Anne Frank

Lauren (3rd grade) and I are reading about Anne Frank during homeschool.
I love this quote:

anne frank praiseandcoffee copy

A giving heart is filled with joy and contentment, but a person striving for stuff or control never has enough.

When Prayers Are Not Answered

We pray and plead and hope and trust, yet nothing happens.

Or does it?

We set our sights on the answer, and only the answer we desire.

What if it’s not that simple?

What if there is more going on than a transaction?

Imagine a child-parent relationship based on transactions? The child says to the parent, “I will ask you for things. you take care of them and I will thank you.”

I don’t want the parent or child side of that relationship. Sadly, I think we often approach our faith this way and we miss the depth of an authentic relationship with the Father.

He promises us:
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Instead of focusing on questions surrounding unanswered prayer, maybe we need to look for Him in the midst of our trial. He promised not to leave us, so He IS there…but where? Where is He revealing His love to us? A song, a smile, a sigh of relief?

He is there, He is here. Look for Him and let Him love you in the quiet moments and raging chaos. Answered prayer encompasses much more than checked boxes. It is about healing the parts of us we didn’t know were broken and revealing the loneliness inside. It is letting God love us and noticing when He does.

Don’t let “unanswered prayers” distract you. Transactions are empty, relationship fills the deepest part of us that longs to know Him and be known by Him.

Emotional Survival Isn’t Living

emotional survival isnt living Praise and Coffee

Galatians 4: 4-7

4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Orphanages have an overwhelming task of caring for young ones that need individual attention but lack the numbers of loving arms to adequately meet the needs of all the children. A child raised in an orphanage usually suffers from some level of attachment disorder due to neglect and sadly there are times of abuse. This means they do not get the necessary bonding with one loving adult, so they struggle with relationships. If they have not found the world to be trustworthy to meet their needs they will not let themselves be vulnerable, instead their instincts tell them to provide for themselves and control their world as much as possible to avoid the pain of rejection. They turn on an emotional survival switch in their brain and respond with whatever means possible to get their needs met, be it; anger, rage, charm or manipulation.

Many Christians have this same experience in our journey of faith. We begin our walk with the Lord though a set of rules and regulations and possibly even spiritual abuse or neglect. We build a relationship with God on our good behavior and works all the while struggling to grow closer to the Father. Often we don’t even realize this until we notice that we’re overwhelmed with comparison, jealousy and/or fear. We won’t let ourselves be vulnerable to God or others and will go to great lengths to avoid rejection. Many of us find ourselves like a gerbil on a wheel of performance and obligation that keeps us busy but never provides the peace we are lacking.

We won’t let ourselves be vulnerable to God or others and will go to great lengths to avoid rejection.

Just like orphans with attachment disorder, we need bonding. We are God’s own children, Daddy’s little girls. He wants a relationship with us that brings us peace, comfort and rest. A child learns to bond by trusting in a loving caretaker to meet their needs, over and over again; then slowly releasing their grip of control (which is really no control at all, only fear) until a mutual love is shared. Once a child can learn to rest in that love, they will heal and grow naturally.

The same goes for our relationship with the Father. There is no magic prayer to experience a deep relationship (attachment/connection) with Him, it is a result of leaning hard into Him…and letting Him love us over and over again. No more running to empty vices or emotional fixes, no more performance (DO-ing for approval) and good deeds to give us false satisfaction. Emotional survival isn’t living. Unconditional love poured out by God and received by us. Resting in His amazing love is the only way to build a deep and authentic relationship with the Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Would you say that your current relationship with the Father is one based on rules, guidelines and survival or is it built on trust and resting in Him?

Fun Ideas for Graduation Parties

Taken from my Real Moms of West Michigan series on STAR 105.7 with Tommy and Brook… It’s Graduation season and they made it…no, YOU made it! Homework, sports, first loves and braces. It’s time to celebrate so put away the Kleenex for a minute and let’s throw a party! Here are some simple and fun ideas to make your day great.

1.  Put up a video camera on a tri-pod and hit record for the party. Also, make a sign that asks the guests to say a few words to the graduate, it will be lots of fun watching this later!

2. FOOD! Be creative with food. It’s ok to step away from the ham and cheese sandwiches.

  • Baked potato and salad bar
  • Taco bar
  • Appetizer and Dessert party
  • Brinner! Breakfast for dinner is a fun buffet that people love.
  • Search Pinterest! I have a board all set up with a bunch of great ideas and you can find that on my website.

3. Decorations:

  • Dollar stores are your friend! You can find all kinds of great stuff there: lawn signs, balloons, plates, etc
  • An easy table decoration: Colored M & M type candies that you can find right in the bulk food section
    • Pick out your child’s school colors and add a few curly ribbons around them and call it good!

4. Stressing about getting the house ready? Have a destination party: host the party at a local hotel or restaurant. A local venue is ideal if you plan to have a large number of guests at the party.

5. Theme Party: Base the whole party around a sport or activity that your graduate loves. Video games, TV Shows, Twitter, travel, music, COFFEE…whatever they enjoy.

Another fun idea to have at a graduation party is get the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”…by Dr. Seuss and have all the guests attending sign the pages as a keepsake for the graduate. Most importantly: Real Moms are not afraid to ask for help! If your child is graduating, you probably know a couple other moms who are also planning parties, barter help with each other so you can spend time visiting with the guests. Then do the same for them. So, those are a few ideas, check out my Pinterest page for lots more. And congrats to all the graduates and their great moms that got them there!!   Click to listen to segment: Real Moms of West Michigan on Star 105.7 I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio More that might interest you: Has God Been Calling You to Step Out? Six Ways To Connect With Your Kids Helping Our Kids Deal with Separation Anxiety

Can Time-Outs Hurt Our Kids?

Taken from my weekly segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook

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All month we’ve been talking about how to have happy kids and help them overcome anxiety, this week we’re going to continue that by helping our kids have a sense of significance and value. We want our kids to know that they are an important part of not only our family but also their community and world. All of us want to feel like we belong and our kids are no different, especially when they are growing up and looking for their place.

A key to our children’s security is showing them that they have value. Today I want to talk about a way that we might be DE-valuing our children without even realizing it.

Time-outs.

We all know that there are times our children need a minute or sixty to process and consider their actions, but how we give them a time out could make all the difference. We have to be careful that when we give a child a time-out we are not telling them, “I am angry with you, I reject you, and you’ve lost the invitation to be in my presence,” which inadvertently says to them, “You are no longer valuable to me.”

Much of this will depend on our tone and the circumstances.

We may need to consider if they really need a time out or if we’re just overwhelmed and maybe we need a time-out. Sometimes, if we are honest about it, we are the ones that need a break from all the questions and commentary that our little ones can drown us in. So, we want to look at each situation and ask ourselves if it’s a punishable offense or just a frustration. Our reaction could be telling our child that they are not valuable or significant and that they don’t matter to us right now.

Of course we know that is not the truth, we love our children and want them to rest securely in that love. Our kids need to know that our love for them is unconditional; proximity, contact and closeness speak volumes to our children about how much they matter to us and the world around them. When we want them near us it tells them that they are significant. When we hastily send them away from us it could be telling them that they are not valued.

Yes, there will be times when one of both of us needs a time-out, but be careful not to crush their spirit in the process. Let time outs be a discipline for actions but not a rejection of them personally. Sending them away from us out of frustration will send the wrong signal. We don’t want our kids feeling like we don’t like them or that our love for them is conditional based on how good they “perform.” We will have to discipline our children, but we don’t have to de-value them in the process.

Can time-outs hurt our kids? I believe it all depends on whether we leave our kids feeling rejected by us (which is not good) or remorseful for their actions (which is good and beneficial). Of course this is another age-and-stage topic and there is no magic formula for how to handle each situation. Time-outs can be helpful and give a child some time to collect their thoughts, reflect on their actions or just calm themselves down. Follow your heart and instincts, they seem to know how to do this better than the emotions at the moment.

How do you handle these Real Mom (and Dad) moments?

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Helping Our Kids Deal With Separation Anxiety

separation anxiety praise and coffee

In the world of winning ball games, honor roll and weather related Facebook status’s many moms are not letting on that there is a deep and painful struggle going on in their homes.  Children are dealing with anxiety at alarming rates and its affecting families, schools and the lives of good Moms everywhere.

At some level all kids deal with anxiety, but when it hinders our families from functioning in a healthy manner, we need to pay attention and help our kids through it.

I will be talking the next several weeks on my segments with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7 about helping our kids through anxiety. Today I’m talking about separation anxiety. You might think that this is just a toddler issue, but it can affect children into their teens and honestly even adults.

Often parents think that if their child is dealing with separation anxiety then they just need more separation, but child psychologist feel that the opposite is true. Kids were not meant to be OK without us. They need us to be their anchor. Their safe place in a storm and comfort from the world around them.

Children, and all of us really, crave connection. Children are especially sensitive to the connection with their parents and in fact they’re entire well-being counts on the parent-child connection. But we can’t be with our children 24/7, so how can we help our kids deal with our leaving them?

There are going to be many age and stage appropriate helps, but one way to help them through the transition of separation is to focus on your next connection with them. Tell them, “I’ll see you again in just a little while.” This way, instead of them thinking about you leaving them, they are focusing on the next connection with you.

Think of it as building bridges with them. Take them (emotionally) to the next connection instead of leaving them at the end of a dead end road. Talk about what you’re going to do when you see them again. “We will be together for dinner.” If it’s night time, “I will see you in just a little bit when the sun comes up.”

Moms, the stronger the connection you have with your children, the easier it will be for them to deal with the temporary separation from you. Physical touch, eye contact and listening are excellent ways to strengthen the connection with our kids.

Build bridges and focus on the next connection.

Luke 18:15-17 NLT
[ Jesus Blesses the Children ]  One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

If you missed this segment you can listen to it and more on my Star 105.7 page.

Three Tips for a Stronger Marriage

stronger marriage

Three Tips for Stronger Marriage:
1. Forgive– the fire goes out when you water it with forgiveness.
“Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
Eph. 4:32 The Message
2. Communicate– your spouse is not a mind reader, tell him/her how you feel and use phrases like “I feel…..” not “You always……”
3. Play– Do something fun together. Set aside life’s worries for a time of connection and laughs.

 

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!” Eccl. 4:9-10 MSG

 

Edited to add:
My friend Darlene Schacht has put a 365 day marriage prayer devotional online, I think you might love it!
Todays Marriage Prayer

From Angry Moms to Happy Moms ~Part 2

Taken from my segment with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7. Tuesdays at 7:05 AM.

angry moms happy moms copy

We’re continuing our month long look at how to go from angry moms to happy moms. Last week we said “admit it.” Don’t deny the issue, take it head on.

This week we are going to talk about being reactors or responders.

Anger, in and of itself is not a bad thing, it’s a natural emotion we all deal with- but HOW we deal with it is a choice.

How can I say, “Let’s grind the Play-Doh somewhere else,” when what I really feel like is throwing the Play-Doh into the trash and banishing my son to his room?

The difference can be in if we react or respond.

Reacting will look like:

  • Bursting out- rage
  • Loud, shouting
  • Using guilt to control behavior

It could also look like:

  • Withdrawing
  • Silent treatment
  • Resentful
  • Sarcastic

All of these are reactive because we haven’t taken the time to consider the consequences of these actions.

They usually lead to regret, mom guilt, words and actions that we can’t take back.

A better option is to respond, that looks like:

  • Direct communication-being clear about our expectations.
  • Looking deeper than the moment- asking ourselves WHY? Is our child acting this way and what do they really need right now? Sometimes it’s as easy as food or rest.
  • Responding is firm but motivated by love and nurturing.
  • Responding will keep us in our authorative parenting role when reacting brings us to the level of our child.

 We want our kids to understand that:

“Even when I’m angry, I still love you.”

Often a child’s understanding is that when we are angry we don’t love them anymore.

So let’s think more about responding to the needs of the child and not just reacting to the situation.

In Proverbs 16:32 we read, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty” (NASB).

If you are like me you recognize that it takes might, determination and prayer to respond patiently and be slow to anger.

Prayer is a big part of my parenting, I highly encourage it!

If you missed Part One: From Angry Moms to Happy Moms ~Part 1

 

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

From Angry Moms to Happy Moms ~Part 1

Taken from my segment with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7. Tuesdays at 7:05 AM.

angry moms happy moms copy

 

First off let me say, I get it, I understand. I’m with you in the trenches of this one friend! We can all relate to being an angry mom at times and it doesn’t feel good to us or our kids. There is no doubt we have a tough job- I think it’s the toughest job there is. The kids are bickering, they’ve disobeyed or talked back and we’re yelling or worse…and then we feel awful. We feel like a failure.

For the month of February we’re going to talk about how to go from being angry moms to being happy moms.

This week we’re going to: admit it.

If we’ve blown it, we should own it. Pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t change the fact that we lost our temper and yelled at the kids.

Whether we do this alone in front of the mirror, in prayer, or with a trusted friend; we need to admit it. Being in denial doesn’t help; it just creates a bigger weight on our shoulders. The heaviness of guilt is miserable so getting it off our chest and putting it out there is freeing, even when we’re just admitting it to ourselves.

Taking responsibility for our actions can be difficult and humbling but it helps us start over. We may need to apologize to our kids. There is nothing wrong with asking our kids to forgive us, it gives our kids a great example of how they should handle their own mistakes. We can say, “I blew it and I’m sorry,” and if we said something cruel and we’ve torn away at their trust and respect, we need to use our words to do some repairing. It is a powerful way to teach them about what to do with guilt and bad behavior.

So, let’s take a step towards being a happy mom by admitting it if this is a struggle for us.

I admit it and will tell you that I need God’s help to overcome it. I can’t do it on my own and I have often stepped behind a closed door to pray and ask the Father to help me calm down and forgive me for losing my temper.

My friend Lysa Terkeurst wrote an excellent book: “Unglued~ Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” I highly recommend it, you can get it at this link, on Amazon or anywhere you buy books.

Here is an excerpt:
“In the quiet, God lifts us up to a more rational place. When we are in the heat of tangled mess, crazy emotions drag us down into a pit of hopelessness. The only way out of the pit is to make the choice to stop digging deeper and turn to God for a solution, so ‘that God may life you up in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6.”

Moms, if you struggle with anger, you are not alone! I’m praying for you and for me and trusting that God will fill us with peace and joy and help us be happy moms.
I’d love you to leave a comment and let me know about your struggle or remedy to help you with anger.

 

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Don’t Give Up

A piece of what I’ve been working on…

Don't give up praise and coffee
Some days the pain is so deep, we can’t see over the edge of it. The day Mary watched her son beaten and crucified had to feel like the absolute end. But the mourning turned to morning and He rose. In the darkest of our days we dare have hope because light will not be kept under darkness and life will burst forth again. It could come through earthquakes and stones rolled away, it could be the tiny sprout of new life that breaks through the thawing ground or the person who wakes up and decides to start living again. The deepest of pain becomes a memory as the infant’s cry fills the room like a gospel choir.

It’s new life, a new day. It’s hope.

Please don’t give up.

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. Romans 4:18 The Message

And be careful not to paint hope with one just color and brush, often new life looks different than we imagined it would.

 

I have experienced this kind of hope, I’d love to hear your stories of new life if you want to share.

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