On This Day

Deborah.  Sarah.  Susan.  Hannah.  Abigail.

This list could be the names of your neighbors or the women on the snack rotation at school.  Prevalent first names that don’t decry importance or scream “look at me”.  What if I told you that these are the first names of women who changed history, yet you will probably never find their name penned in a history book.

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On July 4, 1776, 238 years ago, this great nation set out to define freedom for itself declaring its independence from Great Britain. Signed by fifty-six men, the  Declaration of Independence was penned and scripted from their passion and heartfelt desire “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” and for those beliefs they risked their own lives and walked the tenuous tightrope of treason.

Those same men whose weathered hands held quills daubed in ink to pen what would be our one of our nation’s most important historical documents were once cradled against a mother’s chest.  The very same hair which was covered by powdered wigs was also trimmed and saved by a mother’s caring hand.  The values and deep-seated beliefs that drove these men to throw off the bonds of tyranny and forge ahead into an unknown wilderness–the very bravery to stand and declare ‘Give me liberty or give me death,” knowing full well the mere utterance would be their last, was instilled and taught by the women who carried their weight in their womb and birthed them into a world without such freedoms.  

Could their mothers have known that the swell of their stomach carried the men that would one day change the world?  As they chased their chubby toddler legs and fit them for their first pair of breeches did their mothers wonder what their sons would be when they grew?  

think their mothers did wonder and I think that just like we do, they prayed for their sons.  

I’m sure they prayed for protection because the boys of the summer of 1776 probably got into mischief just like the boys of 2014 minus the internet and cars.  I wonder if they prayed for their sons to change the world or if they prayed to just make it through the next day.  I bet there were a few prayers of “Lord, how do I deal with his stubborn will?”  One would have to pray like that if your son would be the one to stare down the opposition, to draw a line in the sand and say, “Here and no further.”  

So today, on this celebratory day, I want to encourage you, mama.  Your prayers, your instruction, your patience, your love, can and will change the world.  Yours may not be the name googled so a blogger can write her post, but I promise, the name that was searched for will stand testament to your determination and dedication to raising your son.  Your prayers will be answered, not necessarily how you think they will be, but perhaps in even a greater way.  

So this Fourth of July, this our nation’s birthday, let’s resolve to continue to pray for our boys.  To take the stubborn will that makes us crazy, the determination that makes us want to beat our heads against the wall, the outgoing attitudes that make us cry and take it instead to the One who holds us, our boys, and our nation in His hands.  

Let’s join the ranks of the mothers from the past whose prayers on bended knee no doubt shaped the world we now enjoy.  


And those women–their sons were named George Washington, William Prescott, Paul Revere, and Patrick Henry…

How To Grow Spiritually By Doing Nothing

The trials came one by one, sneaking up on me, the proverbial optimist. It was clear to me that God wanted my attention. Job loss, medical issues, family estrangements, betrayal of friends, misunderstandings–they all began to pile up, knocking me down from the mountaintop headlong into a long and deep valley.

For years.

I hung onto my faith for dear life, believing that of course, “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” but the dawn was sure taking its sweet time.

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photo credit

Was I missing something?

Was there a lesson that God was trying to teach me that I just was not getting? Did I need some major refinement and this was the only way?

I questioned God. Often.

The trials continued. I did grow in my faith both as a woman and a mother.

No major convictions rose to the surface that I felt I needed to deal with. So what in the world was going on here, God? Because every time I peek out the window the shards of light are not breaking through!

Darkness still.

And then a wise friend said something to me that took away all that anxiety. “If God wants to teach you something, Amber, He isn’t going to make it hard for you to figure out.”

Hmmm…that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? God isn’t going to waste His time or mine with mysteries or veiled understandings. He wasn’t playing a game with me that I needed to try and determine what it was much less the rules and how to win. He has given me everything I need for life and Godliness.

I came away from that conversation with this verse rising to my mind:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10a

How about you, Mom? Are you in a rut spiritually because of your trials? Like me, have you floundered about trying to sort it all out and become so focused on the “lesson” or “growth” you needed so you can escape it all that you may be missing the point entirely?

Sometimes, difficult circumstances are opportunities for God to prove His faithfulness.

Sometimes, we don’t need to figure it out or even make it about us, at all. I think that’s what Job might tell us.

Sometimes we grow in our faith by doing nothing but being still.

So I’m working on resting, which seems counter-productive, I know. Still, God’s ways are higher than mine and I’m growing in my faith by resting in Him. I don’t always have to be busy doing something to mature as a believer. Right now, it’s more about knowing than doing.

And in the peacefulness of letting my questions go, I’m finding that the light has been there all along, illuminating Christ before me and bringing the dawn.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Study Questions:
1. Is there something that you keep trying to figure out in your life that you can release to the Lord?
2. What is the biggest obstacle in your life that prevents you from slowing down and being still before God?
3. What can you do today to “know” that He is God? If you are stuck, pray about it!

A Mother’s Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are God. Help me to be still and to have the assurance in my heart and mind that You are with me. Help me in my difficult circumstances to rest in You and to allow you to prove Your faithfulness to me instead of trying to figure it all out on my own. Thank you, God! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.

How to Trust God

Today’s post is just a quick note from my heart to yours…

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I really want to tell you it’s all going to be OK.

Truly, I want to look you in the eyes, maybe across a nice cup of coffee, and say, “my friend, God has your heart in his hands. He’s got this, He can take your truth, and He’s going to love you through whatever comes.”

I could say that, but for it to make a difference, you’d have to believe it was true, and you’d have to trust that God’s definition of “OK” is the best one for you.

God's definition of OK

 

So much of our experience of God, of life, depends on what we choose to believe is true.

It’s more than just important that we believe God at his word, it’s without a doubt the most important decision we’ll ever make. Why? Because that one decision—to say, “I believe you, God, even when my circumstances tell me something different”— is the foundation of every other decision we’ll make. It’s the decision that will make us or break us when the storms of life hit.

So today, as you face another day filled with the challenges and demands of motherhood, pray that God will give you the faith you need to trust him at his word. If you struggle to believe the Bible really applies to you, ask him to give you eyes to see it alive and active in your life. And if your current circumstances are threatening to completely overwhelm you, do what I do, and write out the truth on sticky notes and stick them all over your house ;)

God can make whatever you’re dealing with OK. Believe it.

Don’t Freak Out

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The status quo and I are well-acquainted.  You could call us besties.  I like to know what’s next and prefer that it look as much like the past as it possibly can.  Predictability is my other bestie.  The only predictable thing about my son is his unpredictability.  Sound familiar?  In any given week, no, any given day I come face to face with many an opportunity to lose my stuff. Sometimes it’s injury related, other times it’s argument related.  Blood, bodily fluids, anger…they’ve all reared their heads and sometimes I’ve kept my cool and other times I’ve completely freaked out.

Mama, don’t freak out.

You, my friend, are your son’s keel.  In a boat the keel is the metal piece that keeps the boat evenly distributed on the water.  (Please excuse the very non-technical definition.) Ever heard the term “even keel”?  It’s referring to the even distribution of weight so the boat can sit evenly in the water.  If you can keep it together, your son will have a much easier time of figuring out where he stands.  If we mamas freak out over every little thing, our sons will not be able to control themselves or discern what is or is not important.  I know that sometimes it’s hard to remain even-keeled when it seems the world is all topsy-turvy, but the only way to maintain level is to stay have your own keel anchored in God’s word.  

About two summers ago my son made his way down the stairs and announced, “Mom, I accidentally peed out your window…and I made a mess.”  I pondered this thought for a moment. Situated on the second floor of our house, my room faces the street.  The only unlocked window also had a fan in it and a screen as well.  Obviously, there was no “accidentally” about this.  It was premeditated unauthorized relieving of oneself!!! Oh the audacity!

My brain quickly ran through all the appropriate freak outs.  Bodily fluids on my floor….peeing out the window…did anyone see him…were my neighbors going to call the police….how did he get the fan out…there is pee on my floor…and over and over again.  Despite my mind going bonkers, I kept it together because, let’s face it, the silver lining is that at least he didn’t fall out of the window.  (Look for the silver lining….it’s normally worth a chuckle.)

There were two parts to this scenario…the pottying in an inappropriate place part and the danger part.  The latter was worth a discussion and a reprimand because hello(!!!!) he could have fallen out of a two story window.  The pottying part…well, it just wasn’t worth losing my stuff over.  In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t worth destroying my son’s conscience over something so trivial.  

Reaction is Everything

My daughter is cresting the wave between standing on her own and taking her first steps.  This is such an exciting stage to watch her explore and expand her boundaries.  That being said, this is also a season of watching her fall a lot as she builds her endurance and practices balance.  She consistently looks to me for my reassurance as she topples once again onto her diaper.  Earlier this morning she pulled a small bucket of toys off of a small shelf and was surprised when the momentum of her pulling landed her directly on her rump on the floor.  I was watching from a few feet away and as she looked at me, a bit bewildered from her thump, I smiled and clapped and excitedly said, “What a good job falling!  Good job, Etta!  That was a big boom!”  The expected reaction of crying was changed to smiles as she witnessed and behaved in accordance with my reaction.  I’m sure if I had boo-hooed with her she would have burst into a ball of tears.  

The Way We React Now Dictates How They Will React Later

Life is not always easy. Life doesn’t always give you what you want, when you want it.  If our sons see a go-with-the-flow reaction to the curve balls of life modeled for them, they will be better equipped to deal with the disappointments and unexpected circumstances in their own lives.  Watching you, mama, react with measured patience and words will bless your sons for years to come.   

Practical Steps: 

1- Honesty- It’s okay to say, “I really want to be angry right now, so I need a minute.”  Our sons need to see us acknowledging the desire to freak out and yet, somehow controlling it and choosing instead to remain in control and react differently.

2-Immersion-Drench yourself in the WORD.  Whether it’s reading some verses on an app on your phone or a two hour inductive Bible study.  Do it.  Find a way to incorporate scripture into your life and meditate on it.  That’s just a fancy way of saying “Think about it.”

3-Connect & Share- Some days we just need to know we are not alone.  I have one good friend in my life who I call regularly and she hears, “You’ll never guess what just happened!”  Most of the time she can guess, her kids did it too, and she has some wonderful insight into life.

4-Step Back - Perspective is invaluable.  If you are struggling with the enormity of something or the relevance of a certain issue, like whether or not it will matter in the grand scheme of things, a bit of perspective can be healthy.  It’s okay to address the situation and tell your son you may revisit it and discuss it again later.

5-Know When You Should Freak Out - It can be quite crazy and unnerving to see your child bleeding or injured.  It’s okay to want to freak out in your head.  May I suggest waiting until after your child is stable and or under someone else’s care whether it’s another parent, a friend, or even a healthcare professional, but at that point, grab chocolate, coffee, or sugar and feel free to cry until your heart’s content.  A little bit of freaking out is okay, just not over every little window that gets peed through.

Extra Resources:

How to Control Your Emotions So They Don’t Control You by: Brooke McGlothlin

 

Five Ways To Be A Heart Sister

heart sisters laughing - MOB post

I’ve always wanted a sister. God planned for me to be an only child, but oh, how I longed to have a built-in playmate and someone to share my secrets with during late nights when we were supposed to be sleeping instead.

I grew into adulthood not really knowing how to be in healthy relationships with other women. What happens when conflict arises? How do I set boundaries and, more importantly, how do I know I need to set them? How does God expect me to navigate relationships with female friends?

Mark Twain once stated, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.” 

Oh, sisters. I’ve carried the cat by the tail on many occasions in my relationships with other women.  Even so, God has taught me how to pick up the proverbial cat through many hard situations with both gentleness and love.  Sure, I still make relational mistakes, but I’ve experienced the fruit of true friendship and better understand its value. In fact, God has blessed me with a tight-knit group of friends who are not sisters by blood, but rather sisters of the heart.

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God wants us to be in relationship with one another because He understands the power of community. He knows we can’t do this life thing alone and while I love my husband, there’s no doubt that my heart sisters “get” me in ways he may not.

Heart sisters encourage us to grow closer to God.  When we grow closer to God, we experience a peace that truly does transcend all understanding.

My book, Heart Sisters: Being the Friend You Want to Have (subtitle not definite) will be released in the Spring of 2015 by Abingdon Press; however, today I’m sharing content exclusively for M.O.B. Society readers to encourage us to strive to be Godly women through the friendships in our lives.

Five Ways To Be A Heart Sister:

1. A heart sister walks through conflict in a way that honors God and keeps a humble heart. When hard stuff comes up, a good friend listens, doesn’t formulate her defense, and apologizes for any hurt she has caused. The discussion is healthy, not heated, and a higher value is placed on the relationship rather than “just being right.”

2. A heart sisters forgives, offers grace, and seeks and/or accepts reconciliation. It takes one person to forgive, but two people to reconcile. Forgiveness is not for the person who has hurt you – it’s for you, sweet sisters. If we don’t forgive, we risk being eaten away by anger, bitterness, and resentment. However, if someone refuses to forgive YOU, you don’t have to stand in their unforgiveness. Forgive yourself and pray for her forgiveness journey.  A true heart sister offers up grace and will seek reconciliation no matter what.

3. A heart sister always points back to what is true. There are many lies swirling around out there. In fact, just the other day, I shared something I was thinking about myself with a friend and she said, point blank, “That’s just a lie your believing!” She then backed-up her declaration with scripture that further proved my thinking was off-base.

4. A heart sister recognizes the importance of  your marriage and encourages you to grow as a wife. She doesn’t put your husband down or encourage you to be dissatisfied within your marriage. Marriage is challenging enough at times, right? We need friends who are positive influences in our marriages. (Disclaimer: It goes without saying this does not apply to women in abusive situations.)

5. A heart sister is candid – not honest. When someone is “just being honest with you,” it’s usually for their own benefit – to get something off their chest or to prove a point or in some cases, because they’re jealous. However, someone who is candid shares something hard for your benefit and not their own. They understand they’ve been entrusted with your heart and they take this responsibility very seriously.

They laugh with you and cry with you. They offer to take your kids when you have a doctor’s appointment or if you’re just having one of “those days.” They do things for you without expecting anything in return and love you for who you are right here, right now.

They’re your heart sisters and you couldn’t imagine life without them.

Dear Lord, please show me ways in which I can be an authentic and true heart sister to my friends. Help me to have a humble heart, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, offer grace, and be candid with the women you have blessed me with. Please help me to keep my heart open for the possibility of new friendships and give me the courage to “put myself out there” even when I’m scared or feel nervous about doing something outside of my comfort zone. Amen.

Natalie Chambers Snapp is first and foremost a follower of Jesus, then wife to Jason, and mom to one spunky daughter and two spirited sons with a crazy amount of energy. She lives in the Midwest and tries to channel her inner Brother Lawrence when she writes about finding faith in the everyday mundane. The outpourings of her heart can be found at www.nataliesnapp.com and her first book, Heart Sisters: Being the Friend You Want to Have, will be published by Abindgon Press in Spring 2015.