Words to Live By

To start the new year our pastor, Craig Groeschel, taught a message called Words to Live By (click here to go watch it). This message really impacted my thinking, and continues to do so today.

I have to admit that I often struggle with negative thinking. I am guilty of letting my imagination run away with me when I consider the worst situations. Craig challenged us to consider whether or not we were excited about the direction our thoughts were taking us.

I was not.

I was defeating myself every day before I even got out of bed – disqualifying my efforts, discounting my abilities, and dooming myself to things that I didn’t really want.

Craig said, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you think about what happens to you.”

This thought alone was convicting enough to rock my world. I was allowing a few of the things that happened to me the year before to dominate how I thought about everything. Those isolated events were beginning to define me, but the truth is, those events don’t define me. I realized, sitting there listening to Craig speak, I had a choice to make. I could either let those events be my story, or just be a couple of pages in a much larger book – a book about victory and overcoming obstacles.

My mind does not get to be the devil’s playground, and I do have control over my thoughts. Sure, something may pop in randomly, triggered by something I see, hear, taste, touch, or smell, but I can harness that thought and direct it. I do not have to let it play out – especially if it’s going to play out negatively and ruin my day (and subsequently the day for many of the people around me).

I’ll be back tomorrow to answer Craig’s two big questions:

What negative thoughts are dominating your thinking?

What spiritual truth will demolish your strongholds?

You can find three steps to writing your own Words to Live By at finds.life.church/words

 

Battling Negativity

The mornings are becoming a challenge at home…and even the afternoons are proving to be a little difficult. I am noticing a serious thread of negativity plague this home of ours, and it is bothering me. It’s also very hard to not give in to the negativity and turn into a very crabby woman.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve struck a nerve and irritated the oldest boy, who also happens to be my stepson. I imagine he’s thinking he didn’t sign up for this, and while several weeks back he jokingly called me the wicked witch of the west, it seems the funny has wore off. He is not happy with all of the rules, and all of the reminders to do his homework and be to class on time. For as much as I thought I was prepared for these moments, and for as much as I thought I knew they were coming, these mornings are wearing me thin.

 

The complaints range from very small ones, to lots of large and whiny ones. And it seems like there is always a legitimate complaint wrapped in the mess of a million ridiculous ones. And the little boys are picking up on it, and before I can get them all out the door, I have three boys who are knit-picking each other, the house, the Christmas tree and my sanity.

 

And I want to join them! I want to express, with as much exasperation, all of my complaints… like clothes on the bathroom floor, messy rooms, missing homework assignments, wet towels hidden behind bedroom doors, messy hair, bad breath, mismatched socks, cutting up our clothes with scissors (I mean, seriously?!), and the list grows. And soon, I’m brooding, and I’m one whiny-boy complaint away from biting off their heads and yelling all the way to school.

 

I am horribly out numbered in the mornings, but please don’t let the boys know that. I can, for the most part, command silence, even when I don’t always have the answer for turning the attitudes around. But I heard a challenge…like the Holy Spirit beckoning me to do something specific with my attitude. A call, or a challenge to, in the midst of these hard mornings, and for the quiet part of the day after I’ve played taxi, to think about and dwell on the positive. What can each of these three boys do well? What unique talents do they possess? In what areas do they excel at school and home? When are they most helpful? Most hopeful?

 

Sure, it’s our job as parents to correct improper behavior, and to remind our youngsters to clean up after themselves, and say please and thank you, and to help them remember all of those manners. It’s also our job to encourage them. In fact, the bible says in Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” And in Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” I think this applies to me right now, even though I’m not Dad. If I join in, or intentionally push their buttons because they are pushing mine, I’m not bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. In fact, it says I am discouraging them. And I’ve met enough discouraging people in my life to make me realize just how badly they affect all of the people around them.

 

So today, as I pray for these boys, my heart’s cry is that the Lord will open my eyes and help me be an encourager. I pray that God will help me find 100 positive things about each of these boys for every 1 negative. I pray that I have the strength to endure the bad attitudes, and contagious joy that will help them overcome this negativity, too. I pray that God will reveal practical ways for me to guide them and correct them when they are being negative, so that they can learn to live peaceably.

 

Will you take this challenge with me?

Turning Negative Thoughts Around

I am really hard on myself usually, and as I’ve read some home school blogs, as well as some FB status updates, I feel like I am doing something wrong – my kids aren’t as advanced as this kid, or that kid. Isn’t the point of this hard work and homeschooling so our kids can take their SAT/ACT’s before they’ve completed the second grade?! We are the advanced, élite, ahead of the game group. I mean, aren’t we trying to produce the next generation of geniuses and academic stars?? So now the faith element to homeschooling is taking second place to the academic race.

Then, the still small voice reminded me that we are doing great – learning about Creation, studying the Bible during school, and learning to start our days praising God. We are learning to pray more regularly, about so many topics – it truly is amazing to watch my children grow. So, I am taking those negative thoughts, and building something constructive. Faith, and teaching my kids about God from an early age, is the number one reason I am homeschooling. I want the boys to include the Lord in their life, EVERY day, ALL day – not just “after school” or on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.

As for a practical step that I realized I could work in – opportunity! I have limited some of the reading and writing opportunities, as well as a few others, and I am working on challenging myself, slowing the day down, and encouraging my kids to explore new opportunities to learn, and to show me what they already know. We aren’t behind, my oldest did a fantastic job on his placement tests this year, and my youngest is working hard to keep up with his Bubba!

Don’t let negative thoughts beat you up. Don’t let comparisons drag you down. Give them to God – pray and ask Him to show you the truth. If the situation is something that you can learn/grow from, and use practical steps to broaden your horizons, that is a huge blessing, but still don’t let negativity run your life!

How do you handle negative thoughts and the comparisons between yourself and others?