(Part 2 of 2) Is Technology Killing Our Families? How to Repair the Connection When We Lose Service

 

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Families go through a lot these days, from divorce to death, and there is a need now more than ever to connect. Rather than filling these connection needs with wholesome relationships, Forbes suggests that people have been using technology, specifically social media, to fill in the gaps where meaningful connection belongs (Rohampton, 2017). Further, Forbes cites social media as being a prime factor in jealousy, distrust, and lack of personal attention in relationships.

Fellowship is a mutual bond that Christians have with Christ that puts us in a deep, eternal relationship with one another (Piper, 2017). In our relationships with family and friends, there are several ways that we show our love to one another; through words of affirmation, through acts of service, through gifts, through quality time, and through physical touch (Chapman, 1992). While most people have their preference of how they like to show or receive love, it is important to use all of these methods when engaging with others. Physical touch is vitally important to humans (Moll, 2017). It is essential to every human being. As infants, our brains do not develop properly without it. Physical touch causes neurological chemicals to be released in our bodies that make us to feel good. It also releases neurological chemicals that fight stress.

You need not look far in the Bible to find moments of physical touch between friends and family. The Bible is full of examples of how we were created to engage each other. Jesus welcomed little children into his lap when His disciples discouraged parents from bringing their children to Him. He washed His disciple’s feet. He rubbed his fingers over the blind man’s eyes to heal him. Many of the people in the Bible embraced each other in hugs and greeted each other with kisses.

It’s impossible to engage with others in the way we were designed to, if we are constantly putting our attention on things that do not matter. Technology, while great to stay in touch with family and friends that live far away, does not provide what we need in human relationships. But it’s addicting, right? Sure, it is. However, the Lord equips us with the ability to avoid the temptation to get lost in technology at the expense of our family and friends. One of the Fruits of the Spirit, is self-control. Don’t be deceived. Self-Control is achievable when you allow God to be in control of your life.

So, what are some steps you can take to limit your technology use and repair the connection with your family and friends?

Here are 5 practical ways that you can take control of technology, so that technology does not control you:

1. Give up social media for Lent, or take a vacation from social media for a time period equal to lent.
Whether you are observe Lent or not, a period of fasting in your life can do things for you that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. The purpose is to give up something in exchange for focusing that time toward God. Think about how much time you spend on social media. Imagine if you spent that amount of time focused on the Lord, or even half that time with the Lord and the other half with your family. If you’re like me, that’s a lot of time. When I became convicted about the amount of time I spent on social media, I decided to give up social media during the season of Lent. It was like a detox for me. My priorities began shifting to what they should be. My life was happier. My family was happier. I had many moments of connection with my spouse and my kids that I would not have had otherwise.

2. Declare Sundays a Technology Free Day.
Sunday is the Sabbath. Many people choose not to work on Sunday. Some businesses believe that their businesses benefit greatly from closing on Sunday’s in obedience to the Lord. Sundays are an easy day to adopt as a tech-free day, because we already observe this day as a time of worship. Rather than coming home and everyone getting onto their devices, have lunch together, play a game together, spend time baking together, etc.

3. Make a “No Devices at the Dinner Table” Rule.
Dinner time is a great time to connect with your family. If you do not currently sit at the table with your family to eat, start making a habit of doing so at least once a week and then gradually work your way up to more. Research shows that sitting around the table together as a family and having quality interaction while eating dinner, is associated with lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and better grades (Tarkan, 2005). If you find it difficult to know what to talk about at the table with your kids, you can start by asking each of them about their day or what their favorite thing about their day was. Other things we have done is: have each individual in the family say one thing they enjoy about each of the members of the family; having each individual share how they saw “God at work today;” select a character trait to talk about and why that trait is important to have (for example: honesty, integrity, obedience).

4. Set a Curfew for Devices.
In our home our teenagers have a curfew of 8:00pm for all devices. This helps them focus on their bedtime routine, getting ready for the next day, and spending time with each other.

5. Set Limits for Yourself and Your Family.
For a one-time fee, we purchased the Circle with Disney. This allows us to pause our house’s entire internet so that no one can access it or to pause individual devices from accessing the internet. It also allows us to set time limits on individual social media sites and other websites, restrict content that is inappropriate for our children, set a “bedtime” for any or all devices, and track the usage on each of the devices in our home. For a small monthly fee, you can do all of these things when the devices are outside of the home as well. Part of teaching self-control is providing boundaries for your children and modeling healthy boundaries as well.

Spending quality time with family and friends is important for everyone. We are made to love God and others. God created us to “connect” with each other regularly. Technology robs our relationships of the genuine connection that we get when we sit face to face with each other, as well as the physical touch our bodies need in order to be healthy. Look at your cashier in the eye, shake hands with those you meet, share a hug and a smile with your friends and family, and for those who have a hard time with physical touch, give them a high five or a fist bump!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

 

Piper, J. (2017, April 19). We Need Each Other: Christian Fellowship as a Means of Perseverance.

Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/we-need-each-other
Moll, R. (n.d.). The Spiritual Power of Physical Touch. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2014/october-online-only/rob-moll-spiritual-power-physical-touch.html

Chapman, G. D. (2015). The 5 love languages. Chicago: Northfield Pub.

Rohampton, J. (2017, May 3). Millennials, Here’s How Social Media Impacts Your Relationships. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/jimmyrohampton/2017/05/03/millennials-heres-how-social-media-impacts-your-relationships/amp/

Tarkan, L. (n.d.). Benefits of the Dinner Table Ritual. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/health/nutrition/benefits-of-the-dinner-table-ritual.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Is Technology Killing Our Families? How to Repair the Connection when We Lose Service (Part 1 of 2)


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Technology is a great thing. It keeps us connected to family and friends that are not close. You can type any word into a google app and get the answers you are looking for at your fingertips at crazy speeds. You can get reminders to pick up your dry cleaning. You never have to remember anyone’s phone number. There are apps to help you eat better and exercise better. Apps that will track your sleep, track your steps, and track your spending. You can pay bills with the tap of a finger. There is an app for just about everything under the sun, and most people will tell you that they couldn’t live without technology.

In an article published by the American Psychological Association in 2017, the authors take a look at the relationship between technology, stress, and the effects on relationships. Many Americans admit that technology is a strong source of stress in their life, especially those who constantly check emails and other social media sources. Sadly, 45% of millennials report that because of technology, they feel less connected to their family, even when they are together. I looked at some of the APA’s statistics of how people try to take control over technology. I was saddened to see that only 28% of families don’t allow cell phones at the dinner table, only 21% don’t allow devices during family time, and only 19% don’t allow device use while with friends. Is there any question why our children have trouble establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships with others? How does that affect their spiritual relationship with God?

We have a rule with our teens that there are no electronics allowed in church. They manage to slip devices by us at times and I’ll hear one girl “tattletale” on the other for using a cell phone in Sunday school. There was a time when each girl downloaded the Bible app, as a way to show how wonderful it was to bring their phone into church. “But that’s how I read along with the pastor,” they’d claim, when we’d stifle their attempts to bring their phone to church. It only takes a time or two to realize that once it’s brought in, they may indeed look up Bible verses a times, but the temptation to check Instagram, snapchat, or twitter was too strong.

My husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University back a few years ago. One of the concepts I most remember from that course was how easy it was to lose control of our spending when we use credit/debit cards, rather than when using cash. Ramsey stated that when we hold the actual cash in our hands it makes us think more about how we are spending it. It allows us to control the money rather than the money controlling us. As I sat in church one day, looking around at all my Christian peers and those reading from a tablet or phone, Dave Ramsey’s quote about cash suddenly made me see technology in a different light. We use technology for EVERYTHING. But the Bible is Holy, and distinctly separate from anything else we engage with. Why would we want to mix the two? Does the Bible become just as nonchalant as everything else we use technology for? Are we robbing ourselves the benefits of holding God’s word in our hand, touching the pages of the scripture that was written by those appointed by God so long ago? What about the benefits of using Bibles that have been passed on from strong Christian family members who have prayed over verses, underlined and highlighted things that helped them when they struggled, or wrote down thoughts that God placed on their heart during their time of communion with Him.

I began to think about how powerful the word of God really is, and I visualized the words of the Bible coming to life. Maybe, just maybe, taking control of technology starts with holding a genuine Bible in your hand rather than reading from a tablet or phone. Maybe rather than depending on the projection screen to follow along with the pastor’s message, we use our Bible to look up the passages and follow along. Maybe we jot down thoughts in the margins that may help our children one day as they face similar challenges. Maybe we read together as a family, allowing the Word to come to life in the way we present the gospel to our children. Maybe we forbid technology to interrupt the time we spend in the Word with our family. When we forbid technology into our relationships, whether with our spouse, our children, or with God we give the gift of connection with those we love. We start talking more, we start finding out things about each other that we never knew, we learn to work through conflict and love with all of our hearts.

One of the things my husband and I have been talking about frequently is purchasing a Journal Bible for each of us that we can hand down to our two youngest. The intent would be to journal in the pages of the Bible as we live life through our challenges and our victories; to journal in a way that is personal to each of them. Notes from John to our son that he can read as he becomes a young man, and notes from me to our daughter, that she can read as she becomes a young woman. It would be ideal to pass these along to our children at a special time in their life; either during the “Rite of Passage” that we plan for our children or when they get married. With our other children, we’ve done a special rite of passage ceremony for each of them as they entered womanhood, each to their own age of maturity and given them a brand-new Bible during that time. I’ll blog about rite of passages at a later time, but for todays topic, the idea of a journal Bible to pass down to your children is something to seriously think about. Below are the ones we have been thinking about for our children. Why don’t we build our children up to succeed in their relationships with God, Family, and others as they connect in meaningful ways.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints of marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

What is the intent of your heart? What pierces the marrow of your bones? Does your heart give way to technology, or does it give way to God? God created family. He did not create us to have our hearts isolated from each other. He did not create us to have tablets and phones in front of our faces when we are in the same room with each other. He created us to love Him. He created us to show His love to others? Will you show His love in tangible ways?

Join us for part 2 of this important topic as we talk about tangible ways to repair your connection with your family.

Live Free: His Mercies are New Every Day

As our family comes to the end of another year, I can’t help but wonder how so much time passed by without even noticing. It seems like we were just closing out the year 2016, and suddenly here we are headed into 2018. This year has been a difficult year for my family. Somehow, we’ve allowed ourselves to drift along this year in survival mode, rather than living each day with purpose.

Coming into a new year always provides opportunities to reflect, renew, and refocus. It gives us time to shake off the whirlwind of dizziness from riding a year long rollercoaster, grounding ourselves in the reality of what we have to hope for, and setting a new pace for ourselves. Many people make new years resolutions in hopes to improve some aspect of their life, but end up blowing it before they even end the first week of the new year. In turn, they get a feeling of hopelessness that nothing really changes.

I have a theory about this. I believe that when people make goals for a large period of time, they miss out on the opportunities to make changes daily. Not only that, but when we focus our attention on the horizon, we miss out on the most important time in our life; the here and now. The here and now is when the most important things happen. It’s when we stop thinking about the business meeting we have tomorrow, to focus our time on the people who matter most to us right now. Rather than putting all our time into planning the summer vacation of a lifetime, we put our energy into making each day meaningful.

There is nothing wrong with making goals for the future, but we shouldn’t plan for the future at the expense of a meaningful today. “Look here, you people who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.’ How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog – now you see it; soon it is gone.” (James 4:13-14).

When we plan long term goals, it’s easier to give up on ourselves and our goals. We tend to get frustrated with ourselves when we have weak moments and mess up. Whether it’s a new way of eating, commitment to exercising, or learning to respond to conflict in love rather than frustration, we can be guilty of setting ourselves up for failure. But, “because of the Lord’s great love we are NOT consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). If the God of the universe gives us a clean slate each day, then why do we not have the same compassion towards ourselves and those we love? We are human. We are going to fail. Some of us fail more frequently than others, and that’s okay. Better to do and fail, then not do at all.

This coming new year is bringing with it some big changes for our family. Changes that will affect how we live today and how we live tomorrow. Change is not always easy, but it does provide opportunities for growth. It is my desire to embrace the change and use it to make each day of 2018 matter; to make each day meaningful. I want to get back to the basics: God, Family, and Others. Rather than creating yourself a seemingly unreachable resolution, join me in living for today. Surround yourself with those who love and support you. Spend quality time participating in meaningful activities and meaningful interactions with others. Give yourself room for mistakes and don’t forget that His mercies are new every day!

“So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Are You on the Winning Team?


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When we think of loss and grief, we immediately think of the experience of someone we love dying. But that is not the only type of loss that people grieve. Grief is experienced in many different ways. Amputees experience loss and grief as they come to grips with life without limb(s). Someone who’s accident leaves them paraplegic or quadriplegic, experiences loss and grief as they try to adjust to a significant change in how they live. Parents excitedly awaiting the birth of their baby, only to find out that their baby has a disability experience grief and loss as all of the plans that they had for this child begin to fade and they try to find a bearable routine of doctor’s visits and specialists. Parents of neurotypical children experience loss and grief when the child they have poured their life into decides to rebel and go in a completely different direction than how they were raised.

Life rarely goes how we expect it or want it to go. There are many surprises along the way; both good and bad. But there are no surprises with God. He knows everything we will experience in life before our first cry breaks the silence of the room we are born into. He created us with purpose. He chose who would carry us as we developed inside the womb. He hand-picked the people we would call Mom and Dad. As parents, He chose us with purpose to be the mommy or daddy to the children He blessed us with. Nothing He does is on accident. Nothing He allows us to experience ever gets by Him on accident. There’s an old saying that says “God will never give us more than we can bear.” I used to think this were true. But after a lot of life experience, I came to the realization that this just simply is NOT true. If it were, we would not need God, because we would be able to get through life on our own. God allows us to go through things that we are unable to handle on our own, because He wants us to learn to ask for His help. He wants for us to rely on Him. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:1-3).

After God had delivered my children and I from the unsafe situation we were in, there were many adjustments. Not only did we have to adjust to a new way of living, but eventually my children and I had to adjust to not seeing each other at times, as they went to visit with their biological father. For me, this adjustment was unbearable. I spent a lot of time in court trying to protect my children. The outcomes often left me in despair as I feared for my children’s safety. I spent a lot of time crying out to God, asking Him why? Why would He allow this to happen? Why, God, are you not protecting my children? Why are you allowing this man the opportunity to hurt them again, and again? Each time their little hands gripped me tightly before slipping from my arms to get into the other car, my heart would sink. Many times, I would just sit in the same parking spot for hours after they left, just crying or staring into space. Sometimes my heart would ache and sometimes I just felt numb. On one particular day after leaving my children off for a 4-hour visit, I decided to drive out to the river and pray. I was especially emotional that day, and the roads along the river were peaceful. I desired peace in my heart. I wondered if God even cared about the hurt I experienced. As I parked along the riverside, the Casting Crown’s song “Praise you in the Storm” came onto the radio. God has always had a way of speaking to me through music, and this day was no different. The words to this song became astoundingly vivid to me that day. The lyrics “YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE, NO MATTER WHERE I AM. EVERY TEAR THAT FALLS, YOU HOLD IN YOUR HAND” became seared into my mind. As the tears dripped off the edge of my face, I began to realize that God does, indeed, care about my sorrows. Not only that, but no matter how drowned and weak in my sorrows I had become, He was still who He is! “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8).

In 2012, my family was blessed with the opportunity to attend an event where Nick Vujicic was speaking. He had been speaking at schools in Titusville, FL for 3 days and ended his visit at Park Avenue Baptist Church to speak to a broader audience in the community. If you have never heard of Nick, please do yourself a favor and google his story. You can start by watching a short overview of his inspirational speaking that is included at the end of this post. Nick was born with no arms and no legs. Talk about life not turning out as you expected! Many women today would terminate a pregnancy if they were made aware of a condition like this. But Nick’s mom gave birth to him and despite his devastating disability, she raised him the best she could. Nick speaks about overcoming life’s challenges and your value despite your circumstances. Hearing him speak put a lot of my challenges into a new perspective. It’s where I learned that my life is not about me, but about God, His glory, and the advancement of His kingdom. It’s where I learned that I could sit and feel sorry for my circumstances, OR I could use my story to help others struggling in similar situations to find strength and peace through Jesus.

Rest assure that if you reach this point, that a new battle will begin brewing. The enemy will do whatever he can to keep you falling back into the pit. When you wake up each morning the enemy will tremble because you are working against his plan. Each time I thought that everything was finally looking up, something else would happen, that would take me back. I’m fortunate that God blessed me with the gift of perseverance. That strong willed-ness that I was born with, that often caused my parents a lot of grief growing up, was given to me for a purpose. I know that I caused my parents sheer agony at times as I practiced this gift. There were probably many times that they felt that life was not going as expected. But there was purpose for their transition from expecting a compliant child to the reality of having a child who pushed the limits. I was blessed that they helped shape that gift by giving me opportunities to use that strong willed-ness in a positive and productive way. As early as age 2, they introduced me to music, where I began the habit of working on songs either vocally or instrumentally, until I had perfected them. By age 10, they supported me in joining the Port St. John runner’s club where I learned to keep my eye on the finish line and to push myself to be the best I could be. At age 10, we ran cross country. Every weekend we participated in a 5K run; every once in a while, a 10K run. We competed. During these years of running, I learned to push back my feelings, and see past the tiredness to the end. When you are running with God, it’s important to push back our feelings, see past the tiredness, and focus on Him. Those who focus on Him find strength and no matter what you are running through, He will be there to guide you and protect you. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).

There is one thing for certain. No matter what type of loss or transition you face, there is always opportunity. We can either allow ourselves to be over swept by our feelings that cause us to be blinded to the opportunities that God gives us, or we can choose to push back our feelings, while focusing on and following God as He leads us to the opportunities that He holds for us. Once we find those opportunities, it’s up to us to pursue them while trusting God that He will give us the strength to persevere.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Walking in the Dark: Blind Faith


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My family and I got the opportunity to visit our family in Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a really nice trip. We decided to drive through the night rather than during the day, in order for our trip to be a little more peaceful. After all, we were driving with five kids. Driving from Missouri to Florida is about a 20-22 hour trip, depending on how many stops you make along the way. We were determined to get as much mileage behind us during the night hours as possible.

My husband and I took turns driving and resting. I had started the long drive, which got us almost out of Missouri. My husband took us most of the way through Tennessee. When it became my turn to drive again, I ended up driving through the mountains of southern Tennessee. Anyone who knows me can tell you how deathly afraid of heights I am. I can’t even describe the feeling of pain I get in my feet when I am in a position of being well off the ground. Standing next to tall buildings and looking up pierces me with fear as well. But here I was driving on an interstate that warned of steep declines, had “run away truck” ramps, and tall rocky mountains warning of “falling rocks” surrounding the vehicle. Of course, my husband was fast asleep during my drive. Thankfully, it was almost pitch black and the only thing I could really see was the small path of road in front of the vehicle where my headlights revealed the next 10 feet on my route. I later told my husband that it really was a good thing that it was night time when I was driving through all of that. I’m afraid that if it had been daylight, I would have completely panicked and would have went into a full-blown panic attack. If you suffer from anxiety, you know how horrible it feels to have a panic attack. Short of giving birth, it’s probably the most horrible feeling I have lived through.

I began to think about how I was shielded from the circumstances, and was able to drive without fear through what would normally have rocked my world. I came to the conclusion that there are times in life that God doesn’t allow us to see the things around us, because he wants us to focus on Him. We can’t focus on Him if we are overcome with fear. How many times had I been through challenging circumstances, but been shielded from complete reality, only seeing a small piece of the puzzle? How many times have I gotten through those challenges only to look back in amazement as God revealed the depth of what I had walked through? There is a book I read several years ago called, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in the Tough Times, by Stormie Omartian. The book is about learning to take God’s hand and let Him lead you to places you wouldn’t be able to get to without Him. In this book Omartian explains that one of the ways that God makes us certain of His light, is by allowing us to test it in the darkness. There are several kinds of darkness; darkness caused by our disobedience, darkness from negative emotions, the darkness that comes from refusing to let God into your life, and the darkness that occurs when we make selfish demands to satisfy ourselves at the expense of others. However, the kind of darkness she was talking about in this chapter, was the type of darkness that God creates for His purpose (Omartian, 2008). Isaiah 45:7 says “I form the light and create darkness.” Omartain said that there are times that God allows things to become dark in our lives in order for us to mature, to grow, and to learn more about who He is. Some of the things that God teaches us, and accomplishes through us while in this type of darkness, would not be able to happen in any other environment. Who could learn to swim without being placed into the water?

If we focus on God, rather than our circumstances, there is no limit to what God can accomplish in our lives. When we take our eyes off God, fear creeps in and we lose ground. When focused on God, Peter walked on water. As soon as he began focusing on the storm around him, fear crept in and Peter sank. “Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and rescued him. “O man of little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:29-31).

Are there areas of your life where there is doubt; circumstances that seem too big to overcome? Are you spending your spiritual and emotional energy trying to control situations, that God already has control over? When God gives us just enough light to see where we are in each moment, we need to focus on Him! We need to stop looking at the circumstances surrounding us and allow Him to work in us to accomplish His purpose for our lives.

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Attitude of Gratitude: You ARE Who You Hang Around!

We are almost half way through the month of November and Thanksgiving Day is getting pretty close. How have you been showing gratitude this month? One thing that I’ve found this month, is that the more things I express thankfulness over, the more it seems the enemy tries to tear away that joy. I recently had a conversation with one of my teenagers about what true appreciation is. Gratitude is the link between thankfulness and appreciation. If we are truly thankful for something, we show our appreciation in a variety of ways. It was disheartening to realize that her 16-year-old mind thought that appreciation had to do with her being happy about something somebody did, said, or gave to her. She felt that appreciation was the happiness she felt inside. While we do experience joy when we are thankful for something, appreciation takes that joy to another level. Showing appreciation has nothing to do with ourselves. It has everything to do with realizing and expressing recognition for what the other person sacrificed for you. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word gratitude means, “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” In the same dictionary, the word appreciation is defined as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. Gratitude describes the quality of your thankfulness, while appreciation recognizes the quality and value of someone else.

I am truly thankful that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. Being thankful alone, would mean I only see how that has benefitted me. I am thankful I do not have to spend eternity in hell. But with gratitude I take that thankfulness and show appreciation by realizing the pain and suffering that Jesus went through in order for me to have that opportunity. He died. He died a horrible death. He died a horrible death that he could have saved himself from. He died a horrible death that he could have saved himself from, and was fully aware of the price of obedience when he obeyed the Father and came to earth as a man. WOW! He didn’t HAVE to do it, but He DID! That appreciation causes action inside of me; to accept Jesus as my savior and live for Him.

The Bible warns us about the last days, and what to avoid. In II Timothy, it says, “You should know this, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and prideful, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that” (II Timothy 1-5).

Not only are we to refrain from these type of attitudes and behaviors ourselves, we are to stay away from other people who have these types of attitudes and behaviors. Why do you think we are told to stay away from people like this? In I Corinthians 15:33, it says,” Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’.” You are, or will eventually become, who you hang around. So, if you want to have an attitude of gratitude, then you need to hang around with others who regularly show joy, thanksgiving, and appreciation. If you want your children to have an attitude of joy, thanksgiving, and appreciation, then you are going to have to live a life of genuine joy, thanksgiving, and appreciation around them. If you surround yourself around people who complain, only see the negative in life, and who are ungrateful for what they have, then you will eventually become like them. Relationships are powerful! God created us to have relationships with other like-minded individuals who love God, serve Him, and respond to Him with praise and thanksgiving so that through that influence, we can be supported in having those same great qualities!

If you are like our family, and are required by law for your children to be influenced by someone outside of your home, being the strongest influence in your children’s life can be very difficult. If the other parent has a negative outlook on life, complains, and talks poorly about others, then your children will be influenced by that. It’s not an easy situation, but we will still be held accountable for the influence we have on them. Matthew 18:6 says, “But if you cause one of these little ones who trust in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Each person will give an account of themselves to God (Romans 14:12). You can’t control what the other person does, so let your account be pleasing and honoring to God!

Tomorrow I will be half way through my list of 300 things I am thankful for. Each day I finish up my 10 things for the day, I think I can’t possibly come up with 10 more things I am thankful for tomorrow! However, during this challenge, I have begun to see my whole world in a more detailed light. Things that I take for granted each day have become things I am truly thankful for, from the very breath I breath involuntarily, to the wind that makes its appearance through the nature it influences; a wind that can be perceived as a welcoming gift or a distracting nuisance. How will you choose to identify the wonders around you?

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

How Thankful Are You?


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Everyone can think of a handful of people who seem to be entitled to everything. If you have teenagers, you probably live this daily. They think the world owes then everything there is to experience about life, but don’t feel they need to contribute anything to earn the things they demand. Then there are those people who continually serve others and don’t ask for anything in return. They rest on the sidelines and watch others enjoy the benefits of their hard work while taking no credit for it. Which person are you? Do you think that God cares about what side of the spectrum we are on? James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, then you know that I challenged my followers to write out 10 things each day of November that they are thankful for; resulting in 300 things by November 30th. That’s a lot to be thankful for. If you are on the extreme prideful/entitled side of the spectrum, you are probably going to have great difficulty coming up with that many things to be thankful for. But if you are on the extreme humble/grateful side of the spectrum, coming up with 300 things wouldn’t necessarily take 30 days. These people could probably sit down in one afternoon and write 300 at one time because they see the beauty in everything around them. Everything is a gift to them.

So, let’s look at these two extreme’s a little bit. I like the way Richard and Linda Eyre describe a mentality of entitlement in the introduction to their book, The Entitlement Trap: “the attitude of children (or adults) that think they can have, should have, and deserve whatever they want, whatever their friends have; and they should have it now and not have to earn it or give up anything for it. And it goes beyond having, to behaving. They think they should be able to do whatever they want, whatever their friends do, now and without a price. This sense of entitlement contributes mightily to sloppiness, low incentive, to boredom, to bad choices, to instant gratification, for constant demands for more, and to all kinds of addictions including the addiction to technology. Perhaps the biggest problem with entitlement is that under its illusions there seem to be no real consequences in life, no motivation to work for anything. Someone will always bail you out, get you off the hook, buy you a new one, make excuses for you, give you another chance, pay your debts, and hand you whatever you ask for (Eyre, 2011).” Sound familiar?

In contrast, an attitude of gratitude is defined by Dr. Richard Krejcir as “an attitude of being thankful, even when we do not see what we have. This is an aspect of worship, expressing to God, and others, how they have benefited our lives by showing them support, appreciation, and benevolence. Because His blood has redeemed us, we are grateful (Krejcer, 2002). People with an attitude of gratitude feel a sense of abundance in their lives, appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being, recognize and enjoy life’s small pleasures, and acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude (Cassity, 2017). Practicing an attitude of gratitude facilitates contentment, promotes physical health, enhances sleep, strengthens relationships, and encourages pay it forward, (Mager, 2014.)

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:15-17”

Are you thankful for each person in your family? Can you identify the ways they contribute positively to the family as a whole? Are you thankful for your job, your boss, and your co-workers? Do you seek to encourage them by acknowledging and validating their strengths, rather than gossiping about their weaknesses? Are you thankful for the things that you have, rather than complaining about the things you don’t have? Are you giving of your time, resources, and talents, rather than withholding them from others who could greatly benefit from them? Their will always be an excuse for entitlement, but the reasons to be grateful should far outweigh those excuses. God expects us to have a grateful heart.

In Luke 6, you can see that the attitude of gratitude should extend to even your most challenging circumstances. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:27-31). These things can only be done by those who have an attitude of gratitude, because these people know that when they LEAST deserved it, Christ died for them. (Romans 5:8). They recognize this, they are grateful for this, and because of that, they extend God’s grace to others even when they least deserve it.

So, where are you on the spectrum? What do you have to be thankful for today? If you are not where you want to be, start off by asking God to give you a heart of thanksgiving, to see others the way He sees them, and to give you a fresh look at all of the beautiful things around you. Join us in the 10/30 challenge, and watch how your perspective begin to change!

“Offer to God a sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the most high.” -Psalm 50:14

Having a Grateful Heart in the Good Times and the Bad


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The start of November brings with it the smells of Thanksgiving. Families are preparing for the one day a year that is devoted to being thankful. The smells of oven baked turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie flood my mind the closer I get to this holiday. I often wonder why we devote only one day a year to being thankful.

Thanksgiving is one of my most cherished childhood memories of the holidays. Fond memories of large family gatherings, where the adults gathered to talked and the kids gathered to play, fill my mind. The smell of my grandmother’s oyster dressing, my mom’s broccoli casserole, my aunt’s sweet potato casserole, and another’s green bean casserole are as real as they were in those simplistic days. Those were the days before video games, where our imaginations were as immense as the sky. We ran wild through my grandmother’s yard and all over the neighborhood. We didn’t come inside until the streetlights came on. As children, we dreamed big about the future and we couldn’t wait to grow up.

Now, as I prepare for Thanksgiving with my own family, I can’t help but be so grateful for the blessings that God has poured into our family. I have a lot to be thankful for. It’s a shame that more time isn’t devoted to acknowledging our blessings and being thankful. Perhaps our world would be a much sweeter place to live in if we all counted our blessings rather than our misfortunes.

The bible has a lot to say about being thankful. One of my favorite verses is “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds,” (Psalm 9:1). I love being able to share about my experiences with God’s blessings. He has been so good to me. But even in the most challenging times, there are things that I thank Him for. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It’s so easy to get caught up in complaining about things that aren’t going my way, but the truth is that it’s the most challenging times that make me who I am. I have to be thankful for those times too. Many times, I have been asked the question of ‘if I could do it all over again with the knowledge I have now, including all the destruction that lied ahead, would I do it again?’ The answer to that is yes. Call me crazy, or whatever you want, but I have an amazing husband and 5 beautiful children that I would die for in a heartbeat. I cannot imagine my life without them. Therefore, I am thankful for the sufferings as well. But to be honest, it’s highly unlikely that as my “19-year-old” self, not knowing what love truly is, that I would agree to go through 7 years of an abusive marriage. Knowing the future before you proceed is something that none of us will ever have the opportunity to experience.

There is only one being that has had this experience. His name is Jesus. Jesus chose to come to earth with full knowledge of what was in His future. If you’ve ever watched “The Passion of Christ,” then you have a pretty good idea of what Jesus’s last days were like. I never want to become immune to the torture that is portrayed in that movie. As horrible as this movie portrays Jesus’s death, it is said to have been even worse. There are some scenes of that movie that have been seared into my mind that I cannot un-see. To think that He went though all of that, just to provide an opportunity for us to be saved from eternal death, is mind blowing; especially when you consider how many individuals He already knew would not accept that opportunity. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us,” (1 John 3:16). How can I NOT be thankful for everything in my life?

Thanksgiving Day 2006, my grandfather had been very ill for months. A pacemaker that had been in his chest for years continued to jolt his heart back to life each time his body had given up. He had had a few strokes, was unable to communicate effectively, and his body seemed to just linger as we all gathered at my grandmother’s house one last time with him. Hospice had set up a hospital bed in the living room. Our family gathered around his bed to say our Thanksgiving dinner prayer, and for one final time we broke bread together as a family. A bittersweet gathering of lifelong memories. After a long evening, family began to drift quietly, and my grandparents’ four sons remained behind to spend time together as the root of this big family they created. I later received a phone call, that after a day filled with family and moments alone with his wife and sons, my grandfather waited until each son had left and then went to be with the Lord. “It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today; A father tells his sons about Your faithfulness,” (Isaiah 38:19). For as long as I had been alive, my grandfather had spent his life making sure that His family knew Jesus. Because of this, MY father knew Jesus, and consequently I had heard about Jesus my whole life. When I accepted Jesus as my savior, it didn’t stop with me but now my children have heard about Jesus THEIR whole life. I am thankful to have a heritage rich in the love of God. “For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name,” (Psalm 61:5).

Today as I think about the blessings in my life. I am truly thankful for Jesus and the sacrifice He made for me. I am thankful for a family heritage rich in God’s love. I am thankful for the suffering I have endured which God has used to help others. I am thankful for the blessings that have come out of that suffering: My husband, my children, and some wonderful friends that I would not have, had it not been for that experience. What are you thankful for today?

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever,” (Psalm 118:1).

I Want Patience and I Want it NOW!


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Waiting can be a difficult thing to do. We live in a culture where everything is right here, right now and there’s no time to wait. How many of us have waited long and hard for something we have prayed for passionately? The perfect spouse, a house for your family, a job that pays much more, a reliable vehicle, financial stability, a child gone astray, an unsaved family member, healing from sickness, acquitted from wrongful charges, peaceful resolution to conflict. These are all great examples of things that people spend a great amount of time pursuing. How do you pursue your passions?

In my life, there are a few things that I want more than anything. I’ve spent a lot of time on my knees praying for a way to make them happen. Sometimes it seems like my prayers go unanswered. I wonder if God will ever make a way. Do you think God even knows what we desire?

David knew God intimately. In Psalm 139:1-4 he says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

God knows everything about us. Even the hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). He is the one who knit us together in our mother’s womb and created our inmost being (Psalm 139:113). Of course, he knows our desires! But our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and neither is our ways His ways (Isaiah 55:8). His timing is not our timing, but His timing is perfect! There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Anytime I experience something in a way I do not think it should be, whether it be unexpected change, life loss and transitions, or untimely conflict; I ask myself, “what is God trying to teach me?” God certainly allowed me to go through this, and there is a reason. I just have to figure out what He is trying to teach me. I believe the same is true in the waiting. Several year ago, a good friend of mine who knew the deep things I was struggling with, came to me with a book: “God Meant it for Good” by R.T. Kendall. Not only did she hand me the book, but she took the time to go through it with me regularly until we finished it. It was a divine appointment. There was so much that God taught me through this book, that I was unable to see otherwise. If you are going through a difficult time, I recommend reading it. While it’s meant to give you a fresh perspective on challenging times, it is also very helpful in giving you a fresh perspective on God’s timing. Joseph had a prophetic dream as a young boy that he would be ruling over his family, but this didn’t happen right away. In fact, he was sold into slavery by his brothers and endured many trials before his dream met God’s timing. The things that happened to Joseph during his waiting may have been meant for evil by those who committed each act, but God meant them for good and it shaped Joseph into the person God called him to be.

“Don’t you see, you planned evil against me, but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around right now – life for many people,” (Genesis 50:20).

We only see pieces to the puzzle of life. God see’s the whole puzzle and there is always a reason that we do not receive the things we want in the way or time that we want. So, what can we do while we are waiting? Be still and focus on the Lord.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act,” (Psalm 37:2-5).

Whatever it is that you are waiting for, seek the Lord. Rather than getting frustrated and impatient, try to see what God is trying to teach you. If during this time of waiting, you are running into difficult times, just know that God will use these difficult times for your good. He is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20).

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him,” (Psalm 34:8).

Caution! Destruction Ahead!


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I’ve spent the better part of my life taking conflicts that I have been in and analyzing them to figure out why the other person just couldn’t see what they were doing wrong. I’ve spent time in my prayer life asking God to change the other person, whether it was a friend, family member, or someone I worked with. I’ve always wanted those conflicts to resolve neatly and fit into my viewpoint, because I’ve always felt that my viewpoint was right. I was recently reading through scripture and came across the following: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (James 1:14). I was taken back by this, as it never occurred to me that my ability to see clearly was being clouded by my own desire.

You can’t admit you are wrong if you don’t see that you ARE wrong. You can’t see that you are wrong when you refuse to acknowledge that being wrong IS a possibility. When you refuse to acknowledge that being wrong is a possibility, it’s a matter of PRIDE. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

I have been meeting on Sunday nights for prayer each week to have more consistency in my prayer life and to start each week off talking to God. One of the things I have been asking Him is to open the eyes of my heart. Each week I have felt burdened to pray that God allows me to see others the way He sees them. Be careful what you pray for, because you might just get what you asked for. Asking God to open the eyes of my heart eventually gave rise to the realization that I need to quit asking God to change others and ask Him to change ME. I began to feel like the mother in the movie “Joyful Noise” as she sang “Fix me, Jesus. Fix me.” If you’ve never seen that movie, I highly recommend it. It’s a great illustration of what pride can do to your life and how being humble can set you free. There are a couple of questionable scenes, but the message is strong, and even in those scenes, the resolution is forgiveness.

So, the journey began. God has heard my prayers and He has slowly and gently brought situations to mind that I’ve needed to see with the eyes of my heart. It’s quite humbling when you begin to see life through a different set of eyes; even more humbling when you begin to open your heart, to the people you’ve shut out, in order to begin restoration. “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” (James 5:16).”

Yesterday afternoon, I was looking through our storage closet for a book I read while attending Liberty University. I never did find the book, but what did pass through my hands were pictures. Pictures of people that I needed to look at through the eyes of my heart; a gentle reminder from my Heavenly Father that there is restoration to be made. He placed three individuals in my hands as I searched for my book. I wouldn’t have ordinarily given the pictures any of my time, but there I sat, pictures in hand, with certainty that God had placed them there for a reason.

It’s a good thing that God is in the restoration business. Without Him, I would not even know where to begin. But just as gently as he showed me the need for restoration, he is already beginning to show me where and how to begin in this process of restoration and healing. I do not know what will come of my efforts toward obedience, but I do know that no matter how these individuals respond, that God is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). So, I will leave it with Him.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

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