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Posts tagged ‘victory’

I was listening to Revive our Hearts yesterday, and the speaker quoted from the book The Life of Helen Keller.¬†After describing the scene where Anne Sullivan taught Helen to eat like a civilized creature (if you’ve seen either of the “Miracle Worker” movies, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; if not, either watch one or read the book!), Anne goes on to say something very profound:

I saw clearly that it was useless to try to teach Helen language or anything else until she learned to obey me. I thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of the child.

I don’t know how to improve on that, so I’ll just recommend that you read it again, 2 or 3 times, and let its meaning really sink in.

Yesterday I had a battle with Manny. Not near as big as Anne had with Helen, but it was something. Lately he has not wanted to eat any cereal except the chocolate-covered “Koala Crisps” (which are gluten-free and actually have nothing he is allergic to in them, which is why I buy them and give them to him occasionally). Trying to get him to eat anything else for supper is a battle. So last night I decided to try something different.

When I offered him the food, I told him clearly that he had a choice to make. He could either choose to eat cheerfully, or he could stand in the corner. He hates standing in the corner, by the way. But he chose not to eat, so by default he chose the corner. I put him there and worked nearby, watching him closely. If he turned around and looked at me, I would remind him to put his nose in the corner. Of course this made him cry again, but I persisted. I started him out at 2 minutes, then offered to let him eat. When he said no, I went 2 1/2 minutes. Then 3 minutes. Then 3 1/2. Each time I offered him the food, showing it to him, and letting him choose between eating and the corner. He tried to interject other options, like “nigh nigh” (going to bed), but I would not allow those options.

I am not sure how long it took, but we were up to 5 minutes between choices, and finally he chose to eat. He said, “Eat, eat,” so I put him in his chair, poured hemp milk on the puffed millet that I had coated with carob powder, and offered him the spoon. He ate the whole thing cheerfully, and was delighted to get some grapes afterwards!

Not only was this a great victory, but Daddy noticed later that evening that he was more compliant and less demanding. I think I have hit on something here.

The truth is, I have been very neglecting of my child training lately. But I have also neglected my walk with the Lord. In the past few weeks, I have been going through a period of revival, which always results in reformation if it is genuine. And this week the Lord convicted me that it was time to start working on my child training. I have been praying for wisdom, because Manny has some serious issues, and he’s too young to reason with, and I let some things get too far. But thanks to this victory yesterday, I am beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

But it’s a very long tunnel! At least, it feels like it! But God is my guide, and I know I will win as long as I remain with Him.

Yesterday was not a good day. At least, that’s how it started out.

First off, I woke up late. Not terribly late, mind you. Probably only an hour late. But on a Friday, that’s just asking for trouble. Sundown shows up at the scheduled time no matter what time I rose in the morning.

Not to mention that I have been making a commitment to spend time with God each morning. Now, if I get up early, that isn’t so hard. But if I get up late, then I am under pressure.

By More Good Foundation on Flickr

Another problem with getting up late is that it seems whenever I sleep in, I feel more tired than if I had gotten up earlier. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I have more time to really connect to God’s strength when I get up earlier, but all I know is that for the past few months whenever I get up late, I have a worse day. Of course, if I go to bed late, it doesn’t help at all!

So I was tired. Really tired. The I-can’t-focus-on-anything kind of tired. I found myself not knowing what to do next and grabbing my iPod to check email or my to-do list (usually both) more often than I really should have. That made me get more and more behind, until I realized it was 10:00 am and the breakfast dishes weren’t even done. At that point, I began to slip emotionally as well.

Of course, emotions are harder to control when one is tired. And mine were just all over the place. I fought hard to control my attitude and not fall into negative thinking, but it was so hard. I would find myself saying things like, “Why am I so tired today of all days? I mean, I got to sleep in this morinng. Why am I always more tired on days when I sleep in a little?” Or, as I lumbered up the stairs to change a diaper, “Why am I sore? I’ve been exercising at least every other day for the past couple of weeks, and sometimes more. I shouldn’t be sore. It’s not fair.” Or, “What is my husband doing on the computer on his day off? Why doesn’t he come help me?” [I knew the answer–he was working on essays in his attempt to get some scholarships to get his Master’s–but you know how the mind tends to focus on the negative anyhow!] Then something would go wrong, and I would whine to myself about it.

But as I sensed my spirit becoming negative, I also sensed God calling to my heart to surrender the feelings and thoughts to Him and to focus on something positive instead. Several times I turned my thoughts away from the negative direction they had been going toward something positive, claiming a promise or counting a blessing.

Finally, a little after noon, I just couldn’t go on. I had put Manny down for his nap, and I decided it was time for me to take one too. My husband was planning on going to town soon, and said he would take Gislaine with him. So I went to try to take a nap. Manny wasn’t asleep yet, so I put in earplugs, just in case.

I had just started to drift off–I know because my thoughts suddenly made no sense when Manny’s crying woke me up. Glancing at the clock, I figured I couldn’t have been asleep more than a couple of minutes. As his cries escalated, I decided that I might as well feed him; it was a little early (he’s on a two-meal-a-day schedule right now, partly since he takes his nap around noon and wakes up late in the afternoon, and partly because it gives his irritated digestive tract a bit of a break). So I got him up, much to his delight, and tried to fix him a lunch.

I say tried, because I was only slightly refreshed from the 2-minute nap. I still couldn’t focus. I had cooked him a sweet potato for breakfast, and planned on giving him the leftovers for lunch. But I needed a little more to make up the meal, so I cut a few slices from an unused sweet potato and started to cook them. Then I started toasting rice in a dry pan to make Spanish Rice for today’s lunch and seasoning beans I had pressure cooked earlier. Those two things took all the focus I could spare, until suddenly it dawned on me that the sweet potatoes were not bubbling in the pan behind the rice anymore. So I lifted the lid.

Sure enough… the pan was black inside.

And since I had sliced them thin–only about 1/4″ thick–I was able to salvage very little.

I forgot to mention that I had burned his sweet potatoes at breakfast too–not as badly, but still, the pan had blackened.This time was much worse. And I still hadn’t cleaned the pan from the morning. So now I had two blackened pans to clean.

It was just too much.

I didn’t think I could take it anymore.

Not to mention that my husband still hadn’t gone to town. Was he going to go or not? I had forgotten to put a book I sold on eBay in the mail box, and now it was too late; if it didn’t get to the post office, it wasn’t going out that day. And it was supposed to go out that day. Of course, I didn’t bother to consider that what my husband was working on was something he wanted to go out in the mail that day too.

Then the pile of dishes was starting to look overwhelming. And they were all dishes that had accumulated after the breakfast dishes had been washed. Sure, a few things hadn’t been washed after breakfast–my daughter had helped and hadn’t been able to handle them. And I had made teff milk and soy milk and still needed to make nut milk with the nuts soaking in the window…

I had a sort of headache, and noise was bothering me. I found myself starting to snap at the kids. Knowing that I needed divine strength, I dropped to my knees behind the kitchen island and pleaded for help. I actually did this several times throughout the morning. When I found myself dwelling on negative thoughts, I made a point to stop and ask for grace to change, and more than once I had knelt to pray. Somehow, those prayers gave me strength to fight back the tears  that would come up and helped me change my focus.

But after the sweet potatoes burned, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went down to the office where my husband was working and my iPod was charging and sent a text to one prayer partner and a Facebook message to another, briefly describing my exhaustion and out-of-control emotions and asking for prayer

.

After that, I went back to lunch prep. I soon had Manny fed and sat down to eat myself. By the time the meal was over, I was feeling better. I got everything done just in time for Sabbath, and after worship went down to walk on the treadmill, reading a chapter from The Gift while I walked. This refreshed my body and my spirit, and I felt so much better the rest of the evening. Of course, I made it a point to go to bed early!

What did I learn from this day? Several things. First, our thoughts direct our emotions. The things we allow ourselves to think on affect what we feel. If we think negative thoughts, we can work ourselves up into tears very quickly. By the same token, if we resist the negative and focus on the positive, we can change the course of our emotions.

The second thing I learned is that it is important to firmly resist temptation. I had to choose to change my thoughts. Of course I asked God for help, but He couldn’t choose my thoughts for me. He could only point me in the right direction. The choice was up to me. Refusing to break down in tears–even when they were welling up in my eyes–was very hard and totally foreign to my nature, but I did it in Christ’s strength. And when the devil realized that I was determined to choose Christ, he got tired of trying and relaxed the temptations–no doubt planning the next one, but at least giving me a break for a while.

The third thing I learned is that I need the prayers of those I love. The temptations didn’t begin to lessen until my friends started praying. Now, I know they pray for me every day, in a general way, but on days like this if I ask, they can pray specifically for the trial I am in, and that is even more powerful.

So thank you, prayer partners!

Have you had a trial lately that you found victory in? Do you have a prayer partner that you exchange requests with? Please share how this has been a blessing to you.

Okay, so I promised a book review today. Well, I haven’t had time to write it yet. Watch for it in the next day or two.

In the mean time, I wanted to share something that happened to me yesterday. It is an experience that illustrates how we can have victory in everyday trials. You see, I have a tendency to frustration–as all moms do at some point! And I was very encouraged by the outcome, even if it didn’t seem so great at the time!

My son drinks a lot of hemp milk, so I buy it buy the case. He had just finished one case and it was time to open another one. Now, try to imagine how the box looked. It is one of those boxes that opens with pull-tabs on the sides. The two ends are open in the middle, so you can see inside. There is a tab that says “pull here” on each side of the opening. Underneath the cardboard is a plastic strip that allows one to pull from that tab all down the side of the box around to the other end. Doing this on each side will separate the top of the box from the bottom, making a convenient way to store the containers still in the open half of the cardboard, kind of like they would on display in a store. I hope you have the picture in your mind, because it is crucial to understanding what happened.

The box was on a low shelf in my pantry, about mid-shin level. I decided not to pull the whole (probably 30 pound) box out and put it on the counter; I would just twist the box a little and get the top off right there. So I knelt down and pulled on the right tab with my right hand. It broke off at the corner.

Now, on a bad day, I would get frustrated right there. But this day I had been communing with God, and I immediately sensed His call to my heart to let it go. The other end was still intact, so no big deal. So I just smiled and tried the tab on the left side (same end of the box). It broke at the corner. I smiled and turned the box around and proceeded to pull on a tab from the other end. It, too, broke at the corner.

Again I felt self trying to well up, but I said, “Lord, please help me not to get frustrated at this!” After all, the cardboard wasn’t very thick. I could tear it with my hands if I wanted to. But I hoped I could at least get one side open, so that I could access the containers of hemp milk. So I pulled the last tab.

It broke at the corner.

I laughed and thought, “I should have asked the Lord to not let the tab break!” I laughed because He had answered my prayer exactly, and had not done what I had not asked for. “Ye have not because ye ask not.” So I decided I would have to just tear the box. I dug my right thumb into the right side of the box and began to pull to the right to tear open the box.

Then my hand slipped.

Now, try to imagine the scene in your mind. I am at a pantry door, which is just like any bedroom or bathroom door. It is open to my right. When my hand slipped, it went straight for the corner of the door, and slammed into the corner at full momentum. Instantly I was in pain. I grabbed my hand and opened my mouth in a silent scream (I didn’t want to startle the children playing nearby). Gislaine noticed and asked what was wrong. I told her I had gotten an owie. She came over to see. When I looked, there was a blueish dent on the side of my hand about 3/8″ wide. Within seconds it began to swell around the dent, and it was painful to the touch. Manny, of course, wanted to touch it, saying “boo boo”.

Through it all, I was amazed that I had not become frustrated. As I poured Manny his milk, I pondered how Jesus had never given in to frustration. I’m sure He must have felt like doing it over and over–especially in the last few hours of His life. But He never did. And He is our Example. He has provided all the power we need to overcome even frustration when things don’t go our way.

I can’t say that I always have victories like this. But I had one yesterday. And I want to have more. I want this to become a pattern. I want to choose to control my thoughts and feelings. And as I make that choice, God will provide the grace.

By electroferver on Flickr

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the Internet. The computer is in a very prominent place in our house; I walk by it all the time, and it is so tempting! That will change once we move, but that doesn’t mean that my character will change. If my goal is character development, I need to deal with this problem now, today, and not wait until we don’t have Internet and the computer is in an office at the end of a hall that I may not walk down every day.

Especially is it difficult for me when I want to use the computer for my personal devotions. It’s connected to DSL, so it’s got Internet as soon as it starts. And it’s so easy to open a browser. And once it’s open, I can see how many new email messages I have in the bottom corner, and all the places I like to go everyday are bookmarked at the top in toolbar.

So when I wanted to get on the computer to research a topic (I don’t have any resources for doing this offline–the few I do have are already packed), I knew it was going to be a temptation. As I showered (finishing with cold to wake me up!), I prayed about whether I should really even do this study during my quiet time, or try to do it another time (which rarely happens). When I felt that I needed to do it, I then prayed that He would give me the strength to resist the temptation. After all, He said in His Word:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

I submitted to Him and asked for His strength to not open the browser (because I could do all the research I needed in offline programs).

Shower finished, I started up the computer, praying again for strength. I opened the program and began my research. But as I tried to focus on the topic, my mind kept drifting to the Internet. I wonder who has sent me email. I wonder how many page views my blog had yesterday. I wonder if I’ll have time to post to the Works For Me Wednesday page, or if it will be too late… I kept dismissing the thoughts and bringing my mind back to my topic, but they kept returning. After doing this several times, I was about to get frustrated. But I realized that although I had to put out some effort, the battle really wasn’t mine, but God’s. I had done all I could. So I prayed, “Lord, please rebuke the devil and all these thoughts and help me to focus. I believe You want me to learn something from this study; help me not to be distracted again.”

And you know what? He did. After about 5 minutes, I suddenly realized that my desire to open a browser was gone. Absolutely gone. And I was able to finish my study without further distractions.

So what about you? Please share how the Lord has helped you in your struggle with self recently.