Tag Archives: religion

31 Days unplugged – Day 12 – A Word About Pinterest…

11 Mar

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When Pinterest entered my life a couple of years ago, it was a dream come true for me.  What a great idea-a place to house all of the crafty DIY’s and recipes and home decor ideas that I found online.  I spent hours, DAYS of my life scrolling and pinning and scrolling and pinning.  What was even better-all of my friends were doing it, too!  It was like a never-ending craft-fest!

Now, I wasn’t one of those people who pinned and pinned and never used any of the cool ideas.  I found tons of  crafts to do with the kids and new recipes to try out.  Pinterest has been very inspiring to me over the years.

I started to notice, though, that all of the things I was being inspired to do was stressing me out a little.  The kids can only do so many crafts, and Jason is only willing to try out so many new recipes (a good many of which were flops) before he longs for a good old-fashioned hamburger or plate of spaghetti.  In my quest to create the Martha Stewart-like home that is emulated so much on Pinterest, I was becoming a little crazy.  Plus, I was wasting a lot of time at night (time I should have been spending with my husband when the kids were in bed) looking at Pinterest until my eyes were burning and watering.

Pinterest put an unnecessary burden on me and my family.  It has a wonderful place in our lives, a place where I can store and organize good recipes and nice activities for the kids, but I realized that it should not be a form of entertainment for me.  It places unnecessary stresses on me to be something I just am not.

I have a long Bible passage for you to read today.  It is about a woman who would have loved Pinterest, I am sure!  What I love about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she knew how to balance it all, and that is what we all have to find: balance.  Most importantly, she put the Lord first, and because of that everyone around her flourished as well.

10Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
19Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.
22She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.
28Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Proverbs 31: 10-31
Challenge #9 – If you are a Pinterest-fan, examine its role in your life.  Is the time you spend on Pinterest useful to your life?  How can you better spend that time?  Limit your time on Pinterest to 10 minutes a day and delete the app from your cell phone so it isn’t as much of a temptation.  (Don’t worry-all of your great recipes will still be on the Pinterest website!)

31 Days Unplugged – Day 2 – Let’s Live Abundantly

1 Mar

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Well, we did it!  We went through one entire day, from sun-up to sun-down, without using social media.  I hope that you found it to be as uplifting as I did.  It is not easy, but spending that extra time with God made it worth it.  

I would love to hear about your experiences yesterday-please leave a comment below letting me know how yesterday went for you!

For today’s challenge, in addition to continuing without social media from sun-up to sundown, I would like for us all to memorize a piece of scripture that means so much to me when I feel tempted to give in and waste my precious, God-given time.

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Abundant is defined as “present in great quantity, more than adequate, over-sufficient, well supplied, abounding, or richly supplied.”  I don’t know about you, but that is the kind of life I want!  I don’t want to be satisfied with an adequate or sufficient life, I want an abundant life!

…and God wants that for us, too.

All we have to do, guys, is stop giving in to the thief that is coming to destroy that abundant life.

Challenge #2    I challenge you to memorize John 10:10 today.  Write it down on post-its and put them around the house in places that catch your eye.  Be sure to put one of those post-its on your computer.  When you are tempted to quickly check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, say this verse to yourself and imagine what God wants for you.  

Have a great, abundant day!

31 Days Unplugged-Day 1

28 Feb

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Thank you for joining me today for the first day of my 31 Days Unplugged challenge!  Remember to grab the button to the side and add it to your blog if you are joining us for the challenge!

How much time do you waste on the Internet? I am not talking about checking e-mail for work or working on an online class or finding a recipe or anything like that.  I mean how much time do you waste on things that have no real benefit to your life? Time that could be better spent elsewhere?

Do you pick up your phone every time you walk past it to check the Facebook feed?  Do you spend more time trying to get the perfect picture of your kids for Instagram than you actually spend playing with your kids? Do you play Candy Crush at the dinner table?

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Life is short, guys.  We need to spend it on things that matter.  God has a purpose for each of us, and we don’t need to get distracted from that purpose. Let’s reclaim that time that we are wasting and use it to fulfill our calling.

Challenge #1-From sun up to sun down, for the entire month of March, do not use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or any other form of social media that you are feeling convicted about).  Instead, during the times when you would normally use these forms of social media, I ask you to pray.  When you think about picking up your cell phone or opening up the laptop, spend that time with God. These prayers may lost only a few seconds.  Ask God for strength and knowledge and peace, and for direction in how you spend this time that you are reclaiming. Pray for the other people that are joining you in this challenge, as well.

Good luck, everyone!

Letting Go of Mommy Guilt

15 Feb

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I love taking pictures of my kids on Instagram.  When we go somewhere or make something that I think is really cool, I snap a picture of them smiling and happy, edit it, and post it, sometimes forwarding it on to Facebook.  I think it’s a good way for family and friends who don’t live close by to keep up with the kids, and I also really enjoy the creative aspect of taking a great picture.

I don’t take pictures with the intention of getting compliments, but people sometimes comment with things like “Your kids are so lucky” or  “You’re such a good mom.”  You would think this would make me feel good, but when people make comments like this, I have a pretty standard stream of negative thoughts that run through my mind: Why would they say that? or Boy, have I got them fooled! or No, I’m not.  I just don’t photograph and publish the bad moments. 

While some of these things are correct (I don’t usually photograph and publish the meltdowns and fights and messes), God spoke to me the other day regarding the other negative thoughts that I have concerning myself and motherhood.  A friend from church commented under a picture that I had put of the kids on Facebook, “You are such a good mom.” I immediately started with the negative self-talk.  She just doesn’t know.  I’m really not. Why would she say that?  God spoke to me immediately.  Laresa, why wouldn’t she say that?  You are a good mother.  Why don’t you believe it? 

This was a powerful moment for me.  What if what everyone says about me is true?  What if I AM a good mother?  What if my kids ARE going to be ok?! Why should I not believe that?  I realized that it is time to stop carrying around this mother’s guilt that has been plaguing me, and rest in the knowledge that I am good enough. A weight was lifted from my shoulders immediately.

Mother’s guilt is the worst type of guilt. It begins the day you bring your baby home from the hospital.  We feel guilt over how we feed them, where the baby sleeps, and what type of diaper we are using.  Then the baby gets a little older, and the guilt changes a little.  Working moms feel guilt over working and stay-at-home moms feel guilt over staying at home.  We feel guilty about the choices we are making about our children’s education, where we shop for their clothes, what food they are eating, how many cartoons they are watching every day, and how many stories we are reading to them at nighttime.  We even feel guilty about the number of children we have! I am sure that as my kids get older, different things will spring up for me to feel guilty about.

I know that I am not alone in this.  I hear my friends lamenting over their guilty consciences and the decisions they are making for their families.  Even women who I know to be very confident and self-assured feel mother’s guilt. I once overheard a woman warning a mother-to-be about mother’s guilt at her baby shower! All of the women standing around the unsuspecting woman were nodding their heads in understanding.

There is nothing wrong with the feeling of guilt in itself: it can be an important warning when there is a problem.  In Romans 2:14-15, Paul tells us, Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”  God gave human beings the feeling of guilt to alert us when we are on the wrong path, so it is an important thing to pay attention to.

The mother’s guilt that I am referring to, however, is not God-given.  It is a self-imposed feeling of not being enough, a form of self-condemnation that comes from the devil himself.  According to Revelation 12:10, Satan is our accuser.  1 Peter 5:8 explains that he is our enemy and that he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” The devil is using our feelings of mother’s guilt to hold us back and to keep us from being the women that God intends us to be!

Mother’s guilt can have a negative impact on our entire family.  We can over-compensate with our children by spoiling them or not disciplining them when we should.  We can depend on our husbands to make us feel better about ourselves, something that is not their duty, and then get angry when they can’t. This isn’t what God wants for us, for our children, or for our husbands.  In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” He sacrificed himself for us and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell his believers so that we could live a life of peace, not full of worry.

How do we let go of our mother’s guilt?  Let’s look to Philippians 4:6-9 for a solution:

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

8And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

First of all, we need to take this issue to God in prayer.  He is waiting to hear from us and wants to help.  He will give us peace to guard us as we go about the difficult task of being mamas.

Then, we need to change our thought process.  When our minds start going in the direction of self-condemnation and negative self-talk, we need to stop ourselves.  Think about good things we have done today (I know there are tons), and tell ourselves we are good enough…because we are…because Jesus made us good enough. We need to remember that Jesus freed us from the burden of having to be good enough when He died on the cross for us.

If you have experienced some sort of trauma in your life that has caused you to suffer from serious self-condemnation, I urge you to find someone to talk to.  It could be a trusted friend, your pastor, or a counselor.  Sometimes we have to allow God to work through other people.

My prayer for you all, fellow mamas, is that you find yourself free of mommy-guilt, that you break free of the stronghold that the devil has on you, and that you allow God to fill your heart and mind and home with peace that only He can give.

 

Keeping Focused on the Cross

23 Dec

As the month of December progresses and we get closer to Christmas day, it has become apparent to me how many things we have fighting for our attention, this month more than any other month of the year. In addition to our normal life, there are so many other things to do.  I question myself…

Have I bought enough? Have I bought too much? Did I remember to ship everything on time? Should I get a present for my 3rd cousin’s husband’s aunt?  Have I wrapped everything that I bought?  Does my wrapping paper match my Christmas decorations?

Did I do enough with the kids? Did they see Santa and get a perfect picture in his lap with matching outfits?  Did we do all of the Christmas crafts with glue and cotton balls and paint and cinnamon extract and paint and fingerprints that I pinned?  Did we do enough random-acts-of-kindness?

Did I DVR all of the Christmas cartoons?  Did the kids get to see A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Prep and Landing?  Did they get to eat popcorn while they watched them?

Did I forget to send a Christmas card to anyone who will be offended if they don’t get a Christmas card?  Was the picture of the kids on the Christmas card good enough?  Did I spell everything on the card correctly and spread the love of Jesus in 10 words or less?

Add to that the ridiculousness of what is in the media, plus the baking and cleaning that is required this time of year, and it is easy to lose focus.

To all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, Let’s not do that!

All of these distractions are things of the world, not of God.  Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, and nothing more.  Santa Claus and cartoons and Christmas cards are awesome and fun and I love them, but they should not distract us from the true meaning of Christmas.

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:6-7
For the next 2 days, I am going to stop worrying about the things of this world that the devil is putting in my way.  I am going to know that I am good enough because Jesus has made me good enough.  He left his home in Heaven and was born as a human and lived on this earth so that I can live without fear of sin or death. I am going to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and make sure that my kids do, too, and I will know that that is more important than any cartoons I have DVR’d or crafts I have pinned.
Merry Christmas to you all!

Busy-ness and Rest

11 Nov

I was talking to Casey on the phone today about how this week really snuck up on me.  We had a pretty lazy week last week, and I will be honest-I took a lot of naps! It was great, but a little boring, especially now that the time has changed and the days are so short.

Casey and I were supposed to get together one night this week for dinner, but it just isn’t happening.  I realized yesterday that we are having people over several days this week.  Not that I don’t love having friends over, but I may have over-scheduled us this week!  Add in Bible Study on Tuesday, a meeting at church on Wednesday, Story Time on Thursday, 2 wreath orders, a last-minute magazine article assignment, and the novel I am trying to write for NaNoWriMo, and I am a busy person.

So busy that I forgot until just a few minutes ago that I haven’t yet written my Monday Praises blog post.  Whaaaattttt? It is my favorite post to write all week!  How could I forget?

I had to think, What can I praise God for tonight? The answer popped right into my head: REST.

I am so thankful that I have plenty to do, and that I feel like doing it.  I am so thankful for good friends for me and my children and for a nice place for them to come to and for food to feed them.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,”  Colossians 3:23

I am also thankful that I can get into a nice warm bed at night and sit here with my laptop to type this up.  Even God rested, after all.

Genesis 2: 2-3 “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

And I am thankful for not only physical rest, but for rest for my soul and heart and mind.  God has given me such peace in my life, even in the midst of the turmoil that is life.

Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

 

 

Monday Praises-How Great Thou Art

21 Oct

Good Monday morning, everyone!  I hope you have all had a good weekend.

For my Monday praise this morning, I just want to share this video with you.  It is 1 man singing an acapella arrangement of How Great Thou Art.  

God is so great, isn’t He?  Every day I am just more amazed by Him and how He is working in my life.

Jeremiah 10:6   There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might.

 

Don’t forget to visit Walk Humbly With God for some more reasons to praise God today!

To She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named on Your 30th Birthday

20 Oct

Dear She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named,

Today is your 30th birthday.  I won’t tell everyone who this letter is for, since everyone believes that you are turning 28 and I don’t want to give away your secret (Plus, if you are turning 28, that means I am only 32, so your secret is safe with me.).

I just want to enlighten you on turning 30, since I am braving this unknown territory ahead of you.  There are a few things I have discovered since turning 30 that might make this transition a little easier for you.

1. In your 30’s, you will finally figure out “who you are.”  Isn’t this the elusive goal that we are always searching for?  Well, when you become a woman in your 30’s, you will finally know.  You will become comfortable with yourself and what you stand for and what you believe and what you are doing.

2.  In your 30’s, you will stop being scared.  You will gain courage as you move into your 30’s.  You will gain boldness to speak your mind and stand up for yourself. You will have to learn to watch your words so you don’t hurt the feelings of the girls in their 20″s.

3.  In your 30’s, you will stop caring about others’ opinion of you.  You won’t spend time worrying about what other people might be saying or thinking about you.  You will spend your time and energy taking care of your family, and you won’t mind (most of the time) that it will take all of your time and energy to do that.

4.  In your 30’s, you will learn how to take care of yourself. You will really come into your body and your beauty, and you will care about what you put into and onto your body. You will learn to love yourself.

And the best, most important thing I want to tell you:

5.  In your 30’s, you will understand that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and you will grasp the fact that He loves you despite your faults.  This is a deep, beautiful understanding that some women never quite get, but I know that you will.

Now that you are 30, you will stop worrying about little things that don’t matter, and let me tell you, it is a liberating experience.

I pray for you that you will make the best of it, that you will realize God at work around you and join Him in His work.  I pray that you will be a woman who is courageous and dangerous, because that is what this world needs.

And I love you, girl.

#DearCongress – A Special Edition of What-They-Said-Wednesday

2 Oct

#Dear Congress,

Hi!  My name is Laresa and I am a middle-class stay-at-home-mom from North Carolina.  I am a conservative Republican and a Christian.

At this point in  my life, I feel very removed from the goings-on in government.  I do take the time to research candidates and vote every 4 years, but other than that I don’t care too much about you.  I have a feeling that you feel the same about me.

I do catch snippets of news and read some news articles, so I am not totally ignorant of the behavior of my elected officials.  I have been paying a little attention to your latest tantrum and the resulting government shutdown, and I ask you this: What are you thinking?

My nephew Aaron, who is 12, is spending the day with me.  I asked him what he thinks of your shutdown.

“I think it’s stupid,” he answered.

“Why do you think it’s stupid?”

“The government can’t just give up because it’s hard.  This is the future of our country.  And that’s all I am going to say.” Gotta love Aaron!

I really appreciate what Aaron said, because he is the one who is really going to be effected by your current actions.  This is his future that we are talking about, and the future of all of our children.

This is hard, isn’t it? But there you are, throwing your tantrum, unwilling to talk or compromise, getting your paychecks, giving up.

You are so removed from normal American people that you have forgotten what hard is, and some of you grew up in such a privileged lifestyle that you never knew the meaning of hard in the first place.  You don’t know what it’s like to wait at hospitals and doctor’s offices and urgent cares, or what it’s like to go to the grocery store with a 2 and 4-year old and try to use your coupons to stay on a budget, or what it’s like to not go somewhere because gas is too expensive, or to decide which bills you can pay on time and which can wait until the next paycheck.

And I’ll tell you, because you have forgotten, that what I have just mentioned is nothing.  My life, what may be hard for me, is not hard compared to others’ struggles.  There are mothers who have hungry children and no diapers and can’t keep their families warm or clothed.  Those are difficulties that I cannot comprehend, so I know that you can’t! Keeping our government running is too hard for you, so you would never be able to survive what normal people go through every day.

I do have hope, but it’s not in you, Congress.  My hope is in Jesus.  He cares about us, about the people who know what hard is.  He understands what we are going through because He goes through the hard times with us.  He shares in our tears and our struggles.  He will judge you harshly one day, as He will all of us, and that’s when you will learn the meaning of hard.

I don’t worry too much about you or think too much about you, not because I am not concerned or because I don’t care, but because my ultimate trust is in Christ Jesus, not in humans here on Earth.  He will take care of me in ways that you cannot, and He doesn’t want me to spend my time worrying.  That’s not how life is supposed to be lived. That’s not why Jesus suffered and died on the cross.

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus’ gift of peace of mind and heart is for all of us: Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor, EVERYONE.  Please claim that gift today, then go and do the hard work that we elected you to do. 

Thank you for your time,

Laresa

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/weekly-writing-challenge-and-now-for-something-completely-different-2/

What They Said Wednesday-A Broken Crayon

18 Sep

I have seen lots of different blogs who have themes for different days of the week, and I figured out the perfect theme day for Mommy in Bonlee-“What They Said Wednesday”!

The children in this house talk CONSTANTLY! Sometimes I can understand what they say, and sometimes I can’t.  I found out at the dentist today that Maddie has a very tight frenulum and may have a lisp because of it, but I think that most of her problem is that her brain is moving faster than her mouth!

They are hilarious.  I am always thinking, “I have to write this down.”

So I am going to.  Every Wednesday, I will share a bit of the children’s wisdom with you.

Here’s today’s.  I was getting Charlie dressed for our dentist appointment.

Charlie: “I want to wear shorts!”

Me: “Well, it is cool and we are all wearing pants.”

Charlie: “But I want to wear shorts!”

Me: “Well, I want some stuff, too!  I want a million dollars.  Do you have a million dollars you can give me?”

Charlie: “No.”

Me: “Well, something else I want is a chocolate milkshake.  Do you have a chocolate milkshake you can give me?”

Charlie: “No, but I have a broken crayon!”

Me: “That is really sweet of you, but I don’t want a broken crayon.”

Charlie: “But I don’t have that other stuff.  All I have is this broken crayon. You can have it.”

Is this not the sweetest thing you have ever heard? I swear I could eat that boy up.  He was trying to give me all he had at the time, which was just a broken crayon, but to him it was pretty important-he was coloring with it! I had to go give him a big hug at this point, and I probably would have let him wear some shorts if he asked again.

This just made me think, am I willing to give everything I have? I’ll be honest, I have some things I am holding onto pretty tightly, even though God is telling me to let them go.  We all have something, don’t we?

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:24

We (I) need to HEAR God’s voice and LISTEN and ACT.  We (I) need to be willing to give it all up, like little Charlie and his broken crayon.

Children are so wise in their innocence, aren’t they?

And just so you know, Charlie did put on a pair of pants!

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