Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Let It Go - Ego and All

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  
What you say flows from what is in your heart
Luke 6:45

As some of you may know, I am participating in an online bible study that is reading 'Let it Go' by Karen Ehman.  The last two chapters (6 & 7) of the book have sure shed some not so great light on me! Challenging me to decipher all aspects of my family life - leaning towards, I am just not perfect (does that surprise you!? I am sure not).
In this last chapter I determined I really have a BIG, BIG ego!  Yes, I have an ego. I went through life thinking that was truly a man thing - ha, I was mistaken.  I think mine might be just as big if not bigger than my husbands! (all written in love guys!)   Karen says, Lets face it, women who have control of the clock are viewed as confident and capable, especially by their slower sisters who often struggle to stay true to task' - 'Control of the Clock' - that's me! I'm up at the crack of dawn, hitting the gym - feeding my dogs - getting Blair's turkey bacon cooked, and am prepared to hit my home office around 8:00 am!  I am GREAT at controlling the clock! ~or ladies,  am I just great at attempting to control it  (for not just myself but everyone else in my home as well)....  and wait a minute, it says we are "VIEWED" as confident and capable - it certainly doesn't mean we are ~ or always are.   I love when someone says "Hey Kelley, how in the world do you do all you do!?" - it boosts my ego a little more each time. I feel good walking into a room "in my egg" for everyone to know who I am.  Unfortunately, this confident capable person that thinks she's doing so much and getting so much accomplished is truly sinking....YES sinking.  I run around 'barking' orders to my family, getting all uptight when I'm a little behind schedule - or when someone doesn't do something that fits into my picture perfect plan....the truth is it's time to (pg 140) 'step off the treadmill long enough to evaluate - to determine whether the problem lies in the speed at which I've cranked the machine or how high I  have set the incline'  I already know the answer.  Do you?
"A soft answer turns away wrath, / but a harsh word stirs up anger" 
(Proverbs 15:1 (ESV
-----that being said, Karen says, 'the spirit reminds me to find my identify in Christ, not in a facade of capability and certainly not in others opinions of me'. Oh how difficult this is for an approval-addict'   Yes, I know that I am an Approval Addict. Can you see yourself in any of the following? I do ~ and reading them on paper doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy - makes me feel LESS THAN the perfect I strive for - puts a little tiny hole in my own personal EGO balloon. Check the list out:
~ You consider yourself a people pleaser
~ You are overly responsible and take on the responsibilities of others
~ You say "yes" when you know you should say "no"
~ You strive to be like "X" teacher/person
~ You depend on others' approval to determine your self-worth
~ You fear rejection or conflict
~ Even when you are doing well, it's not enough
~ If you do something that someone else doesn't approve of, you feel guilt or stress

How did you do?  So, we've already determined I have an ego, I'm an Approval Addict, can it possibly get any worse?

Karen says, 'Being on time and on task gives us a feeling of authority. We're calling the plays, determining the direction of the day. We feel powerful and important when we are at the helm as as the 'Master of our Destinies"Authority makes us feel powerful and important and it feels good!  It does me, but maybe that's me.  My pastor would say "You all are probably too spiritual for authority to make you feel powerful and important" -in his teasing way. Somehow, I'm thinking the truth in this isn't going to do anything but create more tirades internally and with our families.  We are making our lives all about what makes us feel good - taking on more than we should to please others (giving us more of an emotional 'boost', a euphoria).  Watch out ladies, none of this, NONE sounds like it could possibly bring glory to God.  Where is HE in all of this?
If I am spending my life looking for approval from others, boosting my ego by doing whatever I can to appear confident, capable and TOGETHER (isn't that it ladies, we want to look as if we have it all together?) and I'm not consulting my Heavenly Father for guidance in all I do, then I'm not bringing Him glory and that, my friends, breaks my heart.
Karen quoted Missionary Amy Carmichael  - "If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup of brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however it is suddenly jolted" - DEFINITELY POWERFUL words to think about ladies!!!!! We need to write this on an index card and post it many places around our houses, offices, cars, etc.    I have many, many sudden jars in my life - 98% self-inflicted as I trudge forward doing what makes me feel good, what boosts my ego - not necessarily what brings glory to Him.  I want to get to the place where with any 'sudden jar' the only words that come out of my mouth are those given to me by my Heavenly Father.

What if we stepped off the treadmill of life long enough to do a little evaluation, deciding whether the problem lies in the speed at which we've cracked the machine's dial and the incline we have set for the climb???
If our minds and bodies are full of a million things going on for all the wrong reasons - for 'feel good' reasons, if we are snapping at our children or our spouses, if we're doing things that cause the outside world to think we walk on water (and we like it), that we have it together perfectly, then we need to re-evaluate our priorities and the reasons we are doing what we are doing.  Our hearts cannot possibly be full of the loving, sweet things our family deserves, we cannot possibly speak from the heart.  If there is one thing I have found through this study it is that I am full of weaknesses that cause me to lash out at those closest to me when things don't go m way or people aren't doing what I think they should be doing.
 'What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45 NLT) 
 May we Jesus-lovin' women choose to hesitate before we hurl.  Rather than feisty, may we be friendly instead.  (Karen Ehman)
Here's some awesome wisdom from Karen:
Learning to walk the fine line between controlling and conscientious is a constant yet sanctifying struggle.  It will keep you going to God for direction.  It will find you asking for forgiveness for the times you blow it (there will be many).  It will force you out of a stance of selfishness and into a posture of grace. You'll become skilled at putting others before yourself, adept at deference, familiar with compromise, and willing to yield your rights.  You'll stop hovering over your home and start hallowing it - to God's glory, not your own.
Prayer for Today
 Dear God:
Thank you for Karen, for sharing her awesome wisdom and heart with us throughout this study.  Thank you for each woman participating that struggles, like me, with EGO issues - with the need to please people, with the need to fill their lives up with so many things that they can't possibly do all of them - leaving them frustrated, ill-tempered, and quick to lash out at their families and those closest to them.  Forgive us for our weaknesses, for desires of the flesh. Please show us the way Father to become the mothers and wives that will bring only honor and glory to you through all we do. Bless each sweet sister in this study, all of our leaders and the P31 team.  It is our prayer that with this study we will grow closer to you, each other, and that our lives will change as we begin to put you first in our lives - making sure the glory is yours!  We love you Father. Amen

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Managing our Marriages

'Controlling things is a strength and carried to an extreme becomes a weakness' - Karen Ehman

 Happy Valentines Day!  

Praying you are blessed with Love and more Love on this special day!

I am having a wonderful time participating in an on-line bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries. We are reading together a book by Karen Ehman, Let it Go.  (Something we all struggle with, day in and day out!).  It is especially fitting this week as we study a chapter titled "Managing Your Man".   Ya know with Valentines Day and Love and relationships - perfect timing right!?  Pffffftttttt - not for everyone!  Tough chapter for couples that are both followers of Christ, but even more difficult for couples where ONE is a follower of Christ and one is a only believer, choosing not to be a follower; but that is story for another blog!

 I thought this chapter would be a no brainer for me - I am married to a believer, but not a follower....I attend church alone, life groups alone..he knows very few of my church friends nor does he know my association with my P31 girls, or other areas (he does think my pastor is cool! so that's a positive!).....scary thing is, if I died today I would really need my friends to dive in to make sure all the right "stuff" was done for my funeral (CELEBRATION!) and all the right people were there! Lord knows I don't want any sad organ music and quiet in the church at my funeral!  (but that's another topic!).  I love the man dearly, been married 20 years - but it can be pretty darned rocky at times - couples like us just don't see things in the same light. Don't feel bad for these odd-ball couples like us (and there are many!) God has a purpose and it will become known - meanwhile, just when you pray at night - pray for those that aren't equally yoked and of the same spirit...God transforms and if you will just Let it Go - He's got it!

Let's talk about the behavior of the  Christ Follower (ME!)- they are always right!  Right?  I read Karen's words about throwing "flesh balls"  (definition: words verbally hurled at each other) and how we "wallow in the flesh, stooping down and scooping up a big ole helping of it to hurl our spouses way" - OUCH!  I truly felt like I was hit by HUGE 90 lb. steel ball.  Gotta admit, I've thrown many of my own  flesh balls and truth is, even in the midst of my christian walk right now, I am still guilty (yep, I continue to throw 'em).  Then our author brings our attention back to God, to the Word.  "walk by the spirit" and not "gratifying the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5:15).   (Jesus Slap!) Karen, did you have to go there?  UGH....... BUT.....

I know that  I AM ALWAYS RIGHT,  MY WAY IS THE BEST WAY,  I KNOW BEST!  Isn't that the case with most of us women?  (Puuullllease).  As much as we like to think so, NOT.   In our study, Karen says "As a woman you'll desire to be the boss (well I am, right?), but your husband has already been assigned that job description"  Biblically  - OUCH, really?  "He is the leader, by virtue of his office.  Whether he's doing his job or not is up for debate.  One can hold an office or title and refuse to fulfill the duties of that office".- WELL, then.  Isn't that special - so, where does that leave me?   Personally for me, I immediately feel like I have to just accept every decision, every act, everything - the Bible says wives are to submit to your husbands - so he's the boss, we submit. So, what, we're supposed to just give in to our husbands without a fight when we disagree?  We just let him make decisions that WE think don't make any sense?  "BUT God, He's NOT a follower and I am! How can this possibly be the case? Bottom line,  I am right more than he is, hands down" - every try to justify or argue with God....there is no winning with that!

Hang with me!  It's getting good - pretty soon we'll have it all figured out - (or we won't!)!

SO when we get into these 'flesh ball' battles, are they a result of an attempt to manipulate our husband in a situation or because we are attempting to influence a decision their making?  Is there a difference?   Ladies, think about that for a few minutes.  I've concocted many a manipulating scheme or two to 'influence' my husband! (So, which is it?)  But yeah I know - none of you have EVER done that! There's so much from this chapter to share - so stay with me!  'Dr. Juli Slattery author of 'Finding the Hero in Your husband' wrote, 'Wives are called to use their influence to help their husbands - not to manipulate'.....'Influence is overt and clear; however, manipulation can be subtle and deceptive' - WOW!  and double whammy!  Karen says, 'When we twist what could be God glorifying influence and morph it into manipulation, we cross the line and the results are not good' -  Well yep, experienced this first hand a time or two, caused some knock down drag outs - nevermind throwing flesh balls - might as well have been boulders! What does God say?

The Bible Says:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter or resentful toward them.  (Col 3:18-19)

In Ephesians 5, Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the Word.

  ...... if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. (1 Cor 7)

Easy?  nope-If marriage were easy, there would be no divorce - no divorce lawyers - no custody battles over children - no child psychiatrist visits for a child traumatized by parents that are using them as a tool - life would be peaceful, homes peaceful and people would be married for years and years like our grandparents and great grandparents - when divorce was NOT an option very often, if at all.   It is even harder when one spouse is a follower and another not.

Here's what I learned from this chapter:

<3   First and foremost, God's timing is impeccable - always perfect!  Trust in it. (I get it's not easy!)

<3   My husband is the leader of my house; whether he fulfills his duties or not is between him and God
<3  Hurling 'Flesh balls'.  There is nothing to gain, it brings no glory to God and only gives us instant gratification that turns into long term pain.  

<3   Manipulation is not of God.  It must play no role in my marriage or my life.  Provide loving influence that only brings glory to  God.

<3   Extreme control becomes total weakness.  

<3   It's all good, if it's all God!

<3   LET IT GO and LET GOD!

Today ladies, think about ways that you can build up your husband!  All of these flesh ball fights and manipulation schemes bring lasting hurt to our husbands.  How can we make today different?

<3  LET GO and LET GOD

<3 Focus on his positive traits. The good things!

<3 Stop attempting to control every situation and decision.  Let him wear the pants in the family like he is meant to.  Provide positive and loving influence only.

<3 Pray over him and his life - let God do His job while we love our husbands and do the job God has laid out for us to do.  TRUST GOD! 

<3  Spend every day finding positive ways you can build your husband up!  As humans, living in the flesh, none of us are perfect - we all need motivation, positive feedback, and all the things that build up our self-esteem and our confidence, that make feel good.  Remember, as the leader of our homes, our husbands have a really BIG tough job.  As Godly wives, do everything you can to make his job easier, to build his self-esteem and confidence, to let him know he is loved. 


Father God I pray today for every marriage.  For the spouses that are not Christ followers; that their hearts be softened and that they begin to understand that believing in you is one thing, but following you and living out their lives as you instruct is what it's all about. I pray that as wives we trust in You.  That we let it all go and surrender to you ,  that we can move forward without having to control every situation and that in doing so we will eliminate the fights that take place within our marriage as a result of this need to control.  I pray we will all spend more time in Your Word, absorbing what we need to build up our spouses and grow closer to them instead of participating in and allowing gaps to grow bigger and bigger.  Allow us to remember the love we had for our spouses when we first met - allow us to remember the reasons we married them - allow us to feel those strong connections to them again now, through you.  Most of all may we relinquish them and our marriages to you right now and TRUST you in all things.  We love you Father.  We worship and praise you. It's in your Holy and most precious name we pray.  Amen

GOOD STUFF!  Check it out!

Memory Verse:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 4




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Words - Quantity or Quality?


This week I was hit 'upside the head' (as I've heard some southerners say) and God told me it was time to get back to my Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible study group!  I know His plan is for me to grow further in my relationship with HIM as well as encourage, support, and share with those that are there for the same reason - all to grow in our relationships with Him.

I have not done a good job of keeping up my blog because I felt it had to be BIG, had to be a ton of words - ha, I was wrong.  It's all about the seed that is planted with the words written - that means, could be 5 words, could be 10 words or 50 words.  It's the quality of those words that makes the difference.  You never know the affect your words may have on another!

Today in our Proverbs31 Study - by the way, we are reading and studying 'Let It Go' by Karen Ehman - is blog hopping day.  I have been assigned 5 blogs to read and comment on today AND in addition to that in my Let it Go on-line study group, I had a couple of Jesus  Girls share their blogs!  What I found was - it truly isn't the number of words on a blog, or paper - or facebook - it's the quality of what's within those words!     

Sharing is important.  The encouragement and support you could bring another is what it's all about.  However you choose to use your words, write each one with a plan to plant a seed ~  Your words may be the only words someone reads or hears today - make them count!


Must Read Books!

  • A Confident Heart, Renee Swope
  • An Untroubled Heart, Micca Campbell
  • Crazy Love, Frances Chan
  • Fit for My King, Sheri Rose Shepherd
  • Made to Crave, Lysa TerKeurst
  • Radical, David Platt
  • Winning Him without Words, Lynn Donovan & Dineen Miller