Perfect Women Aren’t Real

 

 The Gentleness Challenge is coming to a close. I know for many of us who participated in the challenge, we had some discouraging days where we blew it…I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit despite my best efforts, I lost my temper this month – {ahem} more than once…

The reality is – there are NO perfect moms but that should not stop us from pursuing a good and Godly life.  We are all a work in progress.  The greatest lesson we can learn from a challenge like this is that we are flawed (the cross says that we are all flawed and in need of a savior and repentance), we are weak (when we are weak, then we are strong - 2 Cor. 12:10), and we must lean hard on God daily to help us be the women He created us to be!

Perfect women aren’t real, and real women aren’t perfect.  We are not left alone in our imperfections – read Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The God of the universe says – I am with you – I will strengthen you and help you – we need only to turn to him and allow him to help us!

Take hope in this – it was flawed mamas who raised the greatest world changers.  Abraham Lincoln said:  “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.“  The statue of Liberty is of the sculptor, Frederic Bartholdi’s, mother.  Hundreds of people a day go and visit lady liberty and look up at Frederic’s greatest influencer – his mom!  Super Bowl football players look into the camera and say “Hi Dad!” Noooooo – they say “Hi MOM!” 

We know of many famous women who have achieved great accomplishments in this world – their names are in lights – but think of the many many unnamed women who rocked the cradle of great men and women who changed the world.  They will forever be unnamed but their influence is forever with us.

Dear Mamas, do not lose heart. Do not grow weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9)  You are raising the next generation and we can’t do it alone.  We need to daily be on our knees in prayer – not just for our husband and children – but for ourselves!

If you missed a part of the Gentleness series here’s a look back:

Week 1 – Yelling At a Bud Won’t Make it Bloom

Week 2 – Replacing Old Habits With the New

Week 3 – Anger Management

Week 4 – Michelle Duggar – A Role Model for Gentleness

Now let’s look ahead.  My dear friend Joy – a homeschooling mama of 5 and missionary in Indonesia is beginning a series Monday on her blog, Grace Full Mama, titled:

She will be including printables, encouragement and lots of practical tips for mamas.  I encourage you to join her for this series.

But first – could those who accepted this challenge share how things went in your home this month?  I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with feedback.  If you are a blogger, I invite you to “copy” and “save as” this button and put it somewhere on your blog and link it back to http://www.womenlivingwell.org Then link up below!

 

 

 

 

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

 

Michelle Duggar ~ A Role Model for Gentleness ~ Week 4

My son adores Tim Tebow right now and I’m glad he has him to look up to.  For us in this gentleness challenge, Michelle Duggar is a role model in the area of gentleness.  When I look at the picture of Michelle next to me… I see two similiar women – we love God, our husbands, children and our homes.  We both homeschool and I’d say we are a smiley pair!   I also see two very different women.  We have different philosophies on a few things in life including the fact that she has a few more children then me (17 more to be exact!) .  But one of our biggest notable differences would be that her tone of voice is SO much sweeter than mine.  If you want to see an example of a Gentle Mom – just tune into TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting – because Michelle is the ultimate “real life” Gentle Mother. 

On the Duggars old website they had posted their top 5 parenting tips – and I wrote them down. # 5 read like this:  

Ask God to help you conquer anger because it can destroy your relationship with your children. Praise them ten times more than you correct them.

I have latched onto tip number 5. In their book Michelle says – anger shows your worst side and often times when we have angry outbursts, our anger is worse than what the child has actually done!
 
Michelle follows Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” She says when she feels angry, she lowers her voice rather than raising it and will sometimes take it to almost a whisper! Now that’s self-control at it’s best!
 
So you are thinking – “my kids will walk all over me”. Nope – I’ve been working on gentleness for a while now and I must say I feel much better about myself as a mother – and the children are responding. Michelle is right – anger will destroy your relationship with your children. On days when I find myself yelling – I feel guilty and like a failure as a mom. But when I apply Proverbs 15:1 – I find this principle bringing peace into our home.
 
Tip number 5 also says “praise them 10 times more than you correct them.” Ten times more?  That’s a lot!  I feel like I am always saying “keep your hands to yourself, that’s not nice, watch your words, don’t take that from her, don’t give me attitude, walk slowly, be gentle, look at me when I am talking, that’s not kind, take care of your toys, don’t make a mess” and on and on the correction list goes. :( 
 
The Duggars try their best to not say “don’t don’t don’t”. Instead they work hard focusing on the behavior they expect. They compliment every little positive thing they see. They praise their children when they demonstrate diligence, thoroughness, punctuality, patience, compassion, orderliness, generosity, and other Christlike qualities.
 
My daughter is a very cheerful helper in the kitchen -  I usually say “thank you” but I neglect to go on and say ”thank you for your cheerful attitude!”  She loves to clean out showers and tubs (thank goodness because I do not lol!).  When I first discovered this I praised her.  But now, I’m so used to it, I forget to give her the same recognition for her diligence. Usually the children are thorough with their school work and I just say “great job” rather than “great job being so thorough“. When they put their shoes in the wrong place, I correct them, but when they are in the right place I say nothing – when I could say “thanks for putting your shoes in the correct place and being so orderly.”
 
This weeks challenge: In week 2 we focused on bringing our voices down low close to a whisper when we feel like yelling.  In week 3 – we focused on anger management.  This week add in words of praise for Christlike qualities.  Be specific and really pay attention to the godly things your children are doing.  Try to do what the Duggars do - and praise your children 10 times more than you correct them. 
 For those just joining us – this week’s video comes from my summer Book Club series on Good Morning Girls.  Angela (in Texas) and I (in Ohio) are discussing  the dangers of raising self-righteous children.  We also discuss the struggles we face as moms with our thought lives – thinking negative thoughts, bitter thoughts, and how our children can learn these things off of us.

 

If you are taking the challenge, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with feedback – how is it going? Take time to encourage other women in the comment section – we need each other. If you are a blogger, I invite you to “copy” and “save as” this button and put it somewhere on your blog and link it back to http://www.womenlivingwell.org Then link up below!

 

 

 

 

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

**I apologize for the technical difficulties with today’s link-up – Linky tools is acting wonky :(

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Week 3 – Anger Management

Proverbs 13:3 NIV

We are up to Week 3 in our Gentleness Challenge and this week I want to focus on our anger issues.  There are several reasons why we may feel angry with our children. The book of Proverbs speaks directly to our issues.  Let’s look at a few of the reasons we lose our temper.

1.  Too high of expectations.  If you hold to the philosophy of “I speak, and the children must obey immediately“, you will be angry often.  How do I know this?  Because by the time my son was 3, I had read many parenting books that convinced me my son was to obey “right away, all the way, with  a cheerful heart.”  Indeed, Ephesians 6 says that children are to obey their parents and it is my job to teach them to obey.  BUT bad news…they have to be trained to obey…and this takes years and years for children who learn the hard way – and I have two of those types of children! lol!

So my expectations were very high for my pre-schoolers and that made my patience very short.  James 1:20 says that human anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.  And I had to learn that my children were 2 and 4…they had only been on the planet a SHORT time lol!!  It was up to me to get creative – role play, read life giving stories, memorize verses with them, role model cheerfulness and joy, teach them to “try again” when they whined, give consequences for wrong behavior, pray with them, laugh with them, bond with them, enjoy them and praise them…and little by little, after year in and year out of daily pouring into them, I have begun to see fruit of my labor.  Teaching our children to obey is not an overnight process!  It’s a life long process and often God is working as much on us as mommies as he is on our children!  And in our household – honestly – we have a ways to go. (and those of you who know me in real life would agree :)  I do not have angelic children.  I have normal children. )

 

Proverbs 14:29 NIV

2.  Exhaustion.  The reality is – when we are tired, stressed, and overwhelmed - it’s hard to manage our emotions.  If you know you had a short night of sleep and your children are on your last nerve, zip your lip and pray your way through the entire day.  Don’t require too much of anyone that day…do the bare minimum and get to sleep as soon as you can.  Communicate this to your husband and ask him if he could help you get the kids to bed so you can go to bed early.  Race to your bed!  Nothing is going to  make that day better but sleep.   A well rested mommy is a blessing to her family.

Proverbs 29:22 NIV

3.  Disorganization.  I am not saying we have to be the queen of order but I will say that when we are running late, forgotten an important paper, lost our keys, laundry is piled sky high, toys are everywhere, and bills are overdue…we are going to be a tad bit edgey!  Waking early enough to get alone with God, pray over our day, get filled with his word, think through everyone’s needs, and prepare for the day in advance before the day comes charging at us, will help our irritablity levels.

 

Proverbs 14:17 NIV

 

4.  Bitterness in your marriage.  Beware – if you are struggling in your marriage – there is a temptation to take it out on your children.  I have noticed when my husband does something “annoying” I might not say anything because it’s “not worth fighting over.”  But that annoyance can transfer over to the children.  That is wrong.  Deal with your marriage issues…within your marriage, do not let things simmer under the surface as the anger will come out when you least expect it.

 

Proverbs 15:1 NIV

 5.  Go to the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs is stuffed FULL of wisdom for dealing with anger…here is a picture of what I did long ago to Proverbs in my Bible.  I grabbed a pink highlighter and starting in chapter 10, I marked every single verse that referenced how I am to communicate with others.  If this is a weak spot for you – I recommend you do the same.  Once you complete this – commit some of them to memory.  Let God’s word dwell richly in you – there is no greater transforming power on earth than God’s word. 

I recently re-watched this week’s video and could see the sadness in my eyes. I had cried a lot the week that we made this video because of my frustrations in parenting. This video was recorded last July – and we have moved past this incident that I explain in the video. I can honestly say that we have seen God do a lot of work in this area but we are not out of the woods. Grab a cup of coffee and join the discussion between Angela and me.

Proverbs 29:11 NIV

 

If you are taking the challenge, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with feedback – how is it going? Take time to encourage other women in the comment section – we need each other. If you are a blogger, I invite you to “copy” and “save as” this button and put it somewhere on your blog and link it back to http://www.womenlivingwell.org Then link up below!

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

I’m linking up to:

Week 2 of The Gentleness Challenge

As I read through the hundreds of comments that came in on last Monday’s post (the start of The Gentleness Challenge), I saw so many emotions of guilt, regret, defeat, and even received some emails filled with despair.

I want to say that there is hope – there is hope for all of us.  You have taken the first step in making true change by calling sin, sin.  When we lose our temper and spout off angry words and lectures at our children – we are sinning. 

The second step is to not remain isolated and stagnet in your struggle.   When we are isolasted, we become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks.  Having accountability with  this community here at Women Living Well will strengthen you – you are not alone!  Sally Clarkson says: 

Just by showing up here to read today’s post you have completed steps one and two.  Now this week we are onto step three.

This Oak tree stands in our front yard and it will tenaciously hold its dead leaves all through the winter. When spring arrives, the new buds will begin to appear and THEN the leaves will fall to the ground.

As I look at those dead leaves, I am reminded of all the fruitless words I’m tempted to use under pressure.  It’s not a pretty sight!  It’s amazing how running late can make me lose all discernment with my mouth!  Like the Oak tree, until I create new life in the space the dead thing holds, I will never change. The Oak tree shows us how adding in something new – pushes out the old.

To break the cycle of sin in our lives we must add in the virtue of gentleness, by default the old vice will be replaced.

For some – this cycle of sin did not start with your generation.  Maybe you had a mom who yelled or criticized you regularly and your mom had a mom who yelled and criticized her regularly and now you are repeating that cycle with your children.   There may be a strong hold in your family.  We cannot do this on our own. We need the transforming power of God within us to make us new.

 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

What is the newness that we walk in?

 Galatians 5:22,23 says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Our Assignment for the week: I encourage you this week to smile more, hug more, SLOW DOWN, listen, take a deep breath.  When you feel like screaming – whisper.  Pray pray and then pray some more.  Take time to write out, meditate and memorize the 2 verses above, as you pursue gentleness. 

Next week we’ll discuss anger management.  But until then – grab a cup of coffee and listen to Angela and me as we discuss how to encourage our children through story telling, and what true success as a mother really is.

 

If you are taking the challenge, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with feedback – how is it going?  Take time to encourage other women in the comment section - we need each other. If you are a blogger, I invite you to “copy” and “save as” this button and put it somewhere on your blog and link it back to http://www.womenlivingwell.org Then link up below!

 

 

 

 

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 


 

I’m linking up to:

Introducing – The Gentleness Challenge

 

Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom.

As we start a fresh new year, I want to turn our hearts towards our children.  I remember the first time I ever “lost it” with my son.  He was around 2 1/2 and his baby sister was 6 months old.  I had laid them both down for a nap and up he popped out of bed – “mommy, I’m not tired.”  I gently laid him back in bed and told him mommy knew he needed rest. But again, he popped out of bed and refused to sleep…after about 5 times of returning him to bed, this weary mommy’s temper began to rise until I raised my voice in anger at him.

I remember feeling terribly guilty that day…I could not believe the anger that was inside of me.  I NEVER thought I’d yell at my children.  But there I was – with the situation out of my control I felt helpless and lost it.  I repented, apologized to my son…but little did I know that that was the beginning of a long road of my patience being tried by my children lol!

Matthew Henry says “What is spoken wisely should be spoken calmly, and then it will be calmly considered. But passion will lessen the force even of reason, instead of adding any force to it.”

Are you baffled at the fact that your children are not listening to you? Research has shown that when a parent raises their voice at a child – a defense mechanism kicks in that helps the child emotionally protect themselves by tuning out what you are actually saying. When we as moms go on a long rant about something the child has done wrong – we may feel better because we got our feelings out – but our child has not been brought any closer to wisdom and understanding.

Surprisingly, when we harshly tell our children we do not like something they are doing – all they hear is – “you don’t like me“- period. It’s the harshness that accompanies the correction that causes the child to take personal offense and not listen.

And so I’d like to embark humbly on a Gentleness Challenge for mommy’s everwhere who struggle with raising their voices to their children, scowling, speaking in rapid fire foolish words or lecturing in anger. 

It’s interesting to note that all of the fruit of the Spirit address this very issue – the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal. 5:22).  When we walk in the Spirit – we will be gentle mothers.  But when we walk in the flesh – we lack all of these attributes.

Which brings me to conclude that we must be in God’s word and on our knees daily – depending on God to help us be the gentle mothers he has called us to be. 

Each Monday in the month of January, I will be posting a video excerpt from the Summer Book Club I led over at GoodMorningGirls.org.  We were reading in Sally Clarkson’s book the Ministry of Motherhood and there’s over 20 videos in the series – but I have chosen the ones that best fit our challenge to share with you - in hopes that it will give you further inspiration outside of my writings. 

So here is our first video featuring me in Ohio skyping my partner Angela in Texas. They are a little lengthy (10 minutes), so grab a cup of coffee and sit back and relax.  We discuss using words of encouragement, food, and kindness to minister to our children along with our fears of being a push over or lecturing too often lol!  

 

 
If you are taking the challenge, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section telling me that you are joining me on this journey!  If you are a blogger, I invite you to “copy” and “save as” this button and put it somewhere on your blog and link it back to http://www.womenlivingwell.org Then link up below!

Let’s focus this January on dealing gently with our children. Touch them gently, use their names gently, use your words gently, slow down and be loving, kind, and gracious.

Walk with the King!

Courtney

 

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