Tag Archives: thinking right thoughts

Are You Stressed?

Stress Takes Over

I just read an e-mail from a friend telling me how stressed she was. This friend generally deals nicely with the stressors in her life without allowing them to overpower her. This time, however, she was expressing much frustration over her stress and suggested that I should write a Mom’s Corner about dealing with stress. I wasn’t sure I was the one to write that article, but I decided to try.

Is there any mom who doesn’t live with occasional feelings of stress? It seems that whether we have little children or older children, whether we homeschool or have our children in another type of school, whether we live in the city or in the country—no matter what, moms have potential stressors in their lives, waiting to raise their ugly heads and strike, stealing our joy and peace.

Stress and Deadlines

My family will tell you that I don’t like deadlines! If anything can cause me to feel stressed, deadlines can. In August, I was faced with a number of back-to-back deadlines starting with preparing for a 2-week vacation. After that we would be home for two days before leaving for our son’s wedding, which would also be the start of a four-week speaking trip. Any one of those three events had the potential for plenty of stress. Add all three together—wheweeeee!

When I give in to stress it changes me, and I feel emotional pressure. If I focus on the stressors, it makes me anxious about the situation. I can become frustrated. Often my attitudes and responses toward my family change.

Where do those stress responses come from? Could they possibly come from a spirit of pride in feeling that everything depends on me? If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. It has to be done, and done my way! If that’s at the root of our reactions, we have to remind ourselves it isn’t true.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Whatever is stressing me, the Lord assures me that He is in the yoke with me, and that actually makes the burden light. If it feels heavy, then I know it is because I think I am bearing the burden alone.

Stress Comes from Outside Circumstances

Perhaps the stress is coming from circumstances outside of our control. Several years ago, we were in California interacting with our conference coordinator. She was a vivacious, sweet-spirited mom, and I heard her say a number of times, “No worries, no worries.” She seemed to never carry any anxiety or stress.

I believe she was doing what Philippians 4:6 tells us to do. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” “Be careful for nothing” means don’t worry about anything. God tells us right out not to worry, and no worry equates to not being stressed. I do what the Lord would have me do and trust Him for the results.

What does Philippians say is the outcome of not worrying but instead praying and making requests with gratitude? “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Now that’s the state I want to live in! I desire to have the peace of God that passes understanding keeping my heart and mind through Jesus.

If I am not to be stressed, I have to make a choice. I can allow the stress to fill my mind and build the emotional pressure I am experiencing, or I can do what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

I believe those feelings of stress are “imaginations,” and negative thoughts are to be taken captive—brought under control. To do that, I choose to pray with thanksgiving, letting God know my concerns. I remind myself that the responsibility isn’t mine alone. For me that takes a conscious effort. I have to stop myself, quiet my mind, refocus on the Lord Jesus, and pray. I need to speak God’s truth to my heart or else I will continue feeling the emotional pressure of the stress. When the feelings come back, I do it again.

During that high-stress time this late summer and fall, I worked hard toward all three goals—vacation, wedding/rehearsal dinner, and a speaking trip. When stress started to sneak into my mind—which it did regularly—I prayed, taking my thoughts captive, turning the responsibility back to the Lord, and trusting Him. Not only did I have the Lord to help me, but I had a whole capable and willing family team as well. There were things I didn’t have to do because they had volunteered for the responsibility.

I even asked my girls to tell me if they could discern the attitude that I have that goes with stress, even if I wasn’t recognizing it myself. I vividly remember one morning when they told me it was okay, and there was nothing to worry about. I knew by those statements, without them actually verbalizing it, that I was in stress mode. I was determined to be a victor over the stress that could bring me down. Rather than pushing aside the conviction and running on in my frenzy, I put a smile on my face (that may be one of the biggest de-stressors), took a deep breath while I prayed, and chose to set aside the worry in my thoughts.

During those weeks, I continually did what I could, was grateful for help, and came back over and over to resting in the Lord and trusting Him to help us bring it all together in time for each deadline. Do you know what? He did!

Do you face stress regularly, if not on a daily basis? Could the solution be so simple? Could I encourage you to not feel alone but to know that Jesus bears the yoke with you? Could I also encourage you to pray and take the negative thoughts captive? No worries!

Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In Sweet Relationships, I mentioned godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow. Recently, I had a mom request that I write a Mom’s Corner with more information on the difference between the two. Here are the verses from which I get the terms “godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow”:

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Difference Between Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In context, I think that godly sorrow here is talking about sorrow for our sin and the state of our lives before salvation. That sorrow leads to the repentance that is necessary for a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, as I would read this section of Scripture during my years of depression, I could see that those terms related to the sorrow that I was dealing with in my life.

When I failed—perhaps I was angry with the children, for instance—I would feel sorry, intensely sorry. My sorrow, though, wasn’t godly sorrow but rather worldly sorrow. My sorrow focused on myself, my inability to be patient, and my continual failures. I had a pity party for myself through my sorrowing—“poor me” was at the center of my thoughts. Sometimes I would cry and cry over my failure. That type of sorrow was certainly leading me further into depression.

As I cried out to the Lord for help, He began showing me the difference between my worldly sorrow and what godly sorrow would be. The focus of godly sorrow is those who have been hurt or offended by the action—the Lord and the other person—not the offender. My thoughts needed to turn from “poor me” to the actual sin and the ones I was wronging through that sin. My emotion should have been for them rather than for myself.

Through those insights, the Lord showed me how to move from worldly sorrow to godly sorrow. He also gave me a specific verse to facilitate this change. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). For me, godly sorrow meant that I would confess my sin not only to God but also to the one I had sinned against, usually my husband or children. I would ask for their forgiveness.

I am not perfect in having godly sorrow instead of worldly sorrow, but that change was instrumental in pulling me from depression and in keeping me from it. Godly sorrow is my desire now, and when I realize that I am wallowing in worldly sorrow, I know the path out of it.

Distinct Markers Between Godly and Worldly Sorrow

In the years since the Lord showed me the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow for my own life, I have observed some additional contrasts. Often, worldly sorrow uses the words, “I am sorry.” There is no real response to that statement. On the other hand, godly sorrow uses the words, “Please forgive me.” That statement gives the other person the opportunity to forgive, which would be a biblically-correct emotional release for both parties.

Worldly sorrow generally makes excuses for the action, such as: “I was tired. I didn’t feel good. I wasn’t thinking straight. I can’t handle so much going on at once.” That seems to indicate it wasn’t really the fault of the person who did wrong. Sometimes those excuses can almost put the blame on the one who was wronged, implying that in some way they actually caused the other person’s negative words or actions. Godly sorrow takes the blame. When I have godly sorrow, I say I was wrong and ask for forgiveness without justification.

Worldly sorrow seems to exist in a realm of pride, whereas godly sorrow appears to be wrapped in humility. Because of the excuses and focus on self, my worldly sorrow was the epitome of pride. It was there because I couldn’t handle or face my failures. The repentance involved in godly sorrow is a key factor in humility. 1 Peter 5:5-6 tells us to “ . . . be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God . . .”

Another difference between godly sorrow that is rooted in humility and worldly sorrow that is likely rooted in pride is that worldly sorrow does not want the offense brought up once it has passed and been worked through. The humility of godly sorrow allows it to be spoken of in the future, and the offender once again expresses his sadness to the offended over the situation.

An extreme example of this is marital unfaithfulness, but it can apply to lesser offenses as well. The situations that have been shared with us have involved a husband being unfaithful. In the aftermath of that, as the couple tries to rebuild their lives together, worldly sorrow reacts to any boundaries that a wife may desire. For example, the husband will be unhappy if his wife wants to know where he is going alone or asks to have protection on the Internet. The man who lives in godly sorrow welcomes accountability and uses it to affirm his commitment to the marriage and love for his wife.

I have walked in both worldly and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow only brought greater despair to my life, whereas godly sorrow led me to peace and freedom. I pray that each of you may experience the victory of godly sorrow rather than the condemnation of worldly sorrow.

A Mom’s Potential: What Will I Do With My Mind? – Part 3

I have shared with you how I receive e-mails from both discouraged and encouraged moms. Knowing what it is like to be a discouraged mom, I wanted to give you some ideas about how to become the encouraged mom. Not only in my own life have I evaluated the differences between feeling discouraged and feeling encouraged, but I have been considering what I read in those e-mails as well.

The encouraged moms are yielding their minds to obedience to Jesus Christ. That is what I wrote about in August and September. They are also yielding their time to righteousness.

Here is an example of how it works. This mom writes me and says:

“How many times do I have moms tell me that they CAN’T do what I do, usually because they are a ‘different personality’ . . . as if it is my ‘personality’ that is my strength. It is wearying, and often I don’t even want to share anymore the real answer to ‘how do you do it,’ or respond to the ‘I could never do it.’

I am just finishing up a very long week of making up the first six weeks of lesson plans for six children . . . from a brand-new kindergartener up to two in high school. I have not wanted to spend my whole week this way, but it was my choice, by the choices I made in the weeks leading up to this week, and God has still sprinkled in time to go pick beans and cucumbers in the garden in the cool of the evening, to visit with friends and their children, and tonight a church dinner at our home.

I have experienced too many times where God has enabled me to do what He has asked me to do . . . usually through being faithful to my schedule, and ‘doing the next thing,’ while still listening to His voice and being sensitive to changes that are brought my way through His plan. He enables me by His grace to do what He has called me to do, even to finishing up that last lesson plan.

I have been encouraged and taught to choose to do the right thing, even when other things might be calling me, and I might be tempted to label them something ‘spiritual’ to give myself permission to neglect what I am really supposed to do. It is tempting nearly every day, but God always blesses obedience.” A mom choosing obedience

Every day we have a choice set before us concerning what we will do with our time. We can do what we need to do, or we can use that time in other ways. I want to encourage you in the blessing of fulfilling your responsibilities. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by what needs to be done or discouraged by our children’s behavior that we retreat to the computer, a book or magazine, the TV, a hobby, or whatever it is that we use for comfort and escape rather than running to our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” These same words are repeated in 2 Thessalonians 3:13. We make that decision of what we will do with our minds—feel sorry for ourselves or think right thoughts and turn to Jesus. Rather than dwelling on the negative, we can to choose to be grateful for the Lord Jesus and His work in our lives and for our husbands, our children, our homes, our daily bread, our comforts, our churches, and so much more. We can choose to get busy and do what needs to be done.

Look at what happens when we use our time to fulfill our responsibilities. This is part of the first e-mail I received from a young mother.

“I am a very undisciplined person. I’m lost when it comes to keeping my toddler occupied. I find myself doing the very thing I hated as a child. I use the TV.” Mom to one two-year-old

Here is a portion of an e-mail from this same mom after she had made some changes in how she was using her time.

“My life has changed significantly since I’ve created and implemented a MOTH Schedule.

My daughter no longer watches an excessive amount of TV. We are having preschool everyday. She has learned to clean up her toys, put socks away when I fold laundry, and set the table for our evening meal. We spend an hour outside every day. I read to her every day. She has ‘play alone’ time, computer time, and she even helps with some of my chores. She loves to dust!! We also have a devotional time everyday. My daughter (25 1/2 months) knows the schedule and anticipates the next activity.” Mom to one two-year-old

All this mother did was begin to make different choices in how she was using her time. At first an undisciplined mom who was using the TV as a babysitter, she decided to put together a schedule to help her do what she wanted to do. As she began implementing that schedule, fulfilling the responsibilities that God had given to her, she was blessed with amazing results. Not only is this young mother experiencing the joy associated with yielding her time to righteousness, but her daughter is as well.

This summer on our blog, I shared a work project that I was doing with my girls. This motivated another mom to evaluate what needed to be done in her home and how to include her daughter, who is only four years old. Look at the results!

“After reading this post yesterday, I realized that there are a few deep cleaning chores I needed to do. Today I cleaned my living room furniture, polished my living room tables, deep cleaned my refrigerator, coffee pot, and a few other things in the kitchen—all with my four-year-old daughter by my side. She enjoyed helping me very much. She kept asking what she could do next. We had a great time.” Another mom

Can you relate to the excitement this mother is experiencing as she chooses what to do with her time? Rather than being discouraged and dejected, she is energized, happy, and satisfied. She has done some important cleaning, spent time with her daughter, and helped her daughter learn to rightly choose how to use her time. Isn’t that what we want for our lives in our roles as mothers?

Discouraged or encouraged? The answer is pretty simple: what will I do with my mind and my time? However, the carrying out of that answer can be quite difficult. It starts with a yielding of our minds to obedience and then a yielding of our time to obedience. While we may think that yielding our time will keep us from doing what we want to do, in reality it frees us to be the Christian women we want to be. May we be women who yield to righteousness with our minds and with our time.

A Mom’s Potential: What Will I Do With My Mind? – Part 2

Last month we began a series on a mother’s potential for influencing her family. I shared with you how I receive e-mails from moms who are discouraged and also from those who are encouraged in their daily lives and walks with the Lord Jesus. My heart is to help those who are struggling and to give them hope for change. Because much of this revolves around the battle for what we will do with our minds, I am going to spend another Mom’s Corner addressing this issue.

For many years when I was depressed, discouraged, or unhappy, I thought that I was a helpless victim of my feelings. I would pray and ask God to free me from my negative thoughts, but the pattern continued until the Lord Jesus, in His mercy and grace, began to show me truths from His Word that applied to my problem. Prayer was very important in my quest for conquering the negativism. That was to continue and be ever increasing. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, I also was instructed in Scripture as to what I needed to do to gain victory over my unhappiness, and that was to obey the Lord—a choice I was to make.

Let me share with you the verses the Lord showed me that helped me understand this. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Holy Spirit residing in me gives me the “will” to do what is right. I wouldn’t even care about doing what I should do without the Spirit putting that desire in my heart. Beyond the “will,” the desire to do what God wants me to do, He also enables the actual doing of it; He works in me to do His good pleasure—to accomplish it.

Notice, though, that there is one piece that fits between the “willing” and the “doing” and that would be the “yielding” or choosing to be obedient. I won’t quote again all three verses from Romans 6 that mention yielding because you can read those in the August Mom’s Corner. I will use only one of them to refresh our memories. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). Here is the amazing truth that the Lord Jesus showed me in the midst of my continual yielding to the negative thoughts. As long as I yield myself to obey sin—for me it was the wrong thoughts—God didn’t help me to do what is righteous. He allowed me to keep walking in my sin and negative thoughts. He kept putting that will within my heart for what was right, but His enabling to “do” had to wait for me to yield to obedience.

In practical examples from my life, this is how it looked. When the children were fussing with each other, when the house was a mess, and when I was tired, if I began to focus on myself and how discouraged I felt, then I was yielding to sin. At that point, God didn’t fill my heart with happiness, joy, and peace. While I don’t like to feel unhappy and defeated, the reality was that I was content with it because I continued to choose it. I was walking in disobedience while maintaining the expectation that God would somehow remove the negative thoughts from my mind and replace them with love, contentment, and patience.

Remember the Israelites of old? God could have made them a perfect nation with perfect people. Instead, He made them His people, gave them the ability to choose obedience or sin, and asked obedience from them. Despite all that He did for them and despite all that He gave to them as direction, they still often chose disobedience. He didn’t “zap” them into obedience just as He doesn’t “zap” me into obedience. He waited for the Israelites to obey, and He waits for me to obey.

If this yielding to obedience weren’t a part of my walk with the Lord Jesus, He would never need to tell me in His Word anything righteous to do. I would already be doing it. However, His Word is filled with “do this” and “don’t do that.” He is placing within my heart the “will” to do what is right. I must choose to yield. I must decide to be obedient.

For example, consider these verses: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Do I naturally feel joyful or like glorying in a trial or tribulation? Most certainly, I don’t. In these verses I am told that this is an obedient yielding I am to make, and I am even told the outcome—the reason I would make this choice. If I automatically reacted to these difficulties with joy and glory, then there would be no reason for Scripture to tell me to do so. To yield to righteousness, I take those negative, “poor me” thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

For me the starting place for this yielding to righteousness and taking my thoughts captive begins with gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Will I focus my thoughts on gratitude to God for what He has done for me and given to me, or will I allow my mind to dwell on what I don’t like or am unhappy about? That choice of what I yield to is left up to me.

If I yield to obedience, then comes the enabling to do it. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I have walked both paths—the path of yielding to obedience and the path of yielding to sin—particularly in what I do with my mind. I can still face those decisions, even on a daily basis. I can tell you from my experience that though the path of obedience can be very, very difficult when the feelings are negative, the obedience leads to freedom from unhappy, sad, and “poor me” thoughts. Yielding to the sin of continuing in those wrong thoughts simply spirals us further into them and away from the joy and peace we desire.

May I encourage each of us to move from allowing our negative feelings to drive our thoughts. This yielding to righteousness will be a continual process. When we yield our minds to righteousness, the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in our lives not only for us to enjoy, but for our families as well. Our children are watching us. They are learning from our reactions and responses to the daily pressures we face. What will they glean from us? Can we say with Paul, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9)?

A Mom’s Potential: What Will I Do With My Mind? – Part 1

On an almost daily basis, I hear from moms who are excited about the direction their home life is taking, but also from those who are greatly discouraged with it. The potential we have as mothers, within the small boundaries of our homes, to impact and influence those we love the most, plus future generations, is staggering. However, we also hold within our hands the choice to fritter away that potential and, later, look back on these years with regret.

In Titus 2, verses 4 and 5, the older women are admonished to teach the younger women to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” As I read both types of e-mails I receive, I am coming to wonder if it might not be that those who are experiencing excitement are choosing to yield, learn, and grow in these areas of priority given to us as women. Perhaps those who are discouraged are choosing to give in to their negative thoughts—to feel sorry for themselves, their failures, and the situations that cause them.

It appears that two main areas are critical to the success or defeat we experience in these critical responsibilities the Lord Jesus has given to us as wives and mothers. The first is “what will I do with my mind?” and the second is “what will I do with my time?” Since it starts with our thoughts and moves to our actions, I want to begin by considering what we do with our minds and how that impacts not only our lives but also our children’s lives.

Here is the reality of what often happens in the daily life that we so much desire to be picture perfect.

“Sometimes it is just so hard with the young ones. My oldest is eight years, and my youngest is almost a year. I have become very easily frustrated with them lately. This is something that I really need to pray about. It is time for me to make some changes. I do spend too much of my time on the computer. Some days I just feel as though I just cannot do it so I pop in a video or send the children outside, and I sit on the couch staring at the computer. I have just given up. How sad for me to be that way. I do not want to give up.” A Discouraged Mom (used with permission)

You can probably relate to “A Discouraged Mom,” if not with her exact struggles then with ones that are similar. As these situations occur, pile up, and continue, “A Discouraged Mom” retreats to her negative thoughts of defeat and finds refuge in the computer. The problem is that this simply fuels the vicious cycle of discouragement in which she lives, but as she indicates, she does not want it to be this way.

Romans 6 gives us direction out of the cycle of discouragement. As you read these verses, pay particular attention to the word “yield.” “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).

I have a choice set before me concerning that to which I will yield. As long as I allow the negative, it’s-too-hard, poor-me thoughts, God doesn’t “zap” me with peace, joy, and contentment. I must yield myself to righteousness—to the truth of His Word. When I yield to righteousness, these are the kinds of thoughts I will think, and the result is peace, joy, and contentment: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse tells me that God does not remove the temptation from my life. In this case, the temptation is to dwell on the problems and negative thoughts. Rather than keeping temptation away, He gives a way of escape. I decide whether I will take the way of escape or not. Personally, I believe the way of escape for this temptation is in choosing to think right thoughts—thoughts of the truth of God’s Word.

When I take the way of escape, when I yield to righteousness, then I provide my children with a pleasant mommy, one who is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: “. . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). When I dwell on my negative thoughts, I become more discouraged and more unhappy with my bad attitudes, which affect not only me but also my family. The example I am setting for my children influences how they will respond to the difficulties and trials they experience now as children and later in their adult lives. They can observe me in stressful daily situations either dealing with them by yielding to righteousness or yielding to my “comfort” activities, food, or environment.

What will I do with my mind? Will I yield to righteousness? Will I take the way of escape? Will I be focused on myself and how hard it is to do whatever I am supposed to be doing? Will I dwell on how it doesn’t come naturally to me? Will I think about how I don’t feel like doing it? Will I be focused on the Lord Jesus and obedience to His Word? The choice is mine, and the choice is yours. I expect those moms who write to me and are excited about their home life have determined what they are doing with their minds—yielding to righteousness.

Quietness, Confidence, and Strength

Homeschooling moms can find themselves feeling discouraged by the constancy of their job in the midst of what they want to be the most joyful years of their lives. Here are a couple of moms with whom we might relate:

I am failing miserably and feel awful. I am irritable, cranky, and anxious. Please pray for me that I can get thru this, that God will give me strength, and that I will not be crabby to my children. A homeschooling mom

I am feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I have 3 kiddos. First of all, my 5 and 2 year olds constantly run and make noise, noise, noise. I am always tripping over train tracks, etc., because they drag all of it out into the living room. I have tried to carve out times where they play in their room or take quiet time, but they are constantly running out. I feel like I am interrupted so many times that I can’t keep a thought in my head, or get any time alone to sort out my thoughts. It is very discouraging to me. Another mom

“ . . . In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength . . .” (Isaiah 30:15). Here we read three words that can be very meaningful to a discouraged homeschooling mother: quietness, confidence, strength. We know that we want quietness of heart and confidence in the Lord; that will be our strength. However, sometimes it appears that the circumstances of noise, disorder, and pressure rob us of any quietness or confidence.

Quietness, confidence, and strength—it all comes back to our focus. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). God’s Word tells me that Jesus’ yoke is easy, and His burden is light. That is truth. When I feel a heavy burden or difficult yoke, then something has happened that isn’t right. I can know for sure the problem lies with me and not with the Lord!

Perhaps the starting point for moving back to quietness, confidence, and strength is, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). For my heart to remain quiet, I can’t be anxious about anything. Therefore, Philippians 4:6-7 tells me that I am to lift up my concerns in prayer. Sometimes we may feel like we are doing this, but are we really? It could be that we think about our problems, we worry about our circumstances, and we try to figure out solutions. However, do we truly and simply pray about them? When we pray, they are no longer our problems, difficult circumstances, or solutions. They belong to the Lord. He can deal with them infinitely better than we can.

Paul knew what it was to have difficulties, ones beyond what most of us have experienced. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed . . . For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18).

While the tasks of a homeschooling mom may at times seem mundane, wearisome, and constant, our eyes must be focused not on the temporal but on the eternal. What we are doing in our homes with our children has value that goes far beyond feeding and caring for children. We are impacting their souls for eternity. The opportunity is given to us to mold the hearts of these children for Jesus Christ. The noise, discouragement, and fatigue that may accompany this high calling of mothering are nothing in comparison with the eternal benefits we can reap. Just like Paul, if we are troubled on every side, we are not to be distressed. When we are perplexed, we don’t want to be in despair. At times of feeling cast down, we know we aren’t destroyed. Paul’s secret in this was his total, wholehearted, complete commitment to the calling Jesus had given to him—his mission. That will be our secret at well—commitment to our mission as Christian mothers.

We are being renewed day by day, 2 Corinthians tells us. This doesn’t happen apart from where our thoughts are. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). As we are seeking those things which are above and setting our affections on them, our thoughts will automatically be on Jesus. If we think about ourselves, we set ourselves up for feelings of pity, selfishness, and hopelessness. However, when our minds move to Jesus Christ, then there is joy. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9-11).

If we are to let quietness and confidence be our strength, then we will choose to give our anxieties to the Lord Jesus in prayer. We will set our minds on what is eternal rather than what is temporal. May we be homeschooling moms who have a greater focus on the calling we have to impact our children for eternity than on our own difficulties or discomforts.

A Grumbly Spirit

For several weeks recently, I had been allowing myself to think negative thoughts. The result was that I hadn’t felt happy, had forced myself to do what I needed to do, and had been generally unpleasant. This had been a continual burden on my heart as I prayed each day. One morning I brought up my struggles to Steve while we were talking on our daily walk. He encouraged me. That discussion also began quite a thinking process as I did my cleaning later that morning. The Lord and I have some of our best “discussions” during Friday morning cleaning.

The Lord showed me the root of my problem. I had been complaining in my heart—complaining about my day being full of things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to grade schoolwork. I didn’t want to write Mom’s Corners or books. I didn’t want to write Christmas letters or figure out what to get people for Christmas. I didn’t want to pick up after people. I didn’t want to be careful of what I ate. There was more, but I think you get the idea.

These were all things I either was doing or was going to have to do soon that I didn’t want to do but were my responsibility. Looking at that list, I see that there is nothing at all awful, bad, or even that difficult about those tasks. As a matter of fact, they are activities that I can enjoy if the circumstances are right—although I am not sure I ever enjoy checking schoolwork. It is likely some of you reading this article would think the jobs I was complaining about are wonderful jobs. For me, though, they had become burdensome to the point of a grumbling, negative overall spirit.

The Lord caused me to realize that my problem is not what I have to do but my attitude toward it. What an ungrateful attitude I had! If I were living in prison for my faith in Christ, wouldn’t I be delighted to have the opportunity to be free once again and check my children’s schoolwork each day? Wouldn’t I be rejoicing each time I sat down with those school papers? I thought about the stories I have read of Christians being separated from their families, put into sparse living conditions in a prison, forced to hard labor for endless hours, and even physically abused. What would they think of the most distasteful task I had set before me? Wouldn’t they love to be in my circumstances?

My focus on the Lord and serving had been lost in the midst of what I want to do and what I like to do. I had come to think only of myself. The more I thought about not enjoying certain tasks, the more tedious they became. It was draining—not the job, but my emotional response to it—causing me to feel tired. My thoughts discouraged me. Eleven more years of checking schoolwork! Those kinds of feelings caused me to procrastinate and let things slide to which I should have attended. This was not the kind of wife, mother, and homeschool teacher I wanted to be.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). My thoughts were not being brought into the obedience of Christ. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite was happening. Those thoughts were self-centered rather than God-centered and other-centered. On top of that, my selfish direction didn’t make me happy. I kept feeling more unhappy as I dwelt on what I didn’t want to do.

Here is the starting place for change. I have to confess my wrong thoughts, discontentment, grumbling, and unhappiness to the Lord as sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is such a simple step to take. It is very painless except for hurting my pride—which is a good thing to be hurt.

Next comes the truth of Jesus Christ to which my thoughts need to be obedient. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Rejoicing—not grumbling, not complaining, not disliking, but rejoicing. The starting place for moving away from my rut of negativism was to take those thoughts captive. Instead I needed to think truth—rejoicing.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When I am murmuring about what I don’t want to have to do, I am not giving thanks. This verse tells me clearly that I am no longer in God’s will when I choose to be discontent rather than to give thanks. That is a heavy statement worthy of consideration. Sometimes we allow and excuse our bad attitudes when instead we should see them as sin and deal with them as such.

As I pray each day asking the Lord to strengthen me to keep my mind on His truth and not allow me to complain or focus on self, I know that is the Lord’s will for me. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Steve often encourages me that I can make the choice to be obedient. Then, the Lord is the One Who does the work. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It all starts with that choice I make.

If you have been struggling with a negative attitude, a complaining spirit, or a self focus, may I encourage you to begin by recognizing that is not God’s will for you. See it as sin and ask forgiveness. Make the choice to be obedient by rejoicing, being thankful, and taking your thoughts captive. Go to the Lord, asking Him to help because His grace is sufficient, and we can do all things through Him.

A Merry Heart and a Joyful Mom

We are right smack in the middle of the school year, which could mean we are struggling with negative thoughts about finishing school up. Personally, I have also just had one of the most exciting days of my life. With that combination, I wanted this Mom’s Corner to be uplifting. I would like to look at several Scriptures that could encourage and lighten our hearts.

Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . .” While this verse, in context, is speaking negatively, I believe we can apply it in the positive as well. What about, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine . . .” (Proverbs 17:22)? Our thoughts, in some measure, determine the emotions that are a part of our heart reactions to things.

On Nathan’s wedding day, I had a choice to make. I could dwell on my personal sadness of having a son, whom I have loved dearly for twenty-five years and who has lived with us all that time, marry and leave home. I could also choose to think about the joy and delight he would experience on his wedding day and as he began his new life with his bride.

When I put my thoughts on Nathan and his happiness, it made my heart merry. That was truly good medicine, because I was able to go through the whole wedding ceremony without shedding a tear. I always cry at weddings! I didn’t think it was possible to make it through any wedding without tears, and certainly not my own son’s!

Proverbs 15:15 says, “. . . he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Sometimes a merry heart is simply a by-product of feeling happy. Then it is easy; we just act the way we feel. When I am getting ready for my read-aloud time with the children, my heart is merry. I naturally love these moments each day, looking forward to them with anticipation.

Other times I must choose to have a merry heart. I have discovered, in the midst of discouragement, depression, and negativism, that I can make a choice to have a merry heart. It is never easy, though. As is true with each day, it becomes even more important that I am having daily time with the Lord reading His Word and that I am communing with Him in prayer. While I must make the choice about where my thoughts will be, He is the One Who accomplishes the work. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This grows out of the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are certain times of the month I wake up feeling entirely different than I do on other days. I don’t want to face the day at all, but I must. At that point I have a choice to make. Will I act according to my feelings, or will I put on a merry heart that I don’t feel? It begins with a heart that cries out to the Lord for help, acknowledging dependence on Him. The Lord’s grace is sufficient: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When I feel irritable, unhappy, surly, tense, or on edge, I can acknowledge to the Lord the negative emotions I am having. I can pray for His enabling to overcome them. Then I can also choose to walk out of my bedroom greeting my family with a happy voice, while cheerfully loving and hugging my family members—even though I don’t feel a bit sweet or loving.

I am not being a hypocrite if I act happy when I am not feeling that way. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” Scripture tells me that I am to count my troubles as joy; this is obedience.

I remember once hearing a godly man say, “Obedience isn’t hard when we are doing something we like and want to do. However, when to be obedient means going against our feelings, then we see true obedience.”

I can’t “count it all joy” if I am crying, angry, irritated, frustrated, or feeling sorry for myself. This joy does not come from a heart that thinks about and focuses on its troubles. This joy comes from a merry heart—one that is able to rest in the Lord knowing He is in charge of everything that happens to me.

Our joy develops from what comes out of our mouths. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). When I have given a sweet, loving response to a question one of my children has asked me, my heart is happy. However, when I am short or irritable with that child, my heart condemns me.

Here again, my joy comes directly from the choices I am making. Will I decide to follow Christ’s way, allowing the fruit of the Spirit to guide my lips? Will I give in to my selfishness, finding instead that, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)?

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 113:9). I was reminded of this verse while Sarah and I were reading A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George.

Elizabeth George shared several ways that she incorporated being a “joyful mother of children” into her home when her children were young. One of these was to use the positive words “I love” for every good aspect of their lives. She told her children that she loved praying for them, praying with them, going for walks with them, family dinners, family devotions, the Lord’s Day, and much more.

Don’t our happy, positive words demonstrate a joyful spirit? Even if we aren’t feeling joyful, won’t they move us in the right direction if we speak them anyway? If these kinds of words are a part of our daily habit of conversation, it will be much easier to say them when we are not actually feeling them.

Let me repeat for you one more time these verses that have to do with a merry heart and joy. Please don’t skip over them, but read them carefully.

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 113:9).

“. . . he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23).

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine . . .” (Proverbs 17:22).

If you don’t have a merry heart or joy, please start by talking to the Lord about it and asking Him for His help. May each of us make the choice to have a merry heart and be filled with joy! May we all truly be joyful mothers of children!

From Negativism to Thanksgiving

When I picked up the phone, it was my dad. “I am inviting your children to drive to Post with me to see the chapel that burned on Sunday morning. Your mom says there is all kinds of activity there. I am sure your children would be interested in watching what they are doing.”

Having no doubt that my crew would enthusiastically say “yes,” we made arrangements for the children to walk over to his house since we live next door. Delighted hoops and hollers filled our halls as five children from age twelve down to five heard the plans.

While my children enjoyed an unexpected field trip, I really believe the Lord put together that outing for another reason. I had been struggling emotionally all day. Although I was not falling deeper into the negative spiral, neither did I see victory on the horizon. Suddenly I had a silent house with no responsibilities that had to be fulfilled at that minute.

I headed straight to my rocking chair nook with my Bible and a tissue. I knew I needed time with the Lord. My negative thoughts were so overwhelming that I pulled out a small notebook and began to write down all the areas of my life in which I seemed to be failing. I knew that at least if they were on paper I could realistically evaluate them with the Lord. I quickly filled up a page and a half!

I had decided I would work my way down the list, confessing each area as sin and then reading Scripture that applied to it. As I glanced over the list, however, I saw that my emotions had totally distorted my thinking. While each portion of the list had things I was asking the Lord to grow me in or eliminate from my life, none represented truth. They were all globalized with words like “never,” “nothing,” “won’t,” and “can’t.”

While confessing sin, asking forgiveness, and seeking the Lord for His grace to avoid that sin in the future is part of my normal procedure, that wasn’t where the Lord took me that afternoon. He quickly put in my mind another direction for attacking this problem. Thanksgiving!

Two verses immediately came to mind before I even opened my Bible. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I was most certainly not giving thanks for everything—or really anything at all. Nor did my day represent doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God. It had been a day filled with negative responses to the circumstances around me. Rather than giving thanks and praising the Lord in the midst of feelings and situations, I had turned my focus onto myself and my failures.

Through the early part of the day, I didn’t confess each wrong reaction and wrong thought as sin. Those would have been the right steps. Instead, as the day wore on, I allowed my thoughts to follow a path of self pity. I knew I was not being the wife and mother the Lord would have me be that day.

However, I didn’t want to choose to apply even a small amount of self-discipline to change the pattern and direction. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I know some might become tired of how often I quote this verse in a Mom’s Corner. It is key, though, in our overcoming the difficulties we struggle with—no matter what they may be!

What I needed to do was to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This takes place in my mind. The Lord has given us His Word about what we can then expect. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

It was true that, during the day I am describing, I was allowing unresolved sin to continue in my life that needed to be dealt with biblically. It was not true that I allowed such unresolved sin every day. It was not true that I never responded sweetly to anything. It was not true that I always criticized and never praised. It was not true that I always felt distant from the Lord.

I began to go through each item on my list to find something to be thankful for rather than unhappy about. My negative emotions were almost immediately overcome with that grateful spirit inherent in praise and thanksgiving. Here is a sample of my change of thoughts. “Lord, I feel like I am doing this all in my own strength,” was replaced with, “Lord, I am so grateful for my salvation and Your never ending work in my life. You have brought me so far and please continue the good work that You began. When I feel like I am doing this in my own strength, I have lost sight that every single good thing that I do is from You. When those feelings overtake me, it is because I have chosen not to be close to You, not to seek You in prayer before thinking or acting, and to allow self pity to overtake me.”

“I never respond to anything sweetly,” was replaced by, “Thank You, Lord, for each of these children. They are truly a blessing from You. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to love them and teach them about You.”

When my children returned from their outing, they must have thought they had a new mommy. Beginning with a simple choice to seek the Lord for help, the negative thinking was dispelled. Please believe me when I say that no matter what is happening around me, it simply isn’t worth a bad attitude toward it. My sinful reactions gain nothing while following the Lord’s direction profits everything!

Dear Sisters, I expect you know all too well what it is like to have days when many, if not all, of your thoughts are negative. You may not have a God-directed appointment to quietly take your heart to the Lord as I did, but remember Susannah Wesley, who would throw her apron over her head to pray. In the midst of chaos, strife, and busyness, we can still kneel where we are, bow our heads, and turn our thoughts to thanksgiving. May I encourage you to take your thoughts captive, bringing them from negativism to thanksgiving.

Hard Work, Taking Thoughts Captive – Part 1

Here is part of a recent question that was asked of Teri:

My children are 8, 6, 3, and 17 months. I homeschool. I had a miscarriage 5 months ago. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in everything to do. The home stays relatively picked up. It stays cleaned. We don’t have fancy meals, but they’re always on the table and usually on time. The children are well-behaved most of the time. They have issues that continually crop up because they’re human and sometimes these overwhelm me. So what is the problem? I feel like I’m going non-stop. Jennie

Can you relate to Jennie? Have you felt like this? Maybe you are struggling with some of these same emotions.

Through my twenty-seven years of being a wife and twenty-five years of being a mother, I have come to see that what the Lord has called me to do is just plain “hard work”! There are no guaranteed vacation days, no promised full nights of sleep—not even an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom! However, Scripture tells us in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” There is nothing of more eternal value that I could invest my life in—if working hard is even truly suffering—than my husband and the children the Lord has given to me.


My first step in how to handle my emotions concerning “hard work” is through my expectations. If I expect to complete my work by dinnertime so I can sit and relax all evening, then I am frustrated and perhaps even angry with circumstances or people whom I see as robbing me of “my” time. On the other hand, if my expectation is that being a mother is a difficult job that goes from the time I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night—plus some nighttime interruptions—then I am only doing what I expect to do!


My next step is to recall why I am doing what I am doing. In Romans 12:1 we find these words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Isn’t this what we are doing every day as we serve our families? We are choosing to be living sacrifices that are holy, acceptable to God, and our reasonable service. We could be investing our time in many areas of our own pleasures and interests. Instead we are making the choice to be a living sacrifice and obediently follow what Jesus Christ has called us to do.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” In John 12:24 we find: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

I have not been called to follow my pursuits. Rather, I have been given a specific calling to “well doing” that says I am to be sober, to love my husband, to love my children, to be discreet, chaste, a keeper at home, good, and obedient to my own husband, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5). This is “hard work.” It starts the minute I open my eyes in the morning.


The final suggestion I want to make is to simply accept the “hard work.” Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying there will never be any time for rest, relaxation, or pursuing something I am interested in doing. What I am encouraging is that it not be my focus and goal. I don’t want a craving for “my” time to cause me not to have the meek and quiet spirit that is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:4).

It is interesting that the more I submit my heart to the Lord’s direction to be content (Philippians 4:11) and to be grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18), the more my “hard work” is what I like doing. It becomes what I choose to do even if I don’t have to do it.

When my mind is set on things above (Colossians 3:1-2), then days filled with work and activity are blessed and a joy. I feel a sense of peace and contentment in the tasks set before me. How easy it is, though, for me to take my eyes off the Lord and His calling to be an obedient, living sacrifice and instead have them on me.

This is most likely to happen when I get tired. Then my thinking becomes particularly skewed. Here are the kind of “poor me” thoughts I will have: “No one picks up anything in this house except me! The children will never do their chores without being reminded or disciplined! I have more to do than is possible!”

These thoughts are not true! At that point, I should battle the thoughts through prayer. So often, though, I am too tired to even do that and tears combined with those false ideas are my companions. However, with a good night’s sleep, I find the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. I am again ready to face the day, where the truth is that the children do accomplish some of their chores without being reminded, family members do put things away, and I can do what the Lord has called me to do.


This Mom’s Corner is not about schedules, timesaving suggestions, or ways to simplify our lives. These are important, and I will be writing about them in next month’s Mom’s Corner. However, I think we would do well to also encourage each other in the “hard work” we have set before us. Our labors are our living sacrifices—the sacrifice of ourselves. Through our “hard work” we die to ourselves, but live to the Lord. The rewards we will see in our husbands, children, those around us, and even our own hearts are the rewards that truly matter!

Sisters, may I encourage you that you have chosen a good thing when you obey the Lord’s calling on your life to invest it in your family by serving them. May I also suggest that this lifestyle is one that requires constant, vigilant, “hard work” with bountiful rewards now and in eternity. Let “hard work” be our expectation, one which we seek the Lord to help us embrace with joy. May we die to the wants we have for our “free time” and invest all that it takes in the areas in which the Lord has called us to serve. May we simply, contentedly, and happily accept the work that comes with serving our families!