Frustration Can’t Win * A Mini-Vlog

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Many of us are finishing up the summer by squeezing in as many last to-do’s that we can and when life throws us a curve–it can result in frustration. I hope that this little Vlog will encourage you a bit today as you prepare for a new school year and a new season! Blessings dear friends!

 

 

Sardine Breath

 

Of all the scrumptious food items our eight-year-old son could have chosen for me to purchase this last week–he chose sardines. Something about the mysterious little fish inside a miniature can intrigued him. A few siblings teased him and said they were waiting to see their eyeballs attached. Some said they’d have scales and bones to spit out. I’ve never opened a can myself, so even though I wasn’t going to eat them, I was game towards the new experience.

                                                                          Breathe.

Joshua nagged me all morning to open the can with the flip top lid. His enthusiasm drew a crowd of siblings around the dining room table and they all waited for a peek. I stood back from the table while he opened it and I’m glad I did. The stench wafted through the house quicker than burnt popcorn. Squeals and shrieks over the strips of fish preluded their eager taste testing experience. No one had to convince the other to sample the sardines–everyone relished in their snack and I just shook my head.

 

     

                                                                       

                                                                              Amazing.

If I had wanted everyone to sit down and eat sardines–do you think that would have happened? What a mom thinks about definitely isn’t what a son thinks about.There’ve been other moments that reemphasize this too, like the time our son ate an alligator burger, or another ate chocolate covered insects.  I suppose that this is another one of those teachable moments–for me. 

                                                                                   Yuck.

It’s a wonder isn’t it? This event reminds me how uniquely we were created. Yes, we all have different preferences and giftedness, yet all of us have one thing in common. We were created to love and fear God, love each other according to His will, and carry out our God-given purpose upon this earth. Some won’t like our unique purpose, but that’s okay we have a important good work to do anyway. Today, even though my circumstances are riddled with germs, sneezing, coughing, and body aches–I will remain faithful. What about you? Are you working your God-given purpose on this earth today?

 

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and

trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and

to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”  

                                                                Philipians 2:12b-13

 

 

 

Days Like This

Days Like This Blog

                                                                                      http://www.kellymcmanus.org

My mom never said there’d be days like this, days as a mom when I’d have to choose between the urgent and the important. The days when I would wake in the morning to busy little guys who’s mission it was to climb into the refrigerator for a snack, chew the basement television cord, or tear apart a siblings treasures. Or the days when I’d have to care for my own flu-like illness and still manage the household from the recliner in my office. I don’t remember her dealing with dog vomit on her bed sheets, items up a nose, or how she managed our household while she juggled her home business schedule. She made it look so easy.

We ate mostaccioli at least once a week with a day for leftovers–I dreaded it and complained. Little did I know she did the best she could within her budget, within her energy level, and by God’s grace. I don’t remember her complaining, but maybe the  occasions when she felt overwhelmed and irritated with our self-centeredness. We were a self-centered bunch for sure. We wanted our sugared cereal, our new school clothes, weekly sleepovers, and our lunch bag filled with more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the third day in a row.

We three girls wasted shower water, hairspray, make-up, and don’t even get me started on the toilet paper and paper towels. We took for granted what our father and mother worked so hard for and we never comprehended it. We took all they gave and more–because they let us and because our god wasn’t a selfless or loving god. We worshipped ourselves and couldn’t get enough. We were taught to say thank you but we did it out of obligation rather than a thankful heart. On the outside we were clean, well dressed, and mannered but on the inside we were ungrateful, uncaring, and angry. We looked to our own interests instead of the interests of others–we needed boundaries and guidance.

Do you ever feel taken for granted or alarmed as a parent? Let me tell you, I can relate. For over twenty-two years, I’ve parented little ones who don’t consider anyone else’s needs or wants other than their own. It’s tempting as a parent to just give in and grow tired after that many years of parenting, but I’m here to say embracing that idea mustn’t be an option. My kids, as was I, are bent towards destruction. They don’t know how to think things through, consider the natural consequences before leaping, think about the effect of their choices on another person, how to share their feelings before they morph into a destructive action, or feel grateful. All of those things come from investing the time, attention, prayer, example, and training our kid’s need.

So, do you need daily help like I do? I’ve heard the old saying that God didn’t give us a manual when he gave us our kids and that’s right. God gave us a manual thousands of years before we all had children–the Bible. So, if you’re relating to anything I’ve said, I’d like to suggest our taking a few action steps today:

If you find yourself in the same cycle as I do at times whether you’re you have biological or adoptive children, it’s okay to start over. It’s okay to tell the kids it’s a new day and we are going to do things differently at home. Let’s show them the love and grace of our Lord today and give them the tools they need to shine their lights and make this world a better place. Mom may not have said their’d be days like this but with God’s help, we can parent well. 

“Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Sweat Equity That Lasts

 

 

What’s that dripping down my face in the 5 a.m. hour? Oh, it’s just a whole bunch of sweat equity. It’s the idea driving me to get up while the crickets are still chirping. It motivates me to leave my down pillow and snoring husband behind to work my body into shape. I slip out of the house, go to the gym, and plant myself upon an odd human configuration of metal and plastic. I have my dear friend Grace to thank for asking me to join her and spur me on towards achieving my fitness goals.

Go.

Makeup isn’t applied, my hair is swung up into a simple ponytail, I go to the gym ready to work, and fully aware of my need to do so. While my feet are strapped to both pedals, my legs push and spin in constant rotation. Yes, my legs would rather run back to bed but I won’t let them. I must continue to grow in self-discipline and I want to achieve something far greater than the state I found myself in five months ago. The need is real and it’s up to me–one conscious effort and one circular motion of follow through at a time. I’m moving faster and stronger day after day. What used to feel excruciating, now feels doable. I sit among both older and younger women who have also adopted this discipline in the wee hours. No one complains–instead we grab a towel, grasp our handles, turn down the lights, and prepare to fine-tune our bodies into what we’ve hoped for.

Work.

It all began with a thought, led to feelings, and with Grace’s help, an opportunity to work rather than just talk about it. I’ve faced it, I’m not a size seven anymore. In spite of my body’s changes over the years, while I’ve come to accept myself as is, I’ve also decided to turn from old habits and take responsibility. No more wishing to look like anyone else and no more comparing myself to others. Yes, I’m tempted to look back on my once high metabolism and a season I shed more than sixty pounds. In spite of that victory about eight years back, my health unraveled. For the sake of encouragement to you–I confess I currently accept thyroid support, do regular anti-candida cleanses, eat a boring diet, maintain hormone balance, commit to gluten free eating, and digestive care–all obstacles which cry out for daily attention. If you’re anything like me however, over time, we all discover that ignoring our physical needs cannot become an option for long. Avoidance and apathy are always an option but the rippling effects will always cause more long-term problems for me. So, here I am, once again accepting God’s grace, now in the area of personal health. It’s time to take responsibility for my thoughts, my negative self-talk, personal choices, and my faith.

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Sweat.

Grace did invite me to workout at an ungodly hour but I didn’t just accept the invitation–I went, began working, and sweating. In a similar way, maybe you’ve noticed, there are a lot of flabby Christ followers walking around. Please, let’s not think our lack of boundaries, self control, or double mindedness go unnoticed. If we can agree on anything, let’s agree on this–Church we have some work to do. The time has come to strive forward and become more fit–running, reaching, and peddling towards a life that honors our Savior again. How did we become so numb? Yes, we can remain seated and adopt the world’s patterns but for those of us who desire maturity–those aren’t options.

A new life with renewed purpose will require effort, energy, and sacrifice. If we are so blessed to have a friend or mentor who encourages us to become more self-disciplined with resources at our disposal, we must make the most of them. If we are in need of wisdom, time, a renewed desire, or the drive to move forward instead of backward–let’s ask God who gives generously.

Mature.

Don’t be fooled, others have taken notice. Church, some of us do look pretty sloppy in our faith, wavering in our convictions, boundry-less, are double minded in what we say and what we do, and we’ve become a sorry bunch. Some of us are even indifferent to the needs around us, stunted by fear, and lacking in Biblical understanding. I believe there is a better option. Investing sweat equity into our personal relationships with Jesus Christ will always remain worthy of our time. It will remain worthy because He still loves us, forgives us, saves us, frees us, has purpose for us, and His good returns are eternal. If we believe in Him, the time has come Church to start living and praying like we do.

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What Now?

As I attempt to process and pray for those who are suffering in our world and involved in situations beyond understanding–I resonate with the words of Tolkien today.

“I wish none of this had happened….So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23New International Version (NIV)

My friends, you are constantly in my prayers and my heart is burdened for you.

I Heard You The First Time

The conversational enthusiasm within our eight-year-old son is beyond my understanding. I marvel how words spill from his lips–half of which are unrelated. Just when I think the topic of a snack is the priority, thoughts will switch to another topic based upon his latest Lego creation. To my relief, it’s not a problem for Joshua if I just nod my head; he’ll just keep sharing his ideas. He is one verbal guy.

My husband knows this, and sometimes has offered to take our lad with him on a few activities to give me an auditory rest. He however, is not used to the constant chatter. One recent evening, he brought Joshua on an outing to finish a remodel project. My husband envisioned completing his goal in about two hours. Joshua couldn’t contain his excitement–he had dad all to himself. After two hours past and then five, my husband asked Joshua a simple question.

“What did you learn tonight?

Joshua knew the answer. The night had grown long, he felt ready for bed hours earlier. He collected cardboard boxes, laid them flat and tried to lie to rest on them but it didn’t satisfy. My husband knew this was the case because he heard at length about the lack of comfort cardboard offers.

“If I talk too much, things take longer,” Joshua stated.

We’ve all talked too much at times and waited too long before haven’t we? It’s difficult to say the least especially in a culture where interaction and waiting have almost become obsolete. Waiting on God to answer a prayer can feel much the same way. What we fail to remember–God remains perfect in his patience and hasn’t changed. We, on the other hand, lack perfection in the waiting department–right? When was the last time you had to wait? When was the last time you had to wait for an answer to prayer? For me, some answers have arrived before I even said amen, for others; I’ve waited a decade or more.

In reality, it’s a struggle not to keep reminding God daily about that need or want, isn’t it? I have prayer journals full to prove it. In the same way the Bible talks about being persistent, it also speaks about waiting on the Lord to faithfully complete His work. What a balance, right? Just like Joshua waiting on his father to complete his work, we also have a choice in waiting on God to answer our prayer requests too. Will we repeat the same prayer throughout day thinking God may not have heard us the first time? Or will we trust Him? He states in Phillipians 1:5-6,…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That is the truth. We don’t need to worry, nag, or offer lengthy prayers on the same need–God hears us and remembers.

So, what about the prayers that don’t seem to ever come to pass with an answer? I’m not sure, but I can remain confident in a few things–

  • God hears our prayers.
  • God will work in His time.
  • If He’s willing, God will answer.

There are many proofs in my own life that setting some time aside to pray–talking to my Father each day is worthy of my time and effort. How long I pray varies and what I pray about varies also. The lesson, I pray, we can take away from Joshua’s example is this–let our prayers remain consistent, faithful, contrite, but few. God is God, and doesn’t need our incessant chatter on the same topic–the answers may very well take even longer. He wants us to believe He’s already at work on what we’ve prayed because our Father loves us. Yes, He hears and He loves us. He loves us and will answer because He cares for His children even if we, like Joshua, still need restraint in the gabbing department.

 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart

    to utter anything before God. God is in heaven

    and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2

She Inspires Me

Inspiring blogs are a treasure–thank you readers for making this one in 2014 so impactful!

Kelly McManus

www.splashingingrace.comhttp://www.splashingingrace.com

I couldn’t let this long day go by without remembering. Why is the past so readily available in my mind on days like this? It was nineteen years today and about this very hour–that I said goodbye to my baby sister for the last time. When I think about inspiring people–the one that comes to my mind first is Sara. God gave her a voice–a loud, purposeful voice, that said, “Cancer, you will not have the final say on how I live my life!” She was bold. She was a cantankerous teenager and she was more gracious than anyone I’ve ever known.

I know some have said I’ve inspired them in some way and that encourages me to keep pressing on as a writer. I want to thank those that take the time to say that–from the bottom of my heart. In the back of my mind though, are…

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