Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hello Mornings - AC

I am about to start the Hello Mornings Fall 2013 challenge.  I was going back through my Facebook groups and it looks like this will be my sixth Hello Mornings challenge.  In all that time, I have not “arrived.”  I am still not a morning person.  I still struggle with getting to bed early so I can rise early, too.  And while I started the last challenge by adding a new fitness goal – starting the C25k challenge, I ultimately stopped everything when our schedule was turned upside down.  As we faced the challenge of getting our house ready to sell and getting moved into our new home, things started heating up – literally.  We had some VERY hot weather, and without my treadmill available, I didn’t even try running out in the heat.  (I know, I’m a wimp.)

 As we have started settling in to a better routine in our new home, I am finding that I have more time to focus on studying my Bible, as opposed to just quickly reading.  I have more options in the new house for truly quiet spots to be able to focus on what I am doing without distraction.  And I even have a spot where I plan to set up the treadmill.  I have thought of signing up as an Accountability Captain (AC) in the past, but I knew that the timing was not going to be good for me.  In getting ready for the Fall 2013 challenge, it just felt like the right time.  I definitely have the ability to focus more on the goals I am setting for myself, and I have done enough challenges now to know that I will probably struggle through something unexpected as the months progress.  Honestly, I think signing on as an AC will give me an extra boost of accountability for myself.

So, what are my goals this time around? 

First, I plan to review the 15 Transformational Tips for the Night Owl.  In my first challenge, this resource was not yet available.  However, when it came out I read it - and quickly realized many of the things I had done “wrong” the first time.  I can remember trying to just get up and get by on coffee, as I wasn’t getting enough sleep.  You can do that for a while, but I was definitely taxing my body.  I think reminding myself that this is a process is going to be very important.

My second goal, though my first priority – even above getting up earlier – is to make sure that my time in Bible study comes first.  God uses many things to speak to us and I am happy about that.  But the Bible anchors us.  When I get time to study, I find that I think differently about everything in my life.  I want to make sure that I focus on getting that time. 

My other goals include starting the C25k again, taking more time to plan my schedule, being more vocal in our Hello Mornings Facebook group and working on some of my unhealthy eating habits.  All of these goals are secondary, though.  If I can get my time being encouraged from my Bible study, I know that it will overflow into all these other areas.  If I don’t, I may succeed in some of these areas but it will start to take its toll on me emotionally, spiritually and physically.  I look forward to this season not because I think it will be perfect but because I see the changes in myself from past challenges and I believe that God will continue to use the accountability of this group to work on my character.

If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can read more about it on the Hello Mornings Information Page.  Although many of the ladies I have been with in past challenges are returning to our group, we still have some room in our Facebook group.  If you want to join us, or another group, registration is open from August 5 to August 14, and the challenge begins August 19th.  Send me a message if you would like to link up with our group, and I will get you the link for my page.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I don’t have the words…

I have really been struggling with words lately.  I have so many things that I have wanted to share but I can’t seem to actually get them out on paper.  When last I wrote, I was so excited about the changes that were taking place in our house...our Master Bathroom was finally being redone.  That was months ago.  I have not had the chance to actually show you the exciting results.  Our journey changed so quickly over the last months that I really feel like I am just now coming up to breathe.  I hope to be able to share a little from our journey of the last few months, but here is the “Cliffs Notes” version:
  • We finished our Master bathroom…Yay!
  • We found out our favorite neighbors were moving.  Boo!
  • We offered to buy their house – Yay!
  • There was another offer on the house...from another friend and neighbor – Boo!  (I did not want any bad feelings in the neighborhood and was afraid this would just end badly.)
  • The other buyers would not need to sell their home, so they had first chance at buying the house.  We had to work on ALL our planned summer projects in one month to get the house ready to sell – before we could find out if the other neighbors were going to buy the house.  - Boo!
  • Our friends let us know early they were not going to buy the house.  (I can’t really say “Yay!” because I know it made them sad.  But I was very thankful to them for being so thoughtful toward us to let us know as soon as they made their decision.  It gave us extra time to try to successfully sell our house.)
  • Scramble to get the house ready for listing, and then take a week to fine tune for the open house…Oh, never mind…get the house ready the first day – you have two showings!  -  Yay! and What???
  • Field 10 showings (and an open house) in two weeks and accept an offer on our house. 
No one expected our house to sell as quickly as it did.  It was an amazing blessing, but it also came as a shock to everyone involved.  There were many tears shed at different times by everyone involved in this process.  In some ways, I felt like I was stealing my friends’ beloved home from them.  Then, the first week we lived in our new home, two people very dear to me died.  My feelings the first two weeks in this house were painful.  It has been a difficult transition.

We have been in the house for one month now, and although I LOVE the house, it has been hard not to feel like we are on vacation in someone else’s home.   I have struggled with feelings of guilt over having such a nice home, but I am learning some things about myself in that process.  It is that learning process that I have not had the words to express.  I am hoping to be able to share more about that in the weeks to come, and hopefully get those “After” pictures up of our amazing Master Bathroom redo in our old house.  Those pictures serve as a reminder of where our old house started and that we made it OUR home.  This house will be the same.  As we are able to add our own touches to this house, it will truly become our home.  I am praying for my friends that they will find that feeling of “home” in their new house, too.

New beginnings…they aren’t always easy – but there is that spark of hope that there is good to be had in that faint horizon.  There were signs all along this journey that God had plans for us in this house.  Those little signs that God is at work are what give me hope for the future.  I don’t know what I would do without that hope.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Business of Character Building

We had a little bit of an issue here the other day.  Princess was pushing boundaries, as all children are wont to do.  This time, however, I was not home.  She was defying the instructions of the babysitter.  It was not just that she did what she was asked not to, it was a question of trust.  Not staying within the boundaries of other authority figures has been a theme, lately.  If I can’t trust her to listen to and obey the babysitter, can I leave her with them?  As I considered how I was going to deal with the situation the next day, I went through all of my normal questions.

What was the base motive that was wrong?  Impatience & Selfishness

What should she have done?  Obeyed and Waited

What should the punishment be?  Ummm….

This has continued to get harder.  As the kids are getting older, the things they do that are wrong are not so simple.  It is not just obey or disobey, they are old enough now to understand motives - You chose to put your wants and needs ahead of everyone else.  You did not consider how this would affect others.  I started praying and asking God how I could get through to my dear girl.  Then, it hit me.  This was temptation, just as I deal with all the time.  I thought of James 1:14-15

“…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  James 1:14-15

At that moment, I was battling anger and a controlling attitude.  I wanted a severe enough punishment so that she would never do that again, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t the answer.  It would make me feel better, but would she learn what she needed to learn?  I was praying that God would give me wisdom and not just a good punishment.  I wanted her to learn something more than just, “Don’t do that again!”  I wanted her to be able to see these temptations for what they were and learn ways of avoiding them becoming sin.  Then, I realized that I don’t always choose the right thing, either.  I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:13

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13

I wanted the kids to know that everyone faces temptation, and everyone sometimes chooses to sin. But, they can use their mistakes to learn a better way for the next time they are tempted. If they learn to see the “way out” that God provides, they can choose to follow His guidance and avoid the consequences that sin always carries with it.  What I have often felt has been missing in some of our discipline with our children is that we need to actually teach them how to become self disciplined.  But how do you do that? 

When I was a teen, I can remember times that I had really blown it.  I had heard the above verse and I can actually remember going back in my mind to the actions that lead to my sinful actions.  When doing that, I could really see the places where God had provided that way out.  I could have easily chosen a better way if I had made the right choice earlier.  Using that thought process really helped me to move forward with an action plan to protect myself against making the same mistakes in the future.  

I decided to walk the kids through the same exercise of identifying their choices and consequences using the situation from the night before.  I thought it would be easier for them to understand if they saw it visually, so we made a flow chart.

First, I outlined what the activities of the night before had looked like.  I re-told the story and created boxes down the center of the board to represent each action.  Then, we went through and identified the points where each of them had a choice that could create a good consequence or a bad consequence.  My children are very visual, so I used color to reinforce what we talked about. Blue boxes were just facts. Red was for each action that was not good, and green for each action that would be good. It really helped them to see the situation more clearly.  Although it is in shorthand, and not completely spelled out, I thought it might be helpful to see the chart.  So, here is the finished board:

 As I consider my job as a parent, I don’t want to have children that are unruly, but I don’t want children that are forced to obey, either.  Unruly children learn that they are allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want.  Children who are forced to obey never learn to evaluate situations for themselves and make good decisions.  I want my kids to realize that the actions and choices they make are going to affect them – and others.  I want them to consider what opportunities they have to make right choices.  I want them to experience the negative consequences of wrong choices.  I want to prepare them for their lives after they leave our home. 

I really believe God gave me wisdom for this situation and I am thankful that He did.  I never thought I would be using the business tool of a flow chart to teach character to my children!  But, I pray that God continues to guide me and give me creative ideas for teaching these concepts to my children.  I know that every situation is different, and He knows their little hearts better than even I do.  He cares about their future more than even I do.  I pray that I follow His leading and that they learn what He wants them to know.  For now, I know for sure that I am learning lessons about patience and grace as I see how gently God corrects and guides us.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”