Character and Discipline Matter

I’ve been sharing what I’ve been learning from Renee Swope in her latest book,  A Confident Mom, Simple Ways to Give Your Child What They Need Most. Today, I want to talk about some other needs that our kids have. The first, is that character matters. Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, and is built over time through our experiences and the choices we make moving through those experiences. Our choices will either add to or detract from our character. 

Now, as a parent, I believe that we play a crucial role in the building of our child’s character.

Renee Swope would agree. She says,

“We are all building something. Brick by brick, through the choices we make, we construct lives that reflect what we value. The decisions we make and the things we celebrate tell our children what matters most to us. You see, we are not only building our lives; we are also laying a foundation for our children to build on as well.”

What values are you communicating to your children through the choices you make? How do your choices speak to your character? What foundation are you laying for your children?

In addition to laying a foundation for the development of our child’s character, it’s also important that we take time to intentionally focus on and nurture their character. Renee says,

“Character development . . . doesn’t require a high IQ, academic giftedness, or athletic ability. Every child has a chance to succeed and make a difference. When we make character the focus of our parenting, our children’s potential is unlimited.”

I love that. Every single child has the potential to develop good character. But, how do we do this? How do we develop character within our kids? 

First, it’s important that we identify those traits that are valuable to us and model them within our own lives. We look to Jesus as our example and model for our children what these character traits look like when they are lived out. Ephesians tells us,

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

Secondly, we develop character within our children by teaching them about the traits we value and providing opportunities for them to put those traits into practice. To do this, choose a character trait on which you want to focus. Begin by defining it for your children, and share what the Scriptures say about the character trait. Look for examples within the Bible of how Jesus modeled the character trait, and talk about how you as a family can model it in your own lives. Then, as a family, practice putting the character trait into action. Take note of when someone in your family displays the character trait and offer praise. But, also take note of when someone in your family misses an opportunity to display the character trait and use it as a teachable moment. In her book, Renee offers the following example:


Wait without complaining

“Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

  • Ask for something and then wait without asking again
  • Be patient with yourself when you don’t know how to do something
  • Don’t interrupt – Wait your turn to talk
  • Have each family member wait to buy something they really want 

Our kids need to understand that character matters, and it is an indicator of how we treat others. Renee says,

“If our kids know that honesty, perseverance, acceptance, generosity, compassion, patience, loyalty, and kindness are core values, we’ll teach them to live a life of love by being kind to their friends, family, and even strangers.”

Another need our kids have that I believe ties into the development of their character is the need to be disciplined and loved. When you hear the word discipline, what thoughts or images come to mind? For many of us, the word discipline brings negative thoughts, and we often equivalent discipline with punishment. There is a difference between discipline and punishment, however. Where punishment focuses on making a child suffer for breaking the rules, discipline focuses on teaching and instructing a child on how to make a better choice next time. That will be our focus for today. I want to share God’s perspective of discipline and how crucial it is when it comes to loving our kids well.

The word discipline comes from the Hebrew word “musar” which means to instruct, to correct, chastise, or rebuke. To discipline our children is to provide them with the necessary instruction and training they need to live the lives for which God specifically created them. This is really important for several reasons. 

First, discipling our kids is something God has instructed us to do. When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He told the people to teach their children all He had done for them and to instruct them in the laws He had given them. These laws served as a guide for how they were to be living their lives. 

“Make the things I’m commanding you today part of who you are. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning.”

 Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (VOICE)

An article from said,

“When one generation fails to instill God’s laws in the next, a society quickly declines. Parents have not only a responsibility to their children, but an assignment from God to impart His values and truth into their lives.”

As a mom, God has instructed you to teach your children the values and truth we find in His Word. When we discipline our kids, this is what we are doing. We are imparting His values and truth into their lives.

Secondly, making the choice to discipline our kids is making the choice to love them. If you grew up in a home where discipline was equivalent to punishment, this concept of discipline being a form of love may sound very foreign. But, God’s Word tells us that disciplining our kids is showing love. In the book of Proverbs, we find these words:

My son, do not ignore the Eternal’s instruction or lose heart when He steps in to correct you; Because the Eternal proves His love by caring enough to discipline you, just as a father does his child, his pride and joy.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 (VOICE) 

“He who withholds the rod [of discipline] hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines and trains him diligently and appropriately [with wisdom and love].”

Proverbs 13:24 (AMP) 

Making the choice to discipline our kids isn’t mean. It’s loving them enough to do what is best for them.

Lastly, discipline protects our children from a destructive life. Kids are not naturally inclined to be obedient and to always do the right thing. I’m sure each of you know a child that is proof of this! But, the truth is, doing the right thing doesn’t come naturally to any of us. All of us were born into this world as sinners and needed someone to teach us right from wrong. Chip Ingram says, 

“The Bible’s perspective on discipline is affirmed by what many psychologists and sociologists are now learning about child development: Children left to themselves will do what all people left to themselves in a fallen world will do. They’ll make bad decisions that produce pain and turmoil in their lives.” 

Our kids need disciplined. They need someone to love them enough to step in and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Proverbs tells us,

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline [correction administered with godly wisdom and lovingkindness] will remove it far from him.”

Proverbs 22:15 (AMP)

“Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.

Proverbs 23:13-14 (MSG)

Discipline isn’t simply passing out punishment when our kids do something wrong. It is intentionally training our children to lead lives that will honor God and also honor others.  Renee Swope says,

“At the heart of discipleship and discipline, we teach our kids how to take responsibility for their choices, treat others with respect, and seek restoration in relationships when their choices have caused damage. An important part of disciplining our children is teaching them how to make good choices now that will help them make wise decisions later, choices that honor God (and) other people.”

So, how do we do this?

This actually leads into another need our children have: the need for clear boundaries, choices, consequences and consistency. Boundaries are the limits we set in place that keep our children safe, teach them what is acceptable behavior and that help them learn self-control. There are a couple of things that are important when it comes to setting boundaries. 

First, it is important that you and your spouse/partner discuss ahead of time what boundaries you will set for your family. For example, talk about what boundaries need to be in place before your infant starts crawling, your preschooler begins going to other houses for play dates, your school-age child gets a cell phone, or your teen starts dating.

Secondly, define the boundaries you’ve set firmly and clearly. There should be no doubt as to what behavior is deemed acceptable and what is not.  Be extremely clear. 

Once boundaries are set, our kids then need the opportunity to make a choice of whether they will stay within those boundaries or go their own way. Making good choices is a skill that kids need to practice, and just as God gives us the choice to obey or disobey Him, we need to give our children the same. Renee Swope says,

“By giving children a choice, we empower them to take responsibility for their decisions. If children are taught how to take responsibility for their choices they will grow up knowing their actions make a difference, good or bad.”

Galatians tells us, 

“But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another.” 

Galatians 6:4 (AMP)

Our kids need to practice how to make good choices, and the best place to do that is under our care. But, it is also important that they learn that when bad choices are made, there are consequences.

When our children make the choice to stray outside of the boundaries we have set for them, we need to allow them to experience the consequences of their choice. Consequences, just like boundaries, need to be clearly communicated ahead of time. They also need to be able to be implemented with immediate effect. Delayed consequences are not effective especially with young children. Consequences also should be ones that, as the parent, you can realistically and consistently follow through with. Clearly communicate with your child the consequence they will face if they choose to disobey and step outside of the boundaries your family has in place. For example: If you take your child to the beach, it is completely appropriate to set a boundary that your child may not go into the water without an adult. When you communicate this boundary, communicate the consequence he will face if he disobeys and goes in the water alone. Say, “You may play in the sand, but you may not go into the water without Mommy. If you choose to go into the water without Mommy, we will pack up and go home.”

As stated before consistency is key when it comes to disciplining our children. When we are consistent with our discipline, our kids learn to respect our decisions and our word. Consistency also builds trust and security within our homes.  Inconsistency, on the other hand, creates confusion, can encourage disobedience, and can create a power struggle between parent and child. Being consistent in your discipline will take effort, time, and a great deal of patience. But, the reward will be worth it. 

Here are some other things Renee Swope encourages us to do as we discipline our kids:

  • Discipline your child in private, away from anyone else involved. 
  • Wait until your emotions and your child’s emotions are calm before you discuss the situation or discipline your child. 
  • Ask what happened and address the choices your child made. Also ask him what he could have done differently that would have lead to a better result. 
  • Talk about consequences, communicate unconditional love.
  • Remind your child that God calls you as his parent to discipline him in love and to teach him to make choices that honor other people, himself, and God. 
  • After giving your child his consequences, hug him and express your love for him again.
  • Always tell your child that you believe in him and that his behavior is not who he is but something he chose to do. 
  • If someone else was involved in the situation, ask your child  to apologize and ask forgiveness from the person they hurt.

Discipline is an opportunity to love our kids exactly as God has called us to. It is an opportunity, as Renee Swope says, “to shape their hearts, not just their habits.” And that’s what we’re after, isn’t it? It’s shaping the hearts of our children and encouraging them to be the people that God created them to be. 

Works Cited:

Biblegateway. Accessed 3 May. 2022. 

Blueletter Bible. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022.

Ingram, Chip. “What Does the Bible Say About Discipline?” Focus on the Family. Accessed 1 May. 2022. 

Merriam Webster. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022.

Merriam Webster. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022. 

Mertz, Jon. “What Builds Character?” Thin Difference. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022.

Morin, Amy. “The Difference Between Punishment and Discipline.” Very Well Family. Accessed 1 May. 2022. 

Swope, Renee. A Confident Mom: Simple Ways to Give Your Child What They Need Most. Revell, 2022. 

“What Does the Bible Say About Raising Children?” Accessed 1 May. 2022.

The Gift of Being Known, Understood and Accepted

If I were to ask you, what it looks like to love your kids well, what would you say? Some of you might say that providing food, clothing, and a safe home shows your kids that you love them. Some of you might say spending quality time together as a family or speaking words of affirmation over your kids are ways you can show them they are loved. I want to share with you what I’ve been learning about loving my kids well and touch on one specific area on which we can focus.

In her book, A Confident Mom, Simple Ways To Give Your Child What They Need Most,  Renee Swope shares different needs that all children have. She offers practical tips on how to meet those needs while also building Godly characteristics within our children. She says,

“We can develop the gold of God’s character in our children’s hearts by offering them the ingredients of encouraging words, God’s Word, and an emphasis on character in an environment of acceptance, approval, affirmation, and unconditional love under the conditions of heart connection, belonging, affirmation, listening, quality time, patience, awareness, an accurate portrayal of God’s goodness and grace, fun and loving biblical discipline, the power of apology, and forgiveness.”

By providing the right ingredients in the right environment under the right conditions, we can love our kids exactly as God has called us. So what are some of these needs that our kids have?

One need your child has is to feel known, understood and completely accepted for who he is. We are reminded in the book of Psalm, that each of our children were carefully and uniquely created exactly as God intended. 

“For You shaped [my child], inside and out. You knitted [my child] together in my [own] womb long before [he] took [his] first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for [my child] [is] Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. You see all things; nothing about [my child] was hidden from You as [he] took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before [he] was born from its womb. You see all things; You saw [my child] growing, changing in my [own] womb; Every detail of [my child’s] life was already written in Your book; You established the length of [his] life before [he] ever tasted the sweetness of it.” 
Psalm 139:13-15 (VOICE; emphasis added)

Renee Swope says that as moms, we need to remember,

“Our kids are not like hotdogs. They’re like potatoes, creatively designed by God to be different.” Think about that for a moment. Hotdogs are all the same shape, the same size, and they all fit nicely in a bun. Potatoes on the other hand, come in all different sizes and shapes, some have more eyes than others, and you would be hard pressed to find two that were exactly alike. God created people just like He created potatoes. Each is unique and different in its own way.”

Renee goes on to say,

“When God created our children, He gave them individual personalities that are a unique combination of . . . desires, emotional needs, strengths, and challenges. Understanding our children’s personalities, and affirming their uniqueness, is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.”

I love that! It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. That is so true!

There are many personality tests that we could look at to better understand our kids, but the one we’ll look at today is one developed by Hippocrates. He felt that there were four general personalities that people fall into. Renee Swope explains what these four different personality types look like in our children. 

The first is the Phlegmatic personality. A Phlegmatic’s number one goal in life is to have peace. Children with this personality are typically low-key and easy-going, have a good sense of humor, don’t get upset easily, and are extremely likable. 

  • Motto: Let’s do it the easy way
  • Emotional Needs:  peace and quiet, downtime, and a feeling of worth
  • Strengths: Calm, peacemakers,  steady, consistent, kind, and great listeners
  • Challenges in Parenting: Hard to motivate, resistant to exertion, conflict avoidant, stubborn and tend to procrastinate

The second of the four personalities is the Choleric Personality. A Choleric’s number one goal in life is to be in control. Children with this type of personality are dependable, hard working, and natural born leaders. They like to have a sense of control and can be counted on to get things done. They also have strong opinions and aren’t shy about sharing them.

  • Motto: Just do it
  • Emotional Needs: Control, appreciation, loyalty, and getting credit
  • Strengths: Organized, task-oriented, and competent – They are also gifted at seeing a situation, thinking through things, and coming to a right conclusion
  • Challenges in Parenting: Overly determined, stubborn, and strong-willed – They want to be in control and do things their own way, which sometimes comes across as bossy, rude, and inconsiderate

The third personality is the Sanguine Personality. A Sanguine’s number one gaol in life is to have fun. Children with this type of personality are energetic, loving, adventurous, and fun. They enjoy quality time with friends and family, enjoy being the center of attention, and are often very entertaining.

  • Motto: Let’s do it the fun way
  • Emotional Needs: Attention, affection, and a sense of approval 
  • Strengths: Ability to make friends quickly, a great sense of humor, and storytelling abilities – They can charm their way into all kinds of situations and out of all kinds of trouble
  • Challenges in Parenting: Attention-seeking, which can overshadow others – They tend to back out of commitments if they aren’t fun, and they are sensitive to criticism and take it extremely personally

The last of the four personalties is the Melancholy Personality. A Melancholy’s number one goal is perfection. Children with a melancholy personality are thoughtful, sensitive, work well alone, strive for perfection, careful, organized, and have great attention for details

  • Motto: Let’s do it the right way
  • Emotional needs: Sensitivity, space, solitude, and quiet
  • Strengths: Able to work well alone and having an artistic sensibility along with the ability to be analytical – They love schedules, accuracy, and rules to follow
  • Challenges in Parenting: Shy, clingy, perfectionistic, afraid to fail, sensitive to criticism, see problems instead of solutions, moody

Of these personality types, which one(s) do you see in your child? What do you love about your child’s personality? What challenges does your child’s personality bring?

We live in a world that holds our kids to unrealistic expectations and tells them every day that their worth is found in what they have, how popular they are, or how well they are doing compared to others. Understanding how God uniquely created our kids and offering acceptance and approval for the ways in which He created them is so important. Renee Swope says,

“The environment of our home shapes our children’s perspective of themselves, of God, and of life. Let’s create a home where our potatoes can grow in the soil of acceptance and approval. A home where they know they are loved for who they are and liked for how they are. A home where our kids, whether young or old, don’t feel pressured to be the product of their parents desires or efforts. A home where everyone’s needs and preferences are honored, and where each person is encouraged to discover and develop their unique interests, abilities, strengths, and challenges. And let’s remember our kids are in process, becoming all that God created them to be.”

Does this describe the current environment of your home? Is your home a place where your children are able to flourish and grow into the people God created them to be? Take some time to reflect on that today. Does your child feel known, understood, and completely accepted for who God created him to be?

Works Cited:

Biblegateway. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022. 

Swope, Renee. A Confident Mom: Simple Ways to Give Your Child What They Need Most. Revell, 2022. 

He Needs Your Respect

It’s been over twenty years, but I can still remember so clearly the shock I felt at my husband’s words. “Let’s go down to the beach.” Now, you may be asking yourself what is so shocking about that statement. Let me give you a little background. 

Newlyweds for less than a week, my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach. On this particular day, we left the beach earlier than normal and returned to our rental house. Storms had begun forming all around us and having been struck by lighting already once in my life, I was not eager for a repeat experience. Upon returning to our rental, my husband jumped in the shower, and I turned on the tv just in time to see a local weather alert come across the screen. Several counties in the area were under a tornado warning, and the weather anchor was encouraging people to take cover immediately. Glancing around the mobile home that was home sweet home for us that week, I could feel my panic start to rise. If we were indeed in the path of this storm, I had no idea where we would take cover. We were in the middle of a sea of mobile homes with no basements in which we could take shelter. I called into my husband, who was still in shower, and asked the name of the county in which we staying. His answer confirmed for me that we were one of the counties included in the warning and in the direct path of this storm. Trying to control my now racing heart, I told him we were under a tornado warning and were being encouraged to take cover. His response caught me completely off guard. He suggested we go down to the beach and watch the storm go through. Now, in all fairness to him, he was joking . . .  a little bit. I knew that he would never do anything that would put me in harms way. But, at the same time, I also knew that he has always loved storms, and I very much believe he would have enjoyed watching that particular storm roll in. His words shocked me, however. Who in their right mind would choose walking down to the beach instead of taking cover during a tornado? What kind of a man did I marry?

That hasn’t been the only time that I’ve been struck by the differences between my husband and I. In the last twenty years, I’ve learned that as a man, his mind works differently from my own. He experiences different emotions and feelings than I do. He often sees things from a slightly different perspective than I do. And though I don’t always understand his perspective, I’m learning to appreciate it and to see the wisdom in how God created men and women differently. I’ve also been learning that the needs he has from our relationship are far different from my own, and for our marriage to thrive, I need to understand and be supporting those needs. 

One of those needs is to be respected and affirmed. To respect someone is to value him, recognize his worth, and to hold him in high regard. To affirm means to validate, to support (someone) by giving approval, recognition, or encouragement. How intentional are we when it comes to respecting and affirming our men, and is it really that important to do so? 

In her book, For Women Only, social researcher and author Shaunti Feldhahn, says,

“The male need for respect and affirmation, especially from his woman, is so hard-wired and so critical that three out of four men would rather feel unloved than disrespected or inadequate.”

Three out of four. That’s pretty significant. She goes on to say that men actually equate love with respect. A man who feels respected feels loved; a man who feels disrespected, on the other hand, feels unloved. Your man needs to know that he has your respect and that he has that respect unconditionally. Shaunti says,

“Just as you need the man in your life to love you unconditionally, even when you’re not particularly lovable, your man needs you to demonstrate your respect for him regardless of whether he’s meeting your expectations at the moment.”

He needs to know that you respect him unconditionally not just because of what he does, but for who he is.

Now, I understand that for some of us this feels really hard. But, even though it feels hard or there are times when we feel as though our respect is not deserved, we need to make the choice to respect our man. We need to make the choice to respect our husbands not only to show our love for them, but because God tells us to do so. Ephesians says, 

“However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].” - Ephesians 5:33 (AMP) 

Your man need your respect and your affirmation for it shows him that he is loved. But, how specifically can we do this? How do we show our men that we respect them? There are several areas in which we can do this.

The first is in his judgement. Your man needs to know that you respect his knowledge, his opinions, and his decisions. Now, you may not always agree with him, and that’s ok. But, it is important that you pick your battles and that you are not constantly questioning his judgement. I don’t always agree with my husband. There have been times over the last twenty years, especially as we’ve been raising our kids, that I haven’t agreed with his thoughts or how he has chosen to handle something. But, I have learned that sometimes it is wiser to hold my tongue and consider his perspective. Most times, he is doing what he truly feels is best for our family, and though I may not always agree with him, I need to respect that. 

Many men have shared that their opinions and decisions are valued in every area of their lives except for at home. This is breaking our men. Don’t allow this to be the case in your home. Ask your man for his knowledge on a given subject, ask for his opinion on a decision you are facing, and tell him that you trust and support the decisions he makes when he’s got your family’s best interests at heart. Trust and respect his judgement.

Next, our men need to feel respected for their abilities. Men love to figure things out for themselves. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, a sense that they have conquered something when they tackle a problem using their own abilities and are able to solve it. This is why men sometimes will not use the provided instructions for putting together a piece of furniture or not rely on a map to get where they are going. I see this very thing in my youngest son. He is one that will set aside the instructions, intent on figuring it out on his own. As women, it can be difficult for us to understand this need. If we see our man struggling, we immediately want to step in and help, offer solutions. However, when we do so, it suggests to our men that we don’t trust them or have confidence in their abilities. It suggests that we don’t believe they can solve the problem. It is often better to offer our encouragement, tell him that we know he can do it and then back off and let him figure things out on his own. This shows that we respect his abilities. 

Another area in which you can show your respect is in what your man accomplishes. In her studies, Shaunti found that even though men may appear extremely confident on the outside, many of them question whether they measure up or if they are good at what they do. Our men need to know that we notice what they have accomplished. It is extremely powerful for a man to know that he tried something, accomplished it, did it well, and someone noticed. Tell him that he did a great job at fixing the car. Tell him he does a great job at giving the kids a bath. Tell him that you appreciate how hard he works to provide for your family.  Tell him that he is an amazing dad. Many times, these words will mean more to him than hearing that you love him. 

One thing to note, however. When you show your respect for what your man accomplishes, take care not to point out his flaws. I’ll never forget a number of years ago when we were cleaning up our house for a showing. My husband folded our bathroom towels and put them away for me. When I walked into the closet, not all of the towels were pointed the same way. It sounds crazy, but in that moment it really bothered me. I proceeded to refold all of the towels. He was so hurt that I did this, especially because he was trying to be helpful. It was a long time before he would fold towels for me again. When we praise our men and quickly follow it with a critique, all he hears is that what he accomplished wasn’t quite good enough. Take notice of what your husband accomplishes and show him respect in that. 

This next area is really important. We need to respect our husbands as we communicate with them. As women, we have the incredible power to build up our men or completely tear them down. Because of this, we need to choose the words we speak to our men wisely. Proverbs tells us,

 “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.”  - Proverbs 15:4 (MSG) 

Every day, you have a choice in how you will choose to communicate with your man. You can speak kindly and encourage and build him up. Or, you can speak hurtful words over him and exasperate and tear him down. When your criticize or nag your man, he often interprets that as disrespect and disappointment in him as a man. Choose your words carefully. Your words are powerful. They can either be life-giving or life-draining. 

Another area where our men need our respect is in public. It is important to never criticize, tease, put him down, or question his judgement in front of others. To do so shows disrespect and because it happens in front of others, it can deeply wound a man and cause him to feel inadequate. Shaunti quotes her dad as saying,

“Men don’t let down their guards easily . . . The only time a guy’s guard is completely down is with the woman he loves. So she can pierce his heart like no one else.”

Dick Reiniger

It is so important to be supportive and respectful of our men in public. And this is true even when we are not physically present with our man. As women, we sometimes like to gather in our little circles with other women and vent our frustrations about our men. We like the feeling that we are not alone in our struggles and the validation that comes with sharing our frustrations. Here is the thing though; there is danger in that. If we make a habit of sharing our frustrations or dissatisfactions with other women, those frustrations and dissatisfactions are actually going to lodge more deeply in our hearts. If we’re not careful, what we see as harmless venting can begin to affect the relationship we have with our man.

“ . . . The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.” Luke 6:45 (VOICE)

There is wisdom in privately seeking wise counsel if you are struggling in your relationship. But, the venting, the complaining, and the airing out of our disappointments and frustrations with our girlfriends is actually causing more dissatisfaction. Satan is using it as a breeding ground for lies and discontent. We need to stop putting down our men in public and instead make the choice to show them respect and build them up in front of others. 

Lastly, we can show the men in our lives respect through our assumptions. Assumptions are those things we accept to be true or are certain will happen without actually having proof. We make assumptions about others every day. If I find graham cracker crumbs on the floor, I assume my daughter has been in the pantry even if I didn’t actually see her in the pantry. If someone is tailgating me, I assume that they’re just a jerk of a person even thought the reality may be that they have a family emergency. We make assumptions daily, but when it comes to our men, we need to be very careful in this area. Far too often, we make negative assumptions concerning our men. These negative assumptions can lead to distrust and a breakdown in our relationships. 

There are two particular assumptions women often make about men that we need address. The first is the assumption that when you ask your man to do something, he will need reminded in order for it to get done. If we ask our man to complete a task, and it is not completed in the timeframe we expect, we make the incorrect assumption that he needs to be reminded to complete the task. Now, sometimes he honestly may need to be reminded. There have been times when I’ve asked my husband to do something, but I’ve asked when he was completely focused on another task and my request honestly did not register with him. But, most times, my request has been heard, he does remember, and he does intend to do it. It just may not be as close to the top of his priority list as it is mine. When we make the assumption that our man needs us constantly reminding him to do things,  it can be interpreted as he is incapable of remembering on his own, or that we don’t trust that he will get the job done. We need to remember that his priorities may be different from our own and to not make the assumption that he needs reminded in order to complete a task. 

Another incorrect assumption that women tend to make is that when it comes to doing work around the house or helping with the kids, men make the choice to not help. I have to be honest and tell you that I’ve made this assumption before. If my husband didn’t help around the house in ways I thought he should, I thought it was because he didn’t care about me or was simply choosing not to help. But, I’ve learned that that was never the case.  Usually, if he didn’t help with something I thought he should, it was simply because he didn’t see it. And usually, that’s the case with our men. It’s not that they don’t want to help. It’s that they don’t always see things the same way they we do. He may honestly not see the laundry that needs carried upstairs. He may honestly not hear the baby cry in the middle of the night. Instead of making the assumption that your man doesn’t want to help, choose to believe that he honestly doesn’t see the areas in which help is needed. Clearly communicate your needs and the ways in which he can help you. I’ve found that my husband has always been willing to pitch in when I’ve asked. 

We show respect when we guard our assumptions. Make the choice to always assume the very best of your man. Our men need our respect and affirmation. 

In closing, I want to remind you of a few things. First of all, remember that you have the incredible power to tear your man down or build him up into the man God has created him to be. Secondly, pick your battles and be willing to forgive. Folded towels are not a battle worth fighting. Be slow to anger and quick to kiss and make up. Lastly, pray for your husband and invite Christ into your marriage. Ecclesiastes says, 

 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

God can and will strengthen your marriage. He needs to be invited though. Invite God to be a part of your marriage.  

One man is quoted as follows:

“It is so true that behind every great man is a great woman. There are a lot of men out there who are mediocre simply because their wives will not support them and bring them to greatness. And there are a lot of mediocre men who are destined to become great men-who are becoming great men-because their wives love and support them. My wife expects great things from me, even though I’m a pretty ordinary guy, really. She looks at me like I’m a genius in my field. She respects me in public and affirms me in private. I love her. And like all men, I want to live up to her expectations.” 


Works Cited:

Biblegateway. Accessed 28 Feb. 2022. 

Feldhahn, S. For Women Only. Colorado Springs: Multinomah Books. 2013.

Lead With Love

It’s the start of a new year, and for many, that means the making of New Year’s Resolutions. Making resolutions can be defined as making a firm decision to do or not to do something. I don’t know about you, but I find resolutions easy to make, but often hard to keep.

I recently came across a video, in which a dad shared some resolutions he had for his toddlers. These resolutions varied from going to bed and staying in bed to putting an end to pooping in the tub. As he reached the end of his list of resolutions for his kids, he realized however, that these resolutions will not come to fruition unless he is setting a good example, unless he is modeling the behavior he desires for his kids to display. He said, “Fatherhood is about being the man I want my son to be and the man that I want my daughter to someday marry.” And I got to thinking about that. Can’t we say the same for motherhood? Don’t we each have a desire to be the best version of ourselves that we can be? Don’t we have this desire to be good moms who raise our little people into amazing adults who are honest, responsible, hard working, and who love Jesus and others well? I think that is the desire of every mama’s heart, to raise amazing kids who will one day do amazing things in this world. But, how do we do that? How do we raise amazing kids? I think there are a couple of very practical areas in which we can start.

The first is to pray. One of the most important and powerful things we can do as moms is to pray for our kids. Now, this may sound too simple or even silly to some, but the Scriptures encourage us to,

 “Never stop praying.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) 

Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. I talk to Him daily about my kids. I ask Him to protect them as they go about their day and to help them make wise choices. I ask for wisdom in how to handle their disobedience and how to guide them through the hard circumstances life will throw their way. I go to God in prayer when worry or anxiety over my kids threatens to consume my thoughts. Taking my kids to God in prayer is something I have gotten in the habit of doing. And, taking not only our kids, but every aspect of our lives to Him in prayer is something He longs for each of us to do. Philippians tells us, 

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” 

Philippians 4:6-7 (VOICE)

God wants to hear from you, especially when it comes to your kids. If you are not in the habit of doing so already, start praying for your kids.  Someone once said, “Prayer is not the least we can do. It is the most we can do.”, and the older I get, the more I see the wisdom in that statement. 

Secondly, when it comes to raising amazing kids, I think it’s important to remember that the greatest lessons we teach our kids are those that we live out day after day. Our actions often speak more powerfully than our words, and as we go through our days, even as we do the most ordinary things like make meals, change diapers, clean up toys, I think it’s easy for us to forget the impact we are having on our kids. Our kids are little sponges. They are always watching us, imitating us, learning from us. Every day is an opportunity for us to lead by example and show our kids how to live life in a way that honors and pleases God.  Proverbs says,

“Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.”

Proverbs 22:6 (VOICE) 

Please hear me on this, Mama. You have a responsibility to teach your kids how to follow the right way. If you don’t, I can promise you that the world will. And the world’s way is not God’s way. You have an opportunity right now to make a huge impact on the life of your kids and model how to live a life that honors and pleases God. Seize the opportunity. Show and model for your kids what an honest life looks like. Show and model for your kids what hard work and perseverance looks like. Show and model for your kids how to speak kindly and what it looks like to put others first. Show and model for your kids what a relationship with Jesus looks like. Show them. Model for them what a life chasing after the heart of God actually looks like. 

Now, I’ll be honest with you; it won’t always be easy. You’re going to make mistakes, and when you do, admit them. Admit that you were wrong, seek forgiveness, and work to make things right. And remember, your kids are also going to make mistakes. There will come a time when they stray and choose to follow the world. But, remember, the work you are doing in their lives now is laying a foundation. You are teaching them what a God honoring life looks like and that is something that will stay with them. Mama, our kids need us to step up. They need us to show them what a God honoring life looks like. 

As you step into this new year, I would encourage you to make a resolution. Resolve to live a life that is lead by love. Let love lead your thoughts, your words and your actions. Let the ways in which you love God and love others be evident for your kids to see. It’s time to get to work. It’s time to show our kids the way. It’s time to model for our kids what a life that honors and pleases God actually looks like. Seize this opportunity God has given you. Resolve to lead with love.

Works Cited:

Biblegateway. Accessed 4 Jan. 2022.  

YouTube. Accessed 4 Jan. 2022.

Photo Credit. Accessed 7 Jan. 2022.

Christmas Chaos

How would you describe the perfect Christmas? When you envision the weeks leading up to Christmas and Christmas Day itself, what traditions, activities and people come to mind? Perhaps your perfect Christmas involves searching for and cutting down the perfect tree and decorating it together as a family. Maybe it’s curling up next to the fire with mugs of steaming hot chocolate or dressing in Christmas pajamas and watching movies together. Perhaps, the perfect Christmas means gathering your family together to make Christmas cookies from recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Or, maybe, the perfect Christmas begins with gathering as a family for your church’s Christmas Eve service. Whatever you envision, I think we all have this desire to have the perfect Christmas. We want to make beautiful memories with our kids. We want to slow down and enjoy time with family. We want to keep our focus on Jesus and take time to reflect on the gift of His birth. We want to soak in every moment of this season and enjoy it. 

But, how often does our Christmas look exactly like the one we envision? How often do our expectations for the season match the reality of the season? How often does our Christmas actually look more like the one described in this clip?

Christmas chaos. How many of you have ever found yourself in the midst of it? I know I have. Every year, despite my desire to really slow down and savor the season, I find that I get caught up in “celebrating” Christmas. I want to do all the things. I want to make thirty different types of cookies. I want to completely transform my home into a winter wonderland. I want to go to all of the parties, see all the lights, eat all the food, make all of the memories. I don’t want my family to miss out on any experience this season has to offer so I fill our calendar with one activity after another and try to do it all. 

Now, there isn’t anything wrong in wanting to experience some of the things this season has to offer, but, what often happens to me, is that I get so busy “celebrating” Christmas and doing all the things that I fail to truly CELEBRATE Christmas and the birth of my Savior. The very One who we are to be celebrating takes a back burner to the lights, the presents, the tree, the experiences. Have you ever been there? Have you ever allowed the busyness that can come with the Christmas season come before Jesus? I have, and that got me thinking. Is there a way that we can find a balance? Is there a way that we can keep our focus on Jesus and still enjoy some of the fun that the Christmas season brings? There is. But, it’s going to take a shift in our perspective and an unloading of our beams. 

Our beams. They represent the time that we have in one day, and we spend our days loading things to be accomplished onto them. Now, every day we have things that have to go on the beam. Ways in which we care for ourselves and our families are examples of these. Every day as moms, we have to feed babies, change diapers, make meals, go to work, give baths, put kids down for naps, take kids to the potty, feed pets, take kids to school, get kids to the bus on time, and help with homework. There are also household tasks that frequently get added to the beam. There is always laundry to do, vacuuming, dusting, picking up the house, scrubbing bathrooms, mopping floors, cleaning sinks, doing dishes, checking email, paying bills, buying groceries, getting gas for the car, caring for the garden, mowing the grass, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. On any given day, our beam quickly fills with daily tasks that most days, just have to be done. You can’t skip changing the baby’s diaper or decide one month that you just aren’t going to pay your bills. Some things have to be done. Some things have to go onto the beam. 

But, we also place things on our beam that don’t necessarily have to be there. We place things on our beams that we feel we are expected to do: keeping up to date on social media, taking our kids to story time at the library, doing Mommy and Me swimming lessons with our babies, volunteering in the PTO, completing Pinterest worthy snacks and craft projects.  These are all good things, but sometimes they only go on our beams because we feel we are expected to do them or we won’t measure up as good moms. Our beams quickly become full on any given day.

And then, we add Christmas into the mix: parties, shopping, baking, Christmas cards, decorating, visits with Santa, shopping for families in need, elves on the shelves, creating the perfect family memories. We load our already full beams even more heavily during the Christmas season. 

And what’s usually the result? What happens when we overload our already full beams during the Christmas season? Our beams become too full, we lose our balance, and we find ourselves in the midst of Christmas chaos. We become stressed, and we get grumpy. Negative thoughts threaten to consume us, and we feel defeated in our efforts to create the “perfect” Christmas. A season that is meant to be filled with such joy can quickly begin to feel stressful and so overwhelming.

What do we do when this happens? What do we do when we find ourselves with an overloaded beam and in the midst of Christmas chaos? We have to take some things off of our beams. 

To begin this process, it’s important to understand how full our beams actually are. I want you to make a list of the extra things you add to your beam during the Christmas season. For me, my list looks something like this: shop Black Friday online sales, decorate the house (this usually takes an entire day to empty the more than ten large tubs of decorations I have in the basement), Light Up night with the Grammy and Papa, my husband’s work party, bake Christmas cookies (six types at least), make banana bread to give as gifts, deliver banana bread to neighbors, take Christmas card pictures, send out Christmas cards, go to kids’ holiday concerts, wrap gifts, watch Christmas movies, do Advent calendars with the kids, go to Christmas Eve service, celebrate Christmas with both sides of the family . . .  What about you? What extra things do you add to your beam during the Christmas season? 

Now, take a look at those extra things you add to your beam and ask yourself why you add them to your beam each Christmas. Do you add them to your beam because you really love doing them with your family? Or, are they only on your beam because they are a longstanding family tradition, something you feel is expected of you, or something you feel pressured to do because everyone else is doing it? What is the motivation behind the traditions and activities you place on your beam each Christmas? 

Now that we’ve identified the extra things we add to our beams each Christmas and the reason we add them, we’re going to identify those traditions and activities we can unload from our beams. To do this, we’ll answer two questions. The first one: Does this tradition bring myself and my family closer to Jesus? Question two: Is this tradition worthy of space on my beam?

Look at your beam. Which traditions turn your focus back towards Jesus and draw you closer to Him? Every morning, starting with the first Sunday of Advent, my kids and I work through an advent calendar that has us reading and reflecting upon the Christmas story. This tradition keeps our focus on Jesus. This tradition reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas. It needs to stay on my beam. What about you? Do you have any traditions that bring you and your family closer to Jesus? If so, keep it on your beam. 

Next, as you look at your beam, ask yourself if the remaining traditions on your beam are worthy of your time and space on your beam. Are they traditions that you honestly love to do and bring you joy? Are they worthy of the space they are taking up on your beam?

Our family started a new tradition just in the past few years. And I’ll be honest, it was a tradition that we started because I was completely envious of all of you who posted on social media about your trips to the Christmas tree farm to cut down your own tree. I wanted those memories for my own kids. Now, I have to admit that it hasn’t been smooth sailing for our family. Our first tree, named Bob (we name everything in our house), fell over so much that I quit keeping track of the number of times I had to sop water off of the floor. Our second tree, Rosalina, quit taking on water within the first week and proceeded to drop her needles in the weeks before Christmas. Last year, I thought we had picked out the perfect tree, until we got her in the house and realized that once we cut her wrapping off, she took up a good 1/4 of our living room. We may or may not have had 200 lbs of counterweights tied to Large Marge, as we affectionately called her,  to keep her standing upright. After Christmas, my husband had to actually remove most of her branches just to get her back out the door. I cried that day. It was absolutely devastating to watch. 

Reflecting on our experiences with getting a real tree each year, one may wonder if this tradition is worthy of space on my beam. I have to answer, yes, it is. It is because even though it doesn’t always turn out perfectly, I LOVE going to the tree farm. I LOVE helping my husband cut down a tree. I LOVE bringing the tree home and taking bets on how long it will stay standing. I LOVE how each tree we bring into our home is unique. I LOVE the joy I get from this tradition. For me, it is worthy of space on my beam. What about you? The extra traditions and activities you have added to your beam during the Christmas season . . . are they worthy of space on your beam? 

Now, I want you to look at the remaining traditions on your beam. Are there any there that tend to move you towards Christmas chaos? Be honest. Is there anything that you do year after year that you absolutely dread? Is there anything on your beam that is adding to your stress this Christmas season? If so, I would encourage you to let it go. Take it off of your beam. 

I also want you to remember that sometimes we need to take things off of our beams just for just a season. Growing up, my husband and his dad created train displays to go under the Christmas tree. It was a tradition he wanted to start with our own kids. But, for many years, we did not set up a train under the tree. Why? It wasn’t the right season for it. Our kids were little, and toddlers and model trains are not always a good mix. No, this tradition needed to wait until we moved into a different season. A season when our kids were older and more responsible. That’s when that tradition could go back on the beam.

Is there a tradition on your beam that isn’t a good fit for your current season? If so, take it off your beam. 

Finding the perfect balance during the Christmas season can be difficult. As you examine how you spend your time during this season, I would challenge you to ask yourself if what you and your family are spending time on is bringing you closer to Jesus? Is your beam full of traditions that bring you joy and still honor Him? This season is sacred and the world will make every attempt to turn our focus towards it and away from Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, and fill your beam with things that honor Him. For He IS the reason that we celebrate. 

9 Christmas ideas | christmas quotes, speak life, tobymac speak life


“Christmas Chaos.” SkitGuys. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

Hatmaker, Jen. For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Thomas Nelson Pub. 2018. Accessed 11 Dec. 2021.

Breaking Free From Labels

There was no denying it. The white paint coating the underside of my vehicle was all the evidence needed.  Just a few days prior, I had found myself behind a truck putting down fresh paint on the road. With several cars between me and the truck, it was difficult to see which lines were being repainted, but based on the brightness of the middle, yellow lines, I assumed that’s where the fresh paint was. Apparently, I assumed wrong. As I examined the unexpected, new paint job on my vehicle, the thoughts began to swirl.

 “How in the world did you manage to drive through wet paint?”

“Didn’t you know what that would do to your vehicle?”

“Why didn’t you pay closer attention?”

Then, those thoughts took a different, deeper turn.

“You are such a bad driver.”

“You don’t take good care of your vehicle.”

“You are such a distracted mess.”

A bad driver. Irresponsible. A distracted mess. Those negative thoughts that filled my mind as I examined the damage to my car quickly turned into something that felt more personal, more condemning. Those thoughts . . . turned into labels. 

Labels are defined as words or phrases that identify or describe something or someone. We use labels all the time to help us categorize and identify things within our world. For example, when I go to the store and buy a package that is labeled cereal, cereal is exactly what I anticipate finding when I open it. I don’t take the box home wondering if I have just bought a box of cookies or, heaven forbid, a box of mushrooms. That would be a bad day. No, the label helps me identify the item I am purchasing. This is just one example of how labels can be extremely helpful for us as we try to make sense of this world.

Far too often, others place labels upon us or we place labels upon ourselves that attempt to categorize us in one way or another. These labels are often negative in their connotation and ones that we were never designed to wear. Labels like:





Always Late

Just like my mother

Hot mess

People pleaser





What labels have been placed upon you? How do those labels make you feel? 

One of the biggest problems with these negative labels is that over time, we begin to accept them as our truth. When something is repeated to us often enough, we begin to believe it don’t we? And once it becomes our truth, we believe that we can never break free from it. In her book, Unglued, Lysa Terkeurst says,

“Some prisons don’t require bars to keep people locked inside. All it takes is their perception that they belong there. A soul who believes she can’t leave . . . doesn’t.”

“All it takes is the perception that they belong there.” Have you ever been there? Have you ever looked at the labels you wear and told yourself that you will never change? Have you ever told yourself that perhaps you deserve that label? Have you ever told yourself that you will forever be defined by that label placed upon you? 

Last time, we talked about how we are in a battle for our minds. We talked about how it is important to take every thought that enters our mind captive and filter it through the truth we find in His Word. This applies to labels as well. Every label that is placed upon us needs to be identified, and then held up and examined against the truth we find in God’s Word. We need to ask ourselves if the labels we carry are based on what God says is true or if they are based on a lie that Satan would have us believe.

Beloved, God’s Word says this about you. 

You are Known

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” 

 Jeremiah 1:5  (MSG)

“O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.” 

Psalm 139:1-6 (VOICE)

You are fully Loved

“I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’”  

Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

 “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.”

 1 John 3:1 (VOICE)

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) 

You are His Masterpiece created exactly as He intended

“For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.”

Ephesians 2:10 (ISV)

That is the truth of who you are.

The labels you carry . . . they don’t define you. 

The labels you carry . . . they do not speak to the truth of who you are.

A number of years ago, I walked through a very dark season when I placed label upon label upon label on myself. It got to the point that when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the woman before me. I didn’t recognize her, and I didn’t know how to break free from her. But, God did. I reached out and asked Him to help me tear off the labels I had hidden behind for so long. Now, I’ll be honest with you. It was terrifying. It was uncomfortable.  It was downright painful at times. I questioned whether others would like the true me. I questioned whether I would like the true me. I questioned whether the process of removing the labels was worth it. Know what I learned? It was. It was worth it. When I invited God in to do His work, to chisel away the parts of me that weren’t true to who He created me to be, He set me free. I no longer felt imprisoned by the labels I had hidden behind for so long.

The same can be true for you. Invite God in. Let Him do the hard work within you. Step into the beautiful, amazing woman He created you to be. 


Allen, Jennie. Get Out of Your Head. Waterbrook. 2020.

Biblegateway. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.

Terkeurst, Lysa. (2012). Unglued Making Wise Choices In The Midst Of Raw Emotions, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Guard Your Mind

My hands trembled as I typed the words. “I’ve just locked her out of the house.” I set my phone down, and as the tears threatened to fall, I tried to calm my spiraling emotions. How did we get to this place? Where did I go wrong?

It had been a difficult morning. My daughter was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and her behavior that morning was proof of that. Her sharp tongue and disobedience had tried my patience thus far, but her refusal to put on a seatbelt in the car? That one threatened to push me over the edge.  Physically shaking with anger, I pulled the car into the garage, walked into the house and locked the door behind me. I then proceeded to walk through the house, closing and locking each outside door we have, effectively locking my raging preteen outside. Now, before you ask, yes, she was safe, and I only left them locked for about five minutes. But, I needed those five minutes. I needed those five minutes to try and calm my emotions that were spiraling out of control. 

I’ve found that this happens more often than it used to, my emotions spiraling out of control. Perhaps it is the season our family is currently in, the challenges that come with raising preteens/teens, or the negativity that has consumed our world right now? Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things and the fact that life just feels really hard right now? As I walk through my days, I find that even the smallest thing can quickly send me into a spiral. A spiral of emotions, a feeling of complete overwhelm, a desire to lock all of the outside doors and shut the world out for just a few moments.  Can you relate to this at all? 

In her book, “Get Out of Your Head”, Jennie Allen says that our emotions are actually a by-product of the way we think. We average about thirty-thousand thoughts in one day, and according to researchers, 70% of those thoughts are negative. If 70% of the thoughts we have in a day are negative, what impact does that have on us? In the book of Proverbs, it says, 

“Guard your heart (mind) above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” 

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Our thoughts affect the decisions we make each day. Those decisions we make determine how we behave. How we behave affects our relationships with others, and the way in which we view ourselves. Negative thoughts can lead to poor decisions. Poor decisions can lead to poor behavior. Poor behavior can lead to struggles within our relationships. Poor behavior can also lead to struggles in how we view ourselves. When we struggle in our relationships or struggle with our own self-worth, our mind becomes a breeding ground for more negative thoughts. These negative thoughts surface, the cycle begins once again, and we continue to spiral downward. 

Is this the way that we want to live our lives day after day? Is it possible to interrupt the spiral of emotions we may find ourselves in and shift our thinking?  Jennie Allen says it is. She says,

“We have bought the lie that we are victims of our thoughts rather than warriors equipped to fight on the front lines of the greatest battle of our generation: the battle for our minds.”

“The battle for our minds . . . “  In Corinthians 10, Paul writes, 

“ For though we walk in the world, we do not fight according to this world’s rules of warfare. The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.” 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (VOICE)

As believers, we’ve been given the authority and power from God to take every thought that enters our mind captive and filter it through the truth we find in His Word. You and I have been equipped to destroy the lies that try to dominate our thought patterns. Yet, though we’ve been given the power and authority, we still have to make the choice to use it. We have to choose to shift our thinking.

So, how do we do this? How do we shift our thinking? First, we need to identify the thoughts that we have allowed to settle comfortably in our brains. What is an emotion that you have felt recently? For me, it’s “overwhelm”. Maybe you’ve have also been feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve felt fearful, or angry. Maybe life is running very smoothly right now, and you can honestly say that you are feeling peaceful. What have you been feeling recently?

Now, think about what may be contributing to you feeling that emotion. What factors do you think are potentially causing that feeling or emotion? For me, there are several areas that are contributing to my feelings of overwhelm. Kids, work, my husband’s job, and COVID-19 are on my list. What about you? Maybe for you it’s the laundry that keeps growing by the day, some health issues you’re dealing with, or a work deadline that you’re facing. What factors are contributing to your feelings?

Lastly, think about why these factors are causing you to feel that particular emotion. For example, right now, my kids are causing me to feel overwhelmed. Why? I’ve never raised teenagers before. Many days, I feel ill-equipped to handle the challenges that come with this season. I want to parent wisely, but how do you handle mood swings, sibling fights, and struggles with peers? The desire to raise my kids well and the feeling that I’m messing it up so badly day after day leaves me feeling overwhelmed. What about you? Why are these particular factors causing you to feel a certain way?

Do you see any patterns and common themes in your thinking? What negative thoughts have you allowed to settle into your mind? Are you worrying about things or circumstances that you have no control over? Are you angry about something that has happened to you or someone you love? Do you find your thoughts fixated on things that you know aren’t healthy for you? Are you allowing shame of your past to continue to weigh heavily upon you? What thoughts have you allowed to settle into your mind?

Now that we’ve identified the thoughts that have settled in our minds, it’s time to take those thoughts captive and hold them up against the truth we find in God’s Word. Ask yourself if this thought you have is based on what God says is true or if it’s based on a lie that Satan would have you believe. For example, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the thought that I am not equipped to parent my kids well in this season. Some days, I feel weary. Some days, I spend way too much time worrying about things out of my control. Some days, I feel like I make so many mistakes, and I wonder if I have the wisdom to do this parenting thing well. Maybe I’m not equipped to do this? And that is exactly what Satan would have me believe. What does God’s Word tell me, however? .

“The Lord gives strength to those who are weary.” 

Isaiah 40:29 (CEV)

 “Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Matthew 6:33 (MSG)

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

“If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.”

James 1:5 (VOICE)

Those thoughts that have settled in your mind . . . are they based on lies that Satan would have you believe or are they based on what God’s Word tells you is true? Side note here: You may not know what God has to say about the thoughts with which your struggling. Two great resources for you. #1 – Google. Go to the search bar and type in, “What does the Bible say about ______?”  A list of verses that go along with the topic will pop up for you. #2 – – I love this resource. It has well researched answers for many of the questions we have about faith.

Jennie says,

“If we want to stop our patterns of toxic thinking, we must notice what’s happening and take action . . . Taking every thought captive is . . . choosing to believe that God is with us, is for us, and loves us even when all hell comes against us.”

Taking every thought captive is choosing to take those negative thought patterns within our minds and rewriting them. It’s taking our negative emotions and the reasons behind them and choosing to view them through God’s truth.

For example, instead of focusing on how overwhelmed I feel in the midst of this season with my kids, I can choose to rewrite my thought pattern. Instead of: I am overwhelmed and I don’t feel equipped to parent well in this season, I would rewrite it to say: I am overwhelmed, and I don’t feel equipped to parent well in this season, so I will choose to remember that God will give me wisdom and strength and He will walk with me through every battle I face. This promise is found in Isaiah. It says,

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Do you see the difference there? I acknowledged the emotion and the reason behind it, but I also chose to filter it through something I know to be true. If you were to rewrite your thought pattern, what would it say?

Lastly, Jennie reminds us that,

“We need to walk by the Spirit, not be jerked around by our swirling chaotic thoughts.”

To walk by the Spirit is to spend time in His presence. Psalm 46:10 tells us to, 

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

The NASB translation says to, “Cease striving . . .” The Street Bible says to, “Shut up . . . Shut off . . . Shut out . . . and in the silence . . . sense God: connect!” To spend time in His presence is to be still, turn our focus completely on Him, and listen. It is in His presence that we shift our thinking. It is in His presence  that our minds turn towards those things described in Philippians as good and true. 

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”

Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

It is in His presence that our minds can be transformed. Romans tells us,  

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.” 

Romans 12:2 (CEV)

It is also in His presence that we can experience the peace described in the book of Philippians.

“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.  And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” 

Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP)

Jennie says,

“Shifting our minds from flesh to spirit is an ongoing work of the spiritual life . . . it’s not a one time decision, but a day by day moment by moment choice to move from chaos and confusion toward the peace of Christ in various areas of our thought lives.”

How would your life change, if you invited God to transform those negative thoughts you think 70% of the time into positive ones that are rooted in His truth? How would your life change if you made the choice to move from the chaos and confusion this world offers towards the peace Jesus promises? You have the choice. What will you choose today? 


Allen, Jennie. Get Out of Your Head. Waterbrook. 2020.

Biblegateway. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

Lessons From a Pickle

My youngest loves pickles. So earlier this year, I thought it would be fun to buy some seeds and try my hand at raising cucumbers. Now, I must be honest and tell you that though I love having a garden, I’m one of those gardeners who loses enthusiasm as the season drags on. In early March, I’m outside digging in the still semi-frozen dirt, anxious to get my peas and lettuce in the ground. I spend April, May, and most of June dutifully weeding and watering my young plants. Then July hits. And it gets hot. And the weeds keep returning. And the deer eat my strawberry plants. And the green beans are ready to harvest . . . and there are always so many of them. My enthusiasm wanes and the garden begins to look like a pile of ancient ruins behind my back deck. And, if I’m honest, I don’t care. 

That’s where I was at this past July. My son wanted pickles, I had planted the pickling cucumbers, I hadn’t looked at them in weeks, and honestly, I didn’t care. My dad came over the one day, and as he walked through my garden, I asked him if my cucumbers were ready yet. He gave me a knowing smile and suggested that perhaps my cucumbers were a tad overripe. Now, when he said tad, I  thought maybe they could still be saved. However, reality hit when I went outside the following day to pick them. They were beyond being a tad overripe.  Instead of looking like a normal cucumber you would use for pickling, mine looked more like this.

They were beyond saving. 

Before I had a chance to share the disappointing news with my son, I got a sweet text from my dad. He had a peck of pickles if I could use them. (My dad always saves the day.)  So, just a couple of days later, I found myself with a peck of pickles ready to be pickled. And, because I’m a good mom, I enlisted the help of my children in preparing the cucumbers for the canning jars. I showed each one how to slice the fruit and pack the jars and busied myself getting the pickling liquid ready. As I began filling the jars, I made an interesting observation, however. Though each child received the same instructions, no jar of pickles looked the same. 

Here is a jar belonging to my oldest. My firstborn, my rule follower. Aside from the seeds, he basically did what I showed him to do. He cut the pickles into long spears and packed them vertically in the jars.  

My daughter, the middle born, and the only girl cut her’s differently. She cut hers in circles because they look prettier that way. 

And then there was my youngest, the one who requested the pickles in the first place. He cut his in a manner that took the absolute least amount of effort and time.

When questioned, he told me that it didn’t matter what they looked like. They would taste just the same. Sometimes I can’t fault his logic.  

Three kids. Three very different and unique ways of approaching the task at hand. But, when it came down to it, it honestly didn’t matter how the cucumbers were cut. They might not win the blue ribbon at the fair, but they would all still taste like pickles. 

That got me thinking. As moms, we’re a lot like those pickles. We’re different. We don’t all look the same. We come in all different shapes, sizes, and temperaments. We don’t all mother the same. We differ in our bedtime routines, the manner in which we discipline, and the experiences we choose to give our kids. Even the story of how each of us became is mom is different and unique. Just like those pickles didn’t look the same, neither do we as moms. 

I recently read a post by Pastor Dennis Lee that talked about our uniqueness. Here’s a portion of that post:

“You really don’t have to travel far to discover just how much God loves diversity and variety. Think about it: God made over 300,000 species of beetles. Now some might call that creative overkill. But God loves variety. 

Did you know that in one cubic foot of snow there are 18 million individual snowflakes and not one of them alike? And while we can’t tell the difference, it’s just snow to us, God notices and created each one of them.

God likes variety in people too. If you ever had to wait for an airplane or stand in line at Wal-Mart, you’ll see all sorts of unique and peculiar people. God made every one of them individually, and when we look in the mirror we see just how great and peculiar we are.”

How often do you look in the mirror and see just how great and peculiar you are? I’ll be honest, the peculiar part is a little easier for me to identify than the great part. But, we’re reminded in the book of Psalm that there is indeed a great part. 

We were uniquely and carefully crafted by our Creator. We weren’t part of a massive heavenly production line or just thrown together at the last minute. No, there was a thoughtful and purposeful shaping and a knitting together of everything that makes you, you. There is no one in this entire world who is exactly like you, and that is a wonderful thing. 

In what ways are you unique? Do you ever struggle with those qualities you have that make you different from others? Do you ever look at the qualities found in others and find yourself a bit envious? Me too. In fact, I realized that I spend a lot of time comparing myself to others, and I usually come up with one of two conclusions. Either I am severely lacking in multiple areas of life, or I take on the attitude that I am doing this thing called life way better than someone else. Neither of those conclusions are healthy and if we’re being honest, neither of them are accurate either. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gotten it in our heads that we have to be everything and we have to do everything. We’ve set this unrealistic expectation before us of what it looks like to be a good woman, wife, and mom. But, the reality is that we weren’t created to be everything and we weren’t created to do everything. We were created uniquely with different gifts and different strengths. Mama, we need to get to the point where we can celebrate that. We need to get to the point where we can celebrate the giftings and strengths of others instead of beating ourselves up over the fact that we are not like them. But, how do we do that?

We need to realize that comparison can actually be gift. A gift that helps us see the reality of who we are and the woman we were created to be. Author, Abigail Dodds said the following: 

“Comparison is a fundamental part of being human, because it’s how we  acquaint ourselves with reality.” 

Think about that statement for a moment. Comparison is how we acquaint ourselves with reality. What is reality? Reality is I’m not good at everything. Reality is I mess up as a mom a lot. Realty is I’m not perfect. And I hate to break this to you, but the same realities ring true for you. You are not perfect and you never will be. God didn’t create you to be perfect. Only He can be perfect. There will always be someone who is better than you at something. Instead of using comparison to beat ourselves up, what if we simply used comparison to accept the truth of how God created us?

Comparison can also be a tool to help us grow. Often, we use comparison as a measuring stick. We use it to identify all of the many ways we fall short compared to others. But, what if instead of using comparison as a measuring stick, we used it more like a set of pruners? Pruners are used to cut out unhealthy or unneeded parts of a plant to encourage new growth. Instead of comparing the many ways we don’t measure up to others, what if we used comparison as a means of identifying areas in which we could grow?

Abigail Dodds said, 

“Noticing (the differences among us)  isn’t a sin, but a gift, and it need not lead to the evaporation of our joy, but can be the water for its growth. Holy imitation isn’t about cramming ourselves into another’s mold. It’s about recognizing the Christlike principles another has applied to their life and figuring out how to apply them to ours.”

Think about an area in which you would love to grow? Do you have someone in your circle that you’ve observed might be strong in this area? What lessons can you take from watching her life? 

Abigail also said,

“What if, rather than pretending not to notice that our friend is excelling in homemaking and parenting (while we’re scraping by), we honored her by giving thanks to God for her obedience, her diligence, and her example of Christ that we can follow? What if we started observing her more closely, making more comparisons rather than less, so that we could tease out the principles of godliness present in her life and do likewise? What if, rather than smugly disdaining the mom who can’t get her act together, we offered her a better way? What if we actually said with Paul, ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,’ not because we think we’re better than she is, but because God has really done something profound in us and we’re confident he can do it in her, too? Leading our comparisons in the right direction — away from envy, pride, covetousness, and self-pity, and toward Christlike imitation and the fear of God — will turn us into better parents, mentors, and friends.”

How differently might this mothering journey look like if we recognized and celebrated the gifts and strengths we see in others? How differently might this mothering journey look like if instead of using comparison to measure our faults, we used it to help us grow? How differently might this mothering journey look like if made the choice to use our gifts and strengths to pour into others and to encourage them in their own journey? Celebrate one another’s gifts and strengths. Lift one another up in their weaknesses. Support, encourage, and love those in your tribe. 

Works Cited:

Biblegateway. Accessed 14 Sept. 2021. 

Dodds, Abigail. “Comparison Is Not the Thief of Joy.” DesiringGod, 16 Mar. 2018. Accessed 14 Sept. 2021. 

Lee, Dennis. “God Made You Unique.” The Spectrum. Accessed 14 Sept. 2021. 

A Gift

This past weekend, as our family gathered to soak in the last days of summer, I found my kids working on their Christmas lists. Yes, you read that correctly. It is September, and my kids are already planning ahead for one of their favorite times of the year. What struck me as I listened to them, however, was not the fact that they were making their lists. No, what struck me, was the fact that my kids were not only making a list of those items they’d love to receive, but also those items they would love to give others. You see, as much as my kids love receiving presents at Christmas, they get almost as excited in finding the perfect gift to give each person in our family. My kids love to give gifts to others. 

As I was thinking about this, I was reminded that giving gifts to others doesn’t have to be a seasonal thing. Every day, we have opportunities to give others gifts. Sometimes these gifts take on physical forms, but, other times, the most precious gifts we can give others look more like the gift our time, the gift of our patience, or the gift of our willingness to listen. We can give the gift of understanding, forgiveness, or encouragement. 

Ephesians 4:29 reminds us that our words can also be a gift. 

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Ephesians 4:29 (MSG) 

Every day, we have an opportunity to use our words as a gift. We can use them to support, encourage, and build others up, or we can use them to hurt, discourage, and tear others down. Our words can bring peace. Our words can also stir up fear.

As you walk through your day today, I would encourage you to remember that your words can be a gift. Use them wisely; use them well. 

Why God?

She turned towards me and I could see the questioning in her dark eyes. “Why does God make bad things happen?” Her question broke my heart, but I understood where she was coming from. How many times have I asked that same question? How many times have I asked myself just in the past week why?  Why me? Why her?  Why him? Why God? Because this doesn’t seem quite fair.

When she arrived at school that day, six kids were absent from her class. Before noon, seven more were sent home for possible COVID exposure. Of the seven kids left in the class, my girl was the only girl left. For the remainder of this week, it will be her and a bunch of boys. She is not thrilled at the prospect.

But, getting back to her question. Why does God make bad things happen? I was honest and told her I don’t always understand, but there are a couple of things I am certain of. First, God is good and He is faithful – always. Scripture tells us:

“For the LORD is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.” 

Psalm 100:5 (AMP)

LORD in all caps is translated as Yahweh or Jehovah in Hebrew. It is God’s proper name. It’s who He is. It means He is holy, the giver of life, righteous, and just. God is always good and He is always faithful because that’s who He is. 

Secondly, God is always working for the good of those who love Him. Romans tells us:

“And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”

 Romans 8:28 (AMP)

We may not see His hand moving physically, but the evidence is all around us. We have to open our eyes and see it though. God is always working for what is good and what is best.

Thirdly, what I deem is good and best is not what God always deems as good and best.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” 

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB) 

God has the ability to see the bigger picture. I do not. I’m very much like my kids in some ways. I have moments when I believe eating a peanut butter cup is the absolute best thing for me. But, when I look at the bigger picture, what happens when I eat peanut butter cups every single time I think it’s the best thing for me? It’s not going to be healthy for me in the long run. God’s perspective is so much clearer than my own. I need to remember that. 

Lastly, God does allow for us to walk through difficult seasons, but He promises He will never leave us. Romans says:

“. . . Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . you are precious in My sight, you are honored and I love you.”

Isaiah 43:1-4 (AMP)

We will walk through difficult seasons. But, we take comfort in the fact that God will always be there walking alongside us. Something else to remember is that it’s often in our darkest seasons that we grow the most. I’ve learned so much through the dark seasons I’ve walked through.  Were they comfortable? Absolutely not. But, if they were comfortable would I have leaned into God so heavily?

Everything that happens in this life can draw us closer to God or pull us away from Him. When you find yourself on a path that is hard, ask yourself several things.

  1. Am I going to invite God to walk alongside me during this season or try to do it on my own?
  2. What good can I see in front of me?
  3. What might God have for me to learn through this?

There is always a purpose in everything God does. Always

I shared these thoughts with my daughter, and do you want to know what she said? She said, “God probably picked me to be the only girl left in the class this week because He knows I can handle it. I mean, I live with mostly boys.” What a great perspective and a lesson for us all!When things aren’t going as planned or this season feels really hard, look for the good and try to see things through God’s perspective. Reflect on what you are learning. Reflect on how God’s growing you.

“Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living.” – Rachel Marie Martin