Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family
October 3rd, 2013

The Power of Encouragement


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Strand Family  20

You know how when you take a shower the mirror fogs up, and you can write a message that will look invisible until the next person takes a shower? A few weeks ago I wrote, “you’re the man,” with my finger so that my husband, Jason, would see it when he got out of the shower.

Then a few days later I stepped out of the shower to a message on my side of the mirror… (I know what you’re thinking. That Jason wrote something cute like, “you’re beautiful.”) Actually, I saw the words, “Micah’s the man.” Micah is my 8-year-old son and when he saw my message to Jason he wondered why he wasn’t the man. He cleverly decided to write a note back to me.

Inside each of us there is an unquenchable desire for encouragement.

I think we all know that it’s important to encourage each other, but if you’re like me you need reminders. It comes more naturally for me to critique (you know, the fancy word for criticize) than to encourage.

When one of my sons recently got into the bad habit of lashing out when he was angry, I encouraged him to do the right thing, which in this case, was to use his words. He knew what to do and not to do, but no matter what consequence and instruction I gave him, it wasn’t working.

Then, one day it happened. He did the right thing and used his words, and I was so proud of him. I semi-over-the-top encouraged him for using his words and from that point on we saw a huge change, and we continued to encourage him for it.

I believe discipline and instruction are important, but out of everything we tried, encouragement was the most powerful force of change.

Three things to remember:

1. When you think something good–say it, send it in an email, or text it. Just communicate it.
2. Try to notice what your spouse, children, or parents do well and thank them, letting them know how much it meant to you.
3. Rather than saying something vague to your children like “you’re good,” or “you’re smart,” when they attempt a task try something specific like “you’re working so hard” or “wow, you obeyed me the first time I asked, I’m so proud of you.” Studies have shown that more specific encouragement motivates and builds confidence.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another daily.” Build a habit of it, and I believe it has the power to change our families and marriages for the better.

January 22nd, 2012

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

Enjoying our “Little Blessings”


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I can’t get enough of these three little kiddos, though there are moments when I want to hide in my closet with my secret stash of chocolate and a good book.  That’s not quite an option for me.  An hour after I leave them with the grandparents to go on a date I find myself missing them.

If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you would probably find it comical. Three children ages 5 and under will either leave you laughing or crying. Our two boys are usually running around in just their superhero underwear and a toy sword, baby Isabelle is usually whipping things out of a cupboard or wanting to be held, and watching me get all of the kids into the car would really make you wonder why we ever leave the house.

After having our third baby I made the choice that I needed to laugh through the chaotic moments rather than freak out.

In the midst of these mundane moments of changing diapers and sweeping up messes, these are three of the ways I enjoy life at home with my kids.

The first way is a round about way, but truly the secret. When I spend time with the Lord and give Him the first time of my day it seems like He multiplies my time and gives me more joy and patience with them. When I’m not up earlier than my children I often have them sit next to me with their Bibles while I read mine. As you can imagine, rising prior to them is ideal, but even if it’s not much time in the morning I try to focus even a little time until I can get another quiet moment to spend time with God. I also read a children’s Bible with them every day. It speaks to both them and me, and we get snuggle time.

If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you would probably find it comical. Three children ages 5 and under will either leave you laughing or crying. Our two boys are usually running around in just their superhero underwear and a toy sword, baby Isabelle is usually whipping things out of a cupboard or wanting to be held, and watching me get all of the kids into the car would really make you wonder why we ever leave the house.

After having our third baby I made the choice that I needed to laugh through the chaotic moments rather than freak out.

In the midst of these mundane moments of changing diapers and sweeping up messes, these are three of the ways I enjoy life at home with my kids.

The first way is a round about way, but truly the secret. When I spend time with the Lord and give Him the first time of my day it seems like He multiplies my time and gives me more joy and patience with them. When I’m not up earlier than my children I often have them sit next to me with their Bibles while I read mine. As you can imagine, rising prior to them is ideal, but even if it’s not much time in the morning I try to focus even a little time until I can get another quiet moment to spend time with God. I also read a children’s Bible with them every day. It speaks to both them and me, and we get snuggle time.

Second, having wondered many times—”Do I have what it takes to do this?”—God has supplied all my needs and given me this answer:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). He has done that for me and shown me how strong He is, even though I have so many inadequacies. Jesus gives me wisdom when I ask for it, whether through a parenting book, a friend or prayer and his word right when I need it most.

Third, I realized that what used to frustrate me to a point of discouragement at times (temper tantrums, broken lamps, middle of the night feedings, the sound of multiple cries etc.), is all part of the blessing of serving and teaching my children that causes me to grow in character. We become more like Christ when we practice the patience and love that he gives us.

Every parent has good days and bad days, but our days seem to go better with some kind of routine and intentional plan. There is a greater purpose to all of the mundane moments than we can see right now. Try to laugh in the chaotic moments, pray through the hard times, and encourage and hug your children throughout the mundane moments of the day.