to focus on what is good in others. You can go to the Dollar store or make your own using poster board for the frame and colored cellophane for the lenses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not to Worry

No matter how hard we try, worry seems to creep in our hearts and minds as moms. As we think about each of our kids, we recognize many possibilities. Not just the possibilities of what they can achieve, but also the possibilities of what can happen to them. Let’s take both to the Lord in prayer. Certainly we want to be praying for all that the Lord wants to do in a positive way in the lives of our kids. As we see our kid’s gifts, talents and potential, we want to pray for God to specifically allow these to flourish and increase as well as be used to bless others. We also want to pray for our kid’s protection, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Let us entrust them to the Lord instead of living in anxiety. The apostle Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” I want that kind of peace as a mom, don’t you? I want my kids to grow up in a home environment where peace and not anxiety reigns. Don’t you? Then let’s commit together this week to pray about everything, giving our fears as well as our thanksgiving to the Lord.
Family Fun: Write a note to each of your kids telling them you are praying for them. Mention specific areas and details for which you are praying. Let them know how much you thank God for them as well. For younger kids, you may want to draw a picture of you praying or tell them how you pray for them. Encourage your children to share prayer requests with you so you know how to pray specifically

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Verse

Every January as I write out my goals, I choose one verse from the Bible as my “Verse for the Year.” Prayerfully I walk through familiar scriptures and ponder passages that may strike me as The One. There is no giant pointer that pops out from Heaven and leads me to one choice verse, but I usually do sense God’s leading toward a particular verse on which I need to focus. Honestly it usually ends up touching an area in my life where I am feeling a need for improvement or change or growth. So are you ready? Here it is, my verse for 2008 is (drum roll please), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Now that may seem like a simple concept to you, but honestly it effects me every day. Think of what it means to trust God with your whole heart. When we worry (which is a continual state of mind for some of us), we must redirect our thoughts and heart and trust God to see us through. When we don’t know what the outcome is going to be, we must trust God that he holds the future. When we feel like we don’t have what it takes to be a good mother we must trust God to lead us, guide us and give us strength. Trusting in the Lord is a deliberate choice we make instead of worrying, fretting or feeling like a failure. As I’ve jumped in with both feet into the new year, I’ve already put this verse into practice daily. My friend, may I tell you “trusting the Lord” is life transforming for me as a mom. There are problems I can’t solve, situations I can’t control, and choices that are not mine to make. I must trust God, not half-heartedly, but with my whole heart. We become different people when we live in trust and not fear. Our kids experience a different mom who lives in trust and not anxiety. We may not be able to understand God’s ways, or predict what He will do, but we can trust His love and care for us. We can trust His presence in our lives, for He will never leave us. Fellow mom, will you hold onto these eight powerful words in the year ahead? Trust in the Lord with all your Heart.

Family Fun: Choose a Bible verse to be your family Bible verse for the year. Write it on several index cards. Decorate the cards and place them throughout the house so you will see them often as a reminder. Refer to the verse whenever you have a teachable moment to do so. Use the verse as an encouragement to each other. Encourage older kids to choose their own personal verse for the year.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Be Still with God

Yesterday I picked up a book entitled, Be Still, 31 Days to a Deeper Meditative Prayer Life. It not only encourages the reader to step out of the busy pace of life, it also introduces a beautiful, centuries old, form of contemplative prayer called Lectio Divina (Latin for “divine” or “sacred” reading). As I read the introduction I was personally inspired to begin the 31 day journey to a deeper prayer life as laid out in the book. My prayer life always needs to grow and become more vibrant, and I bet you could say the same about yours. We never want to become stagnant or remain routine in the way we fellowship with the Lord. We must be intentional about being still with him against the backdrop of our run around, fill-my-calendar type of schedules. As moms, we need a time of quiet meeting with our Heavenly Father, to draw close to Him and recognize His sovereignty and power. Our joy is renewed as we spend time thanking God, and our anxieties are put to rest as we cast our cares on Him. So my friend, will you join me in making new steps in your prayer life this year? Let’s commit together to spend a quiet time alone with Him each day. I’m planning to start the actually Be Still book journey on February 6, Ash Wednesday, as I thought that may be a wonderful way to experience an even more meaningful Lent season. If you want to join me (you have exactly a month to go out and get the book) we can walk through this together and visit about our co-journey of prayer and growth. But don’t wait until Feb 6 to begin a time of stillness with God; begin today. May this be a year of prayer, a year of stillness and a year of contemplation for us all. Psalm 46:10 reminds us, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Family Fun: Purchase a simple spiral notebook and decorate the front using glue and construction paper or fabric. Make this your family prayer journal. Share requests together as a family, write them down in the journal and pray for one another. Don’t forget to record the answers to prayer as well. Encourage every member of your family to spend time alone with God in prayer.