It WAS a Better Day!

I decided this morning that I had to follow up on last week’s post!  It is amazing what happens when you resolve ahead of time to take God at His word and emphasize love over impatience, relationship over the rules, gentle over harsh words and listening over speaking.  Friday morning was truly a JOY!  Even when I “suggested” (in my best Sweet Mommy Morning voice) that we would get dressed before we snuggled with Daddy, the kids went along with the new, gentler Mommy Program!  And, here for the entire world to see, I give God Himself all the glory, honor and praise for it because heaven knows I have tried it on my own before.  But I have to confess that I don’t think I ever really asked God to make it so.  I don’t know that I ever asked Him to allow His word in me to make a true difference in my mundane, daily tasks.  I don’t recall really repenting of my OWN attitude problem, at least as it relates to our morning routine!  I DO know that I have intuitively felt for some time that I was at least partially to blame for the typical yuckiness that is getting 2 kids who really hate mornings ready and to school before the tardy bell rings.  But I don’t think I have ever before said, “OK God, I hear what You’re saying and I am resolving right now to let YOUR way BE my way tomorrow morning.  Prepare my heart, give me a plan, move me out of the way and let me watch you work.” 

WOW!  Who knew a Sovereign, All-Powerful God could handle the morning better than I could?!  I’m here to tell you ladies (and gentlemen, if there are any out there reading this!) that He can!  I literally drove home after drop-off thinking: “Wow.  That was totally different than any morning we’ve ever had before.  We weren’t tardy.  We ate breakfast at home and actually laughed on the way to school.  When Keppley fussed about her outfit (Told you she would!) we moved on without incident and my “back-up shirt” was a hit!  God really worked.  He really showed up… He really DOES care about our mornings and His way really is best.”  Wow.  Think we’ll do it His way again tomorrow.

Considering it ALL Joy,

Joeli

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The First Day of a New & Better Way

What Would Your Relationships Be Like If You…

  • Treated everyone, including yourself, as a person in process rather than as a machine that performs?
  • Showed in your words and actions that you valued relationships more than time?
  • Listened long enough to understand what another person was thinking and feeling?
  • Gave up harsh and condemning words and learned to speak softly?
  • Focused on finding solutions to problems rather than finding someone to blame?

From Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman

This is the book my Sunday school class is currently studying.  At the same time, as you know, the Ladies Bible Study I attend is studying the book of James.  Tuesday, because both studies asked me to, I wrote James 1:19 TWICE!  My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Today, MasterWork, our Sunday school curriculum, took me to James 1:2-4.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

I am glad that the same God who holds the stars in place and created everything we know of (and things we cannot even imagine!) is ALSO the God who knows me better than I know myself and actually cares about how I interact with the people around me.  So, again, by grace, I say:

I hear you, Lord and I so want to be a doer of your word and not just a hearer. (James 1:22)  Even on days when the “job” of Mommy seems a little bit like a trial, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I know that my Kiddos have taught me more in 8 short years than I have learned in the 30 before about being the person You want me to be.  The role of “Mommy” is the one I KNOW cannot do well without You.  It’s the one that motivates me more than any other to be better: more loving, more patient, more compassionate, kind and gentle, more self-controlled, more peaceful and more joyful… more like You.  Because more than anything, I want these Kiddos You’ve entrusted to me to see who You are when they watch who I am. 

It’s been said that when it comes to what we pass onto our children, more is “caught” than “taught”.  I want Caleb and Keppley to “catch” abundant life in Christ.  I want them to “catch” that His Word is living and active and makes a difference.  I want them to see that their Mom is different now than she was without Jesus and that it’s better this way.  So, even though my toes are feeling a little squished these days, I am thankful.  The God of the universe is meeting me where the rubber meets the road!  He’s challenging me to let His Word, which is planted in me, do a great work and grow into an oak of righteousness that will yield its fruit in season.  I am thankful because I don’t want my faith to just be something I “do” on Sunday mornings or slap onto my bumper or pull out when I’m in crisis.  Since this is the life [I] have chosen, the life of the Spirit, [I want to] make sure that [I] do not just hold to it as an idea in [my] head or a sentiment in [my] heart, but work out its implications in every detail of [my life].  (Galatians 5:25)

So, I wonder what my relationships with my two favorite Little Loveys would be like if I remembered that God’s not finished with us yet?  I wonder how different things would be if I showed them every day that my relationship with them is more important than my schedule; if I really listened when they talked, sought to understand their point of view and learned to speak softly?  I wonder what our relationships would be like if we stopped trying to figure out who’s to blame and started just loving on and being thankful for each other?  I’m not really sure.  But I can’t wait to find out!  Tomorrow morning when they forget their glasses, beg to snuggle with Daddy for just a few more minutes, REALLY dislike the shirt I picked out and suddenly hate Pop Tarts for breakfast, I am going to take a new approach.  I will remember that they are 5 and 8.  I will take one second to see how sweet they are with Kevin in the mornings and how good he is with them.  I will have a “back up” shirt ready to whip out and seek to understand their sudden boredom with toaster pastries.  And I will hustle them out of the house with a smile and a “still small voice”.  (No laughing!)  And so will begin the very first day of a new and better way.  For with God, all things are possible!

Yet Another Reason to be Speechless

So… does anyone but me think it is a HUGE coincidence that both of my COMPLETELY UNRELATED Bible studies had me write out James 1:19 today?!  For those of you that may not have a Bible handy, it states: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  Oh my! 

At this point, I figure I have 2 options:

  1. Close both studies and move along quietly as though nothing happened OR
  2. Hear the WORD, let the Holy Spirit dig around in my messy heart and respond in obedience.

By grace, I am choosing Option 2!  Go ahead… laugh!  I am!  Those of you who know me well, know that I MIGHT be able to muster “slow to anger” on my own and I could PROBABLY at least do a pretty good job faking the “quick to listen” imperative, but I am WOEFULLY ill-equipped to handle the “slow to speak” part.  I mean, seriously!  I come from a long line of chatty folks who always have a joke to tell, a tale to weave and a story to embellish – usually dramatically, with outrageous facial expressions and sweeping gestures.  My Dad’s laugh is huge; he’s the life of the party!  My Mom always says that if you tied her hands behind her back she couldn’t talk at all!  And my brother can talk ME under the table… yes, really!  And we all “come by it honestly”.  All that background to say this: you know if I – of all people – choose Option 2, it is a “God Thing”!  And that is exactly what I am hoping for!

I am SO thrilled that God has given me the opportunity to use my propensity for the spoken word (isn’t that such a nice way to say it?!) for His glory and to encourage my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  But I know better than anyone that my mouth also gets me into big trouble!  One of my most common prayers is: “O Lord, anoint my tongue and inspire my words that they may be apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11 NKJV).”  In more light-hearted moments, I have also prayed the prayer currently posted on my refrigerator door: “Dear Lord, put Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth.”  Either will work and both get the job done because God is faithful!  However, to know that He has obviously placed His Word before you for some serious consideration is a little different.  It’s not flippant.  It’s not something that can be brushed off with an easy, “Well, that’s just who I am.”  And so today, I choose Option 2.

I have experienced the trials my big mouth and thoughtless words can bring and trust that those trials have tested my faith and are making me mature and complete (see James 1:2).  I know that my easy words don’t always come out the right way and are an overflow of a heart that needs purifying (Matthew 12:34).  I know who I am and am thankful that God loves me anyway.  I am thankful that He would even take the time to speak into my life through His Word.  So, by grace, because of who He is and in His strength, I choose Option 2.  I don’t want careless words to fall from mouth.  I want my words to build up and encourage and affirm.  I know from my own experience that “anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20)”  More often than not, it brings about hurt feelings and broken relationships and regrets.  So, by grace, and because He said so, I choose Option 2.  I will take note.  I will be quick to listen, slow to speak (Lord, help me!) and slow to anger.  I will “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and I will humbly accept the word planted in [me], which can save [me] (James 1:21).”

If you are a praying person, please say some for me.  As you know, it will not be easy for this girl to slow up her speech!  But it will be best and I will be glad I did.  It will glorify and honor God and it will benefit those around me.  If you are a competitive person, you try it too – and let me know how it goes!

Keeping My Lips Sealed,

Joeli