Leave Yesterday’s Mistakes Behind




yesterdays mistakes

 

Our past is a huge part of our future…our stories shape us and we become a women of our individual journeys. I don’t believe we can or should leave our stories behind us and think that we can just forget where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

But let’s not let our mistakes or sins keep us from the beauty that God has before us.

The ashes are a necessary part of the beauty, but don’t let the ashes direct us, let hope and trust in the Father direct us.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Guest Post: Prayers for New Brides by Jennifer O. White

Hello ladies!

I’m going to dust off the blog and share a few things next week but today I wanted to let you know about a book that my online friend Jennifer has published. I love it when women take their ashes, brings them to God and He makes them beautiful!

Sue

blog PFNB Book Cover
Praising God for Marriage and Your Husband
Today we have a guest post from Jennifer O. White. Jennifer’s passion is helping people pray God’s Word for themselves and their marriages. She’s the veteran of one failed marriage and one rescued by Jesus, the marriage Savior. Her brand new book, Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor after the Wedding Dress, helps brides recognize the spiritual battle in their marriages. With Bible teaching, scriptural prayer and action plans, she leads us all to show up, surrender and salute Almighty God who will strengthen and defend us against the evil one.

 

blog PFNB Quote Lyn Smith

 

For encouragement on arming your marriage with God’s Word, stop by Jennifer’s blog, Prayerfully Speaking, for a free chapter of Prayers for New Brides: Seeing Your Spouse as God Sees Him.

Get Out Of The Wake

boat-wake

When our kids were teens we had a 17 foot speed boat and took them tubing every summer. It became quite an adventure. What began as a fun family time quickly turned into “combat tubing” which included four tubes behind the boat, high rates of speed and acrobatics involving jumping over each other as we cornered and landing on top of the other tubers. The wake was their friend and often used to launch them into the air and Mom into a nervous break down. Thankfully it only made for great memories and no trips to the hospital.

The wake was a tool to propel them on to exciting heights but it could also be what held them back if they didn’t have the speed and momentum to get over it.

The wake can hold us back too.

We can spend our lives riding in the wake of our past, the words and opinions of others, and our own fears and insecurities or we can choose to get out of the wake and journey on uncharted paths.

What has been keeping you in the wake?

Who has been keeping you in the wake?

Whose opinion matters more than your hearts desire to launch out of the wake?

What fears are keeping you in the wake?

You are limited only by your belief that you have to stay in the wake.

 Isaiah 43:1-But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. NIV

 

 

 

Has God Been Call You To Step Out?

Have you been feeling God call you to step out? Do you want to start something organic and let God direct the movement and conversation?

You don’t have to wait for permission to grab some girlfriends or the lady at the bank who’s been on your heart and go for coffee.

We want to help you facilitate connection, encouragement and inspiration…

We are very excited to announce that our first in the series of Praise and Coffee to Go’s is available on Kindle for $2.99

Praise and Coffe to Go Volume 1

Available on Amazon

Six Praise and Coffee Conversations to help you facilitate a Praise and Coffee group (or any small group) as you gather in coffee shops or around kitchen tables.
No preparation required.

All you have to do is grab your Kindle or iPad and invite two to twelve friends to a coffee shop/restaurant or around your kitchen table.

Consider these six conversations a springboard. Do not hold rigidly to them, instead let the conversations serve your group fluid and flexible. We pray they lead you into conversations that promote connection, encouragement and inspiration. No one in the group is required to participate, but do encourage anyone to share.

Praise and Coffee to Go is not intended to resemble a classroom with students and a teacher but, instead, a group of friends sharing life, laughter, tears and the desire to connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Praise and Coffee to Go is set up for gatherings of two or more, but of course you could use the lessons as a personal study or devotional.

Conversations include:
Get Things Brewing: These include three ice-breaker questions to warm up the group. These are intended to launch comfortable, casual conversation. You can go around the table and ask the ladies each question or read each one and let the participants choose a question they would like to answer.

Steep: Scripture and thoughts to contemplate and consider how they apply to each of our lives.

Press It Out: This is the heart of your gathering, questions to spur conversation. Do as many or few of these as you like. Use them as conversation starters, not classroom questions. Note: if your conversation takes you in a different direction, GO THERE and have an authentic discussion. Connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Extra Shot: Some days we just need another shot; that’s what these are for. Take the discussion farther with scripture. Discuss how each of the verses apply to your life and help you become the woman God created you to be.

This is the first of many that we hope to publish for you and we also plan to have them printed, I’ll keep you posted about that!

The book is available on Amazon here: Praise and Coffee to Go

Special thanks to Ronel Sidney for ideas and encouragement and traveling this Praise and Coffee journey with me, you are the greatest friend and strength to me, and Anna Fontaine for helping me with edits early on in this process.
You are welcome to use these in groups not labeled “Praise and Coffee,” but if you are interested in starting a Praise and Coffee group in your community join our Facebook page to connect with other women who meet around the world: Praise and Coffee Leaders

Praise and Coffee to Go ~ Available on Amazon!

We are very excited to announce that our first in the series of Praise and Coffee to Go’s is available on Kindle!

Praise and Coffe to Go Volume 1

Available on Amazon

Six Praise and Coffee Conversations to help you facilitate a Praise and Coffee group (or any small group) as you gather in coffee shops or around kitchen tables.
No preparation required.

All you have to do is grab your Kindle or iPad and invite two to twelve friends to a coffee shop/restaurant or around your kitchen table.

Consider these six conversations a springboard. Do not hold rigidly to them, instead let the conversations serve your group fluid and flexible. We pray they lead you into conversations that promote connection, encouragement and inspiration. No one in the group is required to participate, but do encourage anyone to share.

Praise and Coffee to Go is not intended to resemble a classroom with students and a teacher but, instead, a group of friends sharing life, laughter, tears and the desire to connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Praise and Coffee to Go is set up for gatherings of two or more, but of course you could use the lessons as a personal study or devotional.

Conversations include:
Get Things Brewing: These include three ice-breaker questions to warm up the group. These are intended to launch comfortable, casual conversation. You can go around the table and ask the ladies each question or read each one and let the participants choose a question they would like to answer.

Steep: Scripture and thoughts to contemplate and consider how they apply to each of our lives.

Press It Out: This is the heart of your gathering, questions to spur conversation. Do as many or few of these as you like. Use them as conversation starters, not classroom questions. Note: if your conversation takes you in a different direction, GO THERE and have an authentic discussion. Connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Extra Shot: Some days we just need another shot; that’s what these are for. Take the discussion farther with scripture. Discuss how each of the verses apply to your life and help you become the woman God created you to be.

This is the first of many that we hope to publish for you and we also plan to have them printed, I’ll keep you posted about that!

The book is available on Amazon here: Praise and Coffee to Go

Special thanks to Ronel Sidney for ideas and encouragement and traveling this Praise and Coffee journey with me, you are the greatest friend and strength to me, and Anna Fontaine for helping me with edits early on in this process.
You are welcome to use these in groups not labeled “Praise and Coffee,” but if you are interested in starting a Praise and Coffee group in your community join our Facebook page to connect with other women who meet around the world: Praise and Coffee Leaders

When You Think You’ve Gone Too Far

As long as you’re still taking breaths…you haven’t gone too far away from His love.

No matter where you’ve gone or what you’ve done, He’s been pursuing you with His love.
Stop running…

god love is fierce copy

Fierce: /fi(ə)rs/

Adjective: having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.

 

1 John 4:9
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

John 15:13
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Proverbs 3:3
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Psalm 71:20
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

Loneliness Is Not About Being Alone

Loneliness is not about being alone, it’s about not feeling connected.

depression robin williams

Rest In Peace Robin…you will be missed

Robin Williams death has set our thoughts again on the desperate truth of depression and our human need for connection.

Connections are what make life worth living. God is all about connections. The Bible is overflowing with stories of connection.

Connecting us to Him and then to each other.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt 22:37-39

Connecting with God and connecting with others. Connection requires taking the risk to care about someone outside your own skin. It’s the willingness to lower the gate on our heart and allow someone in. You do have something to offer, even when it’s just an ear to listen. There are women just like you, overwhelmed with marriage, motherhood or maybe just getting themselves out of bed in the morning.

We are not lonely, we are disconnected.

Get connected.

Praise and Coffee ~ Connecting women to encourage each other and inspiring them to draw closer to God.

More: Why Big Conferences and Mega Churches Are Not Enough

Six Ways To Connect With Our Kids

six ways to connect with our kids

Taken from my “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 every Tuesday at 7:05 AM…

We have never had more information about parenting available to us, but often we’re still baffled about how to deal with situations with our kids.
I think that is because the more important part of parenting is not WHAT we do but WHO we are to our kids.

All the parenting skills in the world can not compensate for a lack of connecting with them as a parent, as an authority and as the one who is most reliable to care for them. Listening and letting them know that you care.

A lot of parents today are shrinking back because we don’t feel qualified to help or understand our kids and what is happening is that they are reaching out to each other, looking to peers to fill that void of connection. They’re looking to each other for social cues and direction but their peers are not equipped to guide them which can leave our kids on very unstable ground emotionally.

And yes, social media plays a huge role in this today. Instead of kids looking to parents as their compass and their validation, they are looking at “friends” and “likes” on their pictures/status’s.

The good news is that it’s not too late. Children want connection with us, they want to look up to us, no matter what they say or how they act, they have an internal instinct to need their parent.
So what do they need from us? They need us to lead with love and authority. Give them guidance. Be their parent.

I am doing a series on my Real Moms segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook, it’s about the Six Ways to Connect with Our Kids. We will go from the most shallow and most basic type of connection to the deepest level of attachment with someone because understanding attachment/connection is the single most important factor in knowing how to help our kids become confident, secure and emotionally healthy adults.

Much of this information was learned through reading “Hold On To Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld.

1. The first one is SENSES.

Children have an instinctive need to sense who they are connecting with: sight-smell-sound-touch. Physical proximity is the most basic way we connect. Even though this is considered the most basic level of connection, it is extremely important in all relationships; and that hunger for closeness never goes away.

To apply that to parenting: spend time together, make eye contact, and make sure you still have physical contact with them. Hugs, high fives, wrestling when their little, touching their arm or shoulder or patting their back as they get older.

They need this from us all through life.

If you’re feeling distance from your child, you might want to pay attention to who they seem to need to be around. Are there peers whom they are driven to be with and at the same time putting up walls with you? Are they making some poor choices as they follow their friends?

This is not the time to just draw back and say– “well they’re growing up and this is normal that they want less to do with me.” Especially if you see their character changing for the worse.

Yes, they will grow up and leave the nest, BUT parents still need to stay engaged until they do leave the nest and remain connected because often they are searching for outside connection because they’re not feeling it with us.

Even and especially through the teens years they need to have connection with us…they need to know we are there for them and believe in them.

So, stay connected to your kids in the most basic of ways which is through their senses.

2. The second one is SAMENESS.

We start to see the need for sameness when our kids are toddlers as they mimic those who are closest to them. They are essentially trying to discover who they are so they start to assume our identity. They want to be just like mom or just like dad, so they copy us. Our words our actions our responses; they are paying close attention to everything we say and do.

This is an important part of connection and it continues on in life. It is a very strong drive for children to be the “same” as others. This breaks down on so many levels; it can be about them wanting the same brand of shoes that everyone is wearing or in extreme cases gang affiliation.

Parents, we really need to pay attention to who our kids are emulating and trying to be the same as. As they grow we see a pulling away and they want to be the same as others. Some of this is normal progression of a child becoming who they are…but be careful not to dismiss rebellion for individuality.

A child who is truly becoming their own person will be an individual in all circumstances and not just individual from their parents.

If you are feeling your child being sucked away from you, it’s time to step up and work on fixing that connection with your child because that is not normal or healthy. It is almost like we’ve just taken for granted that our kids will become teens and rebel, but that’s a mistake because true individuality does not mean rebellion.

So parents, let’s pay attention to our kids need for sameness, give them space to be individuals but also nurture their uniqueness and encourage their individuality by validating who they are. They will be drawn to those who accept them.

We’re seeing a generation of kids that are terrified of being different. They feel that “different” is wrong, it’s our job to give them a secure foundation to let their unique personality and individuality blossom. They need to know that they have a place to belong and be loved- no matter what.

3. The third is BELONGING and LOYALTY

Again we see this unfolding in toddlerhood as they lay claim to whatever they feel is theirs.
“Mine!”
This is all part of connecting, they even do it with us; MY daddy, MY mommy, they jealously seek to possess us.
We see this as they get older with BFF’s, and the tight knit relationships they form in junior and senior high school. Along with that comes loyalty; sharing and protecting each other’s secrets, taking their friend’s side.
This is a crucial part of attaching and connecting, and the thing we need to watch out for is if our kids are finding their sense of belonging and becoming deeply loyal to friends or peer groups and those relationships are becoming more important than the sense of belonging and loyalty that they feel in their family.

A child will be stronger emotionally and socially if their deepest ties and loyalty are to their family first.

Let them know how important they are to your family, that home is their first place of belonging and show them your loyalty to the person they are becoming by believing in them.

 

4. The fourth is SIGNIFICANCE

This is that sense of knowing that we matter, that we are held dear to someone’s heart.

It’s all about our deep need for approval.

Our kids will gravitate to those that will accept and approve of them.

A child can tell by our countenance if we approve of them, if we are glad they walked into a room.
Are we happy to see them? They will know it.
They desperately want to know that they matter, that they are seen and valuable.  They need to know that they are significant. Just like we all still do.
A few things to help our kids feel significant:
*Don’t minimize their feelings. Home needs to be the safe place for them to allow their feelings to be heard and understood.
*Encourage them to pursue their dreams. What do they love to do? Help them get better at it.
For those of you that said- they only like video games…get them out of the house, expose them to more things and places, opportunities.
*Listen to them, give them eye contact when they’re talking. Put down the phone when they’re trying to tell us something.
Our kids want to know that they are significant and the healthiest place for them to find their significance is the home. When they have the solid foundation of who they are at home, they can become strong, determined young adults.

 5. The fifth is FEELINGS

Kids and adults find closeness through feelings, warm feelings, loving feelings, affectionate feelings. We want to build solid connections with our kids and emotion is strongly tied to connection.
When a child connects emotionally to their parent, it forms an intimate attachment that is not easily broken. Even when there is distance between them AND even when there are challenges and peer relationships that might be interfering with our parenting. We need to have emotional attachment with our kids.
This is when connection goes from the shallow end of just being in proximity to each other TO connecting through a loving relationship.

This includes being vulnerable with one another and it is a riskier form of connection.

If you hear a child say to a parent, “yeah, whatever” or “I don’t care” – that’s defensive sign of a lack of attachment – it means the child is afraid of getting hurt by the parent so he becomes defensive against vulnerability – he protects himself from feeling vulnerable by putting up a wall.
As parents, we want to create a safe emotional environment for our kids to FEEL our love and affection.
Sometimes we get off track when parenting trials come along and we think we need more information. We feel we are not good enough parents because we don’t know enough about parenting, but that is not true. Parenting is not about being skilled, it is about the relationship we have with our children.
Parenthood is not a skill to be acquired.
Attachment is not a behavior to be learned but a connection to be sought.
Parents- you are fully equipped to raise your kids- even if you’ve never read a book about parenting. Trust your gut, follow the instinct that IS in all of us and nurture your relationship with your child as it works best in your family.

 6. The sixth is BEING KNOWN

To be close to someone is to be known by them.
This is closely related to last week- feelings. The feeling of being loved is so important…especially coupled with being known.
When a child is vulnerable to their parents and feels loved even in their failures, they are known deeply and the attachment/connection is powerful and they don’t fear rejection.
They put down their guard and let you in. This child will not want to keep secrets from their parents, they will trust that they will be accepted, loved and invited to be themselves.

Being known is the deepest level of attachment and connection.

This kind of relationship does not happen by chance and you can not assume that it will happen just because you are the parent and they are your child. This level of connection is nurtured and developed over time and trial and situations that show our children we are there for them and love them without conditions.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t involve discipline, but the focus of this relationship is not about just dealing with wrong behavior and correcting them. The focus is training and teaching our kids how to make the best choices.
Ultimately, a deep attachment with parents will help your kids become emotionally secure and independent.
REMEMBER Parenting is above all a relationship, not a skill to be acquired. Attachment is not a behavior to be learned but a connection to be sought.

 

Listen to segments here: Real Moms on Star 105.7

Take Your Stand

Freedom: the condition of being free, the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints.

Freedom gal 5 1 praiseandcoffee copy
We picture a woman in an abusive marriage or children being freed from trafficking…
But what about you, are you free?
Are you able to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints?
Are you free to be yourself or are you restrained by living up to others expectations of you?
Let’s take it even deeper. Are you free to be who you really are or does some inner voice silence you?

Does fear keep you restrained from stepping out with power to do the things that burn in your heart?
If fear did not hold you back, what would you do?
What would you say?
What would you create?

Freedom always costs something.

Jesus came and paid for our freedom from the power of sin and death. I’m hoping you’ve experienced that freedom.

But even after receiving such a glorious freedom many Christian women still live in self-imposed slavery.

We live stifled.

We read book after book about how to become a better woman, wife or mother but still ache with the feeling of being smothered by the expectations of others. Guilt flows as we read the Facebook status’ of women who cherish every waking moment with their children while we pray at noon for bedtime to come.

We step into our capris, grab our yellow markers, attach our plastic smiles and stroll into Bible study with an ache in our heart hidden behind a giant shield of perfection. We may fool these ladies but we’re not fooling God or ourselves. He knows that even though we spend a half hour each morning reading a devotion and reciting prayers from our favorite pocket version of the “power of a praying someone,” we haven’t spent any real time with the Father.

We’re so programmed to “do,” that we don’t even miss the “be.”

But we know something’s wrong.
We know that our heart and our words don’t commune.

We haven’t rested in His love.

Being a good Christian wife and mom doesn’t earn His love. He doesn’t love you more when you finish your exercise video than He does when you stuff yourself into your fat jeans and throw down another peanut butter cup.
In fact if we are honest, we carry a mental list of all the things we should do before we are loved by Him.

Our prayers are filled with requests but void of the heartfelt “Father, this hurts, help.”
We’re missing the prayers that draw us to His heart and let us crawl into His lap for comfort.

The performance is thriving but the relationship is lacking.

Intimacy with God cannot be replaced by good deeds.
Ladies, there is more. The Father wants a relationship with you that brings freedom.

It’s the freedom to be who He created you to be.
It’s the freedom to breathe, the freedom to shine.

Freedom to be vulnerable and leave the plastic smile in your make up bag, admit that you’re struggling and watch the masks fall off other women like paper mustaches when they hear that they are not alone in their prison of performance.

Freedom to be brave, because when you know that the God of the universe loves who you are, bad words, secret sins and pity parties, it makes you brave.

You don’t have to DO something to be accepted by Him, you have to BE something: His daughter.

When you choose freedom through a relationship with Jesus, He gives you “the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints.”
 Take your stand ladies, because when that happens, everyone is blessed.

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1 The Message

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.

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