Posts Filed Under Devotions and Teachable Moments

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (On This Day…12/31/2014)

by bosssanders on December 31, 2014 with 1 comment

Outside my window…
It is cold and the wind slices through like a sharp knife.  It is gray outside and when the sun rises, it will be a new year.

I am thinking…
So much has happened in 2014.
We went to Chicago and Disney World.  Spent much time as a family, having fun and enjoying each other.  We learned so much from homeschool.  Z and Ro learned to read and are now rockstars!  We had lots of FIRSTS.  We lost loved ones.  We lost one of our own (miscarriage).  We have had the opportunity to love and stand in the gap for others’ children.  We have loved big and offered ourselves up.  And, at times, we have cried hard – because loving big requires sacrifice.  My computer died.  And, I discovered another part of me and worked furiously to better my gifts to use for His service.  We waited on pins and needles to hear answers that we weren’t sure we were ready for…and then were relieved to find out I did not have cancer.  It’s been quite a year.  A year of hope, a year of LOVING BIG, great loss, FIRSTS, and a year of WAITING.  A year of learning and a year of discovery.

I am exhausted :)   We did well.

Each year, I like to sit down and look at the previous year.  Think about what we did well, what we didn’t, and how to improve myself and how to just do things better…self and family.  Usually, I have some things I want to experience or learn.  Like…new hobbies.  Or, places to go.

And, now, as I sit here with notebook in hand…I wonder if this will be the year that God answers two heartbroken prayers.  Or, if it’s a year of waiting and pruning.  I’ve felt really “off” for the past few weeks… these last few weeks have really spun me around… death of a dear family member, waiting for tests results (cancer and heart), test results for my little girl, computer crashing and losing over 300 files, etc.  It’s been a LOT.

But, I wanted to set some goals.  So, here’s what I have so far…

1.  First thing in the morning… I want to spend more time in God’s Word.  Lately, I’ve plugged it in whenever I could.  Sometimes, I missed.  I will start reading AT THE VERY LEAST … a Proverbs Chapter a day in the mornings to give me something to hold onto.  I need it like I need water.  Then, I will ALSO add in more in-depth study as I can, when I can.  (Which will still be 3+ x a week)
2.  Move more.  At least 5 minutes of yoga or stretching or exercise of any kind.  First thing in the morning.  Every morning.
3.  Be more consistent about my daily 3 things.  This is something I already do when I feel overwhelmed.  I make a list of 3 things I MUST DO that day.  If all else fails, I’ll have done those 3 things.
4.  Pick up/organize/trash 30 things each day.  Every little rubber band counts.
5.  Work on organizing my house.  And, cleaning.  After the holidays, it always feels a little “AHHH!” in here when it comes to the new clutter of “things” collected and boxes and trash and glitter.  I will work on one room a week in addition to our normal straightening and chores we do.
6.  Count my glasses.  Water glasses, that is.  8 8oz glasses a day is what I need.
7.  Get my stickies out.  When we lived at the other place, I had scripture SURROUNDING us.  We had to.  It was as important as air to us.  I will be getting those back out and placing them around the house.  I will work hard at memorizing scripture.  Because it matters.
8.  Stay unplugged for certain hours of the day.  I will check my phone/email in the morning, midday (approximately), and once in the evening.  I will give myself certain times to make phone calls/texts (social).
9.  Admire beauty.  My goal is to get outside more.  Every day.  At least once a day…even if it’s just to walk around the yard one lap after the kids are down for a nap.  Fresh air is good, and it’s great to be able to admire God’s creation.
10.  Go back to my “task days.”  I have a system for when I get overwhelmed… a day for laundry/cleaning (actually…one day and a half day), a day for creativity, a day for bills and sending cards, etc).  I want to do this more regularly.
11.  5 minutes midday quiet time with God.  Every day.  It may be more like 1 pm here.  But, just to sit in His presence.
12.  Create a daily celebration…something to make each day special.  I’m not sure what I want to do, yet.  Maybe light a candle after naptime for an early-evening snack and some pretty music for the kiddos?
13.  Take time each day to work on what God has called me to do.  (Writing.  Podcasts.  Teaching.)
14.  Add 3-5 things to my THANKFUL LIST each day — will be able to do this in my new planner!
15.  Prayer List Cards.  I was doing this faithfully but then slacked off.  I write prayer requests on a flip deck of note-cards and pray them constantly throughout the day.
16.  Take more photos.
17.  Learn some great hymns to sing as we go.
18.  IF we are still in this home… some paint and decor in my sad, dark bedroom!
19.  More of this:  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.  –In my speech, in my thoughts, in my day to day activities.
20.  Grow in patience.

THIS YEAR (2015), I want to GROW DEEPER.  Deeper in church (involved).  Grow in my spiritual gifts.  Deeper time with my kids and my husband (separately).  Grow in patience.  Deeper in community (relationships and service).  Grow deeper in the relationships I already have and those I hold dear.  Deeper in personal study, prayer, and peace.  Grow deeper in making our home a home full of love, peace, and acceptance…and hope.

I am thankful…
51.  For “supper club” friends and great conversations around the table, eating delicious food.
52.  For do-overs.
53.  To not have cancer.
54.  To have amazing doctors…and friends…
55.  For people who talk me down from my proverbial “ledges” when my “freak-out” starts to show up.
56.  That we were able to save so many files when my computer crashed… photos of loved ones and many files with hard work
57.  Laughing so hard that tears creep from the corners of my eyes
58.  Health of my babes
59.  for a husband who tries mighty hard…over and over again.
60.  For a husband who thinks I’m funny and laughs at my jokes.
61.  For a husband who forgives easily.
62.  For people in my life that inspire me.

In the kitchen…

Chicken is in the crockpot, to be shredded and refrigerated for tomorrow night’s Chicken Pot Pie.  Tonight?  Nachos, Jalapeno Poppers, Pizza, and Chicken Wings it is.

I am reading…

Hubby and I are reading this together in the mornings.  We alternate between topics often.  We enjoy growing “together.”  Really helps us stay on the same page.

We/I am learning…

Ro and Z are finishing up their first grade reading stuff.  La is learning multiplication facts (BLAH!  I have them down but hate drilling her as much as she dislikes being drilled.  Yet, it’s something I really want her to know!)  Mimi got the big 3 IXL as one of their Christmas gifts, so we’ve had fun practicing math online and earning points.

We calculated behavior points and grades for December and Ro earned student of the month!  We are super excited.  (When a kid is student of the month, they get a prize.)  A little extra incentive to get rid of some unwanted behaviors we saw creeping in…as well as enticing certain students to do their work…and TRY!)

Around the house…

It’s New Year’s Eve and yet, it will probably be an EARL Y night for us.  I think last year (or maybe year before?), we were all sick and in bed by 8pm!  So thankful we are not sick, but we may still hit the hay early!

A favorite quote…

One of my favorite things…

Erin Condren Life Planners!  These are so PRETTY and neat!  They have TONS of styles.  I ordered one for 2015.  They are a little more than what I’d typically spend on your average planner, but these things have lots of room to write and I plan to also use it for homeschooling, so win-win!  You can personalize them, choose different fonts/quotes/designs and even add photos of your family!  SO STINKIN’ COOL!

Want one?  Click HERE.  You’ll get $10 off for using THIS link (and so will I!)!

I'd love it if you stalked me (subscribe to my RSS feed). Thanks for visiting!

bosssanders

My Husband Doesn’t Complete Me.

by bosssanders on June 26, 2014 with no comments

As a girl, I remember scribbling my initials, dreaming up who my version of “Prince Charming” would be.  As I got older, I began to pray for the man who would know me, love me, and fill in the broken places of my heart.  -My soul mate.  He would “get me” and I, him.  We’d be perfect, together, you see.  We’d complete each other and be whole again.

Turns out, that’s a bunch of crap.

When my husband didn’t turn out to be the perfect prince I had expected, I thought I’d made a mistake.  That, perhaps, I’d misheard God’s answer to my prayers.  The man who was “supposed” to complete me fell short of my expectations and soon, I felt alone and even more broken.

My mistake wasn’t in marrying my husband, my mistake was in my expectations.

While all (or most) of us have a deep desire to be loved and fought for, we don’t need a knight to save us – we need a Prince, and there’s only One who can fill that role.  Our husbands were never meant to fill the role of God.

When our expectations of our husbands are soul-mates who will “complete us,” make us happy, and never let us down, we force them on pedestals meant for idols, dooming them to fail.  There’s no way to win when competing with God.

We were meant to find our joy, peace, and completion through our Jesus and in our Father.

It’s easy to be swept away by the romance and beauty of our wedding days, that we forget the parts of our vow to our spouse, recognizing that come what may, we’ll love them still.  Through sickness…through death…good times and bad.  Wait, what?  Well, when I said “bad,” I didn’t really mean THAT ONE THING.  I meant, I’d love you even when you get wrinkly and old and sick… not when betrayal and lies make hurt swell deep.

It’s easy to believe the lies that marriage and love come easy, and when hardness comes (because it WILL come) it can be so easy to want to run.  But, the fate of your marriage does not depend on fate, the cosmos, or divinity.  It doesn’t depend on how “in love” you are or how perfect either of you think you are.  It depends on you.  You cannot fall out of love without first choosing to not love any more.  Love is always a choice.

So then, if not to “complete us,” what are the roles of our husbands (and wives)?  We are to encourage, love, help, protect, respect, cherish, honor, forgive, and give grace.  We are to complement, not complete.

My husband encourages me, defends me, loves me, and sometimes, challenges and stretches me to be the best version of me I can be.

But, he doesn’t complete me.

We are simply two completely flawed people seeking the face of Jesus as we journey through marriage – through life.

But, there was a time when I had these ridiculous high expectations of a man who could fill the holes of my heart to make me whole.  And, it’s a dangerous lie that’s being sold – the way Satan subtly twists truth to lie until it’s a noose that strangles truth, leaving ourselves and our marriages gasping for breath…

bosssanders

(Not) DEFEATED.

by bosssanders on May 26, 2014 with no comments

I can hear the children bickering in the kitchen, while another empties out the clothes in the dresser.  I’m slumped over our homeschool grade book, wondering if I have done enough.  If I can ever do enough.

Old wisdom says not to cry over spilled milk.  But, the kitchen floor needs another good mopping after spilled milk laced with cereal and a sensory bin gone wrong.  I certainly feel like crying.

Then, there’s the bills coming in and the activities I wanted to sign us up for.  There’s the house that I long for – one with a little more room and better suited for our family, but it feels so unreachable and I can’t stop the hot tears that are coming, streaming down my cheeks.

Some days, I feel like I don’t matter here and like I’m failing miserably.  Some days, this is my reality. And, in those moments, I just want to wave my white flag.

It’s in the hard and mundane that I sometimes fail to see the Glory of God.

But…

The Glory of God is always there – so why are there days that I refuse to see – eyes shut tight with a stubborn heart?

To see the glory, His grace, we must tune our hearts in to Him.  We must focus in on His words, drawing close, looking for the Holy moments.  There will always be hardness, chaos, and busy, but it is in the looking Higher – to the Most High – that we find Him.

For when we focus only on the boulders at our feet, we miss the beauty that surrounds us and the Path that leads us to freedom.

We have already been made free by the cross, but our own thoughts can bind us like shackles and chains.

Some days, life feels plagued with boulders and our lives can seem meaningless, not good enough, or too hard.  But, we must learn to focus beyond the dirty laundry stacked high, beyond the bickering and the messy.

We must focus beyond the hurting relationships, beyond the pain and grief.  We must focus on finding God in our every day, searching always for the Holy Moments with Him.

” ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, `plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. `Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. `You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’  `I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, `and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, `and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’” –Jeremiah 29:11-14


Thinking It Through

1.  In what ways have you been focusing more on the “boulders” and less on Him?

2.  How does this verse (and the one above) speak to you ?

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” –Deuteronomy 4:29-31

3.  What are some practical ways that you can bring your view up from the “boulders” and to the Son?

bosssanders

When Fear Creeps In

by bosssanders on May 23, 2014 with 1 comment

It’s easy for the fear to turn from flicker to flame, spreading like wildfire until we’re sputtering and coughing on smoke that clouds our vision.

It’s when the dreams turn to furrowed brows and white knuckles as we clutch so tightly to the things we thought should have been.

Moments pass, and sometimes it feels like some of our dreams are slipping away with them.  Perhaps it’s the marriage that just feels un-fixable or the waiting-that-feels-too-long for someone to love and be loved by.  Maybe it’s the empty arms with lullabies in their hearts or the parents hoping for the return of a prodigal child.  Then again, maybe you thought your job and finances would be in a different place or that the house you had dreamed of would be a reality by now.  Maybe you have been putting off your dreams for quite sometime, wondering if they matter or will ever be realized.

Fear comes when dreams scatter and a hope deferred makes a heart sick.

And, it is when we stop trusting God that the stress can overwhelm, paralyzing our souls with fear.  In this moment, fear turns from a passing thought to our focus.

When our fear becomes our focus, we lose sight of our God.

“God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.” -2 Timothy 1:7

The truth is, God is bigger than our plans.  Even so, the deepest desires of our hearts MATTER to Him, the MAKER OF THE UNIVERSE.  It is by trusting our Creator that we are filled with joy and peace.

We must learn to discipline our hearts.  When stressful situations arise, we must learn to rein in the stress.  We must put on focus on God, not the outside world and its stressors – to train ourselves to walk steady, knowing who our God is and not fearful of what looms ahead.

Thinking It Through

What are some fears that are lurking in the deepest recesses of you, threatening to take over?
How can you apply the verse mentioned above from 2 Timothy 1:7? – “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.”
What are some practical ways that you can keep God your focus (instead of fear?
)

“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.” -Philippians 4:8

bosssanders

A Screwtape Letter For The Unappreciated Mom – Guest Post

by bosssanders on February 6, 2014 with 2 comments

Hey y’all… I have a great guest-post by Kelsey (from Organizing Life with Littles) that almost-perfectly sums up what it seems like Satan is busy saying and speaking into MY life!  Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some people speak into my life – I’m not “fun” enough, some people just don’t like me (that’s probably true…although many more DO), I don’t do enough as a momma…as a wife… as a woman…  That I’m not enough.  You get it.  And, when all of the pokes come at once, they suddenly feel more like punches, dragging me down.  And, I begin to question myself and wonder at the merit of these things.  This is for all of you…women, especially.  I know I’m not alone.

A Screwtape Letter For the Unappreciated Mom

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on  her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

About Kelsey:  A Christian first, a happily married wife second, and then a Mom to two handsome boys, Gabriel the three-year-old and Matthias, the almost-one-year old. I love them all to pieces and try to enjoy each day of this busy, blessed life!

bosssanders

Family Home Evenings – A Slightly Different Approach

by bosssanders on November 11, 2012 with 1 comment

A while back, Jim Daly asked (the then) President George W. Bush to identify the most significant threat to the United States of America. He thought Bush would say it was terrorism. Instead, Bush answered immediately and without equivocation:

“The deterioration of the family.”

And, it’s true.  In our hustle and bustle for work and the thousands of activities Americans think they MUST DO… so often, we as a people lose sight of our God and our family.  And, as with anything, when we don’t nurture, honor, and maintain our relationships… they begin to deteriorate.

I’ve always liked the idea of “Family Home Evenings” in the Mormon Church.  While I don’t necessarily agree with every facet of some of great friends’ beliefs… I do like their church’s deliberate focus on FAMILY.  For those of you not in the know, here’s how it works:

One day a week is set aside as “Family Home Evening” night (FHE).  (This tends to be on a Monday night with many just because Mondays are generally less hectic for most, but it can be whichever night works best for your family.)  Basically, these evenings are a time for the family to come together and study scripture and learn and teach together.  There are MANY variations on how this could go and what it could be comprised of, but most of the following elements in some order:

  • Song/Praise
  • Prayer
  • Lesson
  • Activity
  • Treat
  • “Go out and change something” – Kind of like a takeaway or charge for the week – whether it be a thought or assignment.

Steven and I have been wanting to do this for a long time – we know how important it is for our family to pray together and learn together and live out the Gospel together in an INTENTIONAL way.  Sometimes we do great at it, and sometimes… well, sometimes we fall very short.

It’s important to us, though, to raise our children in God and grow spiritually TOGETHER – AS A FAMILY.  So, in addition to coming together with our church family every week, this is something we want to try (and try hard at).

I’ve made a list of topics for our family to start with – things that can be expanded upon as they get older, where we can dive deeper and deeper into scripture as the years go on.  And, funny enough, many of them run parallel to some of our Girl Scout lessons I’m teaching (like, “honest and fair” and the other petals!).

First up, our unit is GRATITUDE/THANKSGIVING (perfect timing, right?)

And, in my head…Lesson 1 will look a lot like this:

Song: Count Your Blessings (song)

Lesson: Read Luke 17: 11-18.  Ask how the one leper showed his Gratitude.  (Point out that while the other nine were undoubtedly happy, they didn’t trace their blessing back to God).  Talk about how important it is to not just be “happy” about our blessings, but to thank GOD.  Act this story out or draw pictures illustrating it.  Talk about different ways to show our gratitude (singing, writing, saying it (prayer), etc.)

Activity: Continue the sticky-note blessing wall (the girls LOVE this) – Alternative ideas are: Have kids think of things they are thankful for of different colors: 5 things red, 5 things blue, 5 things green, 5 things brown, etc.

Prayer: Let the girls lead a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Treat:  Apples and peanut butter

Take-Away: Each day, write and fill more post it notes for our wall.

So, I’d love to know: Do you do anything like this?  What have been your favorite lessons/topics (or, which would you love to do?)Feel free to leave your link in comments if you have any great resources that would go with this!

bosssanders

Less Of My Stuff, More Of Him

by bosssanders on July 26, 2012 with no comments

It’s been a constant struggle for us – containing our flesh(ly desires) to make more room for our Savior to dwell within us.  In some ways, we struggle more in a physical way, and sometimes just spiritual…but really, it’s all the same.

As my husband and I have grown in our marriage and as parents (and children of the Most High King), we’ve learned some very hard lessons about stuff.

Like, you don’t own stuff, it owns you.

At first, we thought that sentiment was ridiculous – I mean, how could a boat or huge house or toys OWN us.  Get real.  But if you’ve ever felt the anxiety that comes with your “stuff” breaking and the cost and time of repairing and maintaining (or replacing), you know what I mean.  It takes up space, time, and money.

Yet, we live in a society that says GIVE ME MORE! It’s a battle each and every one of us fight to overcome, but it’s a constant battle that never ends.  We want better and then when we get it, we are only satisfied for a little while…and then we want more.  No matter where we look, we’re told we need more and how life is just not worth it if you don’t have certain items.

We make excuses for why we participate in the game of stuff, often times using our children to justify -

“I just want them to have more than I had.”

“I don’t want them to ever have to worry about not having enough money.”

It was a sobering moment the day my husband and I looked around ourselves and saw our stuff for what it was.  Stuff.

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.  (Matthew 6:19-24)

We’d spent countless dollars and it was making us miserable.  Sure, we had become PROUD of what we’d amassed, and we were happy when we bought it…so, why weren’t we satisfied?  Why did it just awaken a greater unquenchable hunger for more deep inside of us?  Why did it feel like we were never really going anywhere except for in circles?

I remember the day we began to purge our things, choosing to leave behind some of our once-treasured items.  I remember the day we gave away our televisions.  I remember the weird looks and the looks on people’s faces that clearly let us know that they thought we’d gone off our rocker.  But, we didn’t care.  Because one by one, we were breaking chains that bound us to this world.  –One by one, we were letting go of the clutter so we could have more room for Him, our Savior.

Granted, some of the giving away of our things was hard – there were some things that we were forced to let go.  There were some things that took a learning curve to figure out that we didn’t NEED it, regardless of what the rest of the world says.

But, there’s something about freedom…whether you discover it on purpose or accident…one you get a taste of it, you want more.

And, so we became more intentional.  We began with the things that we didn’t just absolutely like.  Or, things that were taking up too much of our time and money.  You know, like the TV…or the appliances that only did one thing (smoothie maker), or massive collections.

To be honest, some things are much easier for me to give up than others.

I have a rough time giving up the totes of my kids’ clothing.  I mean, what if for the next baby we just didn’t have enough money to buy all new clothes.  I was being thrifty, right?!  I was being financially smart, right?  Well, maybe.  Except my motive was based out of fear that my God wouldn’t provide for me and my family.  That realization was a little painful.  Ouch.

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

I would love to tell you that we have this mastered, and while we’ve come a long way, I think it’s something we will battle for the rest of our lives here on Earth.

But, it IS becoming easier in so many ways.  And, because of this journey we have begun, we do look at things a lot differently than we used to.

We aren’t on a journey to make more space for Him to impress anyone…it’s not meant to be a big blinky sign that says LOOK AT US.  But, at the same time, when people do see us, we don’t want them to just see our stuff.

I’ve heard so often people say, “I want them (our kids) to have more than I did” or “I don’t want them to feel like we don’t have money” –and, that’s not what this is about for us.  For us, this is about God.  It’s about our relationship with HIM and to OTHERS…not to stuff.  It’s about my family growing together and not giving in to what the world says we need.  It’s not about depriving my children from a 6th doll house or another toy, it’s about raising them to see the significance in the things that really matter.  It’s about showing them that it’s OKAY to go against the mainstream crowd.  It’s about showing them in a real way that joy comes from God, not the junk you shove in your closets.

Are we saying that money is evil and everyone should sell all of their things and wear potato sacks in a dumpster?  Nope.  If that’s what you’re getting from this, I’d venture to say you’ve sorely missed the point.  The Bible calls us ALL to not store up treasures on this earth and to let them become your gods and to not worry about tomorrow.  But, it doesn’t say each of our journeys will be exactly the same, nor does it say how much money is too much.  It just tells us to not let it be our focus, to not let it drive us, to make sure our priorities are straight.  It’s also not meant to be ammunition to judge our neighbors.  We have much more than some and much less than others…and, that’s not the point.  The point is to simply be more intentional in our own journeys.

THAT is where we are.

And, in this intentionality, we are discovering how hard it can be to let go of some things and yet, the freedom that comes when you finally do.

Do you struggle with STUFF?  Are you like me and have any particular areas you struggle with more than others?  (–For me, it’s everything in our storage unit, books, craft supplies, clothes…and feeling like I need a bigger home.)

bosssanders

Themes – 2012

by bosssanders on January 8, 2012 with 2 comments

I believe in prayer, more specifically, I believe in very specific prayer.

I also believe in goals and I believe that if you don’t write it down, it’s not a goal.

Last year, I kept noticing this recurrent theme in my prayers and life in general:  GRACE.  It became my prayer and my goal.  Much of my daily living became focused on learning and living this one word.

This year, my word is

PATIENCE.

Patience with God’s timing.

Patience with others.

With my husband.  Children.  Myself.

What is your theme for 2012?  If you were to sum up in one word what you are meant to work on for this year…what would it be?  Please leave your answer in the comments!!  I can’t wait to read them!

bosssanders

My Reflection

by bosssanders on December 20, 2011 with no comments

I sat there – mostly quiet and minimally defending myself as I listened to my character being attacked.  And, while I may possess MANY character flaws, the ones I was being charged with were not only untrue, but they were unfair and they stung deeply.

Perhaps it would have hurt less coming from a stranger, but as it were, it felt more like a Judas’ kiss.

I struggled to stay silent and in control of my tongue as hurtful words were flung in my direction.  Unfair words.  Untrue, half-story words.  Unloving words coated in hypocrisy.  –All from someone I trusted.  Can I tell you how much I just wanted to launch a counter-attack?  Oh, how I wanted to fling those words right back.  How I wanted to twist them into tiny sharp daggers and rip flesh, how I wanted to explain the hypocrisy of the whole thing and use my angry and hurtful words to bring JUSTICE!

Instead, I said little.  My silence was then mocked and considered as me flailing to defend myself, like I was too dumb to do even that.  Regardless of how it seemed, my reactions were carefully measured and restrained.

And, why?  Why not turn my tongue loose with every thought?  I had every right to, didn’t I?

I could feel God working on my heart that day.  I didn’t understand the intricacies of the lesson he was beginning in me, but I knew my mouth must be guarded.  I knew that part of my lesson was to picture the end goal of this conversation.  Would I use my words to harm or heal?  Did I want understanding or did I just want payback?  Was I willing to give up my “rights” to follow Jesus again and again?

That day, I left the conversation with no closure, no justice, and no human understanding.  For the rest of the week, my heart ached with hurt and my mind replayed how unfair the conversation had been and how much it’d hurt.  But then, God in His Glory revealed the rest of the lesson to me.

You see, one of the reasons it hurt so much for my friend to say the things they did was because I care deeply about what others think about me – especially the people I care about.  But, instead of relying on others as my mirror to see my reflection and worth, I am meant to only use God as my mirror.

While it is true that others often see us truer than we can see ourselves, it is also true that compared to God, their reflections of us would more resemble a circus fun-house mirror.

The truth is that God loves me and He knows my heart and all it holds.

And by the way, it’s true for you, too…

bosssanders

Gifts With Attitude

by bosssanders on October 20, 2011 with 1 comment

The children were all lined up, each holding his or her gift offering for the birthday child, waiting for their turn to position it in front of the others on the birthday table.  By the smile on most of their faces, it would almost appear that THEY were the recipients.  But, no – they were excited to see the wrapping and tissue paper ripped to shreds as the gift they painstakingly picked out was revealed.

Except for one little boy.

He held tight to his package, apparently in deep thought.  You could see the conflicting thoughts flitter across his little face and when it came time to put his gift on the table, his little arms tightened as he took a step backwards.

Uh-Oh.  His mother tentatively nudged him forward, gently urging the boy to place the bag on the table.  But, then the little boy shoved his gift down onto the ground, the contents spilling forth out of the bag.

The scene ended quickly as he spotted other children playing, and the frustration drifted right out of him.

I wonder how often we behave like that little boy.

How often do we offer up gifts, only to hesitate to let them go?

How often do we offer an act of kindness or service, only to complain or make excuses later?

And, maybe our complaints are silent.  –Maybe we simply get a little bitter and quietly build up resentment and dread.

How often do our gifts turn into obligations for us…and how is it that that happens?

A gift given without gratitude is merely the stealing of joy.

Did you hear me?

A gift given without gratitude is merely the stealing of joy.

What prompts us, after all, to give gifts or serve?

It is gratitude – not necessarily because of something that person has done, but because of who they are or because of WHOSE they are.  It is when we choose to give gifts for selfish reasons (with expectations or to make US feel or look good), that we are more apt to become stealers of joy.

So, as we come into this holiday season, may we choose to be gift givers rather than joy stealers.

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