I’ve been gulping down mercy in overwhelming doses because I have desperately needed it. As I press into God, I see my great need for His mercy and I understand that His discipline is an act of mercy and love. His holiness exposes my brokenness. But this God I serve calls me higher to a place of wholeness. I don’t say this from a desolate state, but more from a place of great hope and gratitude.
As I see His mercy on display toward me, it has forced me to look inward and ask the hard question. Have I been merciful to others, or am I apt to give them what they deserve? As of late, God has been using my parenting to give me the answer to this question. There are some days where my children excel at messing up instead of lining up with my commands.
While discipline is very much for the godly, I realize that love must drive my discipline and not revenge-there is a difference. Being merciful does not mean that there is an absence of discipline. However, being merciful means when I discipline, it is with the intention to facilitate restoration and to bring out the good and not dwell on the bad (i.e. constantly repeating your offense because I am disappointed in your behavior).
God is a good parent and a great example for me to follow because if I am honest, there are some days where like my children, I excel at not lining up with His commands. I see His mercy demonstrated in His discipline because He could cut me off altogether, which is what I deserve. He could constantly keep my sins on repeat, reminding me of how I have disappointed Him. But because I am His and I am loved, He disciplines me, not intending to shame me but so I can share in his holiness. Hebrews 11:11 reminds me that, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” I am so grateful for a God who is merciful and intentional in His discipline and provides a great example for me to follow.
I will be the first to admit that I love the convenience of having a smartphone BUT there is a dark side to this device. The phone can be a time thief! Mindless scrolling on our phone rob us of time and hinder our productivity. If we allow, it can also have a negative impact on our ability to have real connections with those we love. Below I have compiled a list of 10 things you can do instead of getting on your phone.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do instead of getting on your phone?
A good photographer not only knows how to work his camera and have a good eye, he also needs to be personable. The personality of the photographer makes a huge difference in the outcome of the shot. If I am not comfortable with the person taking the pictures, it shows in the final product. It is for this reason why I am here to recommend an excellent photographer, Ronald Coulter. Over the years, he has captured many special moments for our family and he is great with kids and adults alike. He does it with such love and care. It warms my heart to look back on some of the shots he captured. He is kind and one of the most patient people I know. If you are looking a for a great photographer, I highly recommend him. Please visit his site for more details.
Yesterday, I took my super tired 4-year-old to bed for a much-needed nap. As we headed up the stairs to her bedroom, she started crying real tears. She protested repeatedly, “I don’t want to go to bed!” I kissed her on the cheek before putting her in the bed and told her, “I know you don’t WANT TO but you NEED a Nap.”
Then I had another one of those moments when God shows me myself through my children. I have had many “I don’t want to” moments with God after He tells me what I NEED to do for my own good. He doesn’t force me to do it, the choice is always mine. However, I continue to learn that God is a lot smarter than me so it is ALWAYS in my best interest to submit to Him. My current NEED TO list from God includes; a drastic reduction of my sugar intake, forgiving others and not replaying the offense, and being confident in who I am in Him and not obsess about what others think of me. By the grace of God, I have made huge strides in these areas. However, there are days when what I need to do gets hard, REAL HARD and I just want to cry and scream, “I DON’T WANT TO GOD!”
There is a similar tension in 2 Kings 5. In this story, we have Naaman the leper who was given a message from Elisha the prophet to go and dip seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed of his leprosy. Naaman, a respected leader was appalled that Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. He had different expectations on how his healing would take place. However, after some wise counsel from his servants, Naaman went and dipped 7 times in the Jordan as instructed and was instantly healed of his leprosy. The very thing he did not want to do was the thing that he needed to do to receive healing.
How about you? What is God saying you need to do? Have you been doing it or have you been disobedient because it is not what you want to do? I want to encourage you to respond in obedience because God ALWAYS KNOWS what is best!
Each day I have a God given purpose and I must be intentional about fulfilling it. Having a schedule helps me to effectively manage my time, be more focused and provides direction for my day. It brings a sense of order and discourages me from being lazy and idle. “Winging” it every day leads to unproductivity and lots of frustration. With all that said, below are some important tips to consider to help you create a schedule that works for you.
We are good at bringing God only the “big” things. However God has specific tasks for us to accomplish each day, which is part of the bigger picture for His purpose for our life. Take the time and ask the Lord what your schedule should look like. This means that you will have to spend time in prayer. Trust me when I say this is not a small matter, seeking the Lord’s face on what you should do and when you should do it makes for a more productive day.
Knowing the answer to this question helps you to prioritize doing the most difficult task when you have the most energy. For example I am totally a morning person so I do most of my cooking and cleaning in the morning. If I wait until the evening, I am absolutely drained and the quality of the completed task is greatly compromised because I am tired. I reserve the evening for doing homework with the children, giving them face time and less demanding household task. So often we get annoyed with our children because we see them as distracting us from our work. However when we are careful with our planning, some of this frustrations can be eliminated. I have six children so I realize that even with careful planning, some children are needier than others but a schedule is a great start
Having established routines is important and it helps to take away a lot of the guess work out the day. I not only answer this question for myself but I also include the children in the process. They also have things that they must do on a daily and weekly basis. Established routines helps to set clear expectations for everyone in the home and minimizes a lot of frustration and repeating of oneself. Note: notice how I said a lot of the frustration and not all….children and adults alike know how to get you to repeat yourself…amen. When you are trying to establish a routine, be prepared to hit repeat over and over again. PRAYEFULLY everyone will eventually catch on to the routines. Be patient and BREATHE!
This is so important to do. My me time may just be 30 minutes on some days and 1 hour another. However as a stay at home mom I can become resentful about doing for everyone else and not for myself. I had to get over feeling like this was selfish, it is needed. I typically have my me time while the younger ones are napping. During this time I pick something that will refresh me in some way. It may be browsing Pinterest and admiring all the projects that I can’t fit in my schedule (just keeping it real here folks)…nothing wrong with a little dreaming. I may take a nap, give myself a pedicure or call a friend. But again, this is something just for me.
Let us be real with ourselves when answering this question. I know that surfing the internet can be a huge distraction for me and totally take me off schedule. To combat this issue, I put certain parameters in place. I may set a timer to remind me that it is time to get off or I may deliberately wait until I know I have only a limited time because I have to go somewhere. This restricts my time and I have no option but to get off.
During the school year, I try not to turn on my cell phone until I have completed most of my necessary tasks. Having the phone on first thing in the morning can be a HUGE distraction because there is someone or something that is demanding your attention. There are times when I do have to turn it on in the morning when I leave the house. However, I turn it off once I get home because if anyone really needs to get in touch with me, they can call the house phone. I also don’t have Facebook or other social media notifications coming to my phone because it is so easy to get drawn in. Since I am a blogger, I get on Facebook most days to see if I need to respond to any comments from my posts. I try to restrict my time and may only visit my page on some days.
There are times when the unexpected happens and I have to forgo my schedule and deal with the issue at hand. There are also days in which the Holy Spirit takes me off schedule and leads me in a different direction. I try to yield to His voice. So while I promote a schedule, I also encourage you to not hold too tightly to it and miss the voice of the Holy Spirit. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a schedule? What are some of the things you consider when creating one? Do you think that having a schedule is helpful?
Psalm 37:5 (NLT)
I never set out for all of this to happen, at least not so soon and not quite like this. Him? All of them?
No they were not in my real life plans. I left for the University with big bags and big dreams. I had declared that I would not become a Mrs. until I earned my PhD. Yes I was on a mission, my mission. Then I met this young man name Tyrone at the 22 Illini bus stop on 2nd and Chalmers in Champaign. I had no clue that this meeting would forever change my life.
I came home that faithful winter break my junior year of college. I was full on the outside but was empty and hurting on the inside. Salvation had been a long time coming. The church was having a revival and my soul desperately desired to be revived. I had been running, and when I stepped foot in that church I stopped. It was then that God began to change my mind.
I went to the altar and said Yes to Jesus. 3 years later on August 11, 2001, I went back to that same altar and said yes to Tyrone. The vows I uttered were poetic but for the record, I had no clue what I was really saying yes to.
The” for worse” part came sooner than thought. We had some extreme lows (full display of flesh, hair loss, income reduction, sick babies, shed tears, and anger) but these lows created a greater surrender, pressing out a “yes God go ahead and change our minds because you know best.”
The beauty and the challenge of getting married young is that you get to “grow up” together. We have seen God perform surgery on our hearts on more than one occasion over the last 14 years. God has birthed beauty from great pain and closeness when the enemy sought to tear us apart. My love for this man has gone deeper than I thought possible. All of my initial plans have not been accomplished but here I am 14 years later thanking God that He changed my mind!