When you need encouragement

 

Phil 4,8

Sometimes we just need to step back from our every day life and take a deep breath. Some days we need encouragement, a fresh perspective. If that’s where you are today, this post is for you.

1. Take time to read God’s Word and let it nourish you. Here are some of my favourite passages:

  • Psalm 37
  • Isaiah 40
  • Matthew 5
  • Romans 8
  • Philippians 4

2. Take a walk outside and enjoy the beauty of creation. Here is some of the beauty I found on a recent walk around our property.

 

Bean sprout
Miracle of new life displayed in a bean sprout

 

Bluebells
Fragile beauty of bluebells

 

favourite pathway
A favourite pathway of mine

 

3. Read encouraging words. Here are some blogs I find encouraging:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Do you have other things you do when you need encouragement? Share them with us 🙂


How do I say, “I love you” so you hear me?

Roses

My husband and I recently celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. (The above picture shows some of the roses my husband bought for me as part of our celebration.) For some people twenty-two years seems like a very long time. For others, we’re just getting started.

I’ve been reminded lately that we are still two very different people with different ideas, different ways of doing things, and different responses. Often I do things for my spouse the way I’d like him to do things for me. The problem is, he isn’t me. And if I expect him to appreciate what I’m doing, I’ll be disappointed.

Most of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. He explains that there are five main ways people tend to express and want to receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and gift giving. If you are still figuring out how to say, “I love you” in a way that is meaningful to your partner, have him or her do The Five Love Languages Quiz and share the results with you. Once you know what love language your partner “speaks,” check out How to be Romantic and do something for your spouse that will communicate your love to him or her in a way he or she will understand.

Today my husband and I had a conversation about the roses he bought for me. He thought I liked the fact that he bought me flowers, period. And I do enjoy their beauty. However, for me, the note he gave me with the roses was more important than the roses. (Can you guess what my love language is?) After twenty-two years, we can tell you many things about each other, but we still have more to learn 🙂

Something else that we’ve been learning is to be more intentional about demonstrating our love for each other with daily habits we can consciously insert into each day. It’s easy to start taking our spouse for granted. Life gets busy, kids require time and attention, and it’s all too easy to put our marriage on the back burner. We’ve found it helpful to:

  • Greet one another cheerfully every morning
  • Kiss and hug each other throughout the day
  • Make time to talk to each other each day
  • Reserve time to do something together that we both enjoy (date night)

How about you? Have you figured out how to tell your spouse you love him or her in a way he or she understands? What do you and your spouse do to keep the spark alive in your marriage?

 


Children in car

Church Tales: Being a Mom is Tough

Children in carI don’t know what your Sunday mornings are like, but mine are rarely the peaceful, worshipful times I would like them to be. They usually start off well, especially when I get up to have a bath and spend a few quiet minutes reading my Bible and praying while everyone else is still fast asleep. However, once I rouse the rest of the household we start down the slippery Sunday slope.

First there’s a mad rush to get dressed. One son can’t find matching socks (even though I put ten pairs in his drawer a few days ago). My youngest daughter complains she’s still tired and hides under the covers. Another son has his dirty clothes on from yesterday, even though not five minutes ago I told him to put on CLEAN clothes.

Then, there’s the breakfast fiasco. Children squirm and fidget when my husband asks what we read about yesterday in our family devotions. No one remembers. He expresses his frustration, and everyone quiets down. Then, five minutes after we start eating, our youngest daughter has to “go pee,” something that seems to happen at every meal. One of our sons reaches for something and tips over his full cup of milk. Another son is refusing to eat because he doesn’t like what’s on the table this morning.

Next comes the ride to church. We all sit in the van, waiting for our sixteen-year-old daughter. She gets in and glares because she wasn’t allowed to drive this morning. It takes a few minutes for everyone to get their seat belts on and then we’re off. Two minutes later, one son is crying because his brother walloped him across the face. When I ask “Why’d you hit him?” he shrugs his shoulders. “Hands to yourselves, everyone,” I plead. A couple minutes later our younger daughter starts whining that she’s thirsty. There are no water bottles in sight. Fortunately the drive to town only lasts ten minutes.

We’ve finally made it to church. While I’m catching up with my friends, one of my sons is running laps. I catch him and remind him to walk. We resume our conversation, only to be interrupted again. Another son is using the bathroom and forgot to close the door. When we enter the sanctuary, I focus on quieting my heart and mind. That lasts a couple of seconds—until my kids start fighting over who gets to sit beside me. We get the seating arrangement sorted out. Then my youngest son suddenly needs to go to the bathroom. Of course he’s sitting the farthest from the aisle, and he trips over someone’s foot on the way out. Now his nose is bleeding. I rush him to the bathroom, holding his nose with my hands as we walk. When we make it to the bathroom, I discover my son has splatters of blood all the way down his brand new shirt. We clean up the best we can and return to the sanctuary.

Again, I try to calm my heart and mind and focus on what God wants to teach me. Sometimes I actually grasp most of the Pastor’s message. Many times I don’t. But I’ve come to love and accept Sunday mornings with my imperfect kids and my even more imperfect parenting. After all, God doesn’t love me because I’m perfect; He loves me because He chooses to love me.

I’ve discovered that some of life’s greatest lessons are taught not by what happens, but by how I respond in messy situations. (Click to Tweet) I’ve also found peace in the midst of the turbulence of raising five challenging children, because God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. Here are some choices that help me cope:

  1. Celebrate the “gifts” I receive every day, no matter how small or insignificant. (e.g. My washing machine works, I’m alive, The sunset is beautiful)
  2. Acknowledge that I cannot successfully do anything without God
  3. Spend time reading the Bible and praying
  4. Practice God’s presence – remind myself that He is always with me and talk to Him about my joys and frustrations throughout the day
  5. Share my journey with other women who will be brutally honest with me—I still struggle with this, but Facebook helps 🙂

What about you? Can you relate to my Sunday morning mishaps? What helps you cope?


Differences in marriage: wedges or building blocks?

couple feeding birdsMy grandfather used to say, “If you marry the right person, there’s nothing like it; and if you marry the wrong person, there’s nothing like it.”

Here are some other quotes I found on marriage:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther

“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.” Abraham Lincoln

The quote by Abraham Lincoln makes us smile and chuckle, and perhaps wince. Why is it that some marriages are so happy while other couples seem to hang on for dear life, simply enduring the ride? All couples have differences, all couples struggle at times, and all couples make choices. How we respond to our differences and struggles can literally make or break our relationship.

Here are some of the differences between my husband and I:

  • night owl/early bird
  • spontaneous/planner
  • caramel/chocolate
  • talker/listener
  • realist/dreamer
  • relaxes by snowmobiling or motorbiking/relaxes by reading or going for a walk

We can allow our differences to drive wedges between us or we can choose to celebrate our differences and use our differences as building blocks. If I focus on trying to make my spouse the same as me, things don’t go very well. In fact, the harder I try to make my husband like me, the farther apart we grow. Marriage works better when there’s give and take. We are very different from each other and we need to accept those differences. There’s a reason opposites attract. My husband has strengths and weaknesses and so do I. We need to learn to allow each other’s strengths to offset our weaknesses. When we do this, we are stronger as a team than we are individually.

Michael Hyatt says, “Think about it. If you married someone just like you, then you wouldn’t have to grow, you wouldn’t have to get out of your comfort zone, and you wouldn’t have to enter into someone else’s world.”

Gary and Barbara Rosberg encourage us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I need to show some grace, real grace, to the person I married? Where do I need to let go and let God do His thing with my spouse?
  • Who needs my words of affirmation more than anyone in my life? Is it easier for me to affirm my kids and my friends than it is for me to affirm my spouse?
  • What are we doing to build safety into our marriage so we can take the risks to love unconditionally?
  • When was the last time we took time to go deeper with each other? Are we making time to connect with each other daily?
  • Am I studying my spouse? Do I know his or her strengths as well as his or her weaknesses? Am I helping to build on the former and strengthen the latter so that I can best become one with my mate?

For more helpful tips, check out: Happy to be Stuck with You.

What have you learned about changing differences from wedges into building blocks? Please share 🙂

 


Vision Statement ruthlsnyder.com

5 Steps to Crafting a Personal Vision Statement

Vision Statement ruthlsnyder.com

Last week in our study of Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, we discussed work and were challenged to write our own vision statement. If you’ve never written a personal vision statement, try the process outlined below. If nothing else, you’ll learn more about yourself and what motivates you. Hopefully you’ll also come up with a statement that inspires and motivates you to be the very best you can be.

Step 1: Answer these questions

  1. How do you want to be seen in ten years?
  2. What do you want to be known for in ten years?
  3. What do you want your family to be like?
  4. What makes your heart sing?
  5. Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself?

Step 2: Select key words

Go through what you’ve written and select words you’ve repeated or that are important to you.

Step 3: Read Other vision statements

Here are some sites you may want to visit:

Step 4: Write your vision statement

Jot ideas down and combine them in different ways. Play with different words. Try to capture the key themes you selected in step two. You may find one statement that you know fits, or perhaps you’ll end up with a few to choose from. Can you condense the ideas? Once you’ve written your vision statement, let it sit for a few days and then go back to it and see if it still resonates with you.

Step 5: Share your vision statement

Do you have people in your life who will give you honest feedback? People who know you really well and care about you? Those are the people you should share your vision statement with. Ask them if you’ve captured who you they see you as. If not, ask them for suggestions on how to tweak your statement so that it really fits you.

Check out this post: Mission and Vision Statements for more helpful information.

 

Need some inspiration? Here’s one of my favourite songs:

Here’s my vision statement:

“Wholeheartedly seeking God, then serving others with excellence through music, writing, and speaking.”

My life verse is:

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10 NASB)

I’d love to hear if this process helped you, and what your vision statement is.

Question 1: How do you want to be seen in ten years? Question 2: What do you want to be known for in ten years? Question 3: What do you want your family to be like? Question 4: What makes your heart sing? Question 5: Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself? – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.BetT3Zqq.dpuf
Question 1: How do you want to be seen in ten years? Question 2: What do you want to be known for in ten years? Question 3: What do you want your family to be like? Question 4: What makes your heart sing? Question 5: Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself? – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/current-study/#sthash.BetT3Zqq.dpuf

From orphan to adopted: Marinate on that!

Right now, God the Papa says, "I want to adopt you as My child." Will you let Him?

I’m being challenged by the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study using Derwin L. Gray’s book Limitless Life. Chapter four of the book is titled, From Orphan to Adopted:

“We roam through life lost, looking for a love and identity that no human, no job, no amount of money could ever provide. Our Papa in heaven is the only One who can provide us with the love and, ultimately, the identity we have been created for—a child of God.”  Derwin L. Gray

In this chapter, Derwin discusses how orphans feel anonymous, abandoned, and afraid. Then he goes on to describe three keys to “taking on the new label of ‘Adopted'”:

  1. Embrace the Friendship of God
  2. Accept and Imitate the Forgiveness of God
  3. Accept the Adopting Love of God

Throughout the book, Derwin presents important ideas that are highlighted in boxed areas titled, “Marinate on That”. Here’s an idea that’s marinating in my mind and soul:

” . . . did you realize that whatever we magnify, we worship? And whatever we worship, we resemble? If we wallow in self-pity, we will become more pitiful and limit our lives. If we stay in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on our behalf, we magnify His great work, and as we do this, we worship Him. The result is that daily we are transformed into His image, releasing His limitless life through us.”

This week a counselor pointed out to me that I’m living in the shadow of bitterness over some things that happened to me in the past. People I respected and trusted betrayed me; people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. If I focus on the hurt and betrayal, I will continue to be bitter, and in the process I will lose out on God’s best for my life. Instead, Jesus wants me to focus on HIM. I don’t need to live in the shadow of bitterness any longer. I am choosing instead to live in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on my behalf:

  1. Jesus died for my sin (I Cor. 15:1-10)
  2. When I confess my sin and forsake it, Jesus forgives me and cleanses me (I John 1:9)
  3. Jesus loves me (John 3:16)
  4. Jesus wants the best for me (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. I will have hard times in my life, but Jesus will walk with me through them. (Isaiah 43:1-4)
  6. No matter what, Jesus will NEVER leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5,6)
  7. Jesus is trustworthy; He will not betray me (Psalm 34)

Are you living in the shadows? Will you join me as I step out into the glorious light of Jesus Christ and revel in the love and delight of God the Papa?


The road to change: Excuses or Honesty?

I know I shouldn't eat this cake, butI stepped on the scale today for my weekly weigh-in and discovered the numbers are getting bigger instead of smaller. The increase is only a few pounds; I’m not discouraged, just motivated to get back on track and make better choices. In the last week, I’ve used a lot of excuses to make choices I shouldn’t have made: I’m tired, I’m stressed-out, I’ve been good and deserve a reward, It’s only a small Frosty. You get the idea. As a result, I’ve eaten too many calories, and often the wrong kind of calories. Now I’ve earned the natural consequences – gaining weight.

I’ve been working with one of my sons on making a change in his life. He’s a real master at excuses. There’s always a reason he couldn’t do what he should have, and it’s never his fault. I keep telling him that change won’t happen if he continues to use excuses. Hmmm. I guess it’s time for me to take my own advice 🙂

I’m still discovering what works for me, but here are the changes I’m enforcing this week:

  • Stay within my calorie limit for the day. If I go over, it shouldn’t be because of junk food
  • Focus on eating healthy foods that are packed with nutrition. If I have a choice between a piece of chocolate and a handful of nuts, the nuts should be an obvious choice.
  • No more snacking after supper. I find it too easy to keep eating once I start. Maybe someday I’ll get to the place I can handle one healthy snack after supper, but until I can, I really don’t need a snack after supper.
  • Make sure I drink enough water. Especially now that it’s getting warmer outside, I need to make sure I stay hydrated.

What about you? Are you being honest with yourself or making excuses?


God delights in you

Zephaniah 3:17 #Snapit: a Big God

I love the image (#Snapit: a Big God) this verse portrays. First we are told: God is with us. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas time – Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus came in a form we could relate to and confined Himself to our limitations. However, the verse goes on to remind us that God is our mighty warrior who saves us. At Easter time we celebrate not only the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, but also His resurrection. God fought the greatest battle of all time on the cross and defeated Satan. God is strong, He is mighty to save, but He is also gentle. He delights in us! Even with all our foibles and failures, God DELIGHTS in us. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, our mighty warrior, God looks at us and sees Jesus. We are covered with the righteousness of Christ. God no longer has to rebuke us, because we are clean. Instead, he rejoices over us. We make His heart sing.

No more labels, only love!

http://http://youtu.be/j1rptZB0ydQ