Her Perfect Work - Summer Book Club Part 1

Summer Book Club Part 1

Her Perfect Work - Summer Book Club Part 1This summer I’ve done something I have never done before. I joined not one but two online book clubs! I love buying books and having a nice sized home library but I’ve probably only read about 10% of the books I own. So I decided to make this a summer of reading. The two books featured in the clubs are How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You by Rachael Carmen and The Husband Project by Kathy Lipp. Let me tell you, these books are good! I love how the clubs are utilizing Facebook and email to keep all the participants accountable and engaged. So in this two-part post I wanted to tell you about each book and the impact they are having on me.

First, Rachael Carmen’s book, How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You (or How Many Times as we refer to it in the club). The tagline of the book is, “What God wants us to hear when we talk to our kids.” In the book, Rachael reflects on 68 different things we as mothers often say to our children and how God wants us to hear him saying those same things to us. The topics range from the cliché, “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you” to the profound, “Please just trust me and obey.” So many times while reading I have felt the Holy Spirit taping me on the shoulder as if to say, “We wrote that part for you” or “Remember when this happened, you were trying to get through to her but we were trying to get through to you.”  Like in the chapter titled, “God Has Great Plans For You” where Rachael wrote,

Her Perfect Work - Summer Book Club Part 1

These few sentences hit me like a ton of bricks. They reminded me of the times I had become frustrated with Bella’s progress during potty training or how long it was taking for her to learn a certain skill in class. I came to realize that many times when I should have been enjoying and celebrating our day-to-day accomplishments I was just pushing through and longing for the day when all the “hard work” would be behind us. But that’s not how I want to parent. I don’t want to wait for the day that I can enjoy being a mom, I want to enjoy every day no matter what difficulty it may bring.

In the chapter titled, “Go Outside” I was reminded that at the end of a tough day the best thing I could do for my relationships and for myself was to step outside and let it go.

“Let the breeze blow away the chaff of the day, the stuff that doesn’t matter, the stuff that only serves to block your view.”

But I think the best lesson I’ve learned so far has been from the chapter titled, “Be Still.” I am a multitasker; always on the move and with a to do list longer than my arm but there are times when my little one and my Father need me to just sit with them and be.

“I can fold laundry and teach phonics simultaneously. But my kids love it when I put everything down and do nothing except sit with them. There will come a day when I can dust all I want. Now is the time for this mom to be still with her little ones and just snuggle.”

While reading How Many Times, I’ve received so much insight into how to be a more loving, patient, attentive mother as well as receiving deeper revelation as to what my heavenly Father expects from me and how he uses my daughter to teach me. I absolutely LOVE this book and I can’t wait to continue reading and learning.

In my next post I’ll dig in to Kathy Lipp’s book, The Husband Project, and share with you what I’ve learned about the other important relationship in my life.

 

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My Good Side

Her Perfect Work - My Good Side
Her Perfect Work – My Good Side

Because of the nature of this blog I write a lot about my faults and struggles. My heart in all my writing is to share with you how God is working in my sometimes messy heart to bring about the ultimate goal of my perfection and unification with the savior Jesus Christ. I want people to grasp the truth that on their worst day, when they can’t find one thing they’ve done right, God loves them and is working in them and that he’ll never quit.

With that said, I wanted to share my good side with you today. The side of me that is as deeply rooted in me as Christ’s love for me. The side of me that I love, that I can’t change and I would never want to. And that is that I absolutely love encouraging people and I have a very sensitive heart. These traits typically work together in my life and most of the time make me feel like my heart is exposed and vulnerable but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The easiest way to get me to befriend someone would be if you were to discourage them in my presence. My heart would instantly become heavy for them and I would find a way to speak uplifting words to them. I also have a sensitive heart to offense. I am quick to ask for forgiveness when I feel like I’ve hurt or offended someone. I never want anyone to feel down or upset. Many times I don’t even know what to say to bring up their spirits and in those cases I simply give them an attentive ear as they share their heart and pray to the Lord for their comfort.

These traits also take a lot out of me. Sometimes it takes me longer to get over an offense that someone committed against someone else than it would if that person had offended me. It’s at those times that I have to really concentrate on trusting the Holy Spirit to do his job of being a comforter.

I hope that when my time on this earth is up and others reflect on my life, they remember sweetly the times that I encouraged them with a word, a pat on the back, a special gift or even a simple smile. Because that’s one of the things I know I was put on this earth to do and I think I do it well.

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The Ugly Side of Me

Her Perfect Work - The Ugly Side of Me
Her Perfect Work – The Ugly Side of Me

Spoiled. Lazy. Controlling. Selfish. Bossy. Unforgiving. Uncaring. Self-centered. Greedy.

This is the ugly side of me.

The side I wish no one ever had to see.

Unfortunately, there are those who do see this side of me and they are the ones who are closest to me.

Primarily the ones who call me wife” and mother”.

Once, while listening to the radio program Focus on the Family, I heard a guest say something that was so true I was surprised I hadn’t heard it sooner. The guest said, ” I never knew how selfish I was until I got married and I never knew how angry I was until I became a parent.”  Wow. I couldn’t believe someone could so simply and accurately identify the biggest challenge I had encountered in marriage and parenting. I could believe even less that I was not the only one fighting this fight against selfishness and control. I never attended premarital or parenting classes but if these topics had come up in either then they would have been well worth attending.

There were many times early in my marriage when I thought my husband had made the wrong decision by choosing me to be his bride. There was a certain amount of baggage that I brought into the relationship but I truly thought I would be the picture perfect, loving, adoring, self-sacrificing wife he deserved. Needless to say, I fell short. Then, once I became a mother I foolishly thought, “Now I have it all together. I’m going to be supermom.” Again, I set myself up for failure and disappointment. Big time. It’s one thing when you let down someone who has chosen to be with you no matter what, but it’s another thing when you let down someone who has been chosen as a gift for you from God. This was my state of mind when I heard those words come through over the radio. Then came the realization that if the women on the radio was able to overcome her own selfishness and anger then there was no reason that, with the help of the same Holy Spirit, I could not also overcome.

I believe that for every ugly thing we allow to grow in the garden of our hearts a beautiful thing is being choked to death. Love for instance, can only grow where hate is weeded out. Self-sacrifice for selfishness. Freedom for control. Giving for greed. Something must die for something else to live. We determine which it will be.

We all have struggles in life and we overcome them in different ways.  I believe God designed my marriage to be a safe place where he can make my sins known and help me to overcome them. I believe this is a way he works for many people but not for all people. Some people are confronted with their ugliness when they enter a difficult workplace, a new school environment, during a financial challenge or even during a season of great success and accomplishment. God knows what’s growing and how to weed it out completely. We only need to trust him to do the gardening. I am a horrible gardener. When I go in to garden, I don’t have the patience to separate the good from the bad. I rip it all out and try to start from scratch. If I did that kind of gardening in my heart I would end up uprooting all the good that God was doing while hacking away all the bad leaving it a bleeding mess that ultimately only He could repair. My heart, my marriage and my relationship with my daughter, are each too valuable for me to be impatient with. I have to trust God to do the work. I have to give him full access and permission to do what needs to be done to turn the ugly into beauty.

Knowing that he’s the one at work, gives me so much hope. Because I know that when he does a job, he does it right. He’s making me into a better wife. He’s making me into a better mother. So now when he makes me aware of my faults, like selfishness and control I don’t have to feel shame or guilt. Instead I seek forgiveness from my loved ones, I repent of my sin and hand him the gardening tools.

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Boys

Her Perfect Work-Boys
Her Perfect Work-Boys

Summer is in full swing here in Florida and for me that means a much needed break from our homeschool schedule, daily visits from my 2 nephews Cy [7] and Eli [5], and a realization that I don’t have what it takes to be a #BoyMom (and I’m ok with that)! I used to long for a son, and up until a few month ago I thought I still might try for one but, for now, I am cured of that longing.  [After a cross-country move, the thought of diapers and breast feeding again after 6 years is too much like starting over again-again, but I digress.] Boys are something else! They are funny and creative and gross in so many different ways than girls (yes girls are gross too, just differently)! It’s so funny how what I wanted was not actually what I needed and what I needed wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I’m so glad God knows the difference and that he chose now to show me his wisdom.

I grew up in a home surrounded by women. It was me, my mother and my two older sisters. My mother’s ex husband was also in the mix for about 10 years but when he and my mother divorced he divorced me as well so that was the end of that relationship. I didn’t know who my father was until I was 16 so I grew up longing for a father or at least a brother but the closest I got was a goofy uncle who I love to death and 2 boy cousins who beat me up every chance they got, even though I was older than them. When I found out who my dad was I was blessed with 2 more older sisters and, finally, an older brother; but my father and brother both lived in different states so my desire for a close male relationship was left unfulfilled. Once I got married and my husband and I starting trying for a baby it was obvious, I wanted a boy! I believe that desire was fulfilled with my first pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. Months later, during my second pregnancy, I found out that I was having a girl and I was unexpectedly terrified. I’ve spent all my life surrounded by women [now including my 7 beautiful nieces] but, just like the stereotype, growing up without my father and witnessing abuses by other men towards women in my life had left me with issues when it came to men and issues with self-esteem and worth. I was so afraid of passing on those issues to my little girl. Six years into being a #GirlMom I’ve realized that God had a greater purpose by giving me the gift of a little princess. He has brought me face to face with so many of my issues and helped me to overcome them because He and I want the same thing, we want to raise our girl to be whole and  secure in her identity in Him.

I’m so thankful for the 9 boys that call me Titi (that’s, Auntie, for my non-hispanic readers ;-)) and the 1 on the way. I admire my brother and sisters (and in-laws) for raising such strong, respectful, loving young men. My heart swells when I see the brotherly love on display between my nephews. I don’t know if I could have done such an amazing job teaching little boys how to be good men but I’m so glad I have the chance to teach a little girl to be a good woman. Maybe in the future I’ll have a chance to do that. Who knows? But for now, I’m more than happy letting the boys go home every evening and snuggling up with my girl. Besides, I do have a #PuppySon and he’ll be a momma’s boy forever. 

 

 

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