I Want To See

Sorry I haven’t been on here for a really long time.  Life is busy and to be honest…I think I let myself get caught up in feelings of inferiority.  Who am I to discuss how we should live when I am so full of ugliness myself?

But then I remembered that that isn’t why I started this blog.  I started this blog to share my heart and what I believe God is telling me to do on this journey. I started this blog to share my imperfections and to let others out there know that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

I came back on here ready to talk about my struggle with trust and realized that was the same exact post I wrote last time…way back in April (Yep, it’s been that long.)

My lack of trust has gotten the best of me right now and is leading me down a road I am really not enjoying at all.  A road of sleepless nights and tearful, anxiety, stress filled days.  I wish I could just get over it.  Just find a comfortable spot in God’s arms to rest and trust that everything will be okay.  But one question keeps robbing me from entering into his peace…

“What if it’s not okay?”

I sit here looking at my circumstances…Though, I wanted to be selfish, I extended a gift to a friend.  In so extending this gift I have had to put something I value above anything else in this world out to dangle on a precipice. I offered this gift trying to be selfless but praying that God would provide a lamb for my sacrifice as he did for Jacob with his son Isaac.  A lamb did not come to my aid.  Instead this most important thing I value is still there dangling in the unknown and I worry, that by extending a gift to my friend, it will crash and break.

I know that we are supposed to trust God, but why is it so hard for me?  I truly think it’s because I like to have control and I like to have all the answers.  I do not have any control over this situation and I worry that I will live to regret my act of selflessness.

How does one learn to trust God?  I don’t know.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  But I do have hope that he will not let me down and that my life will get better because of this cross that is currently hard to bear.

Tonight as I looked up verses on hope I came across Luke 18:35-43.  This is the story about the blind man who was healed by Jesus.  No, I am not physically blind.  But I do want to have spiritual sight.  I want my eyes to be opened to the things of God and God wants me to trust in him.  So I prayed tonight like the blind man did.  I said, “God I want to see.  I want to see your hand in this and I want to see the good in this.  I don’t want to hurt and fear the worst.  I want to trust in you and believe for the best.  God, help me to see you and your plan.”

And just as he said to the blind man, he said to me,

“Receive your sight, your faith has made you well.”

I wish I could say that I immediately had spiritual insight into this and that everything was well, but that is not what happened.  But I walked away with a little more hope, and I know that each day God will help me to walk this path.  Each day he will strengthen me and each day he will renew me.  He will help me to trust and not be afraid.

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My Heart Will Trust In You

As I held the crying form of my baby girl in my arms telling her not to be afraid, that the woman in the PG movie we had just watched was not real but a drawing that she doesn’t have to worry about I felt a bit hypocritical.  And as I prayed with her that God would give her peace and help her not to fear but to trust Him to guard her dreams, I felt inadequate.

The feelings of hypocrisy and inadequacy that I had stem from the fact that I all too often get caught up in fear, worry and anxiety and I find it very difficult to trust God that He will protect and guard me.  In fact I find trusting Him pretty much impossible.

This has been a difficult post that has been a long time coming and I apologize for its delay.  I’ve typed and retyped this post and wasn’t sure if I really wanted to share this, my very weak and unspiritual side.  I was afraid I’d be judged. Insecure about admitting that I find trusting in God pretty much impossible.  Afraid to admit that I lack the faith that is supposed to be an easy, inherent, trait of Christians.  I’ve been afraid to admit that I spend a great deal of my time in worry, fear and with a mind and heart full of anxiety.  I’m afraid that admitting these shortcomings will make me look like a psychotic, fear filled, control freak.

Few people see it, this life of almost constant worry I live.  Those who know me the very, very best know I struggle with a mind bent toward worry.  Those who I am not intimate with see a smiling woman of God and think I have it all together.  They have no idea the fear and anxiety filled thoughts that go through my mind.  No idea of the way I try to figure it all out, trying to spare myself and my family pain and unnecessary discomfort.  No idea of the sleepless, restless nights I spend wondering how something will play out, or how God is going to take care of it.  I don’t even know if my husband, who sleeps right beside me, realizes just how many nights I spend in tearful and exhausted awakeness, bagging God to help me see the good in things that just don’t seem good.  Bagging God to help me to know beyond a doubt that everything will be okay.  That he truly does have my, and my loved ones best interest in mind.

I wish I could say that I was a super spiritual Christian full of faith and that every time I have a worry I cast it before Christ and trust God and know His plan is always best.  The truth is that I am not and I do not.

It’s not that I don’t know I can’t trust God.  The scripture tells me time and time again that I can trust Him…

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

The list of trust verses goes on, and I truly believe what they say.  I believe He is my refuge, my strength, my help, my shelter.  My heart tells me He can be trusted…it’s getting my heart to convince the thundering thoughts of fear, worry and anxiety that ceaselessly attack my brain that I can trust Him.

No amount of scripture quoting, or trust quotes, worshiping, or praying will silence these worries.  They may cause them to quiet down a bit and for a few moments I feel like I have grasped on to peace of mind and have found a way to trust Him, but the anxiety never surrenders completely, it may retreat for a bit but then comes back with reinforcement.  It’s a constant struggle between my heart and my mind.  I am constantly asking God “Who? What? When? Where? When? How?…and for the love, WHY?”

As I said, I wish I was super spiritual and that I could naturally trust God.  It would make teaching my children to trust Him a lot easier.  It would make praying for people and encouraging them to be hopeful much easier.  But the truth is as I am teaching my children to not be afraid, I am learning this very thing myself yet.  As I text scriptures of hope to friends I am also working to engrain them on my heart and mind as well.  As I pray for a sick friend and tell her to not be discouraged, I am also telling myself to not be discouraged.

If you haven’t learned by now, then certainly this post will help you to see I am not a perfect Christian.  Yes, I struggle with fear, worry and anxiety.  Yes, I feel overwhelmed by these three things all too often.  Yes, I frequently question God and his ways.  Yes, I regularly wonder if his ways are really best.  Yes, I would prefer to be in control because then I would always be in the know.  No, I don’t have unquenchable faith.

But I do know that in spite of the doubts that assail my mind, He can be trusted.  A God who gave his son to die in my place so that I didn’t have to live a life of fear, worry and anxiety can be trusted!  A man who loves me so much that He died on a cross so that I could live a life of peace with Him is worthy of my trust!

So I gather the little bit of faith, hope and trust I have and I encourage it to grow with scripture and praise and continually lay my anxieties at the feet of the cross.  The devil constantly distinguishes my little ball of faith and throws it back at me, covered in the filth of worry and fear.  But as often as the devil distinguishes my little ball of trust, God in his love, gently picks it up and wipes away the filth of fear with a gentle encouraging word of hope.  He kisses away the worry as a caring parent who wants the best for his child.  He hugs the anxieties away in the arms of a loving Father.

It’s difficult but I have to choose to ignore the assaults of fear, worry and anxiety and say. “God…

Be Back Soon

Sorry I haven’t posted this week.  I’m getting ready for a trip and have been very busy.

This past week has been interesting and God and I have had lots of talks about one of my hardest issues…TRUST.

I’ll expound more when I’m back but for now blessings to you while I’m gone and here’s a few of my favorite quotes and verses from my time with God this week…

Represent Love

I once heard someone say that a parent should be the best representation of Christ to their children.  Being Christ with skin to my children and my husband is exactly what I want to be.  There is no better person to reflect and be like.  So how do I representation Christ to my family?

Christ and God are one and God is love (1 John 4:8).  Ephesians 5:1-2 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…”

The best way to represent and be Christ to my family is to love!

Not only to love though, at least not as we as humans love.  If we read further into verse 2 of Ephesians 5 you’ll read…

“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.”

This is the most difficult part to loving with God’s agape love.  The selfless love that expects nothing in return.  I am almost certain that this will be the hardest part for me on my journey to pursue peace in myself and my home.

It’s difficult to put forth a lot of energy and work at pursuing peace as the rest of my family rolls their eyes, argues, whines and complains.  It’s difficult to keep my mouth shut and show the love of God as a sarcastic comment wounds my heart.  I have thought on more than one occasion, “But, God, if I am the only one trying to keep the peace in my home, and I am choosing my words carefully, trying not to hurt the hearts of my family, then my heart is still getting hurt.  I don’t want to be hurt, Lord.”

I feared that with them knowing I am striving for peace in myself and in my home that they would try harder to push my buttons.  I feared that my husband would utter sarcastic or hurtful words, purposely trying to get a rise out of me, and I would have to bite my tongue and turn my cheek.

Well, it turns out that I would have to live my fears.  I am having to hold my tongue and turn me cheek.  I am having to forgive when no apology has been given.  I am having to choose to love when they are acting unloveable.  Yes, it’s hard to do.  But if I really want to be Christ to my family, and represent his agape love, then this is what I have to do.

Joyce Meyer says in her devotional Promises For Your Everyday Life, 

“You can “agape” love people by being patient, understanding…saying something encouraging or by not saying anything when you could.  As humans we are inherently selfish, constantly asking, “What about me?”  It’s time to declare war on selfishness with the power of agape love.”

Being selfless and loving as God wants us to is not easy, but I agree with Joyce Meyer here, It’s time to declare war on selfishness!  It’s time to be selfless and live like Christ, even when it’s difficult.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.”  Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message)

If we live and conduct ourselves God’s way, with agape love, then he will bless us.  All the things I desire; gentleness, self-control, patience, faithfulness, love, peace, they will be given to me.

I will no longer have to be afraid that my children will dance on the last thin string that is holding my emotions in balance because they model what they see.  If I am being Christ, being love to them, then they too will begin to model this love.

I will no longer have to be afraid that I will be hurt by my husband because in the very same chapter of 1 Peter that gives me the desire to have a quiet and gentle spirit it tells me, that he will be won over, not by my words but by my conduct. (1 Peter 3:1)  This means that my outpouring of love towards him will help him to pour out love upon me.

God will honor the selfless act of love.  It is difficult to put myself aside and be Christ, but I know it’s worth it!  So I will continue to…

“Put on love which is the bond of perfection.”

The Bond Of Perfection

Since becoming a wife, almost fourteen years ago, I have read and reread Colossians 3:12-14 many, many times.  I memorized it, quoted it, prayed it over myself, prayed it over my family and my home.  My desire was that my home would be a place that was full of peace and harmony.   That my family would be patient with one another, always doing their best to speak with grace and kindness on their lips.  That our home would be so full of love for one another as a family that you could sense God’s presence in our home 10 miles away.

Then reality hit and I found out that even though my husband and I were now one, we didn’t always think and act as one.  I discovered that putting myself aside would be a lot harder than I originally thought it would be.  As our family grew from just us two, to three, and four…and then six I was stretched thin and then thinner.  As I became stretched, my patience was frequently teetering on one single, thin thread and my desperation to be a wife and mom with a quiet and gentle spirit grew.  To have a home the reflected Colossians 3:12-14 seemed an impossible goal but a goal I had none the less.

Over the years I have tried, and tried, and failed and failed.  I just couldn’t get a grip on my raw emotions.  I finally came to a place where I decided enough was enough.  I was seeing and hearing my unkind behavior and words being echoed in my kids and I knew that if I wanted their bad behaviors to end, it needed to end in me first.  After all they were only learning it from me.

This past New Years Eve I printed these forms off for my family to fill out, of course changing the year at the bottom to 2014.  A habit I wanted to break was becoming unglued.  I no longer wanted to unleash “natural disasters” upon my family and my home.  I was more than serious about becoming a woman who reflected Christ to her family.  More than reflect him I wanted to be Christ with skin on.  I wanted to be a woman of peace, a woman with a quiet and gentle spirit, a woman who speaks with wisdom and gentleness.  I began by digging into Colossians 3:12-14 more than I had in the past and God showed me new things and gave me new hope as I read the words…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 

 If you’ve been following my posts on “Pursuing Peace” then you already know of the things God has shown me.   He has shown me that peace, quietness, and gentleness can’t just be an outward expression because that doesn’t calm the storm that still rages within.  He showed me how I can take my thoughts captive and change them into pure and beautiful thoughts.  He showed me that to fully put together all the pieces of a “Peace Puzzle” I would need to choose to forgive.
And my favorite part of Colossians 3:12-14 is the very last part…
“…put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
If I could just act out of love for others at all times, the rest of the pieces would just fit together so much easily.  Love binds them together, holding them in a perfect bond.  If I loved with God’s agape love, I wouldn’t have to even think about being gentle, kind, meek and humble because with a perfect bond like love there is no room for any selfish acts.  Note that I didn’t even mention forgiveness in the former sentence, because I believe that if we always acted out of true, God agape, love, then there would be no need for forgiveness because true love doesn’t hurt.
The bible is filled with scriptures on love…
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Ephesians 4:2
“Love does no harm to its neighbor.”  Romans 13:10
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is the bond of perfection, it’s what makes everything else work.  1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.”  and when I gave my life over to him, when I asked Christ to live in my heart, I was no longer me but Christ who lived in me (Galatians 2:20).  Christ is God, who is Love therefore I am now love!
This realization helped me to discover that I no longer had to strive, or work towards, pursuing peace.  I’m now on a new journey.  A journey of LOVE…because love holds all the puzzles of peace together.  Love bonds my family together, naturally making us humble, meek, patient, gentle, kind, merciful and forgiving.  This perfect bond, Love, is what brings peace, God’s perfect peace, to me, my family and my home!

A Critical Piece To Having Peace

Forgiveness.  It is  a gift.  A gift that can be the hardest to give, yet is one of the best gifts to both give and receive.

In all my research on pursuing peace I kept finding verses on forgiving, but overlooking them because I kept thinking, What does that have to do with pursuing peace?

Okay, maybe that’s not true.  I know that forgiveness is a key part of peace.  It’s important to forgive so that there is no tension still lingering between the offender and the offendee.  Forgiveness restores peace to the relationship.  I get that the act of forgiveness is crucial.  However, I didn’t feel like I had any unforgiveness to deal with therefore I kept passing these verses up.

It wasn’t until I was talking with my oldest two children about this journey of pursuing peace that I’m on and challenging them to start this journey themselves that I finally realized what God was telling me about forgiveness.  As I read Colossians 3:12-14 to them God finally got my attention…

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”       

Until this point I just didn’t find it relevant to what I was learning in pursuing peace.  Forgiveness is something that comes easily to me so I didn’t think it was an issue I had to deal with personally.  I have never been someone who is comfortable with conflict so I am always quick to forgive and put the situation behind me.  However God showed me it wasn’t really behind me.  Though I am quick to forgive, the hurt still lingers and the devil likes to remind me frequently of past hurts until unforgiveness begins to take the place of the grace that I first extended. 

There are things that happened between my husband and I, while we were yet dating, that hurt me very deeply, and even though I chose to forgive my husband, then boyfriend, for these things, the memory of the pain still surfaces.    I can work myself into quite an emotional state over these memories and the pain causes unforgiveness to creep in.

I have found that the days when these past hurts have been brought to mind are the same days when I struggle the most with extending grace towards my husband.  These are the days that are most difficult for me to pursue peace with my husband.  These are the days where if he says one thing that stings just a bit I will boil over.  This also becomes the point where these past hurts are then thrown in his face and the “eternals” of “you always” or “you never” flow out with my pained and angry tears.  When I am at this point then I am no longer pursuing peace and extending grace.  I have chosen to replace forgiveness with unforgiveness.

Before I get to this point of unforgiveness I need to take these thoughts captive.  I have to choose to forgive him again and again.  My husband doesn’t even know how often the hurt resurfaces and how often I have to choose to forgive the pain he has caused me.  All the same, I have to choose to do it, I have to forgive him seventy-seven times…and more.

I was always taught to forgive and forget…but I’ve never been able to forget.  I wondered if it was actually possible to forget the hurts.  I’ve learned through my studying that, no it’s not possible to forget.  But then does that mean that I didn’t forgive my husband?  No, it does not mean I didn’t forgive him.  It means that I am human and I have human emotions.  Overtime the pain will ease, it will hurt less and trust will slowly be restored, but the memory doesn’t go away.  It’s what I choose to do when the memory resurfaces and I recollect the pain it caused me.   Will I choose to let the pain embitter me and build a wall between my husband and I or will I choose to let the memory remind me that I extended grace to my husband when it first happened and I need to choose grace again.  I have to learn to not let the memory put me in a place of unforgiveness.  I have to choose to forgive again…and again…and again.

Trust me forgiveness is critical if you truly want to pursue peace.  A kind and gentle spirit, extending grace and love, thinking before you speak, controlling your tongue, taking your thoughts captive and forgiving…it’s an entire package deal.  I know I must use every piece of the puzzle to fully enjoy the big picture…peace at its greatest manifestation.

Taking Thoughts Captive

As I said in The Storm Within pursuing peace in myself and in my home has been going well outwardly.  However, the inner peace has been more difficult to obtain.  As I choose my words carefully and deliver them in a gentle way I still have negativity seething within and for a while I feared I was one eye roll or sarcastic comment away from a “natural disaster”.

God showed me that it wasn’t just the outward part of me that needed to change but that I needed to be transformed and have

“truth from the inside out…a new true life.” Psalm 51:6 (The Message)

It was time to start pursuing peace within and

…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Taking your thoughts captive is not easy.  It is still something I am working on and probably always will because our thought life is easily set on a wondering path.  Especially for someone like me who is an over thinker.

I had to learn how to take my thoughts captive.  How to stop the angered thoughts about the child who is aggravating me or how to stop the bitter thoughts after my husband has made a rude or sarcastic comment.  I needed to stop them dead in their tracks so that they didn’t have a chance to wonder around, stirring up more emotions and anger that would eventually cause me to explode.

As I said I am still working on this, and this has been my focus of the last few weeks.  I began with asking God to show me how to take my thoughts captive, expecting him to say, “Just stop thinking,” because that is a comment I’ve heard from other people when seeking advice on how to quiet the voices in my head that try to stir up hurt from the past.

However God didn’t tell me that, he knows that my over thinking mind just can’t do that.  Instead he told me

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

“…guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

After this followed another question, “What does this mean, Lord?  How do I guard my heart and mind?”  His response was Philippians 4:8

“…I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse…” (The Message)

“…if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (NKJ)

I remember reading that humans can only truly experience one feeling at a time.  We can’t be equally sad and happy at the same time.  We can’t be equally angry and happy at the same time.  Only one emotion can be felt at its fullest in any given moment.  That’s not to say we can’t experience more than one emotion, for I know that I’ve experienced more than one emotion at a time while watching my children grow from helpless babies to independent toddlers and children.  I have felt sad that time has passed all too quickly, but happy at all that they are accomplishing and how well they are growing.  I felt sad and happy at the same time.  However, one emotion will be felt more strongly.

God was telling me to concentrate on things that were true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious.  That if I concentrated on the good and beautiful things,  the things that were praiseworthy, then I would be able to take the angry, hurtful, ugly thoughts captive.

Now when my oldest daughter crosses her arms in stubborn indignation and yells all sorts of hurtful and angering accusations, I think on all her positive traits and even look for the  good in her stubbornness.  I know someday that stubbornness will help to keep her rooted in what she believes.  Thinking on her positive traits distracts me from thinking angered responses to her negative behavior.

When my husband ignores the request I made to rinse his dish and put it in the dishwasher I quiet the  “eternal” thoughts (These are the “he never” or “he always” angry thoughts) of, “Ugh…he never rinses his dishes.  I’m sick of always doing this for him.” I redirect my thoughts as soon as I recognize their negative path and thank God that my husband is instead taking the time to pay the bills or be a good daddy to our babies and playing with them.

Another thing I have found extremely helpful in taking my thoughts captive is to pray for the person who is teetering on my last nerve.  As soon as I start to think something negative or angry I stop that thought, I take it captive, and I pray, “God, thank you that my toddler is so full of energy and that she’s willing to fight for what she wants and believes so strongly in.  I know that someday this will help her to stand firm in her relationship with you.  Show me, Lord, how to direct her energy in a positive way.”

It is in the taking captive of these ugly and cursing thoughts and transforming my mind to think on the good and the beautiful that my mind and heart can be renewed and at peace!

To help me meditate on what is good and beautiful a new prayer has joined my wakings each morning in addition to Psalm 141:3 (Mentioned in Let Your Gentleness Be Known).  It is…

The Storm Within

Pursuing peace in my home and showing gentleness to my family has really been going well.  I can honestly say that I haven’t raised my voice to my children at all in the last month since embarking on this peace journey.

As I said God has been great at reminding me, “Let your gentleness be known to all.”  However, while I’m responding in quiet gentle words, and thinking about what I say before I respond a war is still raging within.  There are times when I feel anything but gentle or quiet inside.

I will respond to my preteens eye rolls and disrespectful comments, even her shouting at me, with words that are spoken softly with gentle instruction and correction.  But inside my mind I’m thinking very unkind thoughts about my child like, “You spoiled brat, who do you think you are!”  Words that I would rather yell back at her thunder in my head and I wonder what is wrong with her.

When my first grade son begins to whine during school about how he hates writing and says I’m mean because I’m making him learn these things that he doesn’t need to know.  I simply show him the list of things he needs to know by the end of first grade and then ask him, “So are you ready to get back to work or would you like to continue whining, which will result in a consequence?”  However, inside my head is yelling, “Oh yeah, well guess what if you think I’m so mean why don’t you go back to public school instead of having me homeschool you!?!”

When I gather my children’s laundry and my second oldest daughter’s entire basket is once again full of clothes that are inside out I want to scream at her, “Why can’t you just get this already?!  You are nine years old!  For the love of God, turn them right side out before you put them in your laundry basket!”  While these thoughts rage inside my head I calmly call her up to her room and tell her that once again she will not have clean pants to wear because I was unable to wash her clothes since they were not right side out as they are supposed to be.

When my preschooler pitches a fit because she told me she wanted peanut butter and honey on her toast and right as I finish spreading the peanut butter over her toast decides she wanted apple butter, I gently say, “I’m sorry, Sweetie, but Mommy already has the peanut butter and honey on it.”  She’ll whine more and angry tears will flow down her face as she yells, “But I don’t want that, I want apple butter!”  My mind is screaming, “Oh my word, kid, pull yourself together!” Instead my gentle words say, “This is what you wanted, and this is what Mommy prepared.  It is this or nothing.”

I will respond with gentleness (or sometimes say nothing at all, because sometimes saying nothing is the best way to pursue peace) to my husband’s sarcastic words, that sting a bit more than I’m sure he intended them too.  But inside I have heaved the biggest sigh and think “Why does he ALWAYS do this!?” or “When will he FINALLY understand this?!”

Angry words, sarcastic comments, annoyed sighs, while they don’t come forth as often as they did, still burn inside my mind.  These burning thoughts stack up and lead to more negative thoughts causing my anger, frustration or annoyance to build.

God showed me that his righteousness can’t grow from my anger (James 1:20).  Keeping it inside doesn’t make it any better it’s still there destroying the peace that God wants me to have.   Though I was gaining control on outward gentleness my inside still had a ways to go in order to truly have a gentle and quiet spirit.  Because obviously my spirit was still reeling inside with something other than gentleness.  James 1:21 tells us to…

“Throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.  In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape your world, making a salvation garden of your life.” (The Message)

See I had learned to deal with the outward appearance of gentleness I just hadn’t let God landscape my world, my heart in this case, and turn it into a salvation garden inwardly.

I asked, “But how God?  How do I control what’s going on within me.  I can’t stop what I’m feeling?”

He replied with, “No, you can’t stop your feelings but you can take your thoughts captive.”

“demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

You see what God wants for us us as a wife and mama is to be totally changed from the inside out.  If we are are just speaking and acting gently but are still allowing thoughts to continue to rage within we are a natural disaster waiting to happen.  God doesn’t want just an outward display of gentleness.  What he’s after is…

“truth from the inside out…a new true life.” Psalm 51:6 (The Message)

Let Your Gentleness Be Known

This gentle and quiet spirit, this is what I desire to have as a wife, a mama, and a woman of God.  I want my family to be able to trust that I will act out of gentleness and not out-of-control.  I want this inner beauty that is pleasing to God, for I know that it will ultimately bring peace to me and then peace to my home.

So how does one go about obtaining this quiet and gentle spirit that is so precious to God?  In the next few posts I am about to share how God is doing just that in me.  Bear in mind that these are things God has shown me personally and may not be a one size fits all plan.  However, I can also tell you that while I am daily making imperfect progress my reaction and attitude towards my husband’s sarcasm, my toddler’s meltdowns or my preteen’s sass has been changing.  That means it’s doing something good!  I know if I keep applying what God has shown me to my life things will continue to improve.

It was about a month ago that I decided that I had had enough of “natural disasters” wreaking havoc in my home and on my relationships with my family.  I knew that the first thing I would need to change about myself was reacting at the moment.  Basically reacting out of anger.  I sought God’s Word and downloaded numerous bible study plans on my YouVersion app.  All these studies on anger, attitude, gentleness and loving turned up verses that, though I’ve read and heard them many times before, were eye opening to the importance of what comes out of our mouth.

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. (The Message)

Proverbs 15:4  A gentle tongue is a tree of life, a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.(NLT)

James 3:8  The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. (The Message)

There is great power in our words.  Our words can tear down or build up.  Our words can break or heal.  Our words can bless or curse.

I want to use my words to build up my husband when his day has brought him down.  I want to use my words to heal the hearts of my children that were broken by a hurtful event that day.  I want my words to bless my family.

I want to be the Proverbs 31 woman who in verse 26 speaks with wisdom and kindness.  I want to be gracious in my speech, to bring out the best in others in a conversation and not put them down or cut them out.(Col 4:6)

It was clear I couldn’t tame my tongue on my own.  I’ve tried my entire life and failed again and again.  I was going to need God’s help and a lot of it.  I began to pray this verse daily…

Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.

(Psalm 141:3 The Message)

He doesn’t stop the angry, hurtful or sarcastic words from coming out.  What he does do is remind me of a verse on being gentle or slow to anger, usually it’s Philippians 4:5…

Let your gentleness be known to all.

This reminder comes right before I  am about to shoot out bullets full of fury, anger or sarcasm.  With this reminder to be slow to anger and to let my gentle side be shown I have a moment to reflect on what I want to say and how I want to say it.

Gentle Reminders

This morning I lay in bed avoiding my husband.   As he showered I pretended to be sleeping in, wondering why it seemed to be taking him “so extremely long”.  I listened to him get ready in our closet praying he would “hurry up so that I could get up and get ready already”.  And as he walked past our bed to exit our bedroom I even prayed, “Please don’t let him come over here and kiss me.”

Yes, I actually prayed for God to help me avoid my husband.

A quote I had pinned to Pinterest at least a year ago came to mind, “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”

“Yeah, well,” I thought, “sometimes it just doesn’t work that way and this is one of those days.”

Rewind to last night while we were laying in bed…we had a discussion that lead to him saying something that hurt me.  The last word out of his mouth to me was something that pained my heart and I lay there thinking on it letting it dig deeper and deeper into my heart, allowing the pain to grow.  I turned away from him trying to sleep when Ephesians 4:26 whispered to me…  

“…do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

That is the NIV translation.  Since the winter sun had set hours ago I think The Message translation was more suitable to my situation last night…

“Don’t go to bed angry.”

My thought’s reply to the verse trying to mess with my mini-self-centered pity party was, “Well what about letting it go down on my hurt?”

And that’s just what I did.  With back faced away from my husband, I ignored the obvious prompting to forgive my husband and not go to bed feeling angry.  In my selfish state I justified that I wasn’t angry, I was hurt, and since that was slightly different I kept my back turned on my husband and worked towards falling asleep, not even giving him a begrudging goodnight kiss, as is usual in a case like this.

The pain in my heart carried into this morning, but by this point I couldn’t even remember what he’d said any longer.  But I knew I was hurt, and that’s all that mattered, right?  Thus the pity party continued, he exited the room without coming near my side of the bed and I sighed a breath of relief and actually said these words, “Thank you, God”

WHAT?!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I had just thanked God that I was unable to give my husband a kiss before he left for the day.  Does anyone else see God standing in heaven jaw dropped in amazement, saying to the angels, “Did this woman just say what I think she said?!”?

Well after I was so gracious to be spared interaction with my husband this morning I got all spiritual, like a good godly woman who’s just worked to avoid loving her husband does.  Mm-hm, yep, I opened up my devotional like I do every morning before crawling out of bed and the very first thing I read was…

“Love one another as if your lives depend on it.”

1 Peter 1:22 (The Message)

In my hurt, I had thrown a self-pity party, attendee one, and had forgotten what I’m working towards…pursuing peace, in me and my home.

God didn’t have to tell me twice, I didn’t even finish my devotional.  God had given me time. My husband was still downstairs. Though his truck was running and warming up against this mornings sub-zero temperatures, I could still hear his footsteps on the linoleum floor of our kitchen. I hastily threw back the covers, rose from my bed, and ran down the stairs praying my husband wouldn’t leave before I could make it down the two flights of stairs between our bedroom and the door my husband would soon be exiting.

In those few seconds God erased the hurt.  By the time I descended the last step it had been replaced with love.  As I walked into the kitchen I had a smile on my face and I truly meant it when I told him I loved him and to have a good day.

Then he walked out the door, and as I do every morning, I prayed for his drive to work to be safe and then I thanked God for letting me have that one last kiss before he left our home today.

I had ignored God’s first prompting to forgive my husband and not go to bed angry.  I carried my hurt into this morning, and even though I no longer had any idea why I was hurt, I laid in bed pretending to sleep and ignored God’s second reminder to pursue peace and love on my husband when the photo quote came to mind.  Like a good father, God didn’t let me sit and stew in my hurt.  A third time He gently remind me of my attitude problem by giving me 1 Peter 1:22 in my devotional this morning.

This is what Lysa Terkeurst calls in her book Unglued “imperfect progress”.  I had acted imperfectly when wallowing in my hurt and avoiding my husband, but I made progress when I finally caught onto the promptings of God to forgive and love him.

I’m so grateful that God didn’t allow me to let my husband leave this morning before I could tell him I love him and kiss him good-bye.  I’m so grateful that God set me back on the path of pursuing peace in myself and my home.

And I can honestly say that before my husband even walked out the door this morning the photo quote I had been reminded of this morning rang true…

I was sorry to see him leave and can’t wait to see him come home this evening!