Archive for August, 2010

A Salt Shaker

I’m always fascinated by the word’s that Jesus spoke.  This morning as I read Matthew 5:13, I begin to think about what being salt really means and how it fits with being a mom.

Here’s what the verse says: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.”

What does that mean?

As I researched, I  found some purposes of salt.  Over the next few posts we’ll talk about how each of these fit into being a mom and parenting.   Here’s a list to consider.


a.  draws out flavor

b.  draws out water

c.  cures food

d. creates traction

e. serves as an anteseptic

Salt has a lot of uses, but if it loses it’s saltiness it becomes useless.   I don’t know how you feel about it but many times I’ve felt like the last part of that verse.  Cast aside, useless, insignificant and walked on by others.   That’s one aspect of life I don’t want to experience any longer.

Taste or flavor in the Amplified version is equated with strength and quality. So how do I maintain my strength and quality and be the salt Jesus said I am?

How does salt lose it’s flavor?  Scientists tell us that salt can lose it’s flavor by contamination or dilution in water.  What are the things that contaminate and dilute a mom’s strength and flavor?  The list is endless–time, distractions, no self-care, poor nourishment, lack of purpose, etc.   Interesting that salt in this passage is figuratively described as prudent, which means to manage very carefully.  If we are going to be salt we must seriously take a look at the things that distract us from managing our households and our lives.  There are a lot of different styles of management.  Carefully examine what works for you.

Here are a few questions to get you started. Ask yourself:

What are my strengths?

Even when things are chaotic, what makes me feel strong?

What are the qualities I want to see in my life and my family?

Where can I manage myself and my household more effectively?

Salt is no good if it’s lost it’s flavor.  It’s also no good if it’s not used.

A salty mom is a strong woman.  To be strong, we must think about and manage the areas of our life that help us create and live out the qualities we want for ourselves and our families.

Salt that sits in a shaker is of no use until it’s poured out.  Our families and the world need to taste the salt of our lives.  Let’s all be salt shakers.

Will you join me in praying?

Lord, you created us to be salt. Lord help us discard the things that deplete our flavor and strengthen the things that enhance it.  Show us where we need to shake our salt to make a difference in our world.  Amen.

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Back to School

Looking out my window at the rainy day and knowing most of the moms in this area are experiencing “back to school” moments.  Remembering what that was like for me, I’m sure some of you are jumping up and down for joy and others are teary-eyed as you see your kids off.

I also remember the pride in watching them learn new things, do good work,  build relationships, and advance to a new level.  How could I forget the struggles as we walked them through things they didn’t understand, playground and teacher rivalry, and times when they didn’t do their best or maybe even failed?

School is a lot like life.  I found a good send-off verse this morning for our children and us.  Psalm 90:14-17 says, “Satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!  Make us glad according to the days in which You’ve afflicted us.  The years in which we have seen evil.  Let your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us.  Yes establish the work of our hands.”

As kids go back to school, you can use this time to start new as well.  Here’s a few pointers to get you started in the right direction.

1. Start every day with an invitation to God.  As Him to satisfy (fill you up) with His compassion and mercy.  When you know His compassion and mercy towards you, you can treat yourself and others with kindness and offer them the same.

2.  Trade in your past for joy and purpose.  We’ve all suffered and experienced hard things.  Some of us have even faced unspeakable evil.  But, our God is a God of redemption and restoration.   Determine today that you will seek whatever support and help you need to redefine your yesterdays into the hopes and gifts of your tomorrows.

3.  Live in His presence.  His glory and beauty is all around you, on you, and in you.  Take a few moments to open yourself up and acknowledge Him each morning.  Look for Him in every minute, every thing, and every one around you.

4.  Let Him show and establish your work.  Let Him tell you what He’s up to and how you can work with Him.   Like Jesus, be about your Father’s business.  You may not feel like what you do on a daily basis is significant but you never know what comes from even the smallest tasks.  Whatever you do today, do it as if it were for Him.

These steps will help you live out your days in joy and gladness.

What actions do you take that help you follow through on any of these steps?  Share with us.

If you would like more understanding of  how to live your life with joy and gladness no matter what season you are in, consider joining a Moms on Mission workshop.  Contact me at marian@connectedlifecoaching or on facebook for scheduled teleconference and in person groups.

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What God Expects

Because children naturally grow up wanting to please their parents, our expectations of them are important.  If we expect too little, they can find it difficult to understand values such as work, self-discipline, doing things well, etc.  Without boundaries, children often deal with insecurity and feel unloved.

On the other hand, if our expectations are unrealistic, they may feel like they can never please us and become discouraged, self-loathing, and angry. They can become all about performance and never find or lose sight of the true passions and callings.

We carry many of these attitudes with us into adulthood. In families, careers, communities, relationships, and churches our behavior can run the gamut.  We become work-aholics, perfectionists, and control freaks or unmotivated, undisciplined, self-absorbed, and non-committal.

A period of my life was spent trying to “be a good Christian woman,” which translated into attending every Bible study, being a perfect wife and mother (according to everyone else’s expectations), serving by doing anything that was asked of me in the church, and the list goes on.

I wanted to serve God, but my perceptions of what He expected were false.  Thank God, He is helping me replace those old ideas with truth.

Jesus tells us his only aim and the only reason He does anything, is for His Father’s pleasure and will. (John 5:30) Then He goes on in John 6:29 to say, “This is the work(service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent(that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger).”

That is the foundation of God’s expectations in our life.  If we will believe(trust, cleave, rely and have faith) in Jesus, we will please Him.

How do we do that? For me, it is summed up in one simple word.  Come.  That’s the attitude we need to maintain to please God.

  • Come early and often.  (Prov. 8:17)
  • Come for nourishment.  (John 6:35)
  • Come for acceptance. (John 6:37)
  • Come for rest.  (Matt. 11:28)

There are many more reasons to come to God.   Whatever the reason, we don’t need to hold anything back.  Like a mom, coaxing her baby to take a step for the first time, God is crooking his finger and coaxing us to come to Him.

And when we do, He will be there with a smile on His face.

What is holding you back from trusting, relying, or coming to God?

Share with Moms a time when you came to God and found what you wanted or needed.

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Who Do You Say He Is?

There’s more to unpack in yesterday’s question, “How does a baby know and trust its mother and how does that relate to life and faith?”

Whether the baby’s basic need is food, sleep, cleanliness, or touch, it cries to let the caretaker know.  If truth brings solutions in all areas of life, including our relationship to God, a requirement is to seek for truth or cry for answers.

Like a mom, God is all about feeding us, cleaning us up, helping us rest, and touching our hearts and lives by His spirit.  There is another part of that truth.

We are part of the answer.  A baby does not get nourishment by letting someone else eat for them.  The same is true for any other need.  Yet, often in life, we try to live that way.

Christian or not, far too many are content to let some other human tell them what to think, feel, do, or believe.  While we learn from other people’s experiences, we can’t just accept every thing that anyone else says.  That’s especially true in the area of faith.

As in the past, religion today often divides us.   No matter where we are in any of today’s current disputes, we must wrestle with one question above all others.   What is my relationship with Jesus? We must believe He is who He said He is to have relationship with Him.  (I John 4:15) If He is who He said, He is the truth. So to know real truth, we must know Him. And as He said, if we know Him, we know God.

When it comes to relationship, knowing about someone is important but knowing someone personally is better.  So how do we get to know Jesus outside of just reading about Him or listening to someone else talk about Him?  Like a baby learns to recognize the voice of its mother, we  must learn to hear His voice above all others.

I believe every human being, if they quiet themselves, will hear a knock at the door of their heart. (Rev.3:20) I have absolutely no doubt that knock is the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit).  When we listen and open ourselves up He comes in. And where the Spirit of the Lord is liberty or freedom.  (II Cor. 3:17) The voice of the Spirit always brings freedom or life.

What are you struggling with today? Stop and quiet yourself. Ask God to help you hear the voice of His Spirit inside you.

What do you hear? If the result of the action you are thinking about taking brings life and peace,  and empowers  you to move beyond the obstacles, you can be certain it is God’s voice.

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My thoughts are running a mile a minute this morning.  It was a week of intense spiritual renewal.  I also felt the pain of a new friend’s wounded heart and am full of desire to make a difference in the lives of people who are suffering from the same type of wound.

You see, my new friend was one of those who have been hurt, confused, and devastated in her experience within a church.  I’ve been there, have you?

It  may seem strange to you that I would write about that here, but  the question behind those experiences is one we all have in one form or another.  How do I know what’s true?

As I sat quiet this morning, trying to gather those thoughts  and think about what to write this came to mind.  How does a baby know and trust its mother?  How does a mom know how to mother? How does this relate to life and faith?

Don’t think I can cover this all in one blog so let’s unpack it a little at a time.  A baby has mom and dad in its DNA.  Blood type, genes, some personality traits.  Even well-adjusted adopted children, whether they know they’re adopted or not,  seem to have an inner  sense or desire to know their blood-line parents.

Even without a birth certificate, a baby’s identity can be proved by looking at the DNA of birth parents. (Side note:  Did you know that you have God’s DNA inside of you?)

So just imagine!  All of a sudden you find yourself earth alone.  There are no books, not even a Bible. There’s nobody to tell you anything about anything.  You have a sense that someone’s out there but you aren’t sure.  What can you do to survive?  How do you find out whether someone is with you?

I’m talking about matters of faith but this applies to any  life issue.  Though we are surrounded by a sea of people, it still comes back to us alone.  It comes back to what we believe about who we are.  To find the truth, we must search.  The inner longing, the deepest desire  inside us will help us find the truth.

Because I was afraid of “being deceived” or going to hell, I came to a place where I just shut down and stopped pursuing truth.  I always wanted God more than anything but “religion” had convinced me that I couldn’t know God for myself.  Even in Christian circles it wasn’t always about personal relationship.  There were man-made rules: have-to’s, shoulds, and can’ts that made one a good Christian. Most of these were interpreted not from what Jesus taught but from how someone decided what he taught meant.

A baby begins life in a state of innocence and need.   They instinctively know to cry for nourishment, cleanliness, rest, and touch.  They more those needs are met, the more trust they build with their care-giver. As the parent and child interact positively, the health and growth of the child is developed.  What a great picture of life!

Like a baby, as we cry out (search) for those things that are innately within us we find truth.   God is Truth!

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the deep inner longing.   Don’t be afraid to embrace the seeking.  Seeking is the first step to finding truth.

If you find yourself stuck in your search, Moms on Mission is here to help you move forward.

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A Few Thoughts

My thoughts this morning:  In the garden, we ran and hid in shame.  God’s call now is to stop running from Him and run to Him because He sees us through Jesus and is not ashamed.

I believe God is going to release a lot of women who are hiding for various reasons into their true identities.

The buzz today may be around “Eat, Pray, Love.” but God was the true author of that scenario.  Eat of Me….”I am the bread.”  Drink of Me….I am living water.  Pray….Our Father who art in heaven, Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  Love….The Lord Your God with all your being and your neighbor as yourself.

Teach us Lord to Eat, Pray, and Love!  Oooooooooo!  Now I have Holy Spirit Goosebumps!

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In The Moment

Haven’t seen the movie yet or read the book, but I’m already intrigued.  A lot of women are talking about “Eat, Pray, Love.”  A friend of mine were just talking about it this morning.  After seeing the movie, she was obviously excited about the messages of it looking through the eyes of her relationship with Jesus.  She also left with questions.

We spent most of our conversation asking why more people don’t turn to Christianity in their search for peace, love, and answers.  I wonder if it isn’t because those who call themselves followers don’t understand or fully believe what Jesus offers.

I question why we are so uncomfortable talking about suffering, injustice, and the hard stuff.   Is it because we don’t understand why God didn’t show up the way we thought He should?  Do we feel it’s our job to defend Him and because we can’t, so we just pretend everything is just fine?  How often do we stuff our emotions because someone told us “It’s God’s will.” or “God’s in control.” or worse yet, “If you had enough faith…..” ?  Or do we use the “someday” promise of heaven and the return of Christ as an escape from today’s reality?

This quote from Gilbert’s book really hits home for me. “There is a reason they call God a presence – because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time.”

Where do we find God?  We find Him in the moment!  In the center of whatever is happening right now.  We find Him in our loneliness, our grief, our struggles.  We find Him in our laughter, our joy, our passion.   He’s always there but we only see Him if we  we look for Him.  When we cry out for Him or share our joys with Him.  When we as Gilbert puts it, “search for God like a man with his head on fire, looking for water.”

Sounds like Psalm 42:1: As the deer pants and longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for You, Oh God.  My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God. ” This passage would not be complete without verse 5( my paraphrase).  “Why are you so cast down, my inner self?  Why the moaning and whaling over me?  Why the lack of peace, serenity, and tranquility?

The Psalmist doesn’t ignore his feelings.  He speaks to them.  He doesn’t run from them, he acknowledges them.  He sits in them and with them for some time.  Then he  directs his inner being (his soul) to “Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him.” As he sits in stillness, he reflects on what God has already been and what He’s done.  He acknowledges that his help and countenance can only be helped by God.  Then he waits until God is apparent to him.

No matter where you are at this moment, God is there.  Right in the middle.  Right in the center of it.  Right in the center of you!  His kingdom is within you.  Seek Him and He will appear in the moment.

Today’s affirmation:  I seek God with my whole heart.  I find Him in everything.

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I Want My Blanket!!!!

Remember Linus, Charlie Brown’s thumb-sucking, friend attached to his security blanket?

A few years ago, I watched as our pastor illustrated his sermon by having a group of moms, give him their child’s favorite blanket.   As he called the 18 mo- 2 year olds on to the stage, he threw the blankets up in the air letting them fall randomly.   “Go find your blankets,” he told the little ones.   Without fail, every one of them went to their own blanket.  They knew which one was theirs.

It would be great as an adult to have  the safe, secure feeling that blanket brings to our kids.  But, it’s not as simple as wrapping ourselves in a literal blanket, or even in the warm fuzzies we sometimes experience in life.

What does it take for us to be safe and secure no matter what season or circumstance we are in?

Curiously, for me it’s rarely about adding something to my life, it’s usually about letting go.

If it is about letting go, what do we need to let go of?

  • Expectations–It’s so easy to live by the expectations of others.  It’s common to get trapped in unrealistic expectations of ourselves.   It’s difficult to stop expecting our needs or desires to be met by others.   It’s hard to not live in a world where we expect things of others that we really have no right to expect.
  • Noise–Life can be like a tv screen in a bad storm.  The signal is lost, and all we see is a snowy, fuzzy screen with irritating noisy static. Tightly packed schedules, whirlwinds of activity, and all the urgent interruptions leave us feeling stressed and distracted.   The loss of focus moves us away from the stability of intentional, purposed living that is a result of us being centered and balanced.
  • Independence–You might think it’s odd that I would say we need to let go of our independence.  I don’t use that word lightly.   For me, independence is a symbol of our need to control and put life in our own neat little package.

When we cling tightly to the need to control and be in charge of                        everything, when life throws us a curve ball we are overcome with                  anxiousness and worry.   That can result in us getting stuck in de-                   spair,  Obeying that age old admonition, “Don’t be a cry baby,” we                   hide behind a plastic smile.  We can’t let anyone know we have lost                 control.

So what’s the secret to “letting go?”  For me, I find the answer in my Christian faith.

Somewhere, referring to our relationship with Christ, I heard, “Snuggle, don’t struggle.  Nestle, don’t wrestle.”   It’s all about “Be Still and Know….”

When we wrap ourselves in the blanket of knowing we are really loved by the only one who has our best interests at heart, we can let go of expectations.

When we wrap ourselves in the blanket of meditation and quiet, listening prayer, we are taken back to the place where we know God and ourselves.   We find peace of mind and a tranquil spirit.

When we wrap ourselves in trust, reliance, and faith in our creator and His plans for us, we are able to embrace His gifts in any season.   We can let go of the things that we can’t or should not control, exchanging it for a heart of thanksgiving and freedom.

What are you struggling or wrestling with right now?  What is that fight bringing to your life?   What could you do to stop wrestling?

The answer when I’m struggling is always to wrap myself up in the security blanket of Faith, Hope, and Love.   Faith in the one to whom I belong, knowing the one who truly loves me, and placing my hope in His good plans for me.   It’s about me taking the time to be still so I can know.  That’s my secret for letting go in my life.

What’s your secret?

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Facing a decision in your life?  Wondering which way to go?

Ever wanted to do something, even perhaps felt called to do something, and asked that question, “Are you sure, God?”  Haven’t we all!

Our feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy often paralyze us.  The voices in our heads shout: I can’t!  I don’t know how!  I’ll mess it up!  Are you kidding, this idea is crazy!  Me?  This is too big!  This isn’t the right time! The list goes on and on.

When faced with a “What shall I do?” crossroad, our choice needs to be based on truth.

Colossians 1:12,13 tells us what we need to know to shut up the voices in our heads. “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified and made us fit to share in the portion which is the inheritance of the the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light.  The Father has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”

Here are some key words to consider:

1.  Qualified and fit–In the KJV the word used is “meet”.  That word means to enable.  It comes from the root word meaning competent, as in season.  Whatever season you are in God has enabled you to access your inheritance!

2.  Inheritance–Your inheritance is your heritage.  It’s about who you are and who you belong to.  If you belong to God, you are His heir and have access to all He has. (His character, His provision, His power, His creativity, etc.)

3.  Darkness–This word means shadow, obscurity.  If something is obscure it’s unclear, indistinct, mysterious, somewhat hidden.  What’s voices do we hear when we’re faced with a decision?  They’re usually voices of uncertainty: Am I hearing correctly? How is this possible? What will happen if I do this? This verse tells us through Jesus, God’s drawn us to Him and moved us out of the control of darkness.  Whether we’re struggling with darkness as in the word “sin,” or lack of clarity as to God’s purpose or plan, we move out of darkness as we go to Him.

4.  Light–This word means shine or make manifest.  The dictionary describes manifest as unobstructed, open, evident, clear.  That’s what Jesus did.  He’s the light and brought us into the light.  Abiding in Him, we have an open, clear, channel to hear the true voice of the shepherd.

When we are at a crossroads, there’s always a battle of the voices.  The voice of truth is the one that will lead us in the right direction.  Today’s truth is:  I am qualified and fit to receive my inheritance.  I  have access to everything God hasJesus is the Light.  Jesus lives in me.  I have the Light of God in me.  Darkness can’t live in the presence of Light and no longer controls me!

When you are standing in the center of the crossroads of life, which corner will you choose?   Will you stand on the corner, under the  shadows  of the voices of confusion, uncertainty, and insecurity? Or will you choose to stand under the Light of the voice of God? His voice is whispering “You are my child.  I’ve given you all you need.  I am calling you to walk with Me. I’ve qualified and equipped you for the journey. You can do it!”

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The Cure

In my book, Mom’s on Mission, Discovering Destiny, I spend some time talking about the crushing affect trying to meet the expectations of others has on a mom or woman.  Yesterday, a mom wrote, “Why am I not ever good enough?”

I was plagued with this question and until recently didn’t recognize how much it played into my life.  My Disease to Please started with being a middle child in a somewhat dramatic household.  I hated conflict and there was plenty of it.  My older siblings fought with each other a lot, my mom was insecure, and my dad was a no nonsense deacon of the church who expected us to be seen and not heard as we got older.

Between that and the legalism of the church I grew up in, I believed the lie that no one approved of me and that I somehow less than what I should be.  It was deeply embedded in my subconscious and influenced my actions and my feelings.

Church was my life and pastors became my authority figures.  I wanted to do everything everyone wanted and do it well.  I was the poster model of a “good Christian woman.”  You know the kind.  I was the Bible study attender and leader, Sunday School teacher, hospitality and potluck guru, involved in everything spiritual, and never miss church lady!

At home, I tried, even though my domestic skills and interest were lacking.  I read every book on being the total woman, the wife I needed to be so my husband would be the man he should be.  Usually, I ended up in tears, because I was misunderstood or the tools didn’t work.  In fact, my husband would usually say, “What book are you reading now?” It took a years for me to understand I needed to accept myself and my husband right where we were!

The Disease to Please is prevalent today, especially among moms.  I know the cure.  It lies in this question.  Who do you want to please? We must recognize who we’ve been trying to please (and that includes ourselves).  Then we have to consider what expectations we have put on ourselves because of needing their approval.  Finally, we have to change our mind about whose approval we desire.

My healing began when I recognized the only “well done” I need to hear is God’s.  I also had to recognize that God’s pleasure isn’t because He is an overbearing authority figure in our lives.  It’s because like any good daddy, He loves watching his children grow and learn.  He takes joy in us being like Him.

The only thing He expects of me to get it is to keep an open, honest,  and pliable heart.  That heart will enable me to (Colossians 1:9-12) be filled with the knowledge of His will and have insight into the ways and purposes of God.

As I grow and increase the result will be walking in a manner that fully pleases Him.  And as we stay full of His Spirit we will be invigorated and strong in endurance and patience, joyful in any circumstance.

Todays affirmation:  I have an open heart toward God.  I am pleasing to Him.

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