My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Friday, March 25, 2011

What To Do When Parenting is Driving You Crazy

I've tried everything and nothing works! It just seems like I'm coping some days and barely making it through the day. It's one catastrophe after another, and I just seem to be the family referee. I'm running behind them, breaking up fights, cleaning up messes, correcting behaviors, disciplining, and trying to escape for "me time". (Blogging and coffee is often "me time") They seem to interrupt me constantly and I get frustrated, which quickly turns into anger, and then all hell breaks loose! Watch out! MOM IS MAD! The yelling and accusations begin, the kids cower and run from me. I am chasing them around and around the house, I've got to catch them one of these times. Then they're in their rooms, doors shut, and I am in the living room deep breathing and wondering how that happened. Not a pretty scenario, but one all too familiar to all of us, I'm sure. It's a vicious, vicious cycle.

What to do?

Confess. First to the kids. Tell them you are sorry that you lost your temper with them. (Don't let this turn into a guilt trip held over your head by the kids. Once you've confessed, it's over. We don't bring up the past. Ever. Refuse to even go there.) Then confess your weakness to God. He removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. That's awesome!

Start over. Now is the perfect time to start over, which is really quite convenient seeing as it is always 'now' and never 'yesterday' or 'tomorrow'. Now is truly all we have, for when and if tomorrow gets here, it will not be tomorrow, but will be now.

Make a plan. Take as much time as you are able, when the kids are out of your hair, in bed, whatever, to sit down and make a plan. This sounds boring but will save your sanity. Think of the behaviors you want to target and how you are going to deal with them, and then stick to your plan. Changing the plan all the time puts you back at 'I've tried everything and nothing works'. Whatever plan you come up with, stick to it, and DON'T go back on your word! When you have a plan, you don't have to stress in the moment. And remember, you don't have to deal with things as they happen. Take a breather and then decide what to do. Don't just react.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. For example, if my 3 year old is being over the top crazy bad, I would choose not to say, "That's it! You are not going to _____'s (her foster brother) birthday party this weekend!" I have every intention of taking her to that party, not because it's a fun party and I just couldn't take away a birthday party (I can, and I would if that's what was needed) but I would not say it because the relationship she has with her foster brother (who no longer lives with us) is highly valuable to me and to her and we don't get to see them very much. So to take this away, in my opinion, would not be a good idea. I would say, "I'm sorry that you are having trouble, Sweetheart, I'm going to have to take away all of your privileges for a week." (tv, computer, the playroom, desserts/sweets, etc) Don't bother saying this if you know that the next time it's 'convenient' you're just gonna stick em in front of the tv. If you're not going to follow through (which is a lot of work and takes determination) then it's better not to say it in the first place. Threats and warnings(just a fancy word for threat) are your worst enemy. They tell your child, "I'm a spineless parent who isn't going to do anything anyway, you can get away with whatever you want."

Pile on. I only use this strategy for something really serious that I never want to happen again. It looks like this: Child does or says something that is highly inappropriate. (calls me a name, hits me, hurts a sibling) Everything stops. I do nothing for this child beyond the basics. I do not tell them this is happening. Every time they ask to do something or to have something, the answer is, "No, I'm sorry, but you hit your brother, so you can't do that now. You must never hit anyone." This could last for a day or a week, whatever you think is needed. The consequence needs to be severe if you don't want to see that behavior again. If it's not, you will see a lot more of that behavior and you'll start feeling like a referee and like "nothing's working".

Have authority. The parents are in charge. Period. So take authority. Don't ask your kids, "Sweetie, would you mind picking up your toys? That would be great, cuz I'm going to need this room cleaned up cuz we're having your friends over soon and we wouldn't want the house to be a mess when they get here, okay?" Too many words. Try this, "Sweetie, pick up your toys." You don't need to explain why, ask if they'd like to, or anything else. Don't stand over them and see if they're gonna do it. Walk away. When you see that it's not done, just call the friend and say, "I'm sorry, but something happend and we are not able to have company today. Maybe we could try tomorrow?" B doesn't happen until A is completed. So whatever that kid wanted to do, doesn't happen if they've not done what you told them, the first time. So if they go and clean up the toys after you've canceled the visit, don't re-invite the guests. It's done. Try again next time. No changing your mind. (By the way, they're gonna say it's not fair. Just giving you a heads up. And yes, it's not fair that they didn't do what you said the first time) And don't warn them, "If you don't clean up these toys right away I'm going to have to call your friends and tell them they can't come." That's a warning and a threat. The only warning ever necessary is this: "Darling, from now on (and don't say this if you don't mean it) when I tell you to do something, you must do it right away. If you choose not to, there will consequences and you won't like them."

One liners. These are my lifesavers. When I feel like I'm about to lose it and go over the edge, I just throw these out there and it helps me cope. Sure. Yup. Mmhm. Probably so. You're right. Nice try. Yes, dear. I "step away" from the situation in my head and use these one liners to get me through the thick of it until I have time to calm down and think clearly.

Relationship. Relationship. Relationship. Your kids are a blessing from God. Sure we need to do the dishes, and the bathroom has to be cleaned, and we have to mail that letter, and pick up some milk, and check our email (of course), and answer the phone, and call the school, and make lunches, and bath the baby, and and and.....but these (as my friend, Tyler, puts it) are not my priority.  *My children are not the interruption. They are the priority. Everything else is an interruption to my relationships with my kids. Sure these other things are important and sure, they need to be done. But not at the expense of the deep relationships with my kids. So this means, when I'm blogging, I might just need to take a break and go have a tea party with my 3 year old daughter, or stop and help my son out with his homework, or take a few minutes and have a cuddle time with the baby.

Plan into your day, every day, special times alone with each child. Even if all I've got is 5 or 10 minutes, that's enough. My mom did this when we were kids, just for a couple of months, she spent 15 minutes a day, alone, with each of us doing something we liked and telling us stories. I remember it like it was yesterday. Read a chapter of a book, tell them stories of when you were little or when they were little, talk about their day (kids really don't care to hear much about our responsibilities, they wanna talk about the show they watched or some game they played, or a funny joke they heard, or how their sister has been bugging them), give a head massage, watch an episode of their favorite show with them, whatever. Do something with them that they want to do. Let them guide this time with you. It'll be more fun for them and better for your relationship. With little kids, involve them in whatever you're doing. They love to learn and they love feeling like they are contributing to the family. Being mommy's big helper makes them feel important and loved. It's gonna make things take longer and they won't do a good job probably, but don't "fix" what they do.

And when things go downhill, go back to square one and start over....again. We've all been there, some of us are there right now, you're not alone. Bring everything to God in prayer. He is our strength in times of weakness.  You're never alone. How we feel is not as important as what we know.
*I quoted my friend, Tyler, and below is a link to her blog.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If God Loves Me, Then Why Does My Life Suck?

It's really easy to blame God. He's in control of the universe, He made everything, so He should control everything. No. Well, yes, to the first 2 parts and no to the last part. He gave us freedom from the very beginning. When He made the garden of Eden, He put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil right in the middle of the garden, completely accessible to the "naked people". He didn't hide it on top of Mount Everest knowing that the naked people didn't have the proper equipment to reach the top of the mountain, and therefore would take them longer to find it. (my paraphrase taken from Danny Silk's Loving Our Kids on Purpose)
We are not marionettes on strings, controlled by God. He's not up there playing puppets.

God wants deep relationship with every one of His creatures. If we controlled our children and made them love us, we would have no satisfaction in their "love". We would know that as soon as we stopped controlling them, they would not love us. (If this scenario were possible) But if our children truly love us, without being "controlled", how beautiful is that?

Here's a story....

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.
"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber.
"I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!"
"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.
"Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me."
"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Here's another story......not sure who wrote this one

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole that was behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.
He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
In the house, his mother was looking out the window. She saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could.
Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms, just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began a very incredible tug-of-war between the two.
The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go.
A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy Survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. On his arms, there were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh; in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.
The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked the boy if he would show him his scars.
The boy lifted his pant legs. Then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, ‘But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go.’
The Morale
You and I can identify with that little boy.
We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly, and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He’s been right there, holding on to you.
The Scripture teaches that God loves you.
You are a child of God. He wants to protect you, and provide for you in every way. But, sometimes, we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That is when the tug-of-war begins.
If you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful. He will not ever let you go.
Never judge another person's scars, because you don’t know how they got them..

We all have choices to make. Every day. We can choose to be in deep relationship with God and search out His plans for our day and follow them, or we can do whatever we want. Your life might be terrible right now. It might not be your fault. You're stuck in a terrible situation and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. God knows who you are and He knows where you are. He can use you and love you right where you are. You don't need to have a perfect life and perfect circumstances to live a blessed and full and wonderful life. Circumstances come and go, but where our heart is, is where we live. We can't control what's going on around us sometimes, but we can control where we focus our hearts. Let all that is around you become a blur in your peripheral while you focus fully on God.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.                       Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

If you want your life to be different, turn your eyes upon Jesus. You will be transformed from the inside out and then your life will change. But it starts in your heart. I know that's not what you want to hear. We all want to change the people in our lives and change our circumstances. But it doesn't work that way. So stop trying to change everything and talk to God. If you're ready for this transformation and you really want change, read my blogs about prayer, then read Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado, and read your Bible. If you hate reading, just pray pray pray. If you LOVE to read, then read Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. It's a deep read and very very transforming. If you want me to pray for you, feel free to email me at Even though you may feel alone in this world, you are not alone. Someone said, "How I feel is not as important as what I know."  Read what God says about us in the Bible, and meditate on those things. Believe those things. They are true. They will hold us up when everything else is crashing down around us.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer? Part 2

3. Why does it feel like I'm just talking to the ceiling?

Do you feel far from God? Do you spend time with Him every day? Several times a day? Is He your go-to person for everything? Do you praise Him, ask Him, love Him, meditate on His words, listen for His answers? Somenone once said that how we feel is not as important as what we know. That is powerful. If you feel far from God, meditate on verses from the Bible. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Forgive people in your life who have hurt you. Mark 11:25 says,

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
1 Peter 3:12
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

1  Peter 3:7
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

4. Is there a "right" way to pray? Can't I just say whatever is on my mind?
I don't know as there is a "right" way to pray, but there is a "best" way. The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and there are many kinds of prayer. Praying is not just asking God for stuff. It's praising Him, casting out demons in His name, claiming His promises, praying scripture, praying in the Spirit, there's fasting and praying, praying for forgiveness, praying for needs to be met, praying for miracles, and so on. There is A LOT about prayer in the Bible. It's a big deal cuz it's our communication with the Creator of the Universe! Find and learn everything you can about prayer and your life will be transformed!  

Yes, you can say whatever is on your mind. God is your heavenly Father and He soooo wants to hear from you! Tell Him about your day. He's your best friend. You don't have to say the "right words" to pray to God. Here's just a small example of that (I've told this story before):
My 3 year old daughter was being tucked in for the night and she prayed the same thing she always does, "Dear God, ganku a food, mommy daddy safe amen." Her daddy phoned the second she was done praying and asked if we had just prayed for him. He was driving in the dark, going 100k/hr and missed a huge moose by a few feet! I hadn't prayed some well thought out and eloquent prayer of protection over my husband. No, my 3 year old prayed, in not-so-good toddler talk, that God would keep her daddy safe. He heard her. He answered her :)

I could go on and on and on as there is soooo much to be said about this topic. I really hope I've made sense here and that prayer becomes a huge part of your life! Please feel free to share your prayer stories in the comments :) And if you need prayer, I'd love to pray for you! You can email me at

1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies,  but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer? Part 1

1.Why does God sometimes answer the same day that I pray about something and other times it seems He never answers or I have to pray for a year or 10 or 20 years or a month? 2. Why won't God heal me? 3. Why do I feel like I am just talking to the ceiling? 4. Is there a "right way" to pray? Can't I just say whatever is on my mind?

These are questions we all have. And I am in search of the answers to them. I have been reading a book (shocker, I know) called Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. I have been reading another book, too, called The Holy Bible by God. And I have been learning a lot. I'm going to start with a couple of verses that really jumped off the page at me,

James 1:5-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 
(emphasis mine)

Daniel 10:12
(Angel is talking to Daniel)
Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words."

If you want wisdom, ask for it. Set your heart to understand and humble yourself before God. Make up your mind that you want to know what God wants. Pray, but listen. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you. He will speak to you, maybe not in audible words, but you will hear Him in your mind and heart. Those thoughts that are persistent, "Go talk to her. Help that woman carry her groceries. Stop watching that show you love so much. Invite her over. Pray for ____ right now." These are not just your own thoughts. The Holy Spirit is urging you to do the work of God. In others and in your own life. But you won't hear Him if you don't listen.

1. I've seen many answers to prayer and I've prayed lots and not seen answers yet. Prayer is our conversation with God. It's not just a wish list.  In the Bible, God often had His people do something, an act of obedience, in order to bring about God's plan. Walk around Jericho for 7 days and blow trumpets and the walls are gonna fall down. Really? Ok. Jesus spit in the guy's eyes to make him see again. He didn't need to do that. He could've just said, "See!" Another guy had to wash in the Jordan River(not the cleanest river to say the least) 7 times to be healed. Moses had to hold up his arms in order for the Israelites to defeat Amalek. Here are some modern day examples of obedience in prayer...

A pastor regularly prayed for one hour every morning. One day, he felt strongly that he should pray longer. He prayed another hour. He still felt the need to pray longer. He prayed another hour and the urge left him. Later that day as he was mowing his lawn, a rattlesnake was trying to bite his leg but every time it got near him, its head would go off to the side and it was unable to bite  him.

A missionary's 3 year old son was dying of a high fever and the doctors could do nothing more. They had been praying for hours with no results. The father felt that there was an evil power over his son and called his praying friends to pray, too. Shortly after he called them, the fever broke and his son was fine. Why didn't God answer when the family was praying? Why call in more people to pray? I don't know. He just wanted them to.

Dutch Sheet's wife had a large cyst that would need to be surgically removed as it was growing and causing her a lot of pain. He asked the doctor for 2 months to pray first before scheduling the surgery. Dutch prayed for one hour every day for 2 weeks and then the urge to pray was gone. God told him it was dealt with. Three days later, his wife said that all the pain was gone. They went to the doctor and the cyst was gone. Why 2 weeks? Why an hour a day? God wanted him to be faithful in prayer. Obedient in prayer. Persistent in prayer.

Too often, we pray once about something and then just wait around for it to happen. Well I asked, didn't I? The ball's in God's court now. No it's not. We need to be persistent in prayer.

2. Why won't God heal me?

I don't have all the answers to this one, but here's what God's been teaching me. I suffer from depression. Have for years. I take meds for it and it's "under control", but I kinda want it gone. I had an "all-out" with God a few weeks back about it and this is what He told me, "Read about Paul in the Bible. He had a "thorn" in his flesh, see what it says." This is what it says in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

"...So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong..."

a. God sometimes doesn't heal us because He uses imperfect people for His purposes. Our pride gets in the way. When someone like me is doing the will of God and something miraculous happens, He gets all the credit, cuz I'm just a mom who suffers from depression. The miracle is not mine, it is only worked through me. The credit belongs to God. God used Moses, who had a speech problem, to go to the king and lead God's people to the promised land. Moses didn't want to go, so God let him bring Aaron to do the talking for him. He needs us to be humbled before Him. If we are full of pride, we are pretty useless.

b. Sometimes, God doesn't heal us because we are not persistent in prayer or because we lack faith. I have always thought, "I should pray for ___ that God will heal them. But I'm not going to pray for myself for healing. If God wanted to heal me, He would." That's baloney. Maybe God isn't going to heal me, but I can pray about it! Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn in his flesh. Believe that God can heal you, be persistent. Either He'll heal you or He'll show you why He's not gonna heal you. He's not going to leave you in the dark on this. He loves to answer his children. He does not delight in seeing us confused. Seek and you will find. There are answers, go look for them!

James 5:15-16
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why pray? I'm not really making a difference, am I?

I was planning on writing about the How and Why of trials we go through, but God has other plans for my day. So I'm detouring and I'll get back to that.

Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. I've always prayed. Prayer comes easily for me and I have seen many answers to my prayers and the prayers of my kids over the years. Some small, some miraculous. Here are just a few answers we got:

When I was 3 years old, I prayed for snow in July. It snowed that day and the proof is written on the wall in a shed in the village I grew up in.

 Logan prayed when he was 2 that the tape would come out of the vcr (it was stuck and we had tried about 20 times to get it out) and after he finished praying, he hit the button and out popped the tape. This happened on about 3 or 4 different occasions.

Logan and I prayed fervently for a year and a half for a father for him. God was taking a long time it seemed, but He came through when His timing was right. If Matthew and I had met earlier, I would not have "approved" of him as I was in a legalistic phase of my christian life and he would not have been interested in me. God knew that and was busy doing a work in me. So I had to wait.

Matthew and I were not exactly on the same page about when to start having children after we married. I wanted to start the process 10 minutes after the ceremony and he was thinking more like somewhere between 6 months-3years. I prayed a lot about that. I REALLY wanted another kid. 4 months in, we were pregnant!

When I was about to deliver that darling little girl, I was really scared. I had a really bad first delivery and was afraid it would be just as bad this time. I prayed and God gave me peace about it. I went in, full of faith that everything was going to go smoothly. It did not go smoothly. In fact, I was on the brink of death for about 3-4 days and didn't wake up til a week later. Serious complications, excruciating pain, a month in the hospital, postpartum. It was a horrible ordeal, but I beat the odds and lived cuz God had a plan for me. I was never so close to God as I was in that hospital bed. The icing on the cake was that the doctors had had to give me an emergency hysterectomy and so now I would not be able to have any more children! That sounds bad to most 25 year olds, but to me it was a blessing to not face that again.

Then we really wanted to buy this amazing little log house with a huge shop in the yard. It was in the country, beautiful. We didn't get it and I was more than devastated. It was like it was straight out of a storybook, quaint and unique was "us". We looked at another house in the country, kinda boring, torn up floors, not very exciting. Matthew felt led to put an offer on it. We got it and it has been a wonderful blessing. We did some minor things to fix it up and it is my dream home. Simple, but dreamy :) I feel at peace here. If we had gotten the other house I wanted, we would not have been approved as foster parents because we wouldn't have had adequate room for another child/ren. I know that God knew we were going to be foster parents, and that He put us in this house on purpose.

About 3 months ago, I was tucking our 3 year old daughter into bed and, as always, we prayed together. She always prays the same thing, "Dear God, ganku (thank you) a food, Mommy Daddy safe, amen." The phone began to ring at the same time she finished praying. Logan brought me the phone and it was my husband. This was the conversation we had,
"Hey, did you guys just pray for me?"
"Uh, I didn't, but Jasna prayed that you would be safe. We just finished, why?"
"I was going 100k and came feet from hitting a moose. I didn't even see him til he was right beside me. If I'd been over a few feet, I would've hit him. He was huge!"
Do you know how much faith that built in my little girl when she found out that her simple little prayer saved her daddy's life? The look in her eyes was priceless! We prayed and thanked God for His miraculous answer to our prayer.

Most recently, this week, a girl I knew from Sunday school, now a mom of 3, had cancer. A huge number of people were praying for her. She was scheduled for surgery on Monday, a 12 hour surgery. I got on my knees with my kids and we prayed hard. They got ALL the cancer and she is in recovery.

This is just a few of the answers we got, there are many many more.

Ephesians 6:12 says, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

These are not "coincidences". I have known God all my life and the longer I know Him and the more I spend time with Him, the more He shows me. I know He is real. I know He has a plan for me. I am currently reading a book on prayer that I would highly recommend. It is not a light read, but a powerful one. It is called Intercessory Prayer and is by Dutch Sheets. A friend lent it to me. I am looking at prayer in a totally new light since I started reading this book. The point of the book, as far as I understand, is that God is all powerful, yes, but He has chosen to do His miracles through us when we pray. We need to pray to see God move. If we don't pray, then He doesn't step in. Not that He couldn't, but He has chosen to have this deep relationship with us and involve us in this way. I know this post is long already, but I am going to share a true story that I came across just this morning that will very well illustrate this....

GOD'S 26 Guards

Here's a message that will bring you chills.

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said,

'I'll pray for them later?'

Or has anyone ever called you and said,

'I need you to pray for me, I have this need?'

Read the following story that was sent to me and may it change the way that you may think about prayer and also the way you pray.

You will be blessed by this....

A missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan .

'While serving at a small field hospital in Africa , every two weeks I traveled by bicycle

through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies.

This was a journey of two days and Required camping overnight at the halfway point.

On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine, and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital.

Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured.
I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord.

I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident....

Two weeks later I repeated my journey. upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated.
He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines.

He said, 'Some friends and I followed you in to the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight.
We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs.

But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.

At this, I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite.
The young man pressed the point, however, and said, 'No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards, my friends also saw them, and we all counted them.

It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.'

At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened.
The missionary told the congregation the date, and The man who interrupted told him this story:

'On the night of your incident in Africa , it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf.
I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you.
In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you.

Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?'
The men who had met together to pray that day stood up.
The missionary wasn't concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw.

There were 26

This story is an incredible example of how the Spirit of the Lord moves in behalf of those who love Him. if you ever hear such prodding, go along with it.

Nothing is ever hurt by prayer except the gates of hell.
I encourage you to forward this to as many people
As you know. if we all take it to heart, he can turn this world toward God once again.
As the above true story clearly illustrates,
'With God all things are possible'.

More importantly, how God hears and answers the prayers of the faithful.

After you read this, please pass it on and give God thanks for the beautiful gift of your faith, for the powerful gift of prayer, and for the many miracles He works in your own daily life...

And then pass it on.

Who says God does not move on the earth today?

I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today.
To guide you and protect you as you go along your way.
His love is always with you, His promises are true, and when we give Him our cares you know He will see us through.
So when the road you're traveling on seems difficult at best, Just remember I'm here praying, and God will do the rest.

Pass this on to those whom you want God to bless

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Being The Clay

So you've gotten to the point in your life where you are tired of living life the way it is. Sick of it, in fact. You can't go another day through this monotony. This pointless waste of time and emotions called life. You want transformation and a purpose. But there is no purpose anywhere in sight. Why am I here? Just to wipe snotty noses and drive kids to soccer and make dinner.....again? I'm not much of a role model for my kids anyway, so why bother? They aren't learning anything good from me, that's for sure.

Truth: Without God, there IS no purpose in life. Period. 

The one and only purpose of my life is to be in close relationship with and bring glory to God. The rest of this stuff that goes on is just a bunch of tools that God is using to bring me closer to Him and into His perfect plan and will for my life.

He is the Potter, I am the clay. He is molding me into the woman that He wants me to be. 

That is why my blog is called Potter's Hand. I am in His hand for His purpose.

Practically speaking, this means that my kid might be having a temper tantrum and tearing the house up and I am able to not take it personally. I can step back and say, "Lord, my child is showing me their desperate need for You in their life. Show me how to portray Your nature to them in this situation. What do You want me to do? How would You deal with this 3 year old? Give me Your peace and wisdom and understanding. Guide my words and actions that they would be healing and not damaging."

To say that I do this every time something goes wrong would be a flat out lie. I'm not going to lie to you or make you think that I'm so spiritual all the time that I never screw up. Yes, I've yelled at my kids at the top of my lungs. Yes, I've slammed doors and said things that I regret. When I mess up, I tell God and ask His forgiveness, but first I tell my kids I was wrong and ask their forgiveness. We talk openly (as much as is appropriate) with our kids about our/their struggles. My kids know they screw up, but they know that I do, too, and that God is forgiving. We forgive each other and pray for the other person and what they are struggling with. Yes, I have asked my kids, after a big fight, to pray with me to ask for God's help with my anger. It is a beautiful thing to see forgiveness and love in my child's eyes and to hear them earnestly pray for me. I do the same for them.

Every moment of every day is an opportunity to serve others and handle situations the way Jesus did. He wasn't out to punish everybody. He wanted them to know and feel and see His great love and compassion. We are all sinners, but there is hope and a purpose. Life becomes a beautiful thing when the focus is no longer on our personal gain and comfort and plans and becomes about His glory and plan for our lives.

Step back, go to another room, pray, and then return to the situation. We do NOT need to deal with a situation immediately. This is a lie that we have been told over and over and we have swallowed it without thinking. Kids have a memory. They are not going to forget. If anything, that will be the only thing they will be thinking about. I remember as a kid thinking for hours, "Did I get away with that? Are they going to remember? Am I going to be in trouble? Maybe if I am super good today, they will let me off the hook. I'll be really sweet..." Dealing with a situation immediately as it happens puts you in a terrible position. Here's why:

1: You might not really be sure of what happened exactly
2: Emotions are running high in everyone and anger sets in easily
3: You have no time to think through an appropriate response
4: You have no time to make a plan to deal with the situation in a way that will have lasting impact and enable change of heart.

Jumping in right away can be catastrophic. Not always, if you already have a plan set out and can deal with it calmly, but in many cases. So don't be afraid to wait. A 3 year old can remember for about 24 hours, a 6 year old for about 3 days, and a preteen for a week. I'm not suggesting that you should always wait days before dealing with something, but I am saying that you don't need to pressure yourself into reacting right away. Take the time you need to think clearly with a level head that is not being influenced by anger, til you come up with a plan.

Ok, this started out as a "purpose for my life" and ended up as a "Parenting 101" lol
Lost my focus a little bit, but I'm going to pretend it flows nicely and was intentional. ;)
My next post is going to be about the How and Why of the trials we go through in life. It will be a bit of an extension of this post. As always, I love to hear your comments!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Keeping the Honeymoon

I am 29 years old and have been married for 5 years this coming April. I am young and have not been married a long time, but I have learned a few things along the way. I do not claim to have marriage perfected nor do I claim that I have all the answers. I have had some trials, but have not faced trials as devastating as others have. I have a pretty good marriage, actually. However, it is a good marriage because we work hard at it. When I was dating Matthew, I worked hard at my appearance and my attitudes. I was careful with my words. I didn't want to offend or hurt him. I was excited ecstatic every time he phoned me or I got to see him. Anything and everything we did together was amazing. I hung on his every word, knew every curve of his face, noticed every quirk. I loved him! People warned me, "Oh this won't last. You'll get married and then the honeymoon will be over." But I was determined that it could and would last. But how? If it doesn't last for other people, why would it last for me? I made a conscious decision that I was going to do what it took to really love my husband, no matter what.

So, 5 years later, I am still quite smitten with my husband. (ask my inlaws, they think I'm crazy lol) Some things I have done well and others I could work on. Here I'll share what I've been up to.

#1 I discovered through reading the book called Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs that my husband is a human being. Wow. I mean, I knew that, but I treated him like he was on a pedestal. I thought he could do no wrong. Well one day he proved me wrong :) I have a wonderful husband, but when he would do something I didn't like, I would be offended and hurt, even angry on occasion. That attitude wasn't helping anybody. Dr. Eggerichs says that we need to see where the other person is coming from, and know that they are not intending to hurt us. My husband's intention is never to hurt me. He loves me. One of our natural responses to hurt is to lash out at the other person. When my husband is doing something that I don't like or agree with, I choose to see it as something that he is struggling with, instead of seeing it as a personal attack. He's just a person, just like me. And I hope that he does the same for me. I don't intend to hurt him, but sometimes I do. That's marriage. That's life.

#2 I am excited to see my husband when he comes home! He's worked all day and when he walks through the door, 3 pairs of feet go running to meet him at the door. (we carry the baby, otherwise there would be 4 pairs of feet) I think about him off and on all day while he's at work, and I show my excitement to the kids of his soon return. When he leaves for work, weather permitting, we all run out on our deck and jump up and down and wave like crazy people, yelling, "We love you! Bye!" over and over. (I'm not sure what our neighbors think about this, but I don't care)

#3 When you're dating, you look great! Your teeth are always brushed, your clothes are always perfect, you eat with your mouth closed, you never skip deodorant, you shower every day, your hair is perfect at all times, you always do your makeup, you're always cheerful....then you get married.....You brush your teeth if you're going out someplace or if you just can't stand your own breath anymore cuz it's altering the taste of the food in your mouth, you throw on whatever from the closet or the floor, you don't bother to shower unless you are expecting company or have to go somewhere, (and even then, I can throw on a hat, right?) You wash your hair when it's too greasy to stand, makeup? On Sunday's yeah, for church, cheerful? Well if the weather was nicer and I wasn't stuck in this house all the time with these demanding kids, whine whine whine....nobody in their right mind wants to be around someone like this! That's not who he married. That's not what he was expecting. That's not fair to him. And people wonder why their husbands become work-a-holics or end up having affairs with the hot girl at work. It's because she's google-eyed over him and thinks he can do no wrong and puts great effort into her appearance and her attitude! Well, I can do that at home, can't I? So you do. Do it for your husband. He loves you and would probably be a bit more crazy about you if you just put in some effort in these areas.

#4 We date. Sure we can't always go out someplace for lack of $$ or a sitter, but we date right at home if that's the case. Kids in bed/rooms at 7, lights down low, fave snacks and wine are set out, we chat, watch some of our favorite shows on tv(pvr), and just enjoy each other's company. I call it going out for drinks and a the living room. Remember when you used to go on dates before you got married and you hung on his every word? Well, for the last 5 years, a ton of our conversations have revolved around trucks. That's what my husband loves. He is passionate about it and knows soooo much about that topic. He loves to tell me about some new drop suspension he discovered or how to bypass a catalytic converter or show me a pic he designed of his ideal truck and then go on to explain in every way, how it is the ideal truck. This was fascinating to me at the beginning, but soon became tiresome. Not all the time, but sometimes I just wanted to talk about some recipe I found or tell him some crazy dream I had or the funny story of what the kids did that day. At one point, I made a conscious decision (there it is again) to love what my husband loves. So now I love trucks. I want to hear about them. I don't care if that is all we talk about when he comes home, cuz he is talking to me and sharing his passion with me! That's awesome!

#5 This one I am still working on, but I'll share it anyway. I am just starting to read the book called The Five Love Languages. I have had this book on my shelf for some time and I am picking it up now because I want to be very intentional in the way I show love to my husband. I want to be sure I am showing him love in the way that he needs to be loved. One thing I know means a lot to my husband is when he knows that we appreciate his hard work and protection. My husband is a very hard worker and he is very intelligent. He is also very proactive in the protection of his family. If he becomes aware of any danger, he warns us and explains the danger to us. I'll just share one example of this with you. Because of my husband, I no longer keep my cell phone in my purse or on the seat while driving. It stays in my pocket. Reason for this? He has cleaned up soooo many bad accidents and found cell phones lying out on the road in the middle of the intersection. Not very useful to the person trapped in the car. This is something I never would have thought of, but could very well save my life and the lives of our children some day. So I really appreciate that he looks out for us in this way.

There are many more, but this is getting long, so I'll stop here and share more another time. Find ways to show love to your husbands. Value them and what they do by your words and actions. Show them that their wife has still got it ;) Give them something to be excited about when they get home at the end of the day. Be their best friend. Some of this I am sure you've heard before, but it's good to remind ourselves once in awhile. Hopefully you can take something away from this and start making a difference in your marriage! I'd love to hear your stories on this topic, too!

Me and my hottie ;)
on our wedding day

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Warning - I'm Not Listening

I became a Christian when I was 4 years old. I remember sitting on my mother's lap in our "school room" by the window. She had her Bible open and she told me what Jesus did for me. That He died for me to pay for my sins and keep me from hell. I remember saying a simple prayer. It was great! I grew up in a Christian home and to say the least, it wasn't easy. My parents stood up for what they believed in and they stood firm. That wasn't always very popular and it affected us as kids. But to this day I respect them for that. That is one of the things that stuck with me. It meant something to them. They weren't just doing what they were doing cuz they felt like it, but because God led them.

So I lived out my life as a Christian. That was my label. At times I was passionate about it. Wanted to be a missionary. And at times (my teen years) I was wild and far from God, but I still carried that label. I still went to church...most of the time. I remember back in my "drinking beer for breakfast" days, a non-Christian friend of mine said to me, "If you're gonna say you're a Christian, then act like one." Ouch! I've never forgotten that.
After having my son, Logan, I started trying to turn my life around. I feel like Logan was sent to turn me back on the right path. I became very strict and legalistic and very desperately sought God's will for us. I did not want to be a mess. I did not want to parent alone. I wanted something better. After a year or two, I started to "mellow" out a bit and it was then that God introduced me to Matthew. We dated and got married and things have been so good! But, my walk with God has been ordinary at best. I read my Bible about once every 3-5 months, other than what was read at church each week. I tried to do things the right way, prayed with my kids about lots of things, tried to teach them how to have self control, love, patience, etc. But I was not able to do those things myself. I was an angry/loving mother.

I have always struggled with my emotions and even take medication for it. The doctors said I had a lack of serotonin production in my brain. I knew I was happy and that life was good, but I couldn't feel that way. So it has helped tremendously. However, my spiritual life has remained dull. I could feel God's presence at church during worship. I even felt that Jesus was standing in front of me, looking me right in the face a few times. But at home, during the week, nothing changed. 2011 rolled around and I made some new year's resolutions, as usual. But something felt different and I felt it with my entire being. This was the year. Everything was going to change. But I didn't know what or how much would change.

I read a handful of books on a month. I felt empowered. Then I read Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado. Everywhere I turned I felt God was saying to me, "All that matters to Me is Love the Lord your God with all your heart and Love your neighbor as yourself." I felt the Holy Spirit stirring inside of me. I have always known He was there, dwelling in me, ready to guide me, but I had not paid much if any attention to Him in a long time. I watched 2 episodes of It's a New Day where they interviewed my youth pastor (when I was 16) Kirk Bartha. He talked about a spiritual journey I wanted, but hadn't touched yet. Where God speaks and you listen and do what He is calling you to do. Whether you understand the how and why or not. I vowed to God that day, last week, that I was going to lead my children in a new way. God's way. I sat the kids down and told them what Jesus really wants from us. Relationship with Him and others.

The very same day was the worst day of parenting I think I've ever had. It started with the Bible and ended with screaming. "What is going on, God?" I said. I wanted to serve Him and now I'm a mess and doing everything wrong. He brought me back to Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." My focus was on doing the right things the right way and not only on Him and His leading. I apologized to my kids, my husband, and to my Jesus and started over. A couple days later I went to the Crown Financial seminar at my church. Near the end of the seminar, the speaker asked us to sit quietly for 5 minutes and just listen to what the Holy Spirit had to say. I did. It was powerful.

I had always prayed for things in my life, but I had almost never listened. So now I am reading devouring my Bible, I am praying, but I am listening too.

There is sooo much more I want to share, so many more stories and details, but it needs to come out slowly. One bite at a time. Take time to digest this and see what God might be trying to say to you. Take that time, even 2 minutes, just to say "Hey, God, what do you want to show me, what do you want me to do?" and listen to what He has to say. Your life will be transformed. No more mediocre Christianity. I'd love to hear what God has been saying to you and working out in your life!