Don’t Yield Your Mind Turf!


“Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way.”

Proverbs 23:19

For years, I walked around with a destructive and negative mindset without recognizing it. Raised in a tumultuous home that simmered with anger, resentment, and critical words, I picked up these deadly thought processes early on. Sadly, it’s how my family operated, and I considered it completely normal. Critical thoughts spread like weeds throughout my mind and threatened to choke out every positive thought.

Years later, enduring a miserable marriage, I regularly cried myself to sleep. I was still unaware that negative mindsets poisoned my thoughts. Thinking the best of others was foreign to me. Each morning I’d wake up and rehash my husband’s harsh words of the night before. I’d tell myself that things were never going to change, and meditate on my critical thoughts and feelings. I was extremely unhappy.

My unhealthy mindset made it hard to forgive, because I replayed hurtful words and situations in my mind over and over. It’s very difficult, (if not impossible!) to forgive what you regularly focus on. This set up a destructive cycle in my marriage. Instead of forgiving and letting go, I rehearsed the hurt and held on. And I always felt it was warranted because I felt my husband’s words and actions toward me were wrong.

It wasn’t until a women’s retreat that I suddenly became aware of my dangerous mindset. During a time of reflective prayer, God helped me to see that my consistently critical thoughts toward my husband were destroying our relationship. I began to understand that even though my husband’s actions toward me might be wrong, my response as a Christian was just as wrong.

Over time my mindset slowly changed, but it remained a real effort not to give in to the negative thoughts I had regularly entertained most of my life. It took time and concerted effort, but as I prayed and spent time reading my Bible, wrong mindsets were replaced with healthy, godly thoughts.

You may not battle with a negative or critical attitude like I did. Maybe worry, fear, or insecurity bombard your mind regularly. That’s the enemy’s plan: to consistently assault our minds until we surrender.

We must fight every step of the way. As busy women, we don’t have one brain cell to spare. And as godly women, we cannot yield any mind-turf to the enemy. The first goal when praying for our minds is the ability to recognize when we’re under attack. God’s Word tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

The number one way to resist the enemy is through prayer. Though the attacks against our mind can be subtle, God gives us wisdom when we ask Him. He will reveal to us what we are not always capable of discerning apart from His help: flawed, potentially destructive thoughts and mindsets. Whether the intrusions in our minds are remnants from the distant past or yesterday’s hurts and disappointments, we can face every day with clear minds and godly mindsets.

Dear Lord, equip my mind with Your helmet of salvation. Protect my mind from every evil influence. I submit my thoughts to You and thank You for granting me ever-increasing discernment, wisdom, and an understanding mind. Thank You that I have the mind of Christ, and I hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart. Renew my mind and grant me a fresh mental and spiritual attitude and a godly mindset. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Do you recognize the enemy’s assault on your mind this week?

What specific thoughts and mindsets do you need help changing?

Apply the truths you’ve learned today and determine to spend this week praying for your mind.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (NIV)

Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)

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A Different Kind of School Year


“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

As we get back into the routine of a new school year, I’m making a commitment: no more unglued  mornings. I want our mornings to go better this year with less frustration, yelling, and chaos.

This idea developed last spring when I had a string of really hard mornings.

One day, as I pulled up to the school, the atmosphere inside the car was thick with tension. Not wanting the last words spoken to my daughter to be harsh, I tried to change the course of our conversation. “Sweetheart, I love you. I’m sorry we had a rough morning.”

“We always have rough mornings,” she shot back before slamming the car door.

Nothing quite makes a parent feel more successful than a little dialogue like that.

As I rubbed the stabbing feeling in my chest, I thought, Something has got to change. Each day I promise myself I won’t yell at the kids. But each morning something triggers me and I lose it.

Ever been there?

It’s not like we wake up in the mood to get frustrated with our people, right? I usually wake up in a good mood. But then the stress of getting everyone ready and out the door on time makes the crazy creep in.

This one can’t find her shoes. That one needs a report printed and we have no ink. The bread for sandwiches is still at the grocery store because we forgot to buy it the day before. And to top it all off, I don’t have any cash to give the kids so they can buy lunch at school.

The whining. The complaining. The feeling that I can’t ever get it together. It all escalates and sends me over the edge.

I want this school year to be different. I want to be like Ephesians 4:22-24 describes: “made new in the attitude of my mind.” The Greek word for “made new” is kaino. One of its definitions is uncommon. I want to be an uncommon calm in the midst of chaos and an example of peace for my kids. For that to happen, I came up with a plan:

Tell the world to wait. When I wake up, my mind is like a dry sponge. What I soak up first will saturate me most deeply. If I don’t want to be consumed with the stresses of my day, I must put the world on hold to soak up what will renew my mind—God’s Word.

Remember I’m managing blessings. If I want my attitude to be made new, I must keep things in perspective. While my frustrations seem big, things like lost shoes and less than perfect lunches aren’t big problems. They are small aggravations that come with managing blessings.

Let my kids own their irresponsibilities. My kids’ irresponsibilities will not become my emergencies. I need to communicate my expectations so they know they’re going to have to own the consequences of their choices. For example, if they wait until the last minute to print their report and the printer doesn’t have any ink, they’ll have to print it at school or turn it in late. Either way, I can’t own this situation and let it throw me into frantic, fix-it mode. I can let the consequences of my kids’ choices scream, so I don’t have to.

All of this is going to take some intentionality, and I doubt I’ll do it perfectly. But I’m excited about trying. I’m excited to “put on my new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Which is another way of , I’m excited to have less unglued mama mornings and more peace this school year.

PRAY THIS

Dear Lord, thank You for the grace You give. I don’t want to live in the same pattern of coming unglued anymore. Help me put these principles into practice. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Which of the following action points can you put into practice?
1. Tell the world to wait.
2. Remember you’re managing blessings.
3. Let your kids own their irresponsibilities.

Power Verse:

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV)

 

Your Easiest Day Is Always Tomorrow!


The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4 (NRSV)

Numbers intimidate me. So I put off doing anything that involves counting more digits than are on my hands and feet combined. This approach tends to have significant consequences, especially when those numbers are connected to dollars. Hence a few bounced check charges in my banking history.

Avoiding uncomfortable (but necessary) parts of life is a dangerous habit to develop. With very few exceptions, problems don’t resolve on their own, no matter how long we procrastinate in fixing them. A leaky faucet never stops leaking by itself. A root of bitterness toward my husband will grow. The squeal in my car brakes will get louder. And putting off medical tests is never a good idea.

I’ve also delayed pursuing dreams because there’s discomfort involved. Maybe you’ve done this too. Your dream could be to write a book, take a vacation or find a new job. But you know it will involve sacrifice, so you put your dream on the back burner while time slips away.

Sometimes God tells me to wait while He initiates a solution, but usually, the reason for my delay tactics is my own fear of the work, or the possibility of failure, or the inconvenience and self-sacrifice it will take.

A few years ago I read a book by Josh Riebock that helped give me perspective when I want to postpone a difficult assignment. In it, he says, “Everyone can change tomorrow. Everyone solves problems tomorrow. But the only changes that matter are the ones I make today. Tomorrow is the easiest day I’ll ever live. Today is the scary one, which is probably why I’ve spent so much time avoiding it.”

Scripture also offers wisdom about dealing with procrastination. Proverbs 13:4 uses some challenging words, but it also includes hope: “The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied” (NRSV). This verse gets to the heart of the matter, which is my hunger. While I bristle at being called lazy, the reality is when I procrastinate, I am hungering for comfort or safety. I might be busy, but I’m never accomplishing anything when my goal is ease.

It’s easy to know I shouldn’t procrastinate, but it’s much harder to do something about it. That’s because my reasons are mixed. Sometimes I am afraid like Riebock says, and sometimes I am lazy like the Bible says. Other times I’m overwhelmed and can’t think straight.

Whatever the cause of my procrastination, I’ve found some approaches that help combat my reticence to tackle an assignment. And it starts with something easy:

I present my concerns to God with honesty. I tell God why I don’t want to do something and ask for His help, strength, wisdom and courage. When I’m honest about my hesitations, God can start to build up my weak places. But then I get practical.

I keep my to-do list short and manageable. Long to-do lists discourage me from doing anything. That’s why I keep two lists going at all times: A master list of projects and a to-do list for the day or week.

I divide big tasks into smaller tasks. For example, I needed a better filing system for organizing receipts for taxes. So the next time I went to the office product store, I purchased hanging files and a desktop organizer and moved that project forward.

I assign small tasks to a specific day. Instead of doing a lot of things I don’t like on one day, I’ll spread them throughout the week.

Whether it’s numbers or words that intimidate you. A relationship that needs to be addressed, or a dream that needs to be followed. There is nothing we have to handle alone or in our own power. The truth is God has already gone ahead of us into these scary places. He knows the future and He’s already got it under control.

Heavenly Father, thank You for going ahead of me when I want to hold back. Help me to deal honestly with my reasons for procrastinating and allow You to work in my heart and life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Consider one project or task you’ve delayed starting. What are some of the real reasons?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:17-18, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” (NIV)

James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (NIV)

 


 

Embrace the Wait


“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'” Lamentations 3:24 (NIV)

My three young kids were playing near her feet in her assisted-living home. “How busy things must be at your house these days. Why I’d give anything to be able to spend an ordinary day with my children all little again. What joy!”

What joy? What was my husband’s 90 year-old grandmother talking about?! As a worn-out mom I wanted the kids to get to the next stages in their lives and fast! For one to walk, another to stop wearing diapers and the third to learn to read. I wasn’t joyful. I was anxious.

Now that two of my three kids have graduated from high school, I know what Grandma meant. I’d love to rewind the clock and experience one more ordinary day with my babies. If only I could make time wait, instead of waiting on time to pass.

Even so, I still have a hard time applying this lesson in the wait. Each morning I wait in the school carpool line. In the afternoon, I wait for my son’s football practice to wrap up. Sometimes the coach keeps the team after for a pep talk. Some days it’s a lengthy one. And so I sit. The minutes tick by threatening to tick me off.

You see, I don’t like to wait.

Just this past week I waited in line at the grocery store, sat in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, and lingered at the airport, anxious to board my plane. I spent hours at the DVM (Department of Motor Vehicles) so my son could get his driver’s permit.

While these types of hindrances are short-lived, waiting for the next big thing can take longer and be harder. We wait on Prince Charming to appear, our house to sell, our child to take his first steps, a better job, financial relief, or physical or emotional healing to come to us or a loved one.

Just like when my kids were young, instead of patiently embracing these harder times, I have a tendency to want to rush them. I long for my circumstances to hurry up and change. To fast-forward to the next thing. But Scripture teaches us how to make it through these difficult seasons.

In those waiting times, even when life is hard, God says to us, I’ll be what you need while you wait.

God steps in to be our portion for that day. He is in the wait and we’ll sense that if only we will look for Him rather than always looking ahead to the next stage of life.

He was my portion as a little girl while I daydreamed about becoming a woman.

He was my portion as a woman when I waited to become a bride.

He was my portion as a new bride as I longed to become a mom.

He was my portion as a young mom as I looked forward to easier days.

And He is my portion now as I am learning to look to God when my impatient heart waits for the day when my husband and I retire and can travel more.

The point of life is not to keep looking ahead, but to look to the Lord to be our portion at every stage of life. Will you seek Him as you sit and wait? It makes the lingering have meaning. And tethers our hearts to His as we use these times to pray and ponder His goodness. Yes, right in the midst of those in-between times. It even makes the waiting sweeter.

But I still suggest you bring along a good book to the DMV!

Dear Lord, help me embrace the wait and look for You to be my portion during the in-between times of life. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Reflect and Respond:

What next big thing are you waiting for in life? How could focusing on God as your portion help the wait to be easier?

Power Verse:

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (ESV)

Building Your Child’s Faith


Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV 1984)

As we stood in the parking lot outside my daughter’s dorm, waves of grief washed over her mom. Lauren hugged me and then her brother. Finally, Mom held her for what seemed an eternity … no words, just tears.

 

When we began the drive home, She prayed for her, just as she had every day for the last 18 years. She knew it was time for the next phase of Gods plan for her life. But the ache in a mother’s heart was deep.

 

As time passed, She learned to accept, and even embrace, our new normal. She enjoyed the extra time she got to spend with me her husband and  our son.

 

But she  couldn’t get used to not encouraging Lauren in her faith face-to-face. We sent her to college with a Bible and a devotional book. But when she lived at home, we did these activities together. In the mornings, we read a devotion and I prayed with her most every day, from the time she was born till the day she packed her bags to move out.

 

Questions filled our minds. Without us, who would do this for her? Would she do it on her own? What if she turned away from her faith we’d been building for so long?

 

This questions prompted us to pray very specifically. WE prayed that Lauren  make her faith her own, as we had trained her to do all these years. We asked the Lord to work in her life in very real and personal ways, just like the times we’d pointed out for her to notice in her childhood. We prayed for His Spirit to stir her heart to read her devotional book each day, and we pleaded with Him to meet her in the pages of His Word.

 

God answered our prayers in a way only He can do. Lauren had been studying for her economics exam for days. She was worried she would fail because she’d been struggling with some of the concepts. OUR  daughter texted us and a few good friends to pray. WE wrote her back the prayer and a verse the Lord laid on my heart, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV). As it was sending, WE  prayed for Him to use this verse to encourage her and give her confidence as she walked into her exam.

 

She wrote back next morning:

 

“I opened my devotional and today’s truth was Proverbs 3:5, exactly the verse you gave me!! ENCOURAGEMENT.”

 

God teaches us a powerful lesson we as parents. Our  role as a parent is to pray for and with our children and to model, to the best of our ability, what it means to be a godly family. WE  are  not perfect and often miss the mark. But when we do those two things, God fills in the rest. We only have them at home to teach, guide and train in God’s Word for a short 18 years. But they are His for all their lives.

 

God showed us through a few minutes of texting that Lauren’s faith was still building. On her own, she asked for prayer (which meant she too was praying), and she was reading her devotional book with no prompting from home.

 

If you have kids at home, pray for them, read God’s Word with them and rest in knowing God is with them. You are building a firm foundation. You are paving a pathway that will lead them in the direction they should go.

 

Dear Lord, help me to train my children in the way they should go. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, lead me as I lead them. Draw each of us closer to You as we walk together in faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Read Lamentations 2:19. Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can pray for the children in your life.

 

If you are a parent or grandparent, pray specifically for one of your children. Ask God for wisdom to guide you on how to pray and share with that child you are praying for him or her.

 

Power Verse:
Lamentations 2:19a, “Rise up during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children.” (NLT)

The Right Words


“Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11 (NASB)

Church receptionists are powerful people. Just think about it. If your church‘s receptionist is a godly woman, the congregation, visitors and callers benefit from her kindness, wisdom and patience.

But if she gossips … gracious! Think how a lack of discernment, wicked words and malicious intent can spread. One person in a powerful position can poison the entire church.

Lily, the receptionist at my church, always used her position for good. Situated at a desk at the entrance of the main office, she greeted every person walking through the door and answered each phone call personally. Lily was known not only as a wonderful receptionist, but as a godly woman.

Young women in a leadership position were advised to seek out Lily as a mentor. It wasn’t long until the tapestried bench in front of her desk became one of women’s favorite spots. They could pour out their heart’s for the women of the church, and Lily joined them both to pray and to recruit the older women.They approached her with problems, and she helped them find wise solutions. They cried when their feelings were hurt and she urged them, “Beloved, run to Jesus!”

They learned so many important lessons sitting on the bench in their church’s office, but the most important one was modeled rather than taught aloud.

They always lamented that if  they were given the life verse most fitting their untransformed self, theirs would be Proverbs 10:19a, “Too much talk leads to sin” tattooed on their  forehead. Lily taught them (a woman who struggles with an abundance of words) to be wise and discerning with words.

Lily modeled discretion when their  careless words abounded.

They talked and talked, but watched as Lily listened carefully to everyone.

Lily prayerfully paused before speaking, while they spoke without thinking.

They voiced their own thoughts but responded in awe as Lily often spoke directly from God‘s Word.

As time went by, They prayed and worked to emulate their mentor. Although they still wrestled with overusing words, they became much more sensitive to their power. They tried to follow Lily’s godly example by using words carefully, stopping the constant flow of chatter and re-directing potentially negative conversation to be God-honoring.

Several years passed, and many women thought about Lily’s life-changing influence as they packed for a move. Before some left for  new places, they wanted to find a gift to thank her for all the hours she had poured into them. They looked and looked for the perfect memento, until suddenly their eyes lit on a metallic, silver and gold apple pendant.

Immediately, a verse which often came to mind when thinking of Lily, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11 NASB). Wise words are valuable and precious, lovely and uncommon. I purchased the pendant, wrapped it carefully and took it to the church.

As They gave Lily her gift, their  eyes welled while thanking her. Without even knowing, she had taught them the priceless lesson of the beauty of well-chosen words. They pray they’re  doing the same for others in their  life.

Dear Lord, refine my words until they become lovely, pleasing to You, and uplifting to the people around me. Please help me stop words in mid-breath that dishonor You and tear down others. This transformation isn’t easy, so I plead for Your power at work in me to change me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Reflect and Respond:
How are you doing with words? Make a point to listen to yourself today.

Thank a friend who is wise with her words and start to take note and learn from her.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 10:19-20, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” (NIV)

James 3:2, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (NIV)

 

How to Leave a Legacy®


I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)

Tod’s family went to church faithfully. That’s what they had always done. But once inside the brick walls of their home, the story was different. There the masks came off, and Tod and his little brother lived with the painful reality of their parents’ bad choices. Living a double life became the norm for Tod, and he learned early that Christianity was something you put on with your church clothes.

Summer, however, brought more than relief from school, homework, and the daily routine of life. Summer brought with it a short break from living in the craziness of his family, because summer meant time at his grandparent’s home.

Grandma and Grandpa Whitwer were humble people. They served alongside each other as ministers, sacrificially laying down their lives to travel from church to church in many different states. They served well into their retirement years, and never gave up ministering to others.

Throughout the years they saw the pain of their son’s choices, choices that drastically affected the lives of their grandchildren. But there was little they could do to intervene. At least it was little in the eyes of the world.

What they were able to do had a lasting impact on Tod. Quietly and consistently, they showed their grandson love. Their never-wavering faith was an anchor. Their unconditional love was like water to a thirsty child. Their integrity was a light on a hill to a lost boy. Amel and Elise Whitwer gave hope to a young boy; hope that there was more to God and to this life than what he knew. Moreover, Tod learned that Christianity was something you lived out every day, not just on Sundays.

Through the faith of two humble people, my husband and I learned that God’s most effective influence often comes in quiet ways. God can change a life, and a generation of lives, using gentle, consistent, sincere people who love and serve Him.

The faith of a godly woman … the faith of a God-fearing man …. it changed my husband’s life. It changed my life. And it is changing our children’s lives. Never underestimate the power of faith, and a godly legacy, to make an impact over generations.

Note: Before Tod’s parents passed away, we were blessed to see both of them receive healing and restoration, to God and to their families.

Dear Lord, thank You for the model of faith You have given me through the lives of previous generations. Help me to honor those people who love and honor You. Like them, I long to be a woman who creates a legacy of faith to those who will follow in my footsteps. Help me be the woman You want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
If your grandparents are still alive, take the time to write them a letter, or call them. If you are a grandparent, write your grandchildren a letter.

Think of an older woman who has been a model of Christian faith. What are some of her most memorable characteristics?

What can you do now to become a woman of faith who will leave a legacy?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:11, “… so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

Daniel 4:34b, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (NIV)