Potty training

Hi! Today I am going to diverge off my normal path. I recently had one of the young mom’s God has placed in my life ask me about potty training.  So I gave her my tried and true used on every child tips and I thought it would be a good blog post.   I have no desire to tell you how to do it but just share what I have done and what always worked and what did not. Potty training is a big job and with our busy schedules these days it can be a real challenge to get it done. It is wonderful when they are trained so I was always a proponent of the earlier the better. There are so many techniques but you really have to put it before God and do what will work best for you and your child, each individual one.  You need to know what you will and won’t stick with because consistency with potty training is the key.

1. Kids are able to be potty trained earlier than you think.

2. When their diapers are dry for longer periods now is a good time to start taking trips to the potty.

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3. NEVER ask them (especially boys) if they need to go. When they start they will almost always say no. Once they get in the routine of potty training and as they get a little older in the process, they WILL say no. No doesn’t mean they don’t have to go just that they don’t want to.

4. When you go to the potty see how long they are willing to sit there and then make it a little longer. If they dictate when they get off the potty training process will be really long.

5. When I knew my kids were ready I took them once every hour to just sit on the potty for a period of time. (sit them backwards it feel more stable) Little separate potties never worked for us. I was thankful because cleaning those was worse than a diaper.

6. The reward that worked best for us was a sticker chart right by the potty. Little presents for big achievements I would not have kept up with and candy was a no when you have 5 kids under 7. I did not need to deal with that energy boost. They got a sticker on the chart when they went on the potty. Once the chart was full they got a small toy or treat.

7. Deal with wet pants sometimes. Underwear works way better at training than pull ups. In fact I think pull ups are a deception they feel independent but they an pee when they want to if they want to no consequence. Besides it costs more.

8.  I would take them potty when they went to bed. Then I would get up early and check for a dry diaper, if it was dry, off to the potty we went.  I would begin to learn what time this was for each child.  Here is where you see what is important to you.  This is not a have to but I was motivated to get it done so I did this and it always worked.

9. In the potty training years I did not do the drink of water before bed.

There you have it my most tried and true worked with everyone tips.  I hope something resonates with you.

NF lessons in honesty and expression

I was listening to music the other day with my daughters and they introduced me to a new artist. This has been the way it has been since my kids have grown into teens and adults, I get to hear and experience new music through them which I love.  On this particular day it was a hip hop artist who goes my the name NF.  Now hip hop  is not my first pick but I am not adverse to it if it strikes a cord. It has to be danceable or more importantly the lyrics hit home.  Both were the case with NF, the music was good and the lyrics really hit home.  He is honest and says what he is feeling.  While listening in the car it is easy to pick up and enjoy what he is saying but as I listen around the house and can’t specifically hear the words a tone of anger can come across.  This rubs me wrong as I try to go about my daily tasks and I don’t enjoy it as much.

My daughters have a big joke now about how I don’t like NF because I shy away from it in our day to day when I can’t really tune in with the lyrics as well.  I keep telling them that is not the case at all I love NF and what he is saying. I also love his musical style.  It was funny to me as I sat and talked to one of my daughters who is a big fan and it was somewhat surprising to hear her point of view, although not totally, as I had come to suspect what the Spirit showed me in part that day.  You see this daughter is bright and shiny ,positive, fun loving , and for the most part peacemaking.  She likes to have fun and put a smile on people’s faces.  I couldn’t reconcile how she was connecting with NF.  I on the other hand totally relate to what NF talks about in his songs.  I should in my opinion love his music and want to listen to it all the time yet I struggled.

Then as always when the Spirit is at work a light went on and I began to understand things in a new way.  One of my weaknesses that God has been working on is to look toward what He is doing for good.  I tend to see the bad and the negative outcome in most situations.  For me I am attracted to happy books and happy music, things that highlight the brighter side as I try to look to Him for my sustenance and view point.  Whereas my happy daughter really enjoys the honesty and straightforward way that NF talks about things that are happening while still giving credit, adoration and service to God.  She is not connecting with her own negative experiences and giving them voice and strength she is seeing another side.

I am struck by this as I have taken up blogging or as I have dealt with people throughout my life.  I have so much on my mind I don’t want to drag people down.  The Holy Spirit has been trying to get across to me that He created us each differently with a purpose and this was one of the confirmations He used.  My daughter and people like her enjoy NF and his honesty as do I when I sit and just listen specifically to the lyrics.  I can relate to what he is saying.  I am reminded as I meander through these things the Holy Spirit is putting in front of me that He has specific people He wants to touch by the way I express myself.  Yes He has been transforming me and showing the beauty and freedom of living in His will.  He is showing me to move beyond the gray cloudy world that is my mind at times, but I will never be a sunshine and roses kind of girl and that is okay.

Here you will find me speaking to the freedom I have found in Jesus. Freedom from the gray clouds.  I am not NF and it is not therapy to talk about the clouds and confusion (he is not confused btw).  I am learning as I walk to rejoice in being freed from those thoughts.  As I am writing this blog I am learning to live in love and rejoice in the freedoms each situation brings me, but as I learn that lesson I want to be free from the fear of being myself.  I have tended to try to be too bright and shiny at times.  As this blog has been from God it has not worked to well since that is what He has called me too but this lesson he gave me through NF and my daughter was such a good one to keep me on track with being who I am.  Sharing my journey with parenthood, marriage and life won’t always be sunshine and roses but it will be full of freedom and praise to the one who turns the dark and cloudy to light.

Check him out below he will get you thinking:

Therapy Session by NF

Freedom in Brokenness

When your body betrays you and you have nothing with which to accomplish life in the way you are accustomed it can be devastating, or so it may seem at first.

afq5-t0zgtq-veeterzyEach time I have been physically broken I come back to a place of spiritual brokenness that frees me from the slavery that so easily entangles me. I am released from the mess that I make of my mind when I get back to striving on my own. In my physical brokenness I learn more about trusting God. How basic is that and yet He calls us deeper all the time. What we know now is only a shadow of what is to come.

When your body betrays you and you have nothing with which to accomplish life in the way you are accustomed it can be devastating, or so it may seem at first. You find yourself in a new place striving to find new ways to do what used to be second nature.  You realize how much of what you did in life you took for granted. For me the prayers I begin praying are that I will get my ability to do things on my own, back. The thing is, lately the answer I have been getting is “I love you, let me love you.” I promptly respond by letting Jesus know the way He can show love to me, my Love Language so to speak, is to give me back the ability to do things myself. That is not the freedom He wants me to experience right now. He knows I know the freedom of hard work and doing things myself. He wants me to go deeper. What He wants to show me is the freedom to watch Him work, He wants me to trust Him.

My mind does a double take of sorts when He says this. “Wait what?! How can I be following Jesus and not trust Him.” The verse about renewing and transforming comes to mind immediately. There was a time when I did not know how to do any of the things I now take for granted and do easily. In the years He spent teaching me these things I was on my knees ,literally, daily. I was clueless how to accomplish what He asked and I had no desire to do it outside of Him and His design. In the quiet of physical brokenness I listened as He spoke. Through the years I had moved from inability and reliance on Him, to strength and striving in my own power and abilities. I had developed a new habit of throwing up prayers and not waiting for the answers. Going through the motions of being Mary but really being Martha. Each time I have recently found myself in this place of physical brokenness I have been waiting foot tapping for God to get me out of it so I could get things done. His answer was again “No, trust me. I will do what needs to be done.” I will fight the battle while you stay quiet.

1za_mc846yu-ben-whiteTrusting Him is not new, but I am being called to a new place where I will face new challenges and Jesus wants me to be free. He wants me quiet and not carrying the burdens I have been choosing to carry. He wants me free to look to Him and listen. Free to see what He wants to do next in my life. So while being physically broken is hard. I am thankful, without it I wouldn’t be here writing this today and feeling excited to watch God work.

Where are you at today are you physically broken? Are you striving to do things in your power? Take a moment and listen Jesus is calling and He wants to take care of you. When I am broken I take more time for prayer so leave me a comment and let me be praying for you.

Through the Glass

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This year has been very full. Life was changing for all of us each in different ways. We all just needed a quiet do nothing vacation. Usually the mountains are calling with hikes and sight-seeing  but this year we just wanted to sit and be quiet. So we picked a place that is always hot, found a fun mid-century modern home and off we went for a week of quiet rest and as happens when you rest reflection.

The first day of vacation was hot.  We had been enjoying the first half of the day  in or by the pool.   It was nice to get this quiet time together with no obligations and nowhere we needed to be. Everyone was getting hungry so we fired up the BBQ and got some hot dogs and sausages grilled up.  As we gathered around the table outside we realized there were not enough chairs for everyone.  We could have gotten stools or sat on lounges nearby but for some, the dry heat was too much.  Where the table sat outside there sat another table on the inside separated by a wall of glass, so the hot people went inside.  In a funny way it was like we were eating together.

As we on the outside sat looking in, we noticed something, we had a choice of what we looked at. When you looked you could either see someone at the table inside or you could see the reflection of yourself.  The comments going around were that it was hard to see inside because you were just seeing yourself.  I wasn’t having this problem so I looked up at my reflection and the Spirit brought a profound picture to my mind.  It was a life illustration I know I will never forget so I had to share it.

When we looked at the window we had a choice, we could look and see the others inside or we could be distracted by our own reflection and only see ourselves.  Remember the comments were they couldn’t see the others because they could only see their own reflections.

I was struck by how true this is. How many times have I missed seeing something in someone else because I was looking at myself.  For me often times it has been me obsessing about what I might have done wrong in a given situation but for others it is that they are so impressed with what they have done and still others need to be in control, they need their vision realized.  No matter what perspective a person is coming from gazing at your own reflection makes you unable to see others.

Now we could spend a whole blog on how we should spend time in reflection looking at ourself and getting God’s perspective but that is not the freedom we are discussing here we are discussing how freeing it is to look away from the reflection of ourselves and truly look at others.  God has us, He wants us to see the beauty He created in others.

God has spent years teaching me this lesson, starting with people who I did not necessarily agree with. He began, as I opened myself up, to show me what He created in these people who did things so differently than I did.  He showed me the good in who they were and what they were doing.

It is so easy to look at the weaknesses of others and miss their strengths. Only in seeing them as God created them and intended them to be, do we have any hope of loving them the way He intended.  Love cannot be manufactured that is a lie that I believe is being spread heavily right now.  Put on the face of love, act loving and this will bring about change.  But when it doesn’t? What then? Where does the face of love go? I am sure you have all seen it, it fades very quickly.

I am so thankful for this picture lesson God gave me in my quiet time. I am thankful for the freedom to see people as God designed them not as they present themselves or satan tries to distort them so I will look away.  I am thankful to be free to love in every moment not just the ones that meet my expectations.  I am thankful to be free to look away from the reflection of myself and look through the glass at the beautiful creations which God placed around me. Where are you looking today are you looking through the glass at the people God has placed in your life? Or are you looking at your own reflection?

Free from Fear

Where He is, where He leads, there is always light, there is always strength, there is always peace when I open that door

I would love to start this off today telling you I am free from fear. That Jesus has set me free and this is how you get there, but I cannot.  It isn’t because Jesus has not set me free, that is just not true.  I am free I just choose to stay in my jail cell even though I could walk right up and push the door open.

I am comfortable here in my jail cell.  No it is not pleasant, I don’t get treated well and  sometimes bad things happen, but, if I keep quiet, and eat the food I am being given I at least know what to expect for the most part.  Let’s be honest I am in jail, you can picture, it no matter how I draw it, cell-windowit is not good.

We are asked to “Throw off the fear that so easily enslaves us” (prompted by Hebrews 12:1) Why am I not doing that.  I serve the King, The sovereign God of the universe and there is so much out there He is waiting to show me.  Why do I resist?  Why do I shut the door like a child and say no?  What do I gain? Peace? Quiet?  These come to mind, but it is not really like that because it is a jail cell, little vermin are crawling around you, you can hear them even when you cannot see them.  It is hard cold and uncomfortable. You are always being confronted with why you are there. No it is neither peaceful nor quiet.

As He paints this picture while I write, I am seeing it all in a new light.  Several months ago God asked me to write, He asked me to share the journey He has set me on with others. Slowly He has been opening my mind to this and showing me His thoughts and direction.  Last night I read a post by a blog I love One September Day. The post was Brave Steps for a Quiet Heart. It was another step in my journey to freedom from fear.  Here is a mother of ten blogging and this post was Jesus speaking right to me from the honesty of this womans heart.  She spoke of her fears , of being honest, of showing the good and the bad. Everything she wrote about in this post were things the Spirit had already been saying to me.  Her post was confirmation and opened my eyes to the fact that I was not alone, I was not hearing wrong.

This morning I got some rare alone time.  I began my time writing out the things of yesterday and this morning I was thankful for, my blessings, my gifts, as another gifted woman of God (Ann Voskamp) has put it, and Jesus took my hand and walked me down this road.  He showed me the flowers waiting to bloom on the roadside and the beautiful sights I was missing as I sat in my cell or trudged down my road not looking around me.  The birds, as I wrote, were singing a literal chorus in my background I had never heard so many in all my quiet times sitting outside. I looked back at myself sitting in that jail cell and I am thinking “What am I doing? I should open it! I want to open it!” So here 2015-08-13-15-06-28I am writing, opening the door, looking outside.

As I write this post I know not all of them are going to be about me being free but about Christ freeing me.  They will sometimes be about my journey  opening the door, stepping out and looking around . They will sometimes be about my steps to freedom rather than the freedom I know.

Today I started with fear and as I wrote, the words of Jesus washed over and freed me a little more.  I am so thankful to stand in His presence and go in His direction no matter how scary. Where He is, where He leads, there is always light, there is always strength, there is always peace when I open that door. Here is to freedom from fear!

 

An Avenue of Renewal

The passionate feelings we feel in the physical world are but a shadow of what we have with Him.

Marriage for me has been a gift. A main avenue through which the Spirit works to renew and transform my mind.  The parallels that run through marriage and our life with Himsillhoutte-couple run deep.   They are  a training ground of spiritual expression.   Even as I write this I am astounded by a revelation as He opens my mind to a deeper truth of something He has been teaching me for years!

My spouse can never fulfill me the way the Spirit can.  He can never meet my needs at the deepest level the way Jesus can and wants to.  Song of Solomon is expressed the way it is on purpose.  We have turned all our focus on the physical, getting our needs met, making sure we are happy and with people who build us up.  That puts a lot of pressure on us!  I have seen posts and books about an affair proof marriage keeping your man interested in you. Now I don’t want to take away from what some of these wise women are saying, addressing certain weak areas of self focus.  I am speaking of freedom. Freedom in marriage is  a deep abiding reliance on Jesus to meet our needs.  It is a faith often so hard to grasp we are weeping at His feet, but the end of this road is a vision of grandeur. Sometimes the work He is doing isn’t on us, we are just a part of the process and in the end we get to stand in awe.  Casting our care on Him seems so clique but really only in letting go and being free do we see Him and what He is doing in our marriage and in our life.  When we are working so hard in our own power to make things work we can’t see Him.  All we see is the effort we are making and we are looking for the expected response.  This only ever leads to deception and disillusionment.  Gideon watched God work, Moses held up his hands and watched God work, Peter, Paul and the apostles laid their hands and said words. This is not work and human effort. We gain nothing on this road and in our marriage it is no different. This is not a new story or a new way.

So let’s put down our expectations. Let’s be free and look around and see what God is doing. Is your spouse not saying what you need or want to hear right now or some other loved one? Let’s live free to ask why.  I am loved, I am cherished where is this darkness coming from. Should I speak to it? Can I express love in the face of it? So often for me the answer is no. The best I can do is hold tightly to my control and not respond. Let me tell you I fail often! What should I be in prayer about?  So often I can see how my spouse should be handling our relationship differently and what His best behavior is but really the question comes back to me?  This is really between God and I. The spiritual manifests itself in the physical and satan just amps it up makes it bigger than it is.  heavens

So today I am going to take a moment and sit before Jesus and listen to the Spirit.  What does He want me to see? What army is He conquering while I am looking the other way and complaining about what I don’t have? Today I am going to look freedom in the face and see the chains the Spirit wants to break. The chains that are binding me and keeping me back from loving those He has put in my life because I only infinitesimally grasp His love for me.

I am thankful for the reminder I don’t need my spouse to act in a certain way or say certain things. I can love because I am learning more each day how I am loved.  I am thankful as I have been for years that God chose to show His love for me through my spouse and then my children and He continues in so many ways.  I am thankful I am not responsible to live with the spin in my head and to rely on those around me who have their own challenges, I can rest in Jesus. When there is no clear instruction I just rest and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that as I watch Him handle these challenges in my physical realm with my spouse He takes me deeper inside of my relationship with Him where He is healing me and bringing out what He intended when He created me.

Are you challenged in your relationships? Is it hard to hear God? Is your feeling of love coming from those around you and you just are not feeling it right now?  Leave a comment and let me pray for you. This is an ongoing struggle. Let go today and open yourself up to God’s true intent for you? See the you He created.