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TAKE THE QUIZ – Are You a Peaceful Mom?

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Photo by Fineas Gavre on Unsplash

The Peaceful Mom book releases March 27th!

Nine years ago, I would not have described myself as an “unpeaceful” mom. But as I reflect on my heart and approach then, I only had fleeting flickers of peace. Peace seemed to last only a few minutes—or a few seconds. I hadn’t ever experienced a continual stream of peace before. I didn’t even realize that was possible.

I became a Christian at the age of five. I thought I was a strong Christian woman, wife, and mom. I went to church multiple times a week and read my Bible every day. I prayed constantly. I only listened to Christian music. I could quote tons of Bible verses. I wanted so much to impact the world for the Lord and be a light to those around me. I wanted to be the best possible wife and mom.

Sadly, the fruit of my life did not reflect my intentions or the fruit of the Spirit. As God invited me to examine my life in December 2008, I could not say that I was overflowing with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). I really didn’t understand what was wrong or how to fix it.

 

The Quiz

Let’s do a bit of a self-evaluation together and see how you are doing with being a peaceful mom.

 

  • Do you often feel spiritually exhausted and empty?
  • Do you regularly lose your temper with your children or feel impatient?
  • Do you notice your mind racing with worry and all the scary what-if scenarios that could happen?
  • Do you put your kids and your desires for them above the Lord, your husband, or your marriage?
  • Do you excuse yourself from modeling for your children a strong, life-changing, unshakeable faith in Christ?
  • Do you tend to feel like you are the only one who truly knows what is best for your children and who trusts God to lead them?
  • Do you feel like you just can’t overcome your negative and/or hormonal emotions, such as anger, fear, or sadness?
  • Do you often act like a people-pleaser, martyr, or control freak, or love your children with strings attached?
  • Do you sometimes grapple with holding on to grudges, unforgiveness, or bitterness?
  • Do you feel like you would finally experience real peace and happiness if only you had better children, a better husband, or better circumstances?

 

How Did You Do?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you are not alone! In my experience, most moms struggle with a lot of these issues. I know when I began my journey, I was filled with anxiety, worry, doubt, fear, bitterness, resentment, loneliness, and discontent.

Being a peaceful mom doesn’t come naturally. But if you are looking for peace as a mom—and as a woman—you have come to the right place! Be encouraged. Help is on the way! I have such great news to share:

All of us have an invitation to live a life of constant peace.

Real peace begins when we allow the Prince of Peace to sit firmly on the throne of our hearts and lives.

I have been on this journey for over nine years now. And no, I am not a perfect woman, wife, or mom. But I am not who I was. I am not where I was emotionally and spiritually. God is changing me. Growing me. Transforming me to be more and more like Jesus. Not by my heroic efforts or human wisdom, but by the power of His Spirit and His Word.

That is what I long for every mom to find.

I’d like to invite you to check out the resources I have for you here:51cXWa6UBDL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Blog posts to encourage moms on their journey

Videos and skits for moms on my Youtube channel, April Cassidy

The Peaceful Mom—Building a Firm Foundation on Christ As Lord – Available for preorder on Amazon now. The book releases March 27th, 2018 – just in time for Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

Are You Able to Say, “No”?

 

Sometimes we struggle with telling people, “No.” We don’t want to seem selfish or ungodly. We don’t want to disappoint or upset people. Being a people pleaser can seem like a good thing, but it it actually very toxic. Saying, “No,” is a critical life-skill we all need.

The goal is, we should be able to say, “Yes,” when it is appropriate and good for us to do so, and we should be able to say, “No,” when it is appropriate and good for us to do so.

If we always say, “Yes,” that is a problem. If we always say, “No,” that is also a problem. There should be balance so that we have godly discernment and can wisely determine when to say yes and when to say no.

Ultimately, let’s always say yes to God and no to anything that is not of Him!

This always requires the wisdom, discernment, and leading of the Holy Spirit. There is no substitute for seeking Him in prayer and seeking His will in each situation.

Some times when “No” is appropriate:

  • Someone is asking you to clearly sin or go against God’s Word, even if that person is in a position of authority in your life.
  • When anything sinful is a temptation or anything that is clearly the invitation of the enemy.
  • When someone is clearly sinning against you – there are certainly times you may need to lovingly, humbly, respectfully confront them.
  • When something would violate your conscience may be a time to say no – after praying carefully about it and studying God’s Word (Rom. 14).
  • When you are not actually able to do what the person has asked – either because of time restrictions, physical limitations, financial limitations, or other reasons.
  • When someone is asking you to do something you really don’t want to do and your motives are pure. There are times when it is wise to thank them for the offer but to kindly refuse.
  • When saying, “Yes,” to this person would require you to say, “No,” to something more important.
  • If you are going to resent the person if you say, “Yes,” there can be times it is better to decline.
  • When saying, “Yes,” would end up filling up your schedule so much that you don’t have time for God. If you are empty spiritually, you will have nothing to give to bless others.
  • When something would cause you to be a poor steward of your time, abilities, your health, your body, your walk with Christ, your soul, your finances, or God’s calling on your life.
  • Someone is trying to hurt you or commit a crime against you. This can require a very firm, “No,” and you may need to contact the police or other appropriate authorities.
  • When you have prayed about something and you know that this thing is not of God and is not God’s will in your life.
  • If your husband is not on board with something, that is often a sign that God has closed that door.
  • When something is a good thing, but is going to take too much time and isn’t in line with God’s assignment for you in that season. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn’t mean you have to automatically say, “Yes.” Pray about it. Do what God calls you to do.

Some times when “Yes” is appropriate:

  • When you are saying, “Yes,” to God and to anything He has for you even if it is scary – whether His Spirit is prompting you or His Word is directing you.
  • When you know that God has a particular ministry or task for you to do – even if you don’t feel like doing it.
  • When someone in a position of authority in your life asks you to do something that is not sinful – even if you don’t feel like doing it – honor God’s order in every arena of life out of reverence for Christ. (The exception is if the leader asks you to sin, go against God or His Word, do something illegal, or the leader tries to abuse his/her authority.)
    • If a police officer pulls you over – cooperate with him/her. Be respectful. Honor and obey what the officer asks you to do.
    • Honor the laws of the land.
    • Honor government officials out of reverence for Christ and so that you do not bring judgment on yourself (Rom. 13:1-3)
    • If your boss asks you to do something that is not against God’s Word, honor your boss’s leadership.
    • Cooperate with your husband’s God-given leadership position appropriately.
    • Use your influential authority wisely and…
      • Of course, if you have concerns, you may respectfully share them in appropriate ways.
  • When something would help you be a better steward of your life, your health, your body, your time, your finances, your soul, and God’s calling on your life.
  • When this particular activity is clearly in line with God’s will and His priorities for your life.
  • When you believe God desires you to do something in order to pour His love and blessing into the lives of others and you have right motives.

Let’s be honest about our yes and no.

  • Let’s mean yes when we say yes.
  • Let’s mean no when we say no.

It is not a good thing to say yes and resent other people because we feel like they should know we really didn’t want to do something. Let’s not expect others to read our minds – but answer in simple, straightforward, and vulnerable ways.

  • I like that.
  • I don’t want to do that.
  • I would prefer to do this, instead.
  • No, please stop!
  • Yes, I would love to do that.

We can say, “No,” respectfully and clearly (and without a lot of explanation – which tends to just get us in more trouble – in my experience, at least):

  • No, thank you.
  • I’m sorry, I can’t.
  • That is not going to work for me.
  • That would go against God’s Word, so I am not able to participate.

No is a gift just as much as yes. When God says, “No,” to us – it is because He loves us and wants something better for us. When we say, “No,” to something that is not best for us or for others, our decision is a gift, as well, for the other person, as well as for ourselves.

VERSES:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. t teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matt. 5:37

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

RELATED:

The Snare of People Pleasing

Perfectionism

Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

13 Keys to Peace for Moms with Kids in Public School Today

I believe God can and will give each family the wisdom they need for each of their children at every stage about what kind of schooling works best for them. And I know that things can change for different children and families depending on many factors. So I am not going to advocate that all Christian parents must homeschool, must send their kids to private school, or must use public school. That is a matter of personal conviction and prayer for each family. God lovingly instructs us, in Romans 14, to extend grace and understanding to one another in the area of personal convictions.

This post is for moms who have children in the public school system right now and who are grappling with fear for their children’s safety.

We have two children in the public school system. In our area, we have been quite blessed because most of our children’s teachers have been Christians. We have had many very positive experiences with our school district, the teachers, the students, and the administration. Of course, there have been a few bumps along the way, too.

But I do have to admit, the shooting in Parkland, FL was tough. It definitely threatened my peace as a mom.

Every shooting is awful. Every single one tears my heart to shreds. This one hit me harder for some reason than all of the ones in the past. I didn’t even want to drive our son to his high school the next day. It was so tempting to react in fear. As a Mama, my first gut reaction was just to want to yank both of our kids out of public school.

Reality is – there are no ironclad guarantees our children will be safe at school – or anywhere else today.

How can I be peaceful when it feels like my children are potentially in danger?

It takes some spiritual wrestling to get to that place of perfect peace, but it IS possible in Christ!

  1. I have to get alone with God and feel my feelings first. I pour out my fears, my concerns, and my desires to the Lord.
    • It’s best if I do this first with God rather than unloading all of my fear on my husband, I have found. If I unload it on him first, he feels attacked. That makes things a lot worse.
  2. I seek to reject a spirit of fear because that is not from God.
    • I know I must take my thoughts captive for Christ. 
    • I have to be careful how much news I read/watch and how much Facebook I read. There are certain news outlets I don’t read/watch at all.
    • If I react out of fear, I will make destructive, horrible choices many times. I will play right into the hands of the enemy of my soul. I want to walk in God’s victory over my fear. I want to act in godly wisdom and faith.
    • I remember and declare out loud that God has not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7
  3. I pray and ask for God’s wisdom for my husband and for myself, for our children, for the administration at the school, for the teachers, and for our government officials.
  4. I invite God’s Spirit to pour His love, life, power, and healing into our schools. I invite the gospel, the Bible, and prayer back into our schools.
    • We have been teaching our children that there is no God, human life is an accident, there is no purpose for them. We kicked out God and the Bible and the gospel, but we did not kick out the darkness. Darkness has been running rampant. That is not God’s fault – it is the result of people’s choices corporately and individually.
    • The only way to dispel the darkness is to allow God’s Light to return. I beg God for a 3rd Great Awakening in our country including in our schools, churches, businesses, government, families, and communities, that our schools might become places of light, hope, truth, and the gospel.
    • I pray for the shooter – and many potential future shooters – to receive healing from Christ and to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.
    • I pray for God to redeem the situation and use this tragedy to bring the gospel to many people and to open people’s hearts to His love and salvation.
    • I can find others to pray with me or join www.momsinprayer.org.
  5. I remind myself who God is.
    • God is sovereign. He doesn’t cause evil. But He promises to use all things, good and bad, for the good of those who love Him. He is love. He is just. He is holy. He reigns over the universe.
    • He is with me. He will never leave or forsake me – or my children. I focus on His Word and His character.
  6. I remember that my trust must ultimately be in God. Not anything else. My hope and faith has to be 100% in Him.
    • I might read through some of the Psalms where David was being attacked by King Saul and his enemies and how his trust was completely in the Lord.
    • Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Ps. 20:7
  7. I thank God for this trial and rejoice at what He wants to teach me and how He wants to help me grow spiritually through it.
    • Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
    • I focus on thanksgiving and praise for the Lord.
  8. I do some research, if I think it may be time to change our children’s schooling situation. Maybe there is another school that might be a better fit for my child? Maybe I look into home schooling, a private school, or a charter school if I believe there might be a better alternative. I bring those options to the Lord first.
  9. I share my concerns and ideas with my husband respectfully. I share any alternative solutions I believe might work for our children if I truly believe they are not safe where they are. And I patiently wait for him to consider them. I don’t force my way or rush him. I give him all the time he needs.
  10. I hold the outcome loosely in my hands remembering that I don’t know all things like God does, trusting God to lead our children and myself through my husband. God has designated him as the leader – and He often nudges him in specific ways. I don’t know what is best. No human does. I have opinions – but God is already in the future and He sees and knows so many things I can’t know yet. His wisdom is infinitely higher than my own.
  11. I cooperate with my husband’s leading, unless he is asking me to sin or go against God, and seek to honor God’s order for our family because if I try to strike out on my own and do things my way without respecting God’s order in the government, at work, at church, or in my marriage, I may find myself fighting against God.
    • If we move our children to another type of schooling, I will trust God.
    • If we keep our children in public school, I will trust God.
  12. Then I continue to pray for everyone involved in my family, my children’s schools, the students and staff, our leaders, and our country. I trust God to lead our family through my husband. I invite God’s miracles and power and Spirit into the situation. I seek His glory more than anything else.
  13. I ask how God might want to use me to bless my kids’ schools and other schools.

My heart grieves so much over where we are as a culture. It is so obvious that we need God! We need His healing in our land! It is completely heartbreaking that we have so many people who are so broken, hurting, who feel so unloved, and who are so far from God that killing other people seems like the solution to them. If only they had the love of Christ! If only they knew the truth about their value to the Lord and the value of other people – that we are all made in the image of God. That we are all dearly loved by Him. If only they know that life – all human life – is precious and sacred. That we are all created with a high purpose. If only they knew what Jesus did for them and the Life and Love He offers them!

With the passing of Billy Graham this week, the gospel is being presented all over the world on secular news stations and social media. Perhaps God will even use the timing of his death at a time when many people are searching for answers from the shooting to soften people’s hearts to His message. There is also a major prayer movement with many believers in Christ pleading with the Lord for an awakening in Washington DC this week, as well. I believe there is about to be a MASSIVE movement of His Spirit – a tidal wave across our nation!

May God empower us all to grow like crazy in our faith in the midst of these trials and may His Spirit move mightily among us to draw us all closer to Himself than ever! And may He even use these tragedies to spur His people on to pray in the greatest Awakening the world has ever seen. Let’s come together in prayer, my precious sisters (and brothers)!

Verses about peace.

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

 

The wicked band together against the righteous

and condemn the innocent to death.

But the Lord has become my fortress,

and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.

Ps. 94:21-22

The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

Prayer for 2018

Ladies (and Gentlemen),

I invite you to take a few moments to pray together with me over your upcoming year,  your family, your church, this ministry, and the church worldwide. What an awesome privilege that God grants us access to the very Holy of Holies in heaven 24/7 through Jesus and His finished work on the cross on our behalf. We are already seated with Him in the heavenlies!

Lord,

We invite You into our lives to have full control. To be LORD over every area of our lives. You alone are God. There is no other. You alone are worthy of all of our worship, praise, adoration, reverence, obedience, love, sacrifice, and faithfulness. We want to start out this new year with a clean slate together.

CONFESSION

We confess our sins before you. Our own sins. Help us to see clearly anything in us that is toxic. Anything that is spiritual poison so that we can invite You to cleanse us and we can throw it away like garbage:

pride, self-righteousness, idolatry of anyone/anything (anything we desire more than we desire You in our hearts), lust, porn addiction, romantic novel/movie addiction, emotional affairs/infatuation with other men, adultery with other men, drug/food/alcohol/exercise addictions, any kind of addiction at all (they are all idolatry), greed, materialism, apathy, unbelief in You, lack of faith in You, love that has grown cold, hatred, contempt, bitterness, resentment, malice (desiring to harm someone else), taking vengeance for ourselves rather than trusting You to take vengeance, unforgiveness, unbiblical thinking, false doctrine, denying Your power, trusting self rather than You, denying the truth of Your Word, worldliness, trusting worldly human wisdom over Your Word, abortion, murder, abuse toward other people (emotionally, verbally, spiritually, financially, physically), words that speak death rather than life, words that destroy others, words that grieve Your heart, impure motives, selfishness, responding to other people’s sin with sin of our own, dishonesty, stealing of any kind, legalism (trusting our own work instead of Jesus’ work), grieving the Holy Spirit, gossip, gluttony, anorexia, bulimia, disrespecting You, disrespecting our husbands, disrespecting people in positions of God-given authority, divisiveness, unbiblical divorce, sexual sin of any kind, loving with strings attached, trying to control other people, anxiety/fear/worry, stinginess, contention, complaining, arguing, and anything else that displeases You.

We also confess the sin of our church before You. The sin of our church leaders. The sin of our nation. They include all of the sins listed above and even more. Racism, sex trafficking, legalizing and funding abortion, the opioid crisis, dishonesty, injustice, corruption, scandals, sexual sin, abuse of God-given authority, removing God from our schools/government/businesses/homes. Calling evil good and good evil. Forsaking the Bible. Forsaking God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Misleading the people. Promoting lies. Embracing heresy and false teaching. And so many more that are too many to even list.

We come before You like Daniel did – pleading for Your mercy over ourselves, our families, the church, America, and the nations of the world. Not because we deserve mercy. We do not. But because of Your Name, Your character, and Your love. We implore You to forgive us of our sin and to heal our land before we are completely destroyed by our sin. Time appears to be very short, Lord. It seems like we are in the midst of the Great Falling Away that is to occur right before the 7 years of the Tribulation. And yet, we know You will reserve for Yourself a remnant until Jesus returns. Let us be part of that remnant and let many turn to You in one more Great Awakening! We long to see You work in great power in our generation and in our land.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chron. 7:14

How desperately we all need Your forgiveness and the blood of Jesus to cover our sin and to pay for this massive sin debt.

We hate our sin. We turn completely away from it. We don’t want to live like this anymore. We love You! We turn to You for forgiveness to cleanse us from our sin and to make us pure and holy in Your eyes. We want to live for Christ and in the power of Christ. We can’t do anything good in our strength. We need Your Spirit and all that Jesus has done for us already to make us right with You. We receive His finished work on the cross on our behalf. We receive our identity in Christ.

We ask You to raise each of us, our families, the readers here on this blog, and Your church to be a holy generation. Spirit-filled people. Walking in the power of Christ and doing Your will and bringing about Your kingdom every day in our midst. Cause us to become a faithful, obedient people for Your glory!

We come before You humbly, with reverent fear and awe as we think about who You are. The King of the universe. The Creator of all that exists. The sovereign Lord Almighty who holds every galaxy and subatomic particle in the palm of His hand. We think about Jesus, as He appears in heaven right now:

One like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. Revelation 1:13-16

REQUESTS FOR OURSELVES

  • Take 2018 – all of it. Every moment and every day. It is Yours. I give it to You to do with as You see fit. Each moment is a gift from You. I am simply a steward of it. I want to use all of this time for Your glory alone.
  • Take my life. All of it. I give You my health, my money, my family, my marriage, my career, my house, my possessions, my friends, my church, my extended family, my city, my state, my country, and my world. I yield it all before You on the altar in heaven. I want You to have control over all of these things, not me. You have all wisdom. You are sovereign. I am not. You are God. I am not. You are LORD. I am not. I am Your humble servant. You gave everything to me on the cross. You held back nothing. Now I have the honor and privilege of giving You all of myself, all that I am, all of my future, and all that belongs to me. I die to my old sinful self. I die to my will. I no longer seek my will, but Yours alone. I no longer seek my glory, but Your greatest glory! That is truly all that matters.
  • I want to receive Your Spirit – all of it. I want to receive the fullness of my salvation. You promise to give me the power I need to walk in the victory of Christ.
  • I want to live the full-strength version of the Gospel. I don’t want to live a wimpy, watered-down version of the Christian life that is powerless, feeble, and weak. I don’t want to walk in defeat all the time, constantly entangled by sin. I don’t want a worldly version of Christianity that pleases Satan and grieves You. I don’t want to embrace a  wimpy gospel that denies Your power. I want to live like Paul did. And Peter. And the apostles. I want to have faith like Stephen, like all the people in the Hebrews 11 Faith Hall of Fame. I want to live in the power of Your Spirit to have great faith and to experience Jesus’ victory in my daily life like George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Ann Judson, Lottie Moon, Andrew Murray, E. M. Bounds, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. I want to see You do HUGE things in my life and in the lives of those around me. I don’t want to miss out on a single provision or miracle that You want to do in my life – not for myself – but completely for Your glory. I am willing to do anything to have more and more of You.
  • Surround me with Your hedge of protection from Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy my family and me. I resist the devil and yield myself to You. Place Your covering over me. You are my Shield and Fortress. You are my Rock and Defender. Set Your angels to stand guard over my life. Let Your Word and Your Spirit protect my husband, my children, our marriage, and myself from all of the fiery darts Satan plans to shoot at us. Help me to see the enemy’s strategies and not inadvertently allow myself to fall into his snares. I want to let You cleanse my life of anything that would give him a foothold.
  • I want to grow by leaps and bounds spiritually in 2018. I seek to feast on Your Word daily and be open to all that You want to show me. Only let Your Spirit teach me and reveal Your truth to me by the blazing power of the Light of Your Word. I want to absorb and receive every truth, every promise, every pearl of wisdom that You have for me. I want to drink in Your goodness continually. I want to receive every trial as a blessing by which I might grow in my faith in Christ. I want to count hardships as joy and as Your loving discipline. I am willing to learn to practice fasting. I want to be as close to You as possible. Teach me. Guide me. Lead me. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see all that You have in store for me.
  • I want my life to overflow with the fruit of Your Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23) in all of my relationships.
  • I want to know You more and to experience more and more of Your Spirit, Your presence, Your love, Your healing, Your goodness, and Your truth in my daily life.
  • I want to please You more than anything. I want to be a God-pleaser not a people-pleaser. I want my life to bring You great joy.

REQUESTS FOR OUR HUSBANDS, CHILDREN, AND FAMILIES

  • Bring each one who is still lost into the Kingdom of Christ Jesus!
  • Let Your Spirit pour out in great power over my family this year to accomplish Your purposes and Your will.
  • Let my husband, my children, and my extended family be transformed and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Give my husband and children a deep hunger and thirst for You, Your Word, and Your presence.
  • Expose any wrong thinking, lies, or sin in our family this year that we might repent and turn wholeheartedly to You alone.
  • Cleanse us of any spiritual poison and let us crave the pure milk of the Word and receive Your goodness.
  • Help us to recognize that people are not our enemies. We have enemies, but they are spiritual and unseen and we must use heavenly weapons to fight them, not worldly ones.
  • Help me to create an atmosphere where Your Spirit and my family members feel welcome, safe, loved, protected, and at peace and where Satan and his demons feel very uncomfortable.
  • Let our homes and hearts and minds be filled with Your praises, with thanksgiving, with Your Word, with Your presence, and with Your Spirit of unity, love, and peace.
  • Grant my husband the wisdom and discernment he needs to lead our family well according to Your will.
  • Let me bless my husband and children and speak Your Life to them, living as a godly example to them – not in my power, but in Your power alone.

We invite Your Spirit to enter into our homes full blast. Bring the spiritually dead to life. Cause those who are spiritually oppressed and sick to be raised up in Your strength and in spiritual health. We invite You and implore You to do all that You want to do in our midst in 2018 – in our homes, our families, our extended families, at our jobs, in our coworkers’ lives, and in our churches. Strengthen the persecuted church. Fill them to overflowing with Your Spirit. Use us to help provide for them materially. Use them to accomplish Your purposes and to bring many to Christ Jesus even in the face of the most fierce persecution and warfare. Thank You that You are doing that and that so many are coming to Christ in Muslim countries and in areas where believers are severely oppressed. Thank You that You have not left them or us as orphans. Prepare and equip us all for the persecution we will face as we live boldly for You.

We rejoice in Your provision. We rest in Your love and sovereignty.

Lord, we praise and thank You for all that You have done, all that You are doing, and all that You will do this year. We consecrate ourselves and our families to You. We rejoice and delight in You and in Your will for all of us!

Amen!

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If you’d like to share a prayer for our sisters (and brothers) here in Christ in the comments, you are welcome to.

If you believe God is calling you to be a prayer warrior for this ministry, please let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining my email prayer team and I will get in touch with you to discuss things with you.

RESOURCES:

If you are interested in more posts about how to pray, check out these posts.

10 Reasons to Consider Fasting

Lord, I Don’t Want to Do Your Will

Dying to Self

25 Ways to Reverence God

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Yielding to the Lordship of Christ

If you want to go much deeper spiritually with Christ, check out these classics:

E. M. Bounds – The Necessity of Prayer (free PDF download and audio version)

Andrew Murray – Absolute Surrender (free PDF download and audio version)

 

One of Your Most Powerful Gifts As a Woman

 

A smile costs you nothing, but it is such an incredible blessing to those around you. You may not see your own facial expressions, so it is easy not to think about them much, but those around you definitely notice them.

This week, I’d love to challenge and encourage you to:

  1. Seek to give your brightest, most glorious smile to your husband and children when you first see them.
  2. Every time you walk in the room and one of your family members are there, smile at them.
  3. When your husband or children are talking with you (and it is not something sad or really serious), smile a genuinely friendly smile at them. 

You don’t have to have lipstick or makeup on. You don’t have to have perfectly white or straight teeth to do this. You don’t have to have any special talent and it doesn’t take much time at all.

All you have to do is just share that glorious smile of yours with your family.

As believers in Christ, we have more about which to smile than anyone on the planet. So we don’t have to fake a smile, thankfully. If you aren’t feeling up to smiling much, spend some time singing praises at the top of your voice to the Lord when you are by yourself in the car or at home doing chores. As you focus on God’s character and all of the countless blessings He has given to you, you may realize you have a lot to be thankful for.

Receive God’s radiant smile and love for you. Do you realize that He rejoices over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17)? How beautiful and precious is that!?

If you are feeling overwhelmed on this journey, take a break. Rest in God’s love for you. Receive His goodness, His truth, and His healing for your soul. Focus only on thanksgiving and praise for awhile. Find your joy in Christ Jesus. Think about Philippians 4:8 kinds of things, which is God’s will for all of us as believers:

  • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8

That is the most powerful thing you can do. As you draw near to Him, Your heart and soul will heal and shine. After He has filled up you to overflowing…

Radiate that glorious smile of yours to everyone in your family!

You are the “heart” of the home. You get to have a huge impact on the emotional and spiritual temperature in your family. I want to see you set the atmosphere to warm, safe, welcoming, and loving. Yes… your smile has that much power! And even if there is a lot of tension in your marriage and your husband can’t hear words from you right now, as you smile at him – you are showing him you are a safe place, that you have the joy of Christ in your heart, and that you have good things to give to him when he is ready to receive them.

What a priceless gift this will be to those you love. You may be shocked at what happens as you simply share this beautiful asset of yours with those you love.

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Smile at your family without any expectations of anyone doing anything for you in return. Then let me know what happens as you focus on blessing your husband and children with your beautiful smile this week, my precious sisters. As you think about good things, and as you focus on smiling – does anything change in your walk with Christ, your own feelings, or your relationships?

  • A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22
  • Those who look to him are radiant. Psalm 34:5
  • Rejoice in the Lord always. Philippians 4:4

RELATED:

There are many benefits to you personally when you smile – even a number of health benefits. Check out this article!

My Welcome Home Plan – Peacefulwife VIDEO

Respecting My Children?

When God opened my eyes 8 years ago to all the yucky motives in my heart concerning my marriage – I began studying godly femininity, biblical womanhood, what it meant to be a Christian wife, and God’s design for marriage. My primary focus was to be right with God, to get rid of any sinful thinking or toxic lies I had unwittingly embraced, and to seek to pour healing into my marriage and relationship with Greg that had been suffering greatly.

But God had more in mind for me than just changing my marriage. He wanted to change ALL of me and ALL of my relationships!

Even though I wasn’t specifically studying about how to be a more godly mom – I couldn’t help but notice things like:

  • How can I really be a godly woman if I am trying to talk to Greg with a respectful, pleasant tone of voice, but I totally lose control with my children and scream at them? And I certainly would want to watch my tone of voice with other people, as well – in my extended family, at church, at work, and everywhere else.
  • I am working on being a safe place for Greg to share his thoughts, shouldn’t I also be a safe place for my children and other people to share their thoughts?
  • The smiling challenge was such a blessing to Greg – but surely, my children are blessed when I smile more at them, too! What if I try the smiling challenge at work, too? And at church?
  • A lot of the things that so many men find to feel disrespectful are things that would feel disrespectful to me, too. And to other women. Well… to anyone, honestly! Even to my children. Many of the disrespectful things were ultimately about sinful motives, wrong attitudes, and unhealthy boundaries. Those are things I would do well to avoid in all of my relationships.
  • A lot of the things I was discovering that speak respect to husbands are really things that should be present in any healthy relationship between any two people, especially between any two grown adults. But there are a lot of things here that I want to be sure to include in how I treat my children, as well.
  • Part of loving other people with God’s agape love (1 Corinthians 13) is that we are to treat all people with honor, value, and dignity just because they are made in the image of God. That would certainly include my children, too.

So I began to implement treating my children with genuine respect, as well – not the same kind of respect I would give my boss, a police officer, my husband, a pastor, or the president. There are different definitions of respect – that word is such a big word and can mean so many different things. Children are not in positions of God-given authority in my life. But God counts the way I treat “the least of these” as the way I treat Him (Matt. 25:31-46).

NOTE: I am planning to devote an entire chapter to this concept in my next book, “The Peaceful Mom,” that is scheduled to be published this coming fall or winter and I hope to address more issues that relate to the heart of a mom on my blog this year at times, if anyone is interested. 🙂

Using Some Dictionary Definitions of “respect”:

I can certainly hold my children in high or special regard and esteem them. I can also give particular attention and consideration to them. And I can have admiration for the good ideas and good qualities my children have.  And I can have a polite attitude toward my children out of reverence for Christ. (I don’t have to respect sin with anyone, of course, and I am not talking about respecting them as if they are in charge of the family.)

How Might I Respect My Children in a Way That Honors Christ?

Of course, some of the ways I might show respect to my children will change as they get older and then as they become grown adults. Here are some suggestions to prayerfully consider. Ultimately, we must each seek to do what God prompts us to do in our situations. I might choose to:

  • Listen to their feelings, knowing that their feelings are important, but also realizing that their feelings can’t be the only basis for my decisions as a parent. There has to be balance, wisdom, and discretion. I want my children to feel heard, loved, and precious. But then I need to make decisions based on what is ultimately in their best interests in the eyes of God according to the truth of His Word.
  • Teach them that God’s Word is the source of absolute truth, not any person’s feelings or desires. So I can respect their personhood but always reverence Christ above all else.
  • Not idolize my children. In other words, I can’t allow them to be what I love most in all the world. Jesus has to occupy the throne of my heart.
  • Allow them to have certain choices that are their own to make that I do not override (these areas should increase as they get older and demonstrate greater levels of trustworthiness and responsibility). I don’t want to try to dictate every little decision to my children, not giving them any chances to make decisions for themselves when appropriate. Again, this requires balance, discernment, and wisdom because this will also change over time.
  • Speak to them with a respectful tone of voice, modeling for them the respectful tone that I desire them to use with me, their father, and other people.
  • Praise the good I see in them. (The things I focus on tend to grow for them just as they do in my other relationships.)
  • Discipline them in private whenever possible so that I do not humiliate them in front of others.
  • Give them room to have their own dreams.
  • Let them know they can respectfully share their feelings, concerns, desires, and ideas with me – that I want to know their hearts and minds and that what they think matters to me.
  • Give them room to fail at appropriate times without me swooping in to always rescue them so that they can learn and grow.
  • Be available to help when they really do need help so they know I am there for them and I have their backs.
  • Be careful about sharing stories about them that would embarrass or humiliate them.
  • Get their permission before sharing sensitive things with others as they become older.
  • Seek to give them as much responsibility as they can truly handle so that they can learn to become responsible members of society in the future.
  • Let them own their decisions and feelings and realize that I am not responsible for their choices. I am responsible for myself. I am responsible to parent them properly in God’s sight at every stage of their development (my parenting will have to change and flex according to each stage). I am accountable to God for how I parent, love, and discipline my children. But they have free will that I cannot override and that God will not override. And yet, at the same time, God is sovereign.
  • Not freak out at them but handle things calmly – i.e.: if a child drops a plate, I can stay totally calm and in control of my own emotions, words, and response. I don’t have to assume evil motives or blast my child for making a mistake or having an accident.
  • Watch my expectations and my own motives about what I want regarding my children to be sure they honor Christ
  • Seek to do what is ultimately in their best interest, respecting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  • Respect specific boundaries that my children may want to set about their personal space. There may be times and certain stages when it would be best for me not to force them to show affection to other people or there may be times when they don’t want to be tickled anymore and if they say they don’t want to be tickled or hugged at that time – I can teach them that I respect their wishes by honoring their requests. I can also teach them that other people should respect their requests about their personal space, as well, and that no one should have the right to force physical contact on them that is unwanted.
  • Recognize and seek to meet their needs when they don’t have a voice or they don’t know how to express their needs yet.
  • Treat them with kindness
  • Use my words to build up, encourage, and bless them, not to tear them down.
  • Be careful not to pressure them too much.
  • Encourage their dreams and encourage them to seek God’s will above my own desires for them.
  • Teach them to show respect to others, including myself and their father.

A QUOTE FROM BILLY GRAHAM:

A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.

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What are some ways God has shown you that He desires you to respect and honor your children or even other people as you have been on this journey?

REMINDER:

If you would like a great place to start the journey to become a peaceful wife, check out my book, “The Peaceful Wife – Living in Submission to Christ As Lord.” And if you have read my book, it would be such a gift to me if you might share an honest review on www.amazon.com. I only need 11 more reviews before Kregel Publications, my publisher, will begin to provide a higher level of support to help promote my book. 🙂

 

Control Girls and Family Christmas – by Shannon Popkin

A guest post by author Shannon Popkin:

I’d like to call a pre-Christmas huddle. Calling all the women in the family please. Can we huddle up for a moment?

I’m calling this meeting because I think there are some hurting women among us. There are some mothers of adult children and mother-in-laws who feel unloved and underappreciated. Their emotions churn as they wonder, “Do my kids even notice all I’ve done for them? Do they even care about me?” And there are some adult daughters and daughter-in-laws who feel stressed out by all of the expectations that they sense coming from the matriarch of the family. Their emotions churn as they wonder, “Does she even see what she’s putting me through, here? Does she see that we’re all trying to make her happy?”

Both feel misunderstood. Both have a very clear idea of how to make things turn out “right”. And neither of them are talking about it. As the clock ticks down toward December 25, the tensions are rising, along with all of the inflated expectations.

Controlling Christmas

Many of these cross-generational tensions that we face stem from our desire for control. As women, we’re particularly interested in creating a Happy Ending for our particular family. We have this inner drive to make everything turn out right. But our heightened expectations only cause us to become more controlling—especially during the holidays.

When I was writing my book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, I was surprised at the consistency. Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Miriam all lived thousands of years ago, and yet I saw them struggling with control the same way we do: they took matters into their own hands and tried to make things turn out right for their families, based on their own single-focused perspective. And they made the whole family miserable in the process. I also noticed that the only way they found what they were really looking for—abiding peace, satisfying family relationships, and deep security—is when they did the opposite of taking control. When they surrendered to God, and made their story all about Him.

I hope that you’ll consider the many, many lessons that can be learned from these Control Girls of the Bible in my upcoming book. But for now, can I offer a few suggestions? Regardless of where your branch is on the family, tree, here are some gentle suggestions for how to choose surrender, rather than control this Christmas:

  • Christmas can be perfect without being perfect. The food, the table, the decorations, the gifts. All of these things can demand an enormous amount of attention. And the greater our expectations, the greater the stress load—shared by everyone. Let’s ask ourselves this question: What is my main goal? To be a blessing to my family? Or to create a “Pinterest Perfect” Christmas? (The two might very well be mutually exclusive.)
  • Be flexible. The people who share your DNA or your last name are not your property. True hospitality considers the needs and preferences of others. Ask what time for dinner will work best for the baby’s schedule. Let your kids know that it’s fine if they want to come a few days after Christmas, since they’ll be traveling to see the other side of the family on Christmas Day. Don’t expect your parents to make a ten hour trip. Be delighted if they do, but not offended if they don’t. Let’s stop making demands or assumptions. It’s controlling, it’s rude, and it destroys peace rather than sharing it.
  • Traditions are not obligations. Sometimes the most gracious, sensitive thing to do is to break a tradition. Or at least set it aside for a while. Maybe this year your son will want his kids to wake up in their own house on Christmas morning. Or maybe this is the year that Christmas brunch becomes Christmas munch… on leftovers. Every year your family changes just a bit. Let’s ask ourselves, Which am I holding to more tightly—my traditions or my loved ones?
  • For goodness’ sake, remember to help. Holidays are a lot of work, and one person shouldn’t do it all. Not the mom or the daughter. Not the mother-in-law or the daughter-in-law. Share the planning, the cost, the kitchen prep, and the cleanup. And gratefully accept the help that others offer! If your daughter-in-law shows up with a dish, take a generous helping and compliment her on her culinary efforts! If your mom is kind enough to clean her house from top to bottom so that your kids can reverse her efforts in a matter of minutes, the least you can do is pick up before you go. Remind yourself: Be kind, one to another. Especially at Christmas.
  • You better not cry. You better not pout; I’m telling you why: Because you’re sabotaging your own Christmas. Be honest. Ask yourself, Am I sulking? Do I have a complaining heart? Is my attitude sullen? If so, is it because I’m not getting what I want? You might very well not get what you want this Christmas. Or on any But by trying to control (sulking and pouting are forms of manipulation), you only make everyone miserable—including you.

Peace at Christmas

Let’s try something different, shall we? Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. It’s the time that we celebrate our Prince of Peace, coming to earth to set up his kingdom. He wants for there to be peace on earth! And peace in families! And especially peace that extends beyond generational lines.

This sort of peace only comes when we are following Jesus and doing life the way he showed us. How did Jesus live? Toward other people, Jesus was a humble servant. He poured out his life and gave himself up on their behalf. And toward God, Jesus lived a life of deep surrender. He said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” (John 5:30)

So let those be our guardrails. Facing others, we serve. Facing God, we surrender.

Our Control Girl hearts will tempt us, this Christmas, to obsess over recipes and gifts and table décor and whether Johnny’s going to be here on Christmas Eve. But as a Jesus Girl, we’re invited to surrender control and spread peace on earth.

 

 

Bio and Book Info

Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for storytelling and humor with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon’s book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, which is available for preorder, is releasing in January. Shannon is also a contributing blogger at TrueWoman.com.

Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more from Shannon, please go to shannonpopkin.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

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Being a Peaceful In-Law

In-law relationships are some of the most notoriously difficult relationships – but we can have healthy relationships with our in-laws and we can have healthy relationships with our own parents, siblings, and adult children “as far as it depends on” us (Rom. 12:18). We don’t have to engage in toxic relationship dynamics and dysfunction. We are no longer slaves to sin and we are now daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords! We can choose to treat our extended family members with respect and honor. When Christ is in us, His character shines through rather than our old sinful nature. He can give us victory to act in ways that please Him in all of our relationships!

Note – if you have very severe issues in your relationships (major uncontrolled mental illness, abuse, violence, threats of violence, drug/alcohol abuse, etc…) and you or someone else is not safe – please reach out for appropriate help from your church, a godly counselor, the police, a doctor, etc… whomever may be appropriate for the situation. And also, always compare anything I say (or any person says) to scripture and seek to obey God. His approval is all that ultimately matters. (If you don’t have a relationship with Christ as your Savior and LORD, please check out this post.)

Some Helpful Principles to Keep in Mind with Extended Family Relationships:

  • It is not my job to “fix” other people.
  • God knows best – I do not. I need to be sure Jesus is squarely on the throne of my life, not self or anyone or anything else.
  • God is sovereign over people and circumstances, I am not. And God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, gives people free will. His sovereignty and their free will work together in ways I can’t begin to fathom. I can trust Him – even when I can’t trust other people.
  • I can’t change other people. I can’t open their eyes to spiritual things. I can’t even change myself or open my own eyes apart from the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.
  • I want to honor other people’s marriage covenants and not try to get them to put me or my opinions/advice above their marriage.
  • I need to be sure I don’t expect others to put me/my approval above Jesus in their hearts.
  • I need to make sure I don’t put others or their approval above Christ in my heart.
  • I can honor Christ on my end and make sure I allow Him to continually purify and refine my motives, thoughts, words, and actions.
  • I can be sure I am taking my thoughts captive for Christ. I can’t afford to  hold onto any sinful thoughts.
  • I need to abide and rest in Christ so that I am overflowing with His power and love in all of my relationships and circumstances.
  • God measures my love for Him by how I treat other people. (Matt. 25:40) Difficult relationships are often spiritual tests. Satan wants to use these things to destroy me and my witness for Christ. God wants to use these tests to prune and purify me.
  • I am responsible to God for how I treat others and how I think. Other people will be responsible to God for how they treat other people and how they think.
  • I can learn to respect and love others in godly, healthy ways as I allow God to regenerate and transform my heart and mind (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • Healthy boundaries and biblical thinking are critical for me to have healthy relationships with others as far as it depends on me.
  • It is not any person’s place to override another person’s free will.
  • Some relationships are not going to be healthy even if I am doing everything right. Other people may choose not to love me and not to like me. Or they may not even know how to love in a healthy way. That is going to  have to be something I can accept if I have done what God desires me to do. I can’t make other people like me or want to be with me.
  • Some relationships are so toxic and others may continue in unrepentant sin so long that my husband and I may have to prayerfully decide that we can’t fellowship with those family members until they are willing to change and rebuild trust. (Matt. 18:15-17)
  • God wants to use me to shine for Christ even in difficult situations.
  • God can and will use difficult relationships to refine me and to help me grow in spiritual maturity if I am open to Him and teachable.
  • God may use my witness for Christ to draw my family members to Himself as I allow Him to love them through me.
  • If godly love is not my motive, whatever I am doing will not count for Christ in eternity. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
  • I have a covenant with my husband, not with my parents or in-laws. Marriage is to be the priority relationship in God’s design. (Gen. 2:24)
  • I am responsible to God for myself spiritually and emotionally, others are responsible for themselves spiritually and emotionally.
  • I can influence people but I can’t control them.
  • I want to live in total submission to Christ as Lord in all of my relationships so that I am seeking God’s will far above my own will.
  • I want to guard my own motives from sin and get rid of any bitterness, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, control, fear, selfishness, people pleasing, and any other toxic thought patterns.
  • I can seek to better understand those who think differently from me. It is much easier to avoid unnecessary conflict if I can understand their perspectives.
  • I can seek to be flexible (unless someone is asking me to participate in or condone sin) and ready to extend much grace, compassion, understanding, and mercy.
  • God promises to use everything in my life – good and bad – to accomplish His good purposes in my life and His glory if I belong to Jesus. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • I can rest in God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love no matter what circumstances I may be facing.
  • I can take problems and other people to God in prayer and invite His Spirit to accomplish His purposes in their lives in ways I can’t even begin to imagine.
  • There are times I may need to confront sin in others – but, I need to be sure my heart is right first. And, if it is my husband’s family, I may want to allow him to handle the confrontation if possible – as God prompts us both.

A lot of the principles we learn as we seek to become godly wives carry over into other relationships, as well – like respect…

Ways I Can Respect Extended Family Members – I can choose to:

  • Speak in a respectful, pleasant tone of voice.
  • Honor any requests they make of me – i.e.: not to bring up an embarrassing story from the past that they don’t want me to share with others.
  • Have friendly facial expressions and to smile genuinely to bless others because of the joy I  have in Christ.
  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
  • Accept people as they are and seek to see them as God sees them, loving them with His love.
  • Respect other people because they are created in God’s image and God loves them (that doesn’t mean I have to respect sin, of course).
  • Enjoy them and be warm and welcoming.
  • Give space to those who need more space out of respect rather than resentment.
  • Seek to understand the needs of different people with different personalities and temperments.
  • Lay down most of my expectations. (other than for things like safety, for example)
  • Accept that different people have different backgrounds, personalities, filters, and perspectives so we will not think the same way or all agree on everything. That is okay!
  • Approach others with humility rather than looking down on anyone.
  • Allow people to make their own choices without me interfering. (There may be exceptions in the case of someone truly abusing another person or doing something illegal where I may have a legal/ethical/spiritual responsibility to step in.)
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice.
  • Avoid having a critical or judgmental spirit.
  • Immediately confess any bitterness or resentment in my heart to God and refuse to give in to Satan’s temptation to get me to give him a foothold in my life.
  • Allow God’s Spirit to speak life through me rather than allowing my sinful nature/the enemy to use my thoughts, words, and actions to destroy and speak death to my family members.
  • Listen when others are talking without interrupting.
  • Treat others like they are important and precious.
  • See other people with God’s eyes and love them with His heart.
  • Repay evil with good. (Rom. 12:17-21)
  • Not allow anyone to steal the joy, peace, and power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has given to me.
  • Respond gently and with self-control. (Prov. 15:1, Gal. 5:22-23)
  • Extend patience, kindness, and blessing to others – not so they will approve of me or like me, but so that God is pleased with me and just to bless them.
  • Allow others to talk about the things that are important to them rather than me dominating the conversation. Although, there is balance here – I can also feel free to bring up topics at times, as well, unless God shows me I need to remain silent at a specific time.
  • Seek to be a godly influence and to use my position and relationship to pour the love, healing, and truth of Christ into my extended family members’ lives as God prompts me to by His Spirit humbly, gently, and respectfully.
  • Take up my cross, dying to my sinful nature, seeking only to honor Jesus. Some of the little issues are just not that important – where we eat, how we handle a gift exchange at Christmas, etc…
  • Be open to God’s suggestions for me about how to show His love to the particular people in my family.
  • “Win them without words” if they don’t want to hear me talk about Jesus.
  • Respect people’s decisions and choices and honor them. (If they don’t want to talk with me about God or don’t want to see me, I can choose to respect that without bitterness.)
  • Love with a 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love not with conditional, worldly love that has strings attached.
  • Speak in positive ways about my family members to them and to others.
  • Avoid gossiping (to family members and about family members), quarreling, divisiveness, and strife.
  • Be a godly example by my attitude, words, non-verbal body language, and actions.
  • Seek to promote God’s Spirit of love, peace, and unity.

RESOURCES:

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced – about God, ourselves, others, and relationships

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

25 Ways I Can Respect Myself – or “think rightly” about myself

Handling a Controlling Mother as a Team

My Disrespect and Controlling Behavior Don’t Just Hurt My Husband

Respecting Your Husband around Extended Family

What Causes a Woman to Become Controlling? – April’s video

Being Controlling VS. Being Helpful to Your Guy – April’s video, a lot of this applies to our other relationships, as well, not just to our men.

Bitterness Is Poison! – April’s video

12 Ways to Repel a Guy – April’s video, these things will repel other people in our lives, too

Some Conflict is Unavoidable

“I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs! That’s the Godly Thing to Do”

How Can I Tell If God Is Working in My Life or If I Am Trying to Do Things in My Own Power

For those with very toxic relationships, you may need more specialized help. www.leslievernick.com may be helpful. Please weigh anything any human author says against Scripture and seek to honor Christ and God’s Word above all.

 

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