Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family

Archive for the ‘Marriage and Family’ Category

December 2nd, 2012 by Sarah

Just Go With It


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I share in my last post that I am working on dealing with stress in a healthier way.  In light of that, I wrote this post for the EBC Marriage and Family Blog, but wanted to share with you as well.

A few months ago I could not find my iPod anywhere.  I use it mainly to listen to the Bible or sermons when I am getting things done around the house or falling asleep at night.  I felt semi lost without it.

In the meantime I had been, and still am, working on trusting God in all areas of my life including little annoyances.    Sometimes the finest details of my life, the silliest little things are the things that throw me over the edge and cause arguments.

I for some reason always have an opinion on what route Jason should take to get to our designation when I’m in the passenger seat.  Yes I’m one of those.  And, if he takes the wrong way and we get stuck in traffic I find myself really irritated, as if the five extra minutes would have drastically changed my life.

I think at the heart of the issue is that I want to control my little world.  I want my day to go as I have planned.  And that plan does not ever include unexpected traffic, honey spilt all over the floor, or a temper tantrum given by my two-year-old when I am trying to get out the door.

How much better would our family life be if we gave each other grace and did not get uptight with one another on small and large matters?

I want to have patience with my family and with the frustrations that come about during my day, but it’s difficult.

Hebrews 11:6 is one of my favorite verses.  It says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Think about that for a second.

What pleases God?  Out of so many things we could do to please Him it is faith.

Faith is proved in our actions on a daily basis.  As silly as it sounds I have been internally reminding myself to trust God with the phrase, “just go with it.”   If I’m running late, “just go with it.”  Kids have another cold virus, “just go with it.”  I am not going to be able to control every area of my life so I might as well just get over it.

If I really believe that God will bring good out of all things, then I can trust Him with every single detail of my day and life.

So, the iPod.  One of my sons has a habit of getting out of the bath or shower and then running around without drying himself off, leaving puddles to follow wherever he goes.  On a recent occasion I sat down in our baby’s light blue glider and felt water seep into my pants.  My son had went right from the bath to the chair hoping the chair would dry him off.

In my head I thought, “just go with it,” then I politely asked my son to dry himself with a towel next time he gets out of the bath.  He apologized.  I normally may have spoken in an annoyed tone of voice, but this time I used a soft tone, flipped over the seat cushion and there under the cushion lay the iPod that I had just asked God to help me find.  Hidden under a small annoyance lay an answer to prayer.

What are some details of your life that you find yourself trying to control and how would you and your family and benefit if you trusted God with every day living?

 

July 31st, 2012 by Sarah

Feeling Overwhelmed?


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Do you ever have days where you feel completely inadequate to do what’s been asked of you?  Days when you want to throw in the towel.  Maybe it’s your job, parenting, marriage, finances, a relationship, health or other responsibilities.

I have more moments where I feel inadequate than I care to admit, but as much as I hate moments where I feel inadequate or overwhelmed, they have become somewhat of a blessing.

Sometimes you have to get down to nothing before you’ll believe that you need to rely on God.

You have to be at that point where you feel like shouting, “I’ve had it, I can’t handle this. God this is too much for me.”  If you are having one of those moments I encourage you to get on your knees for whatever it is you’re struggling with.

Sometimes we trust Jesus to save us for eternity but then act like He’s left us to deal with life on our own.  His grace is overflowing into every crevice of our lives if we rely on Him to live through us.

That is why we need bad days, moments of frustration and humility.  It shows God’s glory in our lives when we call out to Him and He answers.

A year ago, I was pregnant with Jasper and taking care of our three preschoolers.  I was sick, tired, hormonal, and many days feeling like a failure as a wife, mother and friend.  The sickness of the first trimester of pregnancy was causing me to want to crawl in a hole.

At the end of one of those particularly hard days, the day felt like a blur of putting out fires with the kids, to yelling out of frustration when they misbehaved.   Yet I felt too tired to problem solve or fix any of it.

As I rocked my one-year-old daughter before bedtime, I thought, “how am I going to mother four little children well?”  I knew we could do it, but well?  With sanity?

It was that moment of humility.

God I need You to show up because this battle isn’t happening without You.  In that moment I remembered the Old Testament stories I had been reading in the Bible and hope filled me up, leading my soul from downcast to peace filled.

I remembered that God has always been faithful to me.  He has never let me down, though I’ve had disappointments in life.  He has always been with me.  He always provides what I need.

I lifted my open hand up in the air as a sign of surrender while rocking my little girl in her pitch dark room, and whispered “Jesus, You are faithful, You are faithful, You are faithful,” over and over until I remembered that truth fully.

Something amazing happened in that moment.  All of my problems became so small, so trivial, as I remembered who my Father is.   I knew that He was big enough to provide all that I need.

A year later I can see answers to prayer and that, yet again, Jesus has been more than faithful as I trusted Him.

The story of Gideon from the Bible fed my soul that summer day, and has encouraged me since that even when I’m the underdog, when I’m discouraged, God has a greater purpose, which is to show His strength .

Gideon was the youngest son.  And if voted on for a position, he would probably be voted “the least likely to succeed.”

Yet God came to him and called him a “valiant warrior,” and told him to lead his people out of the oppression under the Midianites, who were ruining all of their crops and leaving them with no food.

Gideon could not believe that God would choose him.  It didn’t make sense, but God did anyway.

I love this because I feel like I am an unlikely candidate for many of the tasks I attempt to do.

But, when does God ever choose the most likely candidate in the Bible?

Not only did God choose an unlikely candidate to lead Israel, but He took their decent sized army and decided to make it almost nothing.  He wanted to show that it wasn’t their army winning the battle, it was God.

You can guess what happened.  God’s people won the battle that day, and they did not lose one life with their tiny army.  (Scroll down to the bottom if you don’t know the story.  It’s a good one).

God could have used the whole army and done the same thing, but that would have given the Israelites a reason to think it was their strength that won the battle.

God got Gideon’s army to almost nothing, to a point of embarrassment, and yet in the end He won.

We all have moments where we feel lost, overwhelmed, and in need.  When you find yourself in one, remind yourself that there is a gem of goodness in the midst of that battle.

If God did not bring me to a place where I know that, if He doesn’t show up this battle is lost, I unfortunately would probably take the credit for the win.

I don’t know that I would believe it is truly God who is answering my prayer, not just coincidental, if I were not brought so low.  I would also miss out on the opportunity to learn more about God and His mercy that He is willing to work in my life.

Do you have a task at hand that you feel inadequate to perform?  Maybe God has brought you, as well, to this battle so that you can trust him, and see His glory more fully.

 

Story of Gideon Continued …

[Gideon had thirty-two thousand people to fight, while their opponents were “as numerous as locusts.”  There were a whole lot of solders that they were up against, and yet God goes and tells Gideon to send all but three-hundred men back!  Three hundred men!  I am no military expert, but it is easy for anyone to see that this does not make sense. God says to them, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men.”

The Israelites have learned the hard way that when God says to do something, no matter how ridiculous, you do it.  So, God gives Gideon instructions to divide up the 300 men, and have them take torches in one hand and trumpets in another.  He had them make a lot of noise, yell, break pitchers, and blow trumpets.

Their enemies thought that the Israelite army was too large based on the ruckus, so they got scared and confused.  They turned on each other with their swords and self destructed.  The Israelites won the battle that day.  They did not lose one life.]

If you want to read the story of Gideon in its entirety, you can read it here or find it in your Bible in Judges 6:7- 7:23.

June 26th, 2012 by Sarah

My First Love


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Sorry that it’s been so long since I posted on here, and thank you for putting up with me learning about this blog thing.  I am technologically illiterate and all the while a bit of a perfectionist.   I know, I need to get over that if I am going to post what I write.

I mentioned in my last post that Jason and I were able to get away for our anniversary.  It was a beautiful and refreshing getaway.  Jason and I have not had a two night getaway without the kids since Micah was born seven years ago!

And… we still were not totally without kids this time.  Jasper came, while our other three were with Grandma and Grandpa.  Jasper is a peaceful baby though and one child is much more peaceful than four, so for us it was still a nice getaway.    We did not get one picture of Jason and I.  It’s always one of us and then Jasper ;).

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We went to a lodge on a tiny island in Wisconsin called Stout Island Lodge.  The lodge was built in the early 1900’s so it was full of character.  The lake surrounded the lodge, as well as beautiful gardens, lawns and trees.  We enjoyed peaceful dinners, and hikes around the island.

 

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Jason gave me the most thoughtful gift he’s ever given me.  My love languages are words of encouragement and quality time.  I also love tea.  He doesn’t.  So, he gave me the gift of one night a week after the kids go to bed having tea with me to specifically encourage me and give me that quality time with him that I love.  This is on top of our weekly date night, so he is a pretty super husband.  When basketball season comes around he may be wanting to rethink this gift :).

I was reading Revelations the other day.  In the second chapter Jesus writes to one of the churches and praises them for their morals, their hard work, and their ability to recognize false teaching.  But then He says this to them, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:4.

In other words, similar to how marriages can often go through the motions, Jesus is saying, you do lots of good things, but have forgotten to love me like you did at first.  I can relate to that because sometimes I go through the motions.  I have set into place habits of reading my Bible, prayer and church, which are all good things, but sometimes I am doing it because I know it’s a good discipline, rather than really wanting to get to know God and have Him speak to me.  My mind can be elsewhere.  Can you relate?

What does this have to do with our getaway?   When Jason and I got home things were different.  We looked at each other longer, felt closer, gave each other more affection, and had more grace with each other.

I can honestly say that there are times where I still feel butterflies when Jason holds my hands, and it is usually a result of some acts of intentionality, forgiveness, encouragement, and time spent with each other.  I know it’s not realistic to have that in love “feeling” constantly in a marriage, but we also need to be intentional about doing things we did when we first loved each other, and our love grows even deeper.

I think it’s the same with God.  Do you remember when you first learned of Jesus’ love for you, that He died on the cross to pay for your sin?  Do remember when you believed that God heard your prayers, or when you opened up your Bible and read with anticipation that He would speak to you through it?

I am guilty of getting busy and not entering in with my relationship with God.  When I notice myself lacking in zeal, I usually repent of that and thank God that He’s waiting for me, willing to forgive.  Then I spend that time seeking Him through prayer and His Word.

I am so thankful for the unfailing, never giving up love that Jesus has for me, as well as the commitment that Jason and I have for each other.

Do you have any tips on how you keep up your love life with your spouse or God?

 

 

 

 

May 25th, 2012 by Sarah

If I Could Go Back: Lessons for Marriage


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I wrote this for the EBC Marriage and Family Therapy Blog but wanted to share it here as well.

Jason and I will be celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary in two weeks.  I am thankful that our love has become richer and deeper through all of the ups and downs of life.  We have grown and learned in ways I never expected.

Ten years ago I was an almost 22 year-old who had just graduated from college.  I looked forward to our marriage with excitement, a little reality, and a lot of expectations.

We did the premarital counseling and filled out the worksheet where we each stated our expectations, but lets get real, you don’t really know what you expect until you get there.

In my head we were going to clean the toilet together, grocery shop together, and pretty much everything else in between… together.  Jason, as you can imagine had some different expectations.

If I could go back and teach my 21-year-old self a lesson (and I know I still have many more to learn), this would be a biggie.  If I had learned this lesson earlier it could have kept us from many unnecessary conflicts and hurt feelings.

I am an advocate of books that teach us to fill each other’s love tanks because God has called us to love each other deeply.  BUT when rely too highly on our spouse to fulfill our needs and not enough on God we make our spouse an idol.

An idol is anything we put before God.  In Deuteronomy 5:7, one of the ten commandments, God says, “You must not have any other god but me.”  Marriage is a blessing created by God, and is a good thing. But idols can be just that, “Good things that we’ve put before God.”  Has your spouse become an idol in an unhealthy way?

If you find yourself upset often with your spouse or constantly disappointed maybe you are not seeking Christ first to meet your needs for love and acceptance.  Applying these four things will hopefully improve your marriage and lead it in the direction that God intended it to be.

First, confess to God that you have looked to your spouse to meet unrealistic needs and turned him/her into an idol.  You will fail your spouse and your spouse will fail you.  Use those moments as a reminder to run to the One who is perfect and will never fail us.

Seek God through His Word and prayer, and ask Him to fill you with His love and presence.  Say to God, “I want you to be in your rightful place, number one in my heart.” God is the only one who can meet our deepest needs.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” What a great application to marriage.   This verse pertains to our emotional needs as well as our physical needs.  God will give us everything we need when we seek Him first.

Second pray for your spouse.  Bring your need to God, asking Him to show your spouse how they can love you in that specific way  you are desiring.  I have never had someone tell me that they changed their behavior because their spouse nagged them for long enough.  God can change hearts, and we cannot.

Third, use actions and kind words.  This is challenging because for most of us our first reaction when we don’t get what we want is to whine.  I know mine is. Instead, ask your spouse in a kind tone for what you’re wanting.

For example, if you want quality time, explain that it’s important to you and ask in a loving tone instead of a complaining tone.  Or if it’s more affection you’re desiring, explain why it’s important to you in a non-threatening tone, and then help them get in the habit by modeling it yourself.

Take action to love and respect your spouse.  Be the first to show kindness.  Be the first to forgive, out serve, and encourage.  1 John 4:19 says “We love each other because he (Christ) loved us FIRST.”

Fourth, reevaluate your expectations.  As Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage, “Marriage is not given to us to make us happy but to make us holy.”  That’s a profound statement.  It means that your spouse isn’t going to meet your every need.  It means that you may have moments where there’s conflict and unhappiness, but it also means that God has a greater purpose.

Marriage is a training ground for holiness.  It’s an opportunity for us to grow in selflessness, serventhood, and sacrificial love.  It’s an opportunity for us to hold our tongue instead of lashing out in anger.  It’s an opportunity to forgive instead of hold a grudge.

Holiness is a completely different expectation than happiness.   And here’s the good news.  I’ve found that my marriage is more joyful than ever when I’m not creating an expectation that my spouse is going to meet my every need.

I find more joy when I am trying to serve Jason rather than thinking about myself and what I am not receiving.  I need to grow by God’s grace in this area.  So next decade of marriage here I come.

May 13th, 2012 by Sarah

The Way I Want to be Remembered as Mom to my Kids


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I have been reflecting today, Mother’s Day, on my own mom and how much I love her.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom raised us as a single mom, and she struggled with mental health issues most of my childhood.  We did not have the cleanest house on the block.  She didn’t bake, decorate, or garden, and she didn’t cook gourmet food.

I also know my mom made mistakes, but that’s not what I remember about her.

What I do remember is my mom sitting on my bed rubbing my back when I cried as a hormonal teenager.  I remember her packing embarrassingly gigantic lunches when I went on field trips because she was afraid I would get hungry.  And, I remember her compassionate responses when I was sick or struggling with something.

My mom really loved us.  1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

That verse gives me much comfort.  I know I will make mistakes as a mom, and I will sin.  I am lacking in a variety of areas.  I have bad crabby days, but I love my kids deeply.

I hope that my kids remember my love for them and forget my mistakes :).

As I think back to the ways my mom showed her love to me, times that stick out to me vividly, these are a few of the things I want to emulate.

  • My mom showed compassion and mercy when I was hurting, even if it was just a small sickness.
  • She encouraged us often.
  • She took the time to have a “special one on one time” with my brother, sister and I.  Since she often didn’t have babysitters she would take us out of school once in a while for a lunch date.  We cherished that time.
  • She gave us consequences for our behavior, something I loathed at the time but have become thankful for.
  • She was humble enough to apologize.

I remember a time right before I got married.  I was praying and thinking about the possibly near future of being a mom.  Something inside me felt scared and inadequate.  The sense of responsibility washed over me.  I wondered, well I still do wonder sometimes, am I going to mess my children up?

In hindsight I was scared because I thought I had to be perfect, and the picture I had of the “perfect mom” didn’t fit me.

I will never forget the mental image I saw in my head as I confessed my fear to God.  I pictured a little boy laying in his bed, and I was kneeling beside him apologizing.  It was as if the Lord was comforting me by saying, “you won’t be perfect, but you will be forgiven.”

That did bring me comfort, and I have apologized to my children many times since God spoke that to my heart ten years ago.  Just yesterday I turned down the radio in our car and said, “sorry I was crabby today.  I have had a bad attitude, will you guys forgive me?”

They accepted my apology, as they always do.  Sometimes we as parents think it’s unnecessary to apologize, but doing so models a repentant heart, brings reconciliation and shows our kids that we aren’t perfect just because we are the parents.

Thank you Mom for modeling deep love for me.  Thank you for your humility, and your empathy.  It’s why I still call you almost daily.  You listen, you understand, and when I am struggling you pray with me.

I pray for a healthy and godly relationship with my children and that I can model for them the deep, deep love of Christ.

 

March 23rd, 2012 by Sarah

Going Unnoticed


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I spend a lot of time doing tedious tasks. Making and cleaning up from meals, picking up toys, changing diapers, and filing away our bills.  It doesn’t feel very important.  If I am honest,  I can get a bad attitude when my work goes unnoticed for long periods of time.

I have always loved this verse.  On days when I worked outside the home and wanted to please my boss or on days as a mom when I feel unnoticed, this verse is a great reminder.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23

In mundane moments I try to remind myself that even if my husband doesn’t notice that I just put away his laundry for him, or that I picked up his bowl, God does.  I am reminded that God asks me to do a good job because it’s good and pleases Him, not merely for the praise and recognition of others.

My children may not thank me for changing their diaper or coming into their room at night for the fifth time when what I really want is a break… but God sees when I work with all my heart.  This attitude has given me a joy in doing tasks that I don’t particularly love doing.

People may notice our hard work when we are working hard to please God, but that isn’t even the best reward.  The Bible says we will receive an inheritance.  An inheritance from the Creator of the world and owner of all things… that sounds amazing to me.

This poem for wives and moms by Roy Lessin really encouraged me.

CONTINUE ON

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.

She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.

She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it” She often wondered.

“Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.

“You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be.”

Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. ” But I notice.”

Most of what you give is done without remuneration. “But I am your reward.”

Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.

Your children are precious to me.. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.

You may never be in the public spotlight, But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are MY Servant.

Do all to please me.

By: Roy Lessin

February 29th, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Give Up: Encouragement for Parents


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A few weeks ago I told my six-year-old son he needed to go to his room for ten minutes because of his behavior.  He tried to argue with phrases like “I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to disobey.”   I repeated back to him my usual response to manipulative arguing, “I love you too much to argue.”  His response… “No, you don’t love me, this last six years has been a lie!”  Oh the drama.  I had to keep myself from laughing this time at his attempt to get out of a consequence, but there are times when disciplining and instructing consistently can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Galatians 6:9 has become one of my favorite parenting verses.  It says “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  I often recite this verse in my head when I am in a hard season of parenting.

There are moments as parents when doing “good,” like saying “no” when other parents say “yes,” or staying consistent when our kids are needing consequences can become tiring.  There are moments when you don’t see the fruit of your labor.  This verse encourages us not to become weary.

It says that if we are doing good we will reap a harvest of blessing!  The “harvest of blessing” in this verse is not promising perfect kids if we “do a good job,” since none of us is perfect no matter what our age, but there is a blessing that comes from doing what God asks us to do.

I have made many mistakes as a mom, but have really sought out God’s wisdom in parenting.  I wondered many times if the discipline I did was working at all.  I’ve walked the walk of shame through the grocery store more than a few times, leading one of my screaming two-year-olds to a time out in the bathroom as people stared at me.  I was tired and wondered if I would ever see the fruit of my labor.

I remember reciting Galatians 6:9 on some of my hardest days with a couple of strong willed children.  Though my children aren’t perfect, I am starting to reap some of the blessing of the hard work of fighting those long battles, encouraging my kids, and praying for them.  With our new two-week-old baby to care for it is a blessing to see our kids getting along, listening and being helpful, which is not something we’ve always experienced.

It is so easy to want to give into our children’s manipulation, or into our culture’s way of parenting.  It is easier to disengage sometimes.  Remember Jesus promised to never leave us forsake us.  He is with us, and we can always ask Him for strength and wisdom.

Parents don’t give up teaching your kids, setting rules and following through with consequences.  Don’t give up the habit of reading the Bible/devotions to your kids, even when they resist. It may seem too tiring at the time, but it is good and you will reap a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up!

 

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Why do children love to take all of the toilet paper off of the roll?

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It is so sweet when siblings love each other!

Do you have a memory of doing something you knew was good for your child where you ended up reaping a harvest of blessing for it?

 

 

January 22nd, 2012 by Sarah

Humbling Moments


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Have you ever had one of those extremely humbling days? I had to learn from one recently.

My husband Jason was out of town, so I decided to do what I normally do when I’m on my own.  Say yes to everything I am asked to do, pretend I am superwoman and over plan too much in our day.

After already running our three little children around ragged, we went to a friend’s house for dinner. When it was time to leave I gave my five-year-old Micah a five-minute warning, and then five minutes later told him it was time to leave.  He threw the biggest brawling fit I have ever seen him throw, especially in front of an audience.  I had never seen him this out of control, but of course I didn’t want to sound like I was making excuses for him. We left, apologizing all the way out the door.  I know my friend loves me, but I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the last time she would ever invite me over after that scene.

We walked into our house, where I looked at us in the mirror. We looked exhausted, and my skin was burnt only in the places where I missed sunscreen. (That’s always a nice look.)  My kids were dirty from a day outside. They needed baths but there would none; we were going straight to bed.  Then I looked down, one of my pant legs was rolled up at least four inches higher than the other.  Apparently I was too busy all day to notice. I walked around Target and went to a friend’s house looking like this.

I know days like this happen, but I had to take some responsibility for the humiliation I was experiencing.  I learned a few things that day.

First, I am a “yes” girl, while Jason is good at saying “no.”  This difference in our personalities gets us into trouble often, but it is also the very thing that complements each other well.  When Jason is gone, my spontaneous and overly-optimistic-with-time personality kicks in and I then experience the negative consequences that can have on our family.  The way that Jason plans and designates our time balances out my desire to say yes to everything and visa versa.  Though personality differences in marriage can be a major source of conflict, God knew exactly what he was doing when he put us together. I e-mailed Jason right away to tell him how much I appreciate his personality even when it’s so different from mine.

Second, this particular day was unfortunately not in my top humbling moments. I’ve had many more, but I am learning to be thankful for embarrassing situations. Humiliation is one of the ways God uses to make us humble.

1 Peter 5:5 says that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  I would much rather be experiencing God’s favor than opposition. If left to myself I would think way too highly of myself, but when I hit certain lows I am brought to my knees in prayer.  Humbling circumstances remind me that I can’t do everything on my own. They remind me that Christ is my strength in my weakness, and I am nothing without him, but everything with him.

Third, I learned that day that I should probably check to make sure my pants are not four inches off in length before I leave the house the next time.

Are there personality differences in your family members that cause tension, but may also be a way that you balance each other? Is there a circumstance in your life that you cannot get through on your own right now? Maybe God is bringing you to your knees…wanting you to trust him so he can show his work and power in your life.

January 22nd, 2012 by Sarah

Breaking Family Patterns


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Though every family carries some dysfunction, I would certainly characterize my childhood as dysfunctional and chaotic.  It was plagued with my father’s alcoholism, witness of abuse in our home, divorce, and my mom’s mental illness.

I had accepted Christ as my Savior as a 5 year old, and Christ was always with me through the ups and downs.  My family’s church attendance was sporadic, but on one occasion, when I was 11 years old, our pastor talked about sins being passed down through families and generations.  He talked about how Christ can clean and change even our sinful patterns.  So on that day, I prayed a prayer that Jesus would allow me to break the patterns that had been carried down for generations, and give my family a legacy of faith.  I had a picture in my head of what that would look like.

Nineteen years later, I am amazed as I look at my family because He answered that prayer better than I could have imagined.  I’ve experienced the words of Psalms 40:1, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth a hymn of praise to our God.”

A few things that I’ve learned through my journey thus far:

  1. Jesus is the only able One who can overcome sinful family patterns because he lived a sinless life and took our sin. When we put our faith in what He did on the cross, he makes us new and clean, making us new people and starting the process of being changed every day. After I committed to Christ there were tempting situations that were very difficult to resist, but I had to obey his commandment in order to enjoy the blessing that would one day come through obedience to him.
  2. Forgiveness: Studies have shown that family members who hold a grudge or cut off another family member are more likely to repeat the same behaviors themselves or marry someone who does. It’s fascinating that we tend to do the very thing we hate in someone else. When we decide to let God deal with the sin of the party that we were so hurt by, we are releasing ourselves from the burden as well.
  3. It’s a process. There is always a pull toward what we are used to, but that is not always the best direction.  Even now as a mom I sense myself being drawn to parent our three kids with my mom’s parenting style: compassionate but overly permissive. I have to be intentional in developing the daily structure that I myself did not grow up with. I pray often, asking God for wisdom, reading Scripture and seeking wise counsel so that I can learn to discipline and instruct my children well.  It’s a daily process of relying on God.

It’s encouraging to know that God is the One who’ll ultimately break our family patterns.