September 20, 2016
You will find as you look back upon your life
that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived,
are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love.
If you want to have a happy, almost euphoric feeling inside, go do something for someone else. That’s right! If you are having a bad day, lift someone else up and you will be lifted up as well. It’s one thing to read about the joy of showing compassion to another person, it is another thing to experience it yourself. I can tell you from personal experience the best way to get rid of the grumbles (whether it’s yours or your kid’s) is to reach out in love and serve another human being. As we learn the joy of service we can teach it to our family.
Not too long ago on a Saturday morning I was wishing I had not signed up to serve at the local Special Olympics Soft Ball and Bocce Ball tournament. Oh yes, there were about 20 million other things I needed to accomplish that Saturday morning, but I had signed up along with my teenage daughters, and we had to keep our commitment. They weren’t so thrilled about our obligation either. As we arrived they assigned us to three different Bocce Ball games. Of course we had a little bit of a learning curve because we had never even heard of the game, much less played it and now we were helping to score!
The more important part of the job was to encourage, hug and help the participants. We learned, we helped and we cheered. We were surrounded by simple and loving people of all ages, sizes, races and degrees of physical challenge. The precious joy and enthusiasm of the Special Olympics participants was contagious. Soon we were all smiles as we opened our loving arms to our special new friends. The car ride back home was filled with a different emotion than when we drove to the event. Our spirits were jovial as we shared stories of the precious people we had encountered and how they each enriched our hearts.
I wouldn’t trade that Saturday morning for the world. Money can’t buy a life lesson like this one. We experienced the true joy which comes from giving, not from receiving or taking. As a mom, I could have told my daughters until I was blue in the face, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But they got the message loud and clear by doing it. As a family we have taken other opportunities to feed the homeless, work at the Angel Tree at the mall and visit families in need, and we have been enriched with joy every time.
Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you where to serve as a family, and then keep your eyes open. God will show you and direct you in the joy of serving, loving and giving. Several years ago, God led me to start an organization called Engage Positive Parenting Initiative, reaching into the lives of men and women in impoverished communities throughout Dallas. To learn more about how you can touch the lives of other parents, visit www.EngageParenting.com
We are participating in North Texas Giving Day on Sept 22 (that’s this Thursday!). Here is the link and be sure to choose Engage Parenting in the Organization box. http://womensnpa.wpengine.com/donate/north-texas-giving-day/
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue,
but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:18
September 13, 2016
What kind of glasses are you wearing right now, figuratively speaking? In other words, how do you choose to view your circumstances? Every day we have a choice: Will we look at our lives through the dark glasses of despair, or will we see our world through the bright glasses of hope? It’s so easy—even natural—to put on dark glasses and view our troubles with worry, pessimism, and despair. It takes faith, patience, and strength to remove those dark glasses and put on brighter ones.
When we do, though—when we view our world through eyes of hope—we see things a little differently. We recognize that although our circumstances may be difficult, God has not left us. We understand that He will hold us up through our struggles and strengthen us through the dark times.
The early Christians of the Bible lived in uncertain times. Many were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ. But Paul gave his fellow Christians a message of encouragement and hope. He told them where to put their focus:
So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever. II Corinthians 4:16-18
The bright glasses of hope help us to focus on the possibilities of what God can do through our circumstances. Hope reminds us of the strength He can give, even when we feel weak. Hope reminds us that there is a bigger picture – an eternal picture. The dark glasses of despair, on the other hand, lead us to focus on the temporary situations, circumstances, and annoying people right in front of us. Difficulties come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all. One woman may be struggling with a difficult marriage, another with inadequate finances, another with a rebellious teenager, another with a physical disability. The question is not, what are you going through? The question is, how will you choose to view what you are going through? Hope looks past the circumstances and sees the possibilities!
After I presented the glasses analogy to one group of ladies, a woman came up to me and said, “I’m going straight to Walmart, and I’m going to buy two pairs of glasses, one bright pair and one dark pair. I’m going to put them by my kitchen sink to help me remember that I have a choice every day as to how I will view my world and my circumstances.” Not a bad idea!
This is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress
September 6, 2016
Several years ago we bought a puppy. She was so cute and huggable that my husband and I agreed to allow her to sleep on our bed with us at night. I should probably mention that our lovable pooch is an English mastiff named Abbey. If you know anything about English mastiffs, you know that they start off small, but they can grow to weigh as much as 150 to 200 pounds. Abbey tilted the scales at close to 200.
Abbey started off as a sweet little bed mate. As she grew, however, so did her annoying tendencies, such as snoring, hogging the covers, and waking us up every time she turns over. It’s not so easy to get her out of the bed anymore. She jumps up while we’re asleep, and when we try to get her off the mattress, she becomes a dead weight. It’s a constant “bed battle.”
Worry, on the other hand, is a constant “head battle.” It may start out as a cuddly little care; but if we allow it to linger, it can grow into full blown worry and despair. Stay vigilant! Don’t let cares and worries make their home in your head. Instead, begin the practice of casting your cares on God, because He genuinely cares for you. Start by being humble, recognizing your need for God. Then continually give your cares, concerns, and worries to Him through prayer. Finally, replace your worry with wonder by filling your mind with Scripture and truth.
As moms, let’s not waste another minute cuddling up to our cares. Let’s cast them off on our loving Heavenly Father and discover the peace that comes from putting our trust in Him.
Here’s a little devotional I like to call “Calming Thoughts”
Scripture Reading: Psalm 30 and Psalm 56:3–4 “God Cares for Us”
- How did the psalmist deal with problems, struggles, and worries in his life?
- What are some of the cares and worries that you’re cuddling in your life right now?
- Are you willing to turn those worries over to God and leave them with Him, trusting Him to be your rock and your protector?
- Think of a scripture verse or Bible truth that you can put into your mind when those worries try to creep back in. Write them down on a note card, and put the card in a place where you will see it often.
Loving Father, I praise You for Your care for me. Thank you for wanting me to bring my concerns and worries to You. You are willing and able to handle them much better than I can! I confess that I often hold on to my worries instead of giving them over to You. I humbly recognize my need for You. Help me to cast my cares on You, and teach me to replace my worries with your Word of Truth. I put every area of my life into Your loving hands. Help me to rest in the fact that You are good and can be trusted. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This is a excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress
August 29, 2016
Summer is over and you are back to that same old school-year schedule. Just guessing here, but I can imagine in some ways you are glad, and others you are sad. Summer offers the freedom to do as you please and go where you want, but as school starts you are shaken back into reality and a bit of a routine – and typically a busy one at that!
As a positive mom, how can you make it a tremendous year for both you and the kids? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Maintain a Positive Outlook – Enthusiasm is contagious and when you choose to have a go-getter attitude, it permeates the family. I’m not saying you have to be Mrs. Perky Positive all the time, but I am encouraging you to examine your words and attitude toward school and the other families. Instead of saying, “Oh, you have an awful schedule this year.” Why not say, “Wow, it looks like it will be a tough year, but I know you can get through it. With God’s guidance and strength, it may even turn out to be your best year ever.” Be honest and realistic, but always turn toward hope and away from despair. As you maintain a positive outlook, you will find your kids will learn to do the same. I’d much rather have positive kids than negative ones!
Pray Together – As you face challenges throughout the year, make prayer a consistent theme in your family. During those times when you don’t know how to handle a challenging friendship or a rude teacher, take it to prayer and ask God for wisdom. He promises to give generously to all who ask (James 1:5) without finding fault. Perhaps your child has been hurt by others, pray for God’s comfort and healing. Pray for new friendships together. There is nothing that bonds you more than praying together as a family. This is also an important way to get your kids in the habit of praying about everything, instead of worrying about issues in school and in life.
Guard Against Child Praise – It is much more important to encourage your child to learn and grow through a challenge, rather than simply praising them as “the smartest” or “the best.” Studies now show that insincere praise can actually do more harm than good. When your kids face a challenge or a test, highlight their hard work and preparation along with their ability to learn from mistakes. Instead of insincere flattery, focus on specific and sincere ways to cheer your kids on and strengthen their heart. A good life-lesson for us all is “progress rather than perfection.”
Ask Good Questions – Instead of asking, “How was your day?” Try asking, “What was the best thing that happened to you today.” Or “Who did you sit with at lunch and what was the hot topic of conversation?” Engaging in conversation along with eye contact with your kids can have a positive effect on your family. Studies show that when you interact with your kids over the dinner table at least four times a week, they are more likely to do well in school, stay out of trouble and adhere to family values. One of my favorite times for conversation was at the kitchen table right after the kids got home from school as we enjoyed afterschool snacks. Perhaps yours is breakfast time or during dinner or in the car. Find the time that works best for you, and lovingly listen to your kids.
Those are just a few of my top tips – we’ll look at a few more next week. What are some of your thoughts on how to make it a great year?
For great discussion starters around the dinner table, check out Table Talk
|Inspiring Words: 30 Verses from the Bible You Can Color
Inspire your children to discover the beauty of God’s Word with the Beautiful Words: Bible Verses You Can Color coloring book. Designed for ages 8 years and older, 64-page coloring book features 30 unique and creative illustrations that focus on key verses in the Bible. Using the NIV translation, each verse is paired with detailed line art and each page is printed on high-quality, thick paper stock that colors won’t bleed through. Fun for kids and adults.
August 23, 2016
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