Category: featured

What do you want to bequeath to your children?

I came from a family of complainers. I can still hear my grandmother complaining to my grandfather about all kinds of things. I can hear my aunts and their complaints. After all, we used to hide under the kitchen table, which had a cloth that reached to the floor and listen in on their private conversations. I, in turn, became a complainer. When I listen to my sisters and cousins, I hear the echoes of those long dead and their complaints. It’s a family tradition, of sorts.

I recently visited with a friend who spent a great deal of time putting herself down. After each remark, she would laugh as if it was a joke. But here’s what I know, we mean what we say even if we try to pass it off as a joke. What comes out of our mouths is an indicator of our inner belief.

I know a man who has difficulty walking. When he’s going anywhere, you can hear him say, “I always find the perfect parking spot.” It amazes me how often he does find the perfect spot. He expects good and often that’s exactly what he gets.

When we talk about preparing our kids for the real world we often think in terms of how well they manage their private space (bedroom), how able they are to stay clean and care for their belongings, if they stay on task and get homework done or other chores, and how well they make, save, and spend money.

It’s useful to think about our way of being and what we may be passing along to our children.

Do we manage our stories about ourselves and others? Do we look for the bright side in tough situations? Are we grateful even when we must forego or wait for something we want? Do we complain? Do we problem-solve well? What about our personal boundaries or our own self-management?

We don’t do this inventory so that we can beat ourselves up over our weaknesses. We do it because as we work on our weaknesses and improve our way of being, we pass along one of the most important things we can give our children. We show by example that they are 100% responsible for how their life looks and feels. We show them by example that they can change; they can improve and when they do everything else improves.

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to our children is being someone they can learn from and be inspired by. We can bequeath them power over self.

Taking an inventory of our way of being is useful because it will help us improve ourselves. As we make changes, we teach our children that change is possible and necessary. We pass along life skills that make for a more pleasant and successful life.

Ask the important question – What do I want to bequeath to my children?

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Why You Should STOP Comparing

As a parent or grandparent do you ever feel you don’t measure up? I think we all have those feelings. Here are four examples that will help you STOP playing the comparing game, which isn’t fun, and which no one ever wins.

Story One

Don and I have 14 grandchildren and one on the way. We love these kids. But Don and I grandparent differently. He does a lot of snuggling. He is round and soft, and the kids come and climb on his knee and lean against his ample chest. He chats quietly with them. They tell him fantastic tales and share their thoughts. He has a candy jar which he keeps on the dresser in the bedroom. He fills it with sundry candies and makes sure it doesn’t run out. He also has an air gun and has taught the kids how to shoot. They loved that activity.

I don’t cuddle although I do hug. If I sat down, I might cuddle but I’m never sitting. I’m bustling about all the time. The kids come to me when they need anything. They know that whatever they need I will have, batteries, food coloring, pencils and paper, cornstarch, a box of mac and cheese. I rarely disappoint. One day Mary said to me, “You are the best and most prepared grandma I ever had.”

I’m a bit stern but I still get hugs and kisses. Ben reminds me that he has a billion and I can have one any time I want. I can be counted on to take them to their friends and pick them up, to wash a football jersey or send regular letters with gum inside.

When we went to Seattle to see out newest grandchild Tessa jumped up and down and said, “I couldn’t wait for grandpa to get here because I want to snuggle.”  While we were there, I helped the kids pick blackberries and make tarts. We walked to the corner book cupboard, got books, and then I read to them. I held Gus a ton and changed diapers. I helped Tessa and Elliott and their friends make crafts.

I used to worry because Don snuggled, while I did stuff. I worried that I wasn’t as good a grandparent. Then I remembered my grandparents. They were so different, and I loved them all. I never compared what they brought into my life. I just loved them all and accepted what they gave.

Story Two

Don and I don’t do big presents. We decided a few decades ago as a family that we didn’t want to spend lots of money on gifts and so we don’t. When our grandkids have a birthday, they get a few dollars and a stick of gum. I am known as the gum grandma. There is a stick of gum in every card and letter.

My daughter Marie’s children have grandparents that send big gifts. I worried that the grands would feel we were chintzy because of our choices concerning gift giving. I asked her about it, and she responded with vigor. “Oh mom, they LOVE getting your gifts. They love the gum. They love you and dad.”

Story Three

The four grandchildren I live with have a woman who we all consider grandma. She isn’t related by blood, but they adore her, and she adores them. She takes them to the planetarium, the zoo, the fair, and other wonderful places. On their birthdays the birthday child gets to spend the night at her home. It’s the highlight of their year.

I LOVE Cindy for her good heart, her friendship and because she loves my daughter’s family so much. But I have had to settle myself because what we each bring to the grandparent pool is so different. Our grands sleep on our living room floor many weekends. They love it but it isn’t the highlight of their year. It’s part of their daily life. We help our grands get to their friends’ homes, get homework done, supply them with stuff they need, we are there. I worried that it couldn’t compare to the planetarium and the zoo. However, when we are gone for a week or two they miss us and can’t wait for us to get back.

Story Four

This last June when my youngest daughter’s son turned four, I wanted to get him a book. He LOVES being read to and it fits my gift-giving budget. I found a board book about dinosaurs, currently his favorite animal. Even though it was a bit young for him each page made the sound of the dinosaur. I knew he would like it and he did.

His other grandparents bought him three rockets that shot high into the sky. His grandpa is a pilot. Man, how do you compare a board book to three rockets? Well, you don’t, and Elliott didn’t. He loved the book. He loved the rockets.

What’s the Point!

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others whether parenting or grandparenting. We need to stop measuring our efforts against someone else’s. Children are amazing. They take what is offered and they hold it dear. They love their parents just as they are. They love their grandparents just as they are.
Each adult in a child’s life brings something different. It’s a blessed child that has many loving adults in their life. Kids embrace them all and accept what they give.

Do your best. Bring what you can. Keep adding to your skills and it will be enough.

Enjoy the stories? Please share them with someone who needs to hear. : ) 

Christmas Dresses – A True Story

A true short story, written by Mary Ann Johnson years ago when her children were young and she was remembering

Christmases past.

NaVon, my mother, just 23 years old.

The heater made a steady hum as it singed the small bits of pine I had placed on top. I’d never seen one like it until we moved into the new house. It was brown, shiny, and huge. It wasn’t as homey as Grandma’s Ben Franklin, but it was warm and didn’t create clinkers, for which I was grateful. The pine was mother’s idea. She liked the smell the needles gave off as they slowly turned brown.

Mary Ann Johnson, age five. Pay attention to the buttons!

I was five years old and Idaho Falls was cold and windy. Inside it was warm and cozy. There were six of us and the house was small. I saw it years later and small was a generous word for it. At the time it seemed perfect.

Christmas was coming and as it always did during that season, the sewing machine was humming away. Pieces of black velvet and red taffeta littered the floor. I noticed the buttons first; the most beautiful buttons in the world, shiny white with rhinestone centers. Those buttons were a treasure sewn on a cardboard square. I would have paid at least a quarter for them, a vast sum hidden away in my bank.

But the buttons weren’t for sale. They were going onto elegant dresses that my sisters and I watched take shape until I could hold back my curiosity no longer. “Mom, are the dresses for us? Can we wear them?” “No”, she replied. Who else would they be for?

Our father-made cupboard.

With patience, she explained that there was a family who needed help making Christmas special. We had so much she said. She ticked our blessings off on her fingers. I remember the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had never had a beautiful dress like that, never a dress with buttons that shone like stars.

As the days passed, the emptiness in my stomach was being filled, for as my mother sewed, she poured into me a feeling of gratitude for blessings received and a spirit of giving. She made me a co-conspirator. I cared for the baby, played quietly and picked up those lovely scraps so she could continue to sew.

Soon the dresses were finished and gone. The gifts of love had been delivered. Then my mother began pouring charity into the empty place that the actual departure of the dresses left. “Now girls, when we go to church, you’ll see those dresses on three other little girls. Don’t say a word. We want them to feel happy and proud. This is our special Christmas secret. Remember that it’s important for people to have dignity and be happy.”

We three, Cindy, Shirley and I turned our young faces to her and beamed. We trusted the words of our mother. We knew we could keep the secret. I had a feeling of joy in my stomach. Emptiness no longer lingered there.

Our father-made rocking horse.

Christmas night was torture. Every child has felt the pangs of anxiety; will the doll be there, the train, the blocks? Every child has felt the excitement; how can I wait; how can I sleep? Sleep stayed away for a long time.

It was still dark when we raced to mom and dad’s room. They arose slowly – too slowly! finding slippers and waking the baby. Then there was the interminable wait as dad lit the tree and turned up the heat. Finally, we were free to run pell-mell into an ecstasy that would last all day.

What a wonderful Christmas!

 

What? I stopped short. There they were those buttons attached to a black velvet and red taffeta dress. What a surprise and joy.

As I sailed into church later that day, I was wearing a prized gift but the most precious Christmas gift I received that season was carried in my heart; gratitude for what I had, the love of sharing and charity for others. This gift, given to me by my mother so many Christmases ago has made all the difference in the quality of my life. Thanks, mom!!

Also, a thank you to my dad who is now gone. He made wonderful toys with his own two hands. We had them for many, many, years and they delighted all nine of us children.

Merry Christmas.

A Gift for You – The Week Before Christmas Packet

Christmas is just around the corner.

It’s a joyous holiday celebrated around the world by both Christians and non-Christians. It’s a time to celebrate family, friendships and for Christians, Christ. It’s filled with parties, gift-giving, food, and fun. BUT it can be exhausting!

If you’re like me, you’ve had Christmases that when all was said and done, felt disappointing. Oh, the gifts were good, and you got everything on your to-do list done but something was missing. After a few decades of thinking about that after-Christmas feeling, I know what it is for me. I didn’t spend enough downtime with my family, I failed to connect heart to heart and laugh to laugh. I was just too busy.

When I pinned this down for myself, I thought, “I bet I’m not the only person out there who feels this way.” So, I compiled a packet of simple, inexpensive and family-centered activities to help myself and others spend some quality time together at Christmas. I combed the Internet and gathered information and links so you wouldn’t have to. You can print the PDF HERE.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend five, six or even seven quiet evenings with just you and your family celebrating this remarkably joyous season? I’m with you, it would. We can make that happen by cleaning out our calendar and making a commitment to do it.

When I first put this together I tried it out. I had a few of my grands over and we did two of the activities. We made donut snowmen and donut reindeer. We learned that frosting and candies do not stick on powdered donuts very easily! We learned that if you don’t keep an eye on them, the noses will disappear from the snowmen’s faces. (Jack was that you?)

We learned that working on the floor is perfect, as the mess is right where you can sit in it easily! We learned that cutting pretzels for antlers is not as easy as it looks and if you don’t do it right you have ears. Reindeer look very funny with ear-shaped antlers. We learned that we love working together and that the whole project only took about 20 minutes. Then we ate!

Here’s to spending time as a family, calming the craziness, celebrating together and gearing up for a fabulous 2020. You can print the PDF HERE.

With holiday wishes for joy,
Mary Ann Johnson

Why not share this with someone

you care about. : ) 

Help Kids Give Christmas from the Heart

Kids LOVE making Christmas gifts. Helping them can seem overwhelming during this very busy season. However, with a bit of thought and time, you can help your children give gifts from the heart.

When I had two children left at home, ages five and eleven, we decided to make Christmas gifts. We had set some guidelines:

 

  • They had to be usable and worth giving
  • They couldn’t cost a lot of money
  • The child had to be able to make it with minimal help

This was before every home had a computer! What I had instead was a butter-colored, six drawer file cabinet which was filled with things I had collected over a lifetime of teaching children. We searched through files marked Christmas, gifts, sewing, patterns, and so forth until we found the perfect items.

My son, who was eleven, chose to make footstools for his grandparents and dad. I took him to the lumber yard, and he asked scraps and they gave them to him. I took him to the local upholstery shop, and he asked for scraps which they gave to him. In other words, I let my children choose the gifts, helped them gather the supplies for the gifts and then assisted when they needed me in making the gifts. But these gifts really did come from them.

The following ideas are simple, inexpensive and your children will need minimal help. But the satisfaction of giving a gift from the heart will be priceless.

Gifts Kids Can Make for Christmas

1. Make a book for a toddler. Get a small photo album and have your older child print pictures from the Internet or they can draw simple objects. Glue the picture to a piece of heavy paper or poster board which has been cut to fit. Label the item, write a short sentence or paragraph for a story.
2. Write a story for a parent or grandparent. Buy a small notebook with unlined paper or put some plain paper into a folder. Have your child write a story and then illustrate it. If your child is new to writing, you can write their story for them on the pages they have illustrated. Part of the fun with younger children is helping them come up with a story while you write. This can make for wonderfully funny and warm moments together. My Kate, when she was small, wrote two stories that I still have. One was called The Golden Tear and was a fantasy. The other was called “Glass Is Not Cement” a hilarious story of a real experience that she had. (She used an aquarium for a step stool!)
3. Another great gift idea that an older child can make is a Quiet Book. We have made these, and they are just plain fun. This also works well as a project for a whole family. Each member of the family makes one page for the book. Here is a wonderful site that has some darling free templates.
4. Bookmarks. Over the years we have made many, many bookmarks. If you google bookmarks for kids to make and hit images, you will find more ideas than you can shake a stick at! Here is one easy idea.
5. Decorated Wooden Spoon. Here is a gift that I saw on TJEDMUSE, suggested by Debbie. I thought it was a wonderful idea. When I was young, about 11 or 12, I got a wood-burning kit for Christmas and I loved it. Choose a wooden kitchen implement such as a spoon or rolling pin. Use the wood burner to inscribe an inspirational word or picture. If you choose something like a spoon you can turn it into a great wall decoration by adding ribbon and silk flowers to the handle and then hot gluing a hanger on the back of the handle.

6. One year we made corn/rice warmers for our friends. I still have mine. I store it under the head of my bed for cold nights. I just pop it into the microwave for a minute and voila warmth. Because I had children making these, they were very simple. We cut squares from flannel about 9X9. We sewed up three and ½ sides filled them with feed corn which I bought. Rice works just as well. Then we hand sewed the opening shut. I was able to teach my kids how to use the sewing machine and how to sew with a needle and thread. Just a note – When I was teaching my 5-year-old to use the sewing machine I stood behind her and ran the pedal with my foot. I helped her push the material through the feed dog and keep it straight. It worked well and as far as she was concerned, she had done the sewing!


7. Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies. I know, I know, everyone gets cookied to death at Christmas. However, my children loved making them. This is a whole afternoon project or two short afternoons. Kids make the cookie dough, roll it out, bake the cookies and then decorate them. The recipe that I am giving you is very old and uses far more flour than sugar, so they are perfect for frosting. When kids are frosting cookies, it is a messy business and never looks beautiful the way you would do it. But please, don’t help them too much or fix their cookies. What we like to do is let the cookies sit for a couple of hours uncovered so the frosting crusts up a bit. Then we put them in freezer bags and write “A Christmas Gift for New Year’s Eve – please freeze” on the bag. Add a bow and maybe a couple of hot chocolate packets. What a great gift!

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
2 c sugar 7 c flour
1 c shortening ½ tsp salt
2 eggs 1 tsp soda
1 tsp vanilla ½ c evaporated milk (plain milk works but canned makes the flavor so yummy!)

Cream the sugar and shortening. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and soda. Mix well. Add flour and milk alternately. I always end up mixing with my hands. It works so much better! The dough must be just stiff enough to roll out and handle nicely. Flour your table before you roll it out. It also helps to dip your cutter into the flour before cutting the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. The longer baked, the crisper, the shorter baked, softer.

Merry Christmas and

happy gift making. : )

By the way, if you love candy, frosting and graham crackers why not tackle a village of small gingerbread houses. It is a fabulous family activity? It’s fun and the way I help kids do it, it’s as easy as pie!! Sounds too hard? Try making a passel of old fashioned gingerbread men. They are delicious and simple.

Why not share this with someone

you care about. : ) 

Do You Undermine Your Growth and Success

Recently, I taught a class on consistency. I have taught this topic many times and have written about it often. I gave the class some tips on how to work toward being more consistent. However, this year I added a new tip that I have learned the hard way over the last couple of years. It applies to more than just remaining consistent. It applies to every change we want to make or promise we want to keep.

It’s a challenge to commit to something new or to make a change. But when we resent and blame others it saps the energy needed for follow-through. When we’re mired in resentment and blame it undermines our personal growth and success.

A Real-Life Example

I get up early and my husband sleeps in. He’s retired and doesn’t need to get up early, so he doesn’t.

I, on the other hand, have decided through experimentation that when I get up earlier my life feels better. I accomplish more, which matters to me. So, I made a commitment to get up at 5am. I sometimes felt resentful that Don slept in. I felt resentful that he could stay up later.

Often when I woke up, I wanted to sleep longer, and I had to force myself out of bed. I would look at my husband and feel resentment that I had to toe the line, do this hard thing and he didn’t. How unfair. When I let myself tell that story it became very hard to get out of bed and stay out.

If I did go back to bed, when I got up, I would feel terrible because I hadn’t kept my promise to myself. So, I would blame Don. After all, if he wasn’t in bed I would have gotten up. It was his fault. “Why can’t he get up early too and then it would be easier for me.”

This type of thing happens at work, with our kids, in relationships, all the time. It can derail our desire to eat well, keep up with our home management chores, connect with our children, lose weight, exercise, and the list goes on. When we let blame and resentment color our personal commitments, whatever they are, we will have a harder time keeping them.

Here’s the deal. It’s my commitment to get up early because of the things I want in my life. Don never made this commitment. No one makes me go to bed early. No one makes me get up. I can change my promise to myself at any time. It’s all up to me. That’s the true story!

There are many ways to maintain control over resentment and blame. Here are three.

Three Tips To Manage Blame and Resentment

• Stop and examine your story. What are you telling yourself? Is it true? If not, what is true. In this case, Don hasn’t made the commitment, I have. Whether I do it or not isn’t about Don, it’s about me.
• Release blame and resentment. These two emotions sap the energy required to stay the course. If you feel them know that there is something in your story that needs to be examined. Do an honest evaluation. Then let them go.
• Revaluate your commitment. Does it need to be adjusted so it feels manageable? In this case, mine did need an adjustment. I opened my window of ‘get up time’ from 5 am to between 5 am and 6 am. It felt less restrictive. I also gave myself a day off. On Sunday I let myself sleep in until 8 if I want to. I often don’t but I know that I can.
• Don’t quit. Whether you keep your promise to yourself, your personal commitment is all about you. So, when you feel like quitting, don’t. Keep going. If you fall off the wagon get back on as soon as you can. Manage your story. This is about you and what you want in your life.

Your shares are appreciated. Thank you!

Get a handle on what matters!

Many years ago, I read a book that illustrated how we can fit more of what matters into our day. We’re all busy. We have tons to do, less time for rest, and most of us suffer from a feeling of overwhelm. We can do something about this. We don’t need to be victims of busyness.

Here is the visual. A mason jar was half full of sand. Then a cup of pebbles was added. Finally, some large rocks were put on top. The problem was that there wasn’t enough space left for most of the rocks. A perfect analogy for a busy parent.

The sand is all the small disruptions and distractions that happen during the day. The pebbles are emergencies, unplanned urgencies, and small tasks that show up unannounced. The rocks are our top priorities, the things that make our lives feel the best, that we care about most, and we find very little time for them.

UGH. Does this sound familiar. You go to bed at night and know that the things that matter most didn’t get done because so much other stuff got in the way? I’ve been there! But as I repeat many times, you are not a victim, and neither am I. We have power in our lives, and we can take control of this whole jar business.

Here is what works better. Put the large stones in the jar first. Then add the pebbles and finally the sand. You can fit so much more comfortably into the jar. There are many tools/strategies to help us put the rocks in the jar first. Here is just one that has been helpful to me.

My number one strategy to put the rocks in first!

I have a morning and evening routine. I get up early every day and I know what to do in the first hour. I pray, read my core book, and exercise. On a good morning, I may even have time to study something I want to know more about. Some mornings, because life is life, all I get done is my prayer. That one thing gets me off to a good start, no matter how hectic things get. I get to count my morning routine because I did something in it even if I couldn’t do it all.

My evening routine has me ending my day at a certain time or as close as I can get to it. : ) This one thing is vital! Otherwise, I’m tempted to work right up to the time that I fall into bed exhausted. Since I put my rocks at the top of my to-do list they will be done, for the most part. Then, no matter what else is on the list that doesn’t get done, it’s ok, because they aren’t the most important things.

Then I shower because it relaxes me. It’s my gift to myself each evening. I read my core book with my husband and mother, write in my gratitude journal, pray and then turn out the light. No matter how the day has gone, if I manage these two routines, even if I can’t do everything, I feel more successful and in control. They ground me.

Your shares are appreciated. Thank you!

What We Need Will Show Up

My family took a drive to the mountains to see the fall colors. It was a perfect day. We stopped for a picnic in a small-town park. We parked on the South end where there was a pavilion of tables. On the east side of the park, we could see a playground. The north side of the park housed an event building. On the west was a closed concession stand. But there was no restroom.

We needed a restroom, so I suggested that Don get in the car and find a gas station for us to use. Here’s what we didn’t know. If you walked north, across the park, next to the concession building was a stone restroom. It was obscured by the concession stand and a large tree.

Life’s like this. Parenting is like this. We can find ourselves in great need of something that doesn’t seem available to us. We might lack skills, resources, or information, which makes it challenging to grow, change, be better, have peace, etc. Often, like the bathroom, we may know what’s missing but don’t know where to find it.

In my experience, if we’re looking for answers to problems in life or our family, we can find them. It may take time. We may not be ready yet. We may have to search. Let me give you an example.

Given time, answers come

I suffered from severe postpartum depression. This was at a time when this malady didn’t have a well-known name. My physician couldn’t understand what I was explaining to him. The resources I needed didn’t seem to exist. My lack of knowledge about what was happening to me and what could be done about it caused pain to me and my family.

Between my sixth and seventh pregnancy, I happened upon a two-paragraph article in our small-town paper that used the term ‘postpartum depression’ and briefly described the symptoms. It was as if a light had suddenly gone on in a dark room. I knew that I wasn’t out of my mind or a b—-.

My physician still had very little information and the internet didn’t exist, but just knowing how I felt had a name was life-changing. It altered how I managed my last pregnancy. As time went on, I learned more and more. What I learned has been helpful to all four of my daughters who also suffer postpartum depression. I’ve been able to help other mothers. The information has been valuable even though it came late in the game.

This can seem unfair and daunting. But if we don’t give up the resources we need will show up. And when they show up, we’re ready for them. We learn new ways of being, new skills. Then things get better. We get better and do better. We become a resource for others.

Looking Forward is When Growth Comes

It’s futile to look back on the place or time where we lacked information or resources. It’s helpful to focus on the fact that we eventually found what we needed and that we implemented it.

One of the most important things we can do is be kind to ourselves as we learn and grow. The second is to keep growing. If something’s not working in your life or family, then search for what you need. Read. Get a mentor. Take a class. Attend a workshop and what you need will show up! When it does, it can change everything.

Your shares are appreciated. Thank you!

How To Know What is Most Needful

Does anyone care about your struggle?

I believe in a power outside of myself which can and does help me manage some very difficult days. Regardless of your specific spiritual practices, if you believe that you’re guided and aided, then this article will be useful to you. I’ll be using the term Christ and Lord, but you can substitute whatever works for you.

In every moment, of every day, Christ knows what is most needful. He waits for any opening into our hearts and thoughts so that we too can know what is most needful. Often, we shut Him out by being too busy, overwhelmed, and overloaded with stuff to manage and do. But Christ never leaves us. He is beside us, waiting patiently for us to hear Him.

Christ loves us infinitely. He wants to guide us as we move through our days. He wants to help us with the laundry, our frustration with our child, our disappointment with a spouse, our endless to-do list, what to make for dinner, who to hug and when, being on the right road and getting to our destination safely, and a hundred other things.

Does this surprise you. Many believe that Christ is aloof, unaware, uncaring or even angry at the mess we often find ourselves in. Many believe that unless we have it all together God cannot help us. I know this is untrue!

Will we be helped if we’re in a mess?

We don’t have to wait to invite God into our home until we can kneel in prayer, until we have time to study the scriptures, until our home is clean and orderly, or our hearts are unburdened. You may be struggling to pray. You may talk to God all day but never make it to your knees. You may not be getting to your scriptures/core book daily. Possibly you aren’t managing your home well. Maybe your heart is a mess. You might even be angry at God.

Waiting to invite the Lord into your life until you get your mess cleaned up is like waiting to go to the ER when you’ve stopped the bleeding. Christ doesn’t love some future version of you. He loves you in your mess. Christ is here to help you with your mess. I know this is true! Seven decades of working on my mess have proven it to be true!

How to know what is most needful!

If you’re in a mess and overwhelmed, if you’re struggling to pray and study the scriptures/your core book, if you’re struggling with your relationship with Christ/Deity, there are things you can do to invite Him into your life anyway.

First – Be Aware – Know that even in your mess you’re loved. Hold on to the belief that if you’re doing your best, as poor as that may be, Christ wants to help you manage your day. When you’re aware of his love and presence you’ll hear Christ speaking to you.

  • Tighten the lid
  • Don’t delete that yet
  • You need gas
  • Jack needs a hug
  • Don’t say that
  • The roast is burning
  • Your mom is sad

The more that you hold Christ’s love and concern for you in your mind the more often you’ll hear the still small voice.

Satan/The Negative will spend most of the day pointing out your flaws so that you’ll feel less and less worthy. This can take you to the place where you begin to doubt your value to Christ, that He is with you, and you begin to block Him out. Resist! Stay aware of Christ’s infinite love and deep concern for everything in your day.

Second – Respond immediately – When you have a small thought and it’s good, do it. Tighten that lid. Don’t delete your file. Stop and buy gas. Hug that child. Don’t make that remark. Check the roast. Tell your mom you love her. When you respond immediately, you’re inviting the Lord to be with you. You welcome him into your life.

Third – Simplify – When we simplify our lives, we manage them better. We can spend more time mentally, emotionally, and physically where it matters and less in activities, that in the long run, are not going to matter. We open time to think. When we simplify our lives, we tune into Christ.

Anyone can clean a closet but how do you bring the Lord into it? When we remain aware that Christ loves us and cares, when we respond immediately, then we can know when to clean the closet, which closet to clean and when to just let it go.

I want you to visualize something. Close your eyes. Now imagine you have threads of energy attached to your shoulders and these threads connect to every item you have in your possession. Every item—every dish, cup, and pan; pictures in the photo album, DVDs, the hammer; every nail, sock, book, magazine, sweater, car, guitar pick, toy, book, and even your computer files. It’s one energy thread per item. Now, what if you also attached a thread to every item on your calendar – every shopping trip, doctor’s appointment, soccer practice, piano lesson, event or activity, church, service, and each thing on our never-ending to-do list. This is a heavy load to drag around. No wonder you go to bed weary and wake up tired! It’s challenging to find space in life for the Lord when you’re overwhelmed and weary.

As we simplify and get rid of excess stuff, and trim down our calendars, we create mental, physical, and emotional space in our lives for the Lord. That’s because there’s less that must be managed, cleaned, picked up and taken care of.

As we make space for the Lord, we’ll be wiser, we’ll do what is most needful more often, and we’ll feel more successful in our efforts.

Inviting the Lord into our lives each day is the most needful thing.

Your shares are appreciated by me and others who need to hear this. Thank you!