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This morning I woke up before my alarm went off.  Usually that’s a very sweet thing- getting to just rest naturally, knowing that, when my pre-programed song started playing, I would actually be awake enough to roll out of bed.  Not this time.

This morning, 9 minutes before my ETA (Estimated Time of Alertness) I was doused by a large bucket of bad attitude, in the form of my 3 and 6 year olds yelling at each other at the top of their lungs.  Needless to say, the morning did not start off well.

Now, being 39.5 weeks pregnant, and fully aware of my minuscule cache of energy that must last me all through the day, I fought HARD to maintain my composure- keeping the air of “that mom” who has it all together in the sweetest demeanor under the most aggravating circumstances.  I’ve found that getting inwardly frustrated (much less outwardly mad) is exhausting.  Unfortunately, I’ve also discovered that fighting that anger can sometimes take even more energy.

I managed to keep myself from exploding for an hour- just enough time to get myself ready for the day (fastest shower ever), getting the kiddos fed and prepped, making honey’s lunch, tossing the kids in the car, getting my husband to work (almost on time), and making it safely back home in the pouring rain, despite the myriad of idiot drivers who were picking on me the whole trek.

By the time we reached the parking lot of our apartment complex, the children- though loud- were happily playing, but I was spent.  I sat in the driver’s seat and stared at the rain pouring down the windshield and knew I needed a plan.  I needed to kill this bad attitude right away, else I’d be the other “that mom.”  You know, the gal at the park who’s screaming at her children with the vengeance of a harpy, prompting you to mentally calculate the necessity of summoning CPS.

My calling is to reflect Jesus, and I can’t do that with a bad attitude.  So I needed a plan.  And, in the way that only Jesus works, I was reminded of our family’s memory verse.  We’re memorizing the book of Philippians, and this section from chapter 4 came to mind:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if anything is excellent, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about such things.  What you and learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things.  And the God of peace will be with you.

And there was the answer; there was The Plan.  Let me break it down for you with “The 5 Rs”.

Rejoice

“What?!!  You want me to rejoice in the midst of this bad attitude cloud hovering over my every thought and action?”  Yes.  That’s exactly right.

This very moment has been ordained by your loving Savior to mold you more to His likeness.  He has shaped this hard day specifically for you, that you might better understand his love for, and grace towards you.  This hard time is a gift.  Perhaps a painful, excruciating, annoying gift, but it has been formed for your good.  When the God of the universe gives us something- anything- our reaction should be a heart of rejoicing.

And no, I’m not going to promise that you’ll feel like rejoicing.  But a heart of joy is not based on circumstance.  Joy is not contingent on comfort.  Joy is a choice. And Paul is reminding the Philippians that rejoicing is a command.  We must choose to rejoice in this moment, not only because this moment is truly is a gift, but out of love for our Father we must accept His wisdom and His will with joy.

Be Reasonable

“Um…  I am being reasonable!  Life is hard, these kids are driving me nuts and I can’t handle it!”  Sounds logical, right?  Well, no.  Essentially we’re saying that we are unable to keep from sinning because some children are being naughty and life is hard.

Woah, sinning??! Yes.  Our bad attitude is a result of pride, believing that we deserve a certain level of comfort, regardless of what Jesus has planned for us.  A bad attitude is essentially whining to God, an expression of our lack of trust in His plan.

Reasonableness is defined as a person having sound judgement; being fair and sensible.  Being reasonable means that you know what is true, and you base your thoughts and actions upon that truth.

So then, what is true?  The truth is that we are weak, tired human beings, who tend to absorb the crankiness around us.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Picture a damp sponge.  If you drop it into a salt-water puddle, the sponge will quickly soak up the liquid until it is so full it is unable to hold any more.  On the other hand, if you started out with a sponge that was completely full of clear water, and it was then placed into the salty puddle, there would be no room in the sponge for the salt to creep into.

We are that sponge.  If we have just enough Jesus to keep us spiritually ‘damp,’ then we will quickly soak up the impurities of the world around us.  If, however, we are completely filled with Jesus, then there is no room in our thought process, emotions, or actions to absorb anything else.

Jesus is our logic.  Jesus is our truth.  Jesus is our reasonableness.  Romans 12:2 puts it quite simply:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Request

Jesus knows that life is hard.  He knows that we are constantly pulled towards sin in one form or another. And yet, He has promised us a way out every time.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to (wo)man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)

There is always a way out.  There is always a Sweet Rescuer who delights in saving us from sin.  Sometimes, though, that way out is not obvious to our tired, sin-bashed thought processes.  And so we ask Jesus to show us the way through.  There is no need to be anxious about anything- not health, attitudes, finances, the future, anything.  BECAUSE THE LORD IS AT HAND.

But here’s the catch:  When we ask for anything, we must ask with thanksgiving.  Did you catch that part of our Philippians passage?

…do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  

So instead of merely saying, “Lord, take this hard circumstance away!”  We must instead thank Him first for it.

Thank you, Jesus, that I have the opportunity to respond rightly to my children’s poor behavior.    Please give me the discernment to know how to respond and the strength to do so, that they might see You reflected in me. 
Thank you, Jesus, for this illness.  Please allow me to better understand your strength in my weakness. Allow me to encourage others who are also struggling with their health.
Thank you, Jesus, for this difficult financial time.  Please help me be content and wise with that which you have given me, and teach me to trust in your sovereignty. 
Thank you, Jesus, for my broken heart, for now I better understand that people will fail me.  Please help me to clearly see your faithfulness, and to cling more tightly to your love.

Review Truth

At this point, our mindset must be on that which is true.  Who is God?  Who are we?  Who/what is encouraging our poor behavior?  How should we respond rightly?

Temptation is not a sin.  It is what we do with that temptation that will define our sinful status.  Will we dwell on the trouble?  Or combat it with Jesus’ strength?  Will we focus on the discomfort?  Or praise Jesus for ordaining the situation?  Will we retreat/explode?  Or will we reflect Jesus?

When our thoughts are focused on truth, God’s truth found in Jesus, then our actions will naturally be an extension of what is true.  I personally would love to have my every action based on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.

Receive Peace

In the span of 4 verses Paul mentions twice that God’s peace is readily available.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… And the God of peace will be with you.

These are if-then statements, however.  The first is based on our joy, reasonableness and communication with God, and the second is based on our right thinking and our right actions (patterning our behavior on how Paul lived).

To Sum Up:

  1. Rejoice

  2. Be Reasonable

  3. Request

  4. Review Truth

  5. Receive Peace

That’s the process to curing any bad attitude.  The peace that comes from Jesus is abundantly sufficient to overcome any poor thoughts or behavior.  

Practically speaking, you may need to set the kiddos in front of a Netflix show and curl up in bed with a cup of coffee in order to reclaim your train-wreck of poor thinking.  At least, that’s what I had to do!  When I emerged two Clifford episodes later, I was once again a (fairly) nice, reasonable, generous mommy.  I was still tired, but I was able to tap into a strength deeper than my own.

May you receive peace to overcome your bad attitude, and, in the process, reflect Jesus to those around you!


Seven days.  Just seven days.  In exactly one week, my world, which has a habit of turning upside down on a whim, will be rocked yet again.

For the past 39 weeks (which, contrary to most assumptions, is TEN months, not nine) I have been the habitat of a little life.  That life has grown within me and, as she has progressed, my energy has waned.  I am tired.  Scratch that.  I’m exhausted.  With two other littles to care for, ages 6 and 3, my husband to love on, a home to tend, two businesses to manage, and multiple ministries at our church, I have reached my end.

And so I’ve said no.  No to teaching voice or piano lessons.  No to pursuing voice overs.  No to helping at church.  No… to anything other than caring for myself, my children, and my husband.  I’ve even said no to cleaning the bathrooms!! (I’m hiring a sweet teenage gal to do that for me!)  For the next three months, I am choosing to just say, ‘no.’

And that’s ok.

I am not called to be superwoman.  It is not my responsibility to keep life perfect (or even enjoyable!) for everyone around me.  My job is simply to reflect Jesus to those I come in contact with, doing an excellent job at what my hand and heart finds to do, based on what I know to be Jesus’ will for me.

I firmly believe that Jesus has given me (and you!) just what we need to accomplish that which He’s called us to do.

2 Timothy 3:17All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the (wo)man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all time, you may abound in every good work.

He has given us the tools, the talents, the TIME we need to be faithful to His will…  So often we reach the end of a diligent day, mourning the fact that we weren’t able to cross everything off our to-do list, and we blame the sufficiency of Christ to sustain us.  WRONG.  There’s nothing wrong with Jesus, His will, or His strength made available to us.  There’s everything wrong with our list.

See, in different seasons of our walk with Jesus, we are called to pursue different amounts of life-filling activities.  Jesus NEVER demands too much of us.  We OFTEN demand too much of our selves.  

The phrase “too much much on our plate” unfortunately paints a picture of everyone holding a platter, comparing their abilities to balance the same amount of life.  Based on how strong they are, how talented they are, how spiritual they are, there ends up being a competition of who can cram the most good things into their schedule.  Usually, the folks we view as “having it all together,” are the ones whose platter is heaping, perfectly balanced, tremendously full.

HOWEVER.

Not everyone is holding a platter.  Jesus has given each of us a different sized plate, with just enough room to hold the BEST things- the life He has called us to.  Now there are folks who HAVE been given a platter, and have subsequently been given the strength, energy, and time to carry it, laden with many responsibilities.  

There are others who hold a dinner plate, with the ability to accomplish many things, all of which Jesus has called them to.  They do an excellent job in many ministries, but are not over-committed to a myriad of “good things”; they hold out for the “best things.”

I’m currently holding onto a salad plate; I have just enough power to care for myself, my family, and my home.  These are the BEST things– the things that I KNOW Jesus has called me to.  There are many other opportunities I could pursue- all “good,”- but they don’t fit on my plate.  Not in this season of my life.

And then there are those who are currently holding a saucer.  And their only job is to simply trust Jesus.  In that season of their lives they are unable to care for themselves, much less others.  They are called to be still and know that Jesus is God.

What sized plate have you been given in this season of your life?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by everything you think you need to accomplish?  Or are you finding that you have an abundance of empty time that encourages a lazy/selfish/unprofitable lifestyle?

Take a good, hard look at your schedule and talk to Jesus.  Consult Him first, before you pen anything else on your calendar.  Seek Him, and you will KNOW what He has called you to accomplish.  You may be faced with an exercise in humility when you must back out of a “good thing.”  But remember- any “good thing” which steals you away from Jesus’ “best things” then becomes a “bad thing.”

My salad plate is full, but Jesus has given me just what I need to accomplish everything I’m called to do– including finding nap time for myself, and cuddle time with my family.  My job in this season is to reflect Jesus to my family, and that is enough.

Oh, that I would have a heart so tender, that I am driven to prayer with every breath! I wish to claim for myself the promise of knowing Christ more… I wish to be a prayer warrior… With a humble heart And bleeding knees.

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