Don’t Give Up On Doing Good

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a post. It’s been a very hectic few weeks to say the least. The normal busy-ness was added to in the form of sick children, an extremely cranky, teething toddler, and bunch of other work-related stuff I can’t really go into – but it was BAD.

It has not ever been “not-busy” since we moved to Mwanza, and granted we knew the first year or so would be like this – it’s not really a surprise, but whenever we face particularly challenging situations at the Village (check out the “Bringing Hope” tab up top for more info on what is it we actually do) at first it usually does surprise me a bit. Probably because things seem to go really well for a couple months – everything is running smoothly, people are generally getting along, we’re moving forward, things are happening in a positive way and then it’s like a bomb drops. Something big. Something you can’t ignore and something that affects everything and everyone. And then for those few days or weeks that’s all you deal with! Climbing out of the whole, dealing with the consequences, while trying to still be Godly at the same time (easier said than done).

It’s not like I have unrealistic expectations that everything will be good all the time – not at all, but still somehow these things tend to come in such an “out of the blue” way that they still surprise me. It’s in these times – when I reach the complete end of my rope in every way, that I need to remind myself of a few things…maybe you need to hear these reminders today too…

  1. God absolutely still knows what He’s doing – and he hasn’t stopped “doing.”
  2. Our rewards are not on this earth. Our rewards for how we serve on this earth will be handed out in eternity and we may not know until then the impact our actions had.
  3. Don’t give up on doing good. Let God deal with the actions and responses of others – you can’t control those anyways – so just keep doing good and being faithful. Remember you are serving for Jesus, it’s not about how other people respond.
  4. Remember how broken you are – and how amazing God’s love is for you – and then look at the people around you through that lens.
  5. Our battle is not against flesh and blood- but we are most definitely at war. Expect attacks – the enemy is not going to just sit around and let you impact the Kingdom of God without trying to derail you. Remember where your strength is.
  6. Jesus can and does bring hope into every situation if we invite him in.
  7. You feel a lot better when you let go of the bitterness and start being intentionally grateful again.
  8. Remember God called you and He has equipped you for that call.
  9. Jesus loves “those people” or “that person” that you absolutely can’t stand right now. You can’t even fathom how much he loves them, but the fact is, He does.
  10. This too shall pass. And how you handle this has the potential to make you stronger and smarter – for the next time – because yes, whatever we are facing now is preparing us for what’s ahead.

I have been meditating on these verses this week…

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.”

~Psalm 121:1-2

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That Tricky Tricky Comfort Zone…Time to Break Out

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The comfort zone. It’s a beautiful place, isn’t it? You feel great, there’s minimal or no pain, you know what to expect, you breathe easy. But the problem is it’s also the place where you don’t grow. You don’t become any better and truth be told – it can get a little boring if we’re being honest.

That constant tug of war: I want to be comfortable (it’s nice, it’s cozy, I feel safe) but at the same time I don’t want to get too comfortable (because I know I won’t become the best that I can be). It’s a tricky battle this one. On some level you long for the security and constant of the comfort zone, but on another level you know you want excitement, challenge and adventure – which means you have to break out of your comfort bubble. Nothing exciting happens in there. Nothing. You know exactly what happens in there, which means there’s no risk, which means it’s not exciting.

There real truth of it is we’re not ever supposed to feel that comfortable here. This (the earth – wherever you happen to live on it) is not home. It’s temporary; it won’t last. Heaven is our home and until we’re there, we’ll never fit in perfectly and we’ll never be perfectly comfortable.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…”

~Philippians 3:20~

I have to remind myself of this truth sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed and longing for steadiness; a constant; my comfort zone. The only constant is change – cliche or not it’s just the truth. And wouldn’t your life be pretty boring without it? I know deep down that I have the amazing life I do because at each step of the way I found a way to embrace change. To roll with it. To adapt. And when I did that? – I grew. I learned and I became better in some way.

Most of the time change is not easy. It’s a natural human tendency to run for that comfort zone and hunker down, but if you can resist the urge and force yourself to step out into the unknown you open yourself up for whole lot of amazing experiences. You also open yourself up for hurt, I’m not overlooking that. But even in those situations you’re still growing; you’re still learning and becoming better. You can’t avoid hurt even in your comfort zone, but you will lose out on the possible joy that is just outside of that bubble if you give into your ‘hunker down’ human self.

I feel like I’m out of my comfort zone in most areas of my life right now…

I have to send my little boy to school every day and trust other people to keep him safe and trust that he will do well.

I have to leave my second little boy at home in the care of someone else (who is amazing, but who is not me). 

I have to constantly be learning and changing and adapting the way I do things at work; looking for what works best.

I am pushing myself to get healthier – waking up before sunrise to get my workouts in (which believe me is WAY outside of my comfort zone!)

I am stretching myself as I get back into studying and finishing my school after about 6 years of no school – it’s an adjustment for sure! 

I am always trying to stretch and grow myself as a wife and as a mom so I can be the best I can at each of those roles without sacrificing the other. 

As challenging as some of those things are for me, I’m choosing to do them because I know they make me better. Now, don’t ask me how I feel about it at 5:50 am when my alarm goes off to workout. 😛

Hope you have a very uncomfortable day 😉

Be so happy…

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I came across this quote the other day and it really stuck with me.

What an amazingly simple but powerful truth.

Without really much effort at all – I have the power to make someone smile – to brighten their day – to make them HAPPY.

WOW.

If we only realised the power we possess. It doesn’t take a lot. Attitude is contagious – we all know that. Which means a happy attitude – a cheerful heart is also contagious.

How many times instead do we spread discontentment, hurt, fear and just general grumpiness?

I wonder what would happen if we chose to focus on the GOOD. The things that make us happy and to spread some of that around. We might see the people around us become happier too.

I think it’s worth a try 😉

Today is a new day. I am blessed. I am loved. I am HAPPY. And my goal today is to make others happy too.

Have a great day and spread some joy around, will ya?

My Parenting “Don’ts”

I am a parent; a mother. There are many things I do… I give out lots of hugs and cuddles, I kiss boo boo’s, I say bedtime prayers every night.  I change poopy diapers, I do bath time, I clean up (or try to), and I answer a lot of questions. I listen to my 4 year old’s stories, I laugh a lot, sometime I cry. I love with all my heart and I always strive to do what’s best for my kids. However there are a few things that I simply refuse to do…these have become my parenting “don’ts.” Some of these can prove very difficult at times, but parenting is work! These are things I just don’t put up with.

1. I don’t tolerate whining

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Exactly. “I’m sorry I don’t speak that language.” Is usually what I say to my four year old when he starts to get that whiney tone in his voice. I refuse to listen to you while you’re whining and complaining and your voice is reaching that level that makes me want to scream. There is a proper way to ask for something if you’d like it and that is what I’m trying to teach my kids instead of giving them what they’re whining for without even thinking, just to make them stop. (Tempting, believe me – but not helpful especially in the long run).

2. I don’t entertain tantrums

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All kids have ’em. Some more than others. The dreaded temper tantrums. They’re nasty of course. No one likes them. And while I can’t fully avoid them since I have a four year old and a 14 month old – I do not simply “put up with them.” Kids need to know from a very young age that they don’t always get their way – and especially not if they scream and throw a fit. It doesn’t work like that. If they’re left to throw a fit and then eventually get what they want – they know they can – and that’s dangerous. You’ve just made your life a lot harder in the long run. While tantrums are not nice to deal with – they need to be dealt with EVERY time. Even when my kids throw a tantrum – it doesn’t usually last long, because they are learning it never works – it never gets them what they want.

3. I don’t answer questions before coffee

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This is just a really practical one. It’s sort of not completely true…as I do mumble vague responses to my four year old such as, “yes” “mmhmm” “ok” “maybe” “right” and “I don’t know sweetie” as he proceeds to ask me 50 questions each morning before we have even made it downstairs – before the coffee is even on! I’m not a morning person and it’s a real struggle. The especially hard questions are the never ending stream of “why questions.” I just don’t have answers, especially not before coffee. I usually end up saying, “Just let mommy get downstairs and get some coffee sweetie, then I’ll answer that.” Thankfully most mornings he does eventually give up, unsatisfied with my run-of-the-mill answers and lets me get my coffee in.

4. I don’t negotiate with toddlers

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Maybe I’m just not as patient a parent as some people are, but I just refuse to negotiate with my toddler. A two year old doesn’t need a choice about what to eat – they just need food to eat. And if they’re really hungry – they’ll eat it. As children grow older I do believe it’s important to give them age-appropriate responsibility and choices, but as a young toddler – I’m the parent, and they’re the kid, I make the decisions – end of story. Besides, most of the time to they even really know what they want? And toddlers tend to change their minds about 10 times a minute anyways. Maybe in a minute he will actually want what I’m giving him and if not too bad – back to number 2.

5. I don’t lose (even though some days it feels like it)

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Parenting is truly hard work. It’s not easy and many times it’s not fun. Most of the time if would be easier to give in to the little people’s demands but then I have lost and it will make it that much harder the next time. The fact is I am the parent. I love them and want what is best for them and I make decisions based on that. And most of the time small children can’t see that – they just want what they want not knowing that sometimes what they want will actually end up hurting them – so my saying “no” has their best interests and safety in mind. When I refuse to give in and refuse to lose the battle (no matter how hard) I am teaching my children to respect authority. Children who have no respect for authority usually grow up to be adults with no respect for authority which usually means trouble. I want the best for my kids in every way and teaching them to be respectful will help them as they grow and hopefully with lots of love (and prayer) they will grow up to be loving, respectful, compassionate people.

No one is a perfect parent because there are no perfect people. All we can do is our best, every day. The biggest influence in your child’s life (especially small children) is you, their parent. They watch everything you do; they learn by watching you. It’s a scary thing sometimes! Lord, give us the strength we need to be the kind of parents You want us to be. Amen!

A Generous Heart

Today I am challenged by this word: generosity.

It’s a word that is used a lot. It’s used in many different situations. Some of us may have become kind of used to this word without really stopping to consider what true generosity means; what it looks like practically.

It’s easy to say you want to be a generous person. I think most people probably do. But how are you practically living that out on a daily basis? How does your life show that you are generous? Would other people call you generous? These are difficult questions to answer sometimes. It’s easy to say you are generous or that you aspire to be a generous person, but the true measure of that is if other people would also agree.

I sincerely hope that others would call me generous. I am striving to be a generous person in every way. I want to have a generous heart. I’m still figuring out exactly what that looks like on a daily basis, but here are a few thoughts…

Generous people give without expectations 

To be truly generous you must give without expecting any pay back. If you expect something (anything) in return for your act of kindness, than it’s not really kindness it’s just business. This also means giving sometimes without even expecting a thank you. Simply giving because you know it’s the right thing to do; you are there and you’re able to help.

Generous people give what they can

Sometimes I think we can hold back our generosity because we feel the need(s) are too big. We can’t help in any “significant” way – so we don’t help at all. This is tragic. Any help – is help. Even a small act can go a long way – and you may never know the impact. Being generous even when we feel it’s only a drop in the ocean is still being generous. Do what you can. There is no act, no amount, no time that is too little to give. It all counts.

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Generous people know that you gain when you give

Generosity is such a powerful thing. As much as you may help that other person or that group of people, something very special and amazing happens inside of you when you give. It brings joy – not just a good feeling – but true joy. Just try it – I guarantee the more you give the happier you will become. You know why? Because the focus changes from an inward, selfish me, me, me mentality to thinking outside of yourself, considering others, knowing you can make a difference and that always feels better that just being self-centred.

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Generous people know there are no limits to giving

Truly generous people have figured this one out. You can’t give too much. It’s impossible. The more you give, the more you have to give. It just grows. Whether it’s time, support, finances, compassion, etc. – the more you give out the more you have to give out again and again. It’s an amazing thing. If you don’t believe me then just try it. 🙂 You’ll see. You can’t out-give God. God will continue to give you more so that you you can pass it on and continue blessing many.

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Generous people change the world

One small act at a time…that’s what makes the big difference. Everyone has a part to play. If you give without expectations, if you give what you can, if you realise the joy in giving and you know you can never give too much you will make a difference. You may not even ever know the impact you had, but I’m sure it will be bigger that you could imagine. Want to change the world? Want to make a difference in the lives of people around you? Start giving. Seek to have a generous heart and watch what happens.

Enjoy the ride!

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