7 Ways I Choose to Find Contentment

2 Corinthians 12:10 – “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.”

summerda1

One of things I want to give up for lent is complaining. I want to release complaining and embrace gratitude. I don’t consider myself a big complainer, but I’ve noticed I’m agitated with things a little more. For example, I find myself complaining a lot about Maryland and how I’d rather live somewhere else because the cost of living is ridiculous. Ah see there it is, I can’t even write about it without it slipping out! There are  other little nuances too, things that I would mainly like to change have been at the forefront of my complaining.

Today, I was thinking about how God places us exactly where we need to be at least until he’s ready to move us forward, whether it be in jobs, homes, relationships, or anything else. There is a reason for every season in our life. Instead of fighting against it I think it’s better to embrace it and let it evolve in God’s time instead of living in a state of complaining or always wishing for a different scenario. Contentment in all circumstances happens when we have faith and trust in God that he is moving us through every chapter and each scenario in our lives.

Being content isn’t always a simple thing to do. I find myself wrestling with those life scenarios and becoming frustrated because I think wait a minute, God clearly can’t want this for me! Doesn’t he see what I’m facing? How can this be okay with him? Then I have to remember I can’t see what he sees for me, his time is not my time and he doesn’t make mistakes, but I do! So what do I need to do? Well, here is what I think:

  1. Pray- I need to pray. Pray for his will, his guidance, for patience, to be obedient and for contentment. Contentment in the sense of knowing that God is in control and he will work it out  not for my good for me, but his good for me, which can never be topped!
  2. Choose to Thrive Where I Am-I have a choice. I can either sit around and complain and pick apart everything that bugs me or I can embrace where I am at this present moment and seek opportunities that will allow me to thrive personally and spiritually and also to be a blessing to others.
  3. Choose Happiness– When I think  about the beauty of life even on the worst days there is usually one thing that can put a smile on my face and if there isn’t it, I can look at my child or recall a memory and then I’m struck that life isn’t so bad. Actually it’s pretty incredible and I can create my happiness in the moments I’m still here!
  4. Count My Blessings– Am I breathing? Is my daughter healthy? Do I have a roof over my head? Is there food on the table? Did Christ save my life? What do I have to complain about again?
  5. Not Allow my Circumstances to Define Me- Circumstances are not who I am. I am a child of God. Circumstances change, but my identity as a Child of Christ does not, it is everlasting. Who I am will outlive my circumstance. Circumstances will change and that old saying this too shall pass will cross my lips more than once. When we’re in difficult circumstances it is important to remember that God is allowing it and he will see us through it as well and they will change, it is temporary.
  6. Find Joy in Contentment- When anxiety, worry, fear, negative thinking are all absent from my life I allow joy to enter in and find a home in my heart. Joy in the assurance that my God is with me and when I stumble he will pick me up.
  7. Know God is Doing Something- I have to remember that in everything God is doing something. I say something because I don’t know what it is he is up to! But, I believe that each experience, each trial, each circumstance he is preparing us for something bigger maybe even something wonderful! Remember we are His workmanship. God is constantly molding and sculpting us into his perfect masterpiece, so be patient you are a work of art!

 

Guilt Free Shame Free Single Parenting as a Christian

My daughter is my heartbeat. She’s a part of my fiber and intricately entwined in the essence of who I am. I’m a mom. Yes, I’m a single mom, but more importantly I’m a mom, a Christian mom who loves God and wants to raise my child in his will and give her a firm spiritual foundation. I’ve met and heard from many other single moms who desire to do the same thing. Unfortunately, I also know of Christian moms who feel guilt and shame for not raising their children in a nuclear family with mom and dad under the same roof and my heart aches for them. I will be honest and  the first one to tell you I took the nontraditional route when it came to having a child. I wasn’t married and to be frank I didn’t have the kind of strong and stable relationship that you should have when you decide to bring a child in the world. My life was different back then, I wasn’t a Christian, although I believed in God, grew up with strong faithful mentors I didn’t fully understand or step into my faith until after I had my daughter. I do not for one second regret my daughter, but I do understand the consequences involved for everyone when our actions are not well thought out and not rooted in Christ. With all that being said, being a single mom actually feels very natural  for me. I think it’s because I’ve come to accept that God is my partner on this journey and I’m extraordinarily blessed with a daughter that doesn’t see me as”the single mom,” but as a mom who loves the stuffing right out of her!

Unfortunately, some of the harshest criticism and judgment that single moms face occur from their brothers and sisters in Christ. This isn’t always the case, but it is hurtful when it does happen. I remember a woman at church criticizing me because I had mentioned  that I had to call my daughter who was at her dad’s house for the weekend. She thought that was selfish, that he should have his time with her without me calling. Little did she know that it was the first full weekend she had stayed and to ease her into the transition, we had agreed on me calling to say hi. I hope she is never put in that situation with her family, and usually people really don’t understand until they’re walking in your shoes.

If you find yourself succumbing to guilt or shame because of any of these reasons, I want you to stop immediately and give yourself permission to enjoy your life as a single Christian mom and kick guilt and shame to the curb!

  1. God is disappointed in me– Sweet sister friend, nothing is further from the truth! God is not disappointed in you. His love for you is unconditional and is impossible to alter. God knows your life, your heart, your desires and whatever circumstances led you to where you are today. When you hold onto this false belief you’re only hurting yourself and putting a wall up between you and God. Our Father wants you to draw nearer not further away because of our own faulty thinking. The disappointment you  experience is not coming from God it is probably being on yourself from yourself. Please, treat yourself with kindness, gentleness, patience, and most of all grace.

2. My family will never be a “real family”- I know so many women who struggle with this myth. You’re family is absolutely a real family! I’m sure you do everything that ‘real families’ do. You love one another, you take care of each other, you eat dinner together, you cry together, you laugh, you play and everything else. Let me share something with you, I know of a two parent home where their child will come to my house and not want to leave because she said, “it’s a real home.” What I’m saying is don’t allow anyone to define your family for you, when you do that you’re stepping into dangerous territory. If you don’t feel like you have a real family then your kids won’t feel it either.

3. My kids are at a deficit Let’s face it the statistics for kids of divorce aren’t pretty, but do you look at your kid and yourself as a number? God is in control of your family and if you are in his will and in obedience I truly believe that you can raise your children to be happy and healthy. I don’t feel that my daughter is at a deficit, are there challenges absolutely, but every family has them. God has equipped you with everything you need to raise your children, never forget that!

4. I will never have enough to give my kids what they need- God sustains us and in his divine providence he will provide. I’ve had people say to me, “how do you do it?” “Aren’t you afraid you can’t do it on your own?” Well, I’m not on my own and that’s key for you to know. I have seen God’s providence in ways that brings me to my knees. Don’t let anyone plant this negative thought in your mind. Live in abundance, in God’s abundance. Watch him work you’ll be amazed.

5. Are we still good Christians– The worst thing you can do is get caught up in a label. Being Christian is not a label, it is our life in our walk with Christ. No one has the right to rate your Christianess! God got rid of the law and replaced it with the love of his son. Don’t put standards on yourself that God doesn’t put on you. Be firm and confident in your faith and in your relationship with Christ and nothing can rock you.

6. I deserved to be judged by others because I messed up- No one has the right to judge you, but God. Friends, be so careful who you associate with and don’t allow judgment from others to cloud your view of who you are as a mom and as a child of Christ. Those who judge typically do so because they don’t want to look in the mirror, so do keep them in your prayers.

These are just a few of the ways we feel guilt and shame. My prayer is that you free yourself of those chains and let God work. Know that you are a wonderful mother and that your family is just as beautiful as anyone else’s. Don’t rush to change it, allow God to guide you and find peace and contentment in your circumstances as they are right this second. Be kind to yourself and if others do judge you that’s not your problem. Lean into God where there is no shame or guilt only freedom!

Love my family

Love my family

When Our Kids Use The Fruits of the Spirit On Us!

I’m constantly amazed at how much I learn from my daughter. She has a lot of wisdom in the little nine year old body, more sometimes than I do! This evening was one of those nights that her nuggets of wisdom were laid heavily on my heart. We have bible study on Wednesdays and we haven’t been attending because of the weather and being sick. Tonight was the first night that the weather although cold wasn’t too brutal and we were both feeling well enough to venture out. After school we had some errands and a quick dinner at Panera we got home around 6:30 pm.  Anya had homework and I had some loose ends to tie up at work. She was moving slow and I wasn’t moving much faster. Time was ticking away and before we knew it the clock said 7:30. Anya looks at me pitifully and says, “I guess we can’t go to church.” I wanted to go, but I won’t lie I was feeling pretty comfortable on my couch and the thought of going back out in the cold didn’t have me jumping up.

I started making excuses, saying she still wasn’t done with her homework and we were going to be late and so forth. Then I got kind of annoyed because well… she was making me feel bad! Here was my 9 year old saying who cares if we’re late, the point is we’re going and I miss church. Yep, that made me feel like a real jerk. I started in on the homework again although I knew it was me, I will make an exception with unfinished homework because it really does mean more to me that my kid loves to go to church. After some back and forth we went to church. I’m ashamed to admit I wasn’t in the best mood. She went to her class and I went to mine. As I sat there listening to the lesson in Galatians on the fruit of the spirit, I realized I wasn’t using my fruit! But… Anya was as she convinced me patiently, kindly and gently why we should be at church. I almost left in the middle to go apologize to her. After class I went downstairs and I spotted her with her big smile and ponytails gleefully skipping towards me. She put her arms around me and I gave her a big kiss and said I was sorry.  She actually apologized to me because she thought she was kind of mean to me. I assured her she wasn’t and thanked her for encouraging me and loving church enough not to give up on going.

Wow! What a lesson tonight. I am so glad I went and I’m so thankful that I have such a sweet daughter with a love for God, church and me enough to know when her momma needs a push in the right direction. Out of the mouth of babes right?

Such an abundance of wisdom in this little one

Such an abundance of wisdom in this little one

Keeping Our Kids in Church After They Leave the Nest: 4 Ways to Build A Connection

Vacation bible study last year

Vacation bible study last year

Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I was reading some statistics awhile back about how once children leave their parent’s house many of them also leave behind church, which is unfortunate since we know that once they’re out there in the world they really need to rely on that spiritual foundation and  fellowship that comes with attending church. Right now, Anya is 9 and she loves church, but will it be the same when she is 16 or 18? I hope so, but I’m not naieve to the reality that kids change and outside social factors can be a big influence on our kids once mom isn’t waking them up on Sunday morning. So what do we do?

I think we need to make church more than an obligation on Sundays. Our kids need to feel intimately connected with church if we expect them to continue going without our prompting.  Church is a blessing because it is there we can learn about scripture, fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and  serve as the body of Christ. These three things are key to connecting to the church. Here are some ideas on how to get your kids connected to the church:

1)  Take them to church joyfully!-Okay this seems like a no brainer, but think about what your attitude about going to church says to you kids. Are Sunday mornings a mad rush with everyone screaming and hurried? Or do you plan for Sunday and look forward to church? When you’re attitude is one of care and joy about  attending church, you’re teaching them to prepare their hearts and minds for a special day. You’re creating good memories associated with church that will last beyond the 18 years you have them at home.

2) Find ways for them to serve the church– Our church will sometimes ask for help cleaning previously, I’ve volunteered and took Anya with me to help clean the pews. This was a great experience for both of us. She’s also helped me decorate for the Teacher’s Appreciation Dinner.  Teaching our kids to take care of the place they worship shows respect and love through their service. In serving the church they serve the body of Christ and it becomes more clear to them on how they are connected and the importance of working together as members of the church.

3) Get involved in church- Youth programs in church are such a blessing and is one of the easiest ways your children can connect with the church, fellowship and make friends. Look into the youth programs at your church and if there isn’t one talk to your pastor and other members of the congregation who have kids to get one started. For example, my church has a bible bowl, a vacation bible study and kids classes on Wednesday and Sunday all of which really promote not only bonds but a love for church.

4) Develop and nurture mentoring in kids at church- Encourage your kids to mentor other children in church and keep an eye open for older kids that can be a mentor to your kids. Anya has been helping the 2-3 year old’s teacher in her Wednesday bible study class and I can tell she really feels like she’s participating and has a responsibility to be a role model to the younger kids. Building these strong bonds encourage them to seek that later in life.

Church is personal and I’m not saying if your child decides not to go to church when they are older that they don’t love God. But, being part of a community and the body of Christ is a blessing that I want my daughter to experience even if she’s miles away. It is that community that can support her, give her godly advice, and a place to be when home is far away. When kids view church as more than a building or an obligation they develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of how church is a home to them and hopefully they continue to go because the desire to go resides in their heart.

Struggling with Anxiety? Listen to This 2 Part Series by Charles Stanley

Psalms 34: 4

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

If you are struggling with anxiety listen to this two part radio broadcast by Charles Stanley, “When Anxiety Strikes Part 1 & 2.” Life is short and anxiety only shaves more time off the precious moments you have on earth to do what God has planned for you. Even though circumstances can seem overwhelming remember that our God is mightier and wants you to rest in the assurance of his protection. I heard this broadcast and knew I had to share it with all my mommas out there who are struggling with worry, anxiety and fear. Seek the Lord and trust in him and he will never forsake you.

Stay focused on his light

Stay focused on his light