Grace Expectations

No human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs. This is something I’ve learned over my life.

We often put undue pressure on our husbands, children, friends and family to fill a void in our lives, to be a certain way, or to be who we think they should be so they can meet our needs and our expectations.  Whether we are aware we do this or if we do this unknowingly, it’s wrong.

Let me say it again, no human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs.

It is Jesus’ job to fill that part of our soul and no one else can do it.

Our husbands, friends, family, etc.…WILL fail us, just as we WILL fail them.  They will hurt us, mainly because of these unseen expectations or needs we want them to meet for us.

People will let us down…we live in a fallen world and are naturally sinful and selfish.  By knowing this and remembering this, we can let grace slide into our hurts and our disappointments from others.  This does not mean we are a doormat.  This does not mean that we hide how we are feeling from others, but that we share it openly and honestly with love because unresolved conflict can erupt or turn into bitterness if bottled up.

When we allow Jesus to reside in us and in our relationships there is so much love and grace ready and waiting to be poured out. We should lovingly let others know what we need from them, but give them grace when (not if) they fall short.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

We are given grace everyday abundantly…grace, forgiveness, no bitterness bottling up from Jesus –how freeing is that!?  Let others go.  Set them free of these expectations and just love them.  As unselfishly and as purely as Jesus will let you (is there a cap on that!? I doubt it!).

Love Him and Love others.

The day Jesus Christ died on the cross grace abounded for those who believe and follow Him.  The grace unseen that is weaved throughout Scripture before this one sacrificial act caused grace to truly burst forth for us (can I get a “Thank you, Lord”!?).  Grace that is available to all people if they accept it.  For us to truly offer grace to others we must learn to accept it and embrace it for ourselves. Because of this grace so freely given to us, we are empowered and equipped to give it to others.

Who do we need to free up of certain expectations we have placed on them?  In what relationships do we need to let go of anger, bitterness or resentfulness today (even if we never get the “I’m sorry” we may crave?)?

Lord, You are grace unending. And sometimes we just don’t understand it.  I pray You would help us understand it for ourselves so we can openly give it to others in the freedom of the cross.  Help us recognize where we need to show grace to others in our lives.  You created us beautifully, uniquely, and it’s awesome! You are so creative!  Your hope for us is that we would love You and love others.  You love us with such freedom of grace; grace and love with no strings attached, no performance we have to do to be yours…help us to love Your people with this same love and grace.  In the freedom of the cross may we love and love and then love some more.  In our Savior’s beautiful name, Amen

Lent

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With Lent right around the corner, I though I’d re-post this from a few years ago.

I had a sweet friend text me about adding something to her day during Lent, something she can read to learn more about Jesus and the Bible. I loved her desire to not just give up something to enrich these 40 days, but to add something to grow in her faith.

Here were some of my suggestions:

~You Version Bible App has a great 40-day Lent reading plan that takes you through the gospels.  I have not done this reading plan, but one can never go wrong adding time to read the Bible as one practices Lent; after all, isn’t the purpose of fasting to turn our hearts towards Him?  And isn’t that what He is truly after, our hearts?  What better way than to get into His Mighty Word!

The book of John is another great place to start!  It has 21 chapters so you could read one chapter a day then pick another book to read.  Romans and then 1 John would be good follow ups and there are others too!  Let the Lord guide you on this and He will!

photo 1~On Calvary’s Hill, 40 readings for the Easter season, is a book by Max Lucado and is full of Scripture and is an in depth look at the final days in the life of our Savior.  It is beautiful; I absolutely love the way Mr. Lucado writes.

~Rick Warren’s the Purpose Driven Life is another 40-day devotional book that can change your life.  It answers the many questions of our true purpose on Earth and living out the Greatest Commandment and Great Commission.

~Prayer.  Prayer is a huge part of fasting, taking our eyes off ourselves and the things of this world and focusing on God.  Fasting isn’t always easy, but if we praise the Lord and pray Scriptures when we desire what we are fasting from, it will help us avoid what we are giving up but most importantly take our focus off of ourselves and onto Him and His amazing sacrifice for our souls.  Again, isn’t this the purpose of Lent?  Let Him hear from you, He loves it!

~Memorizing Scripture.  Focus on one a week or maybe just pick one to meditate on during the 40 days of Lent.  There are so many to choose from but one of my favorites is Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”  Especially in the realm of fasting (and raising kids ha), this verse can help get our focus off of what we want with His help.  His Spirit is unending and overwhelming inside of believers!  Let’s put it to good use!

I have to admit, I have never officially practiced the 40 days of Lent, but I enjoyed reading and researching more about it from various denominations viewpoints.

For more information on Lent, click here.

I have no doubt that God can work in amazing ways anytime we turn our hearts toward Him, get in His Word and pray.  What an exciting time Lent can be and it doesn’t have to stop there!  May we continually seek the Lord every day of the year. 🙂

 

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Family Dinner Fun

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Mealtimes are CRAY in our home. I should record one sometime and post it for all to see. HA. It’s hard to keep kids in their seats and often there is a lull in the conversation. I desire mealtime to be more civilized first and foremost, but also as a time to hear about the day and visit with one another; to get the children to open up but also learn to listen to others.

img_8017When we vacationed last summer to Vail, CO (I highly recommend it!) with our oldest two children, we had dinners scheduled each night and I wanted us to really visit and not succumb to electronics (or craziness), so I found the hotel stationary and wrote out some questions. I was super excited to surprise my family with this dinner fun. We each took turns picking and answering the questions. It was a really special night. My heart felt so full and I think everyone else liked it as well.

Here are some of the questions we used:

  • Where in the world would you most want to live?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Describe yourself in 5 words.
  • Describe the person next to you in 5 words.
  • If you could invite anyone to dinner who would you invite?
  • If you were a superhero what would your power be and what would you be called?
  • If we all loved in a zoo, what animal would each of us be?
  • What scares you and why?

This is also fun with couples! We have some friends we go to dinner with from time to time and we all enjoy this mealtime activity as well. We usually laugh so hard and aren’t ready for the questions to end.

On Thanksgiving, we had my parents and my husband’s parents join us for the big meal. We used Ever Thine Home’s “Untie Your Story” ribbon. So beautiful, festive and I love the questions. Several of us had tears in our eyes as we answered in gratefulness. Again, a special meal!

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For my women’s ministry team Christmas Party, I came up with some questions and placed a one at each seat with no assigned seating. How the Lord ordained the questions was so endearing and amazing! It was a night I’ll never forget!

I googled some of the questions and came up with some on my own but Table Topics has several boxes of questions geared to different ages/scenarios. We also just bought this set that has been fun to do at home mealtimes. img_8132Just anyway to get the conversation going, kids opening up, laughing and having fun. Try it at your next dinner with friends or family vacation and let me know how it goes!!

Lots of love, laughter and table talk ~ Sarah 🙂

Click here to look at Table Topics on amazon.

Click here to buy Table Talk by Manners Co

Click here to buy Untie Your Story ribbons.

 

My Thoughts ~ a Poem and Prayer

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Does anyone else ever struggle with thoughts that carry you away from reality? I went through a terrible season of that a few years ago. While these words are from that time, and the Lord has done a work on my thoughts and mind, I am still in continual need of mind-renewing. Grateful He is our help for just that! For more on this click here. 

When my mind is a mess, what can I do?                                                                                 My thoughts, oh Lord, you must renew!

My heart and soul love You but my mind seems so stuck.                                                    Please, dear Father, lift me out of this muck.

Teach me your ways, help me know You are near.                                                               Teach me to live my life without any fear.

Keep the distracting thoughts at bay;                                                                                        for only You can make a way.

Reign in my heart, reign in my head.                                                                                         Only by You may my spirit be led.

May I think on things pleasing to You.                                                                                       My thoughts, oh Lord, continually make new!

In Your son Jesus’ name I pray.                                                                                                   The name above all and only way.

 

Cell Phones and Kids, Oh My! ~ 5 ways to guide and protect plus the contract we used for our 11 year old

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img_7913Although I dragged my feet for quite a while, our daughter officially has a cell phone. She’s 11 and was one of the last of her friends to get one. I know it can be a good thing, but as her mom, I want to educate her on the dangers and set it up safely.

I recorded this video before she got her phone and forgive me for saying “you” so many times– I am ALWAYS preaching to my own heart and self before preaching to anyone else! Watch the video, and then read below…

5 ways to guide and protect:

  • Set up filters and restrictions
    • Disney Circle:  Love this! You can set time limits, downtime, see search history and much more. I highly recommend this to protect your home WIFI and devices. CLick here for more info.
    • Life 360:  a good way to see locations of family members and driving speeds, etc… Click here for more info
    • Apple restrictions in phone:  When a child is added to family sharing, there are many restrictions/filters that can be put into place. From allowed websites, content restrictions, time limits, installing/deleting apps, etc… I had someone at the AT&T store guide me on this.
    • There are many others- Our Pact, BARK, Pumpic ….
    • Remove Gifs– I just realized you can do this! (go to the “…” in the bar below a message, you can remove or add certain apps (like photos, app store, animojis etc..) -I love this feature!)
  • Contracts
    • When Joe White with Kanakuk Kamps spoke at our church years ago, he talked of drawing up contracts with children. I felt a cell phone was certainly a place that needed clear boundaries in a contract. Here is the contract we drew up with our daughter. You are welcome to take and use whatever you like for your children as well and feel free to let me know of anything I might have left off!
  • Take phones up at bedtime
    • If left to their own devices, I know my children would have a hard time putting the phone down to go to sleep. We have set downtime which turns almost all apps down but I still want the phone with me during the night. Kids need sleep so badly. You can read in the contract the downtime hours for us.
    • If having a sleepover, communicate with the other children the rules of the house–no cell phones past a certain time. Take them up (depending on kids ages) or have them put them away.
  • Teach Phone Etiquette (more of this in the contract above)
    • Be mindful of what pictures are taken/sent…once it’s out there, it’s out there
    • THINK: Is it true? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? Think before sending/taking/texting
    • Be kind. Don’t gossip on group texts. (group texting is a feature that can be removed if needed!)
    • Answer the phone when parents text or call
    • Always wrap up a call with “BYE”
  • Say NO to social media (Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, etc…)

Some things to remember:

  • To whom much is given, much is required. My mom reminds me of this often, and I’m grateful! A phone is much, therefore will require much from us and our children
  • Each child is different- don’t just get a child a phone (or social media) because all of their friends have one
  • It’s ultimately our phone and we are lending it to them
  • We are not powerless when it comes to our children and electronics. As parents, we are in charge of their cell phones
  • Use the phone as currency. Chores must be done, grades made,  good behavior at home and school, etc… or phone is taken away
  • Have a “grounded” phone to be used if main phone is taken away. A flip phone or a GABB phone would be great. (we actually looked into the GABB phone and may consider it for our “grounded” phone or other children if we need to strictly get a hold of them It seems like a great device!)

I am not an expert, I’m learning as we go. I want to share this information to help others navigate electronics in this day and age. I know they are kids and may be able to find loopholes or ways around things, but a constant prayer on my lips and in my heart is that anything hidden in the dark would be brought to light. I can trust the Lord to do this, so grateful!

Heavenly Father, because of your love, presence and Word, we are not alone in our parenting- I praise you! You have blessed us with our children for just a short time, may we be great stewards of them always. May we diligently pray for them and their friends as they grow up in a place where too much can be accessed and known too soon. May we grant freedoms according to each child, letting You help us discern that which is pleasing to You and good. Father, I pray You would continually shine light on any darkness in my life and my children’s’ lives. Keep them safe and smart. May they long to do Your will. May the phones we use be used for Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

 

What a Relief

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Relief: a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.

Everyday I mess up as a mom. And everyday I am given grace.

What a relief.

Everyday I need something other than myself to help me. Everyday I ask, seek and surrender I am given the Holy Spirit’s help.

What a relief.

Everyday I get it wrong, say the wrong things or think unpleasant thoughts. Everyday I confess I am forgiven.

What a relief.

His death on the cross and resurrection sealed our fate as believers. Eternity with Him.

What a relief.

The words he left behind and how to live this life.

What a relief.

Yes, what a relief it is to have such a God! To send His one and only Son to die for us, to raise Him for us, to send His Spirit to help us, to give us the Bible to guide us. To give us access to Our Great Creator through prayer.

What a great relief it is.

Are we living in this relief today or merely going our own way?

Lord, help us to know these truths and live them out everyday. Thank You for paying the price for our sins and for granting us eternal life, your Spirit and your Word. You have truly given us everything we need to pursue life and godliness this side of our eternal home. What a relief. I love you. In your Son’s saving name, amen.