Does Focusing on a Problem Solve it?

“When our minds remain focused on our problems, we become consumed with them. If we meditate on what’s wrong with others, we see even more flaws and faults. If what we concentrate on becomes bigger to us then, just imagine how big God and His promises will become as we meditate on them. They will become so big they will crowd out everything trying to destroy us.” — Joyce Meyer, Start Your New Life Today

But how do we actually deal with problems? I think there are two types – problems we  can solve and problems  we can’t. The problems we can’t solve, well, we shouldn’t waste time worrying about them. But the ones we can? We come up with a solution and prayerfully place it before God. If we feel peace about it, that’s the course we should take. If we don’t feel peace about it, we should ask God what to do. When He answers, we follow it. No matter how hard it is.

Having spent most of my 30-something life meditating ceaselessly on my problems, I can tell you how absolutely draining it is! It is such a waste of God’s precious gifts of time and space on this Earth!


Moms Gone Wild? Really?

This morning I was dismayed to read a CNN post about moms gone wild – in their 40s. Drunken evenings, cheating on  their husbands with strangers, and the general feeling that raising children is boring and a brain drain, so why not go out and have a good time?

I was actually thinking about this during my morning quiet time, in which I am currently reading Marigold Mornings (Dorothy Evslin) and happened to have already had this addressed. But back in the 70s Evslin wasn’t writing about key parties or orgies or hooking up. She was writing about the women’s movement. Either way, we seem to  be swimming in a sea of discontent.

Why is that? Why are we stay-at-home moms discontent with our lives? Is it because we have the ho-hum hum-drum duties of chief nose-wiper and head chef and cleaning lady? Teacher of letters and numbers and colors and watcher of endless episodes of Sesame Street?

Are we expected to enjoy runny noses, and dirty britches? Cooking every day and cleaning up spills and messes and Lord knows what else? Teaching children the basics when we aren’t particularly patient? Watching children’s television? NO! Why do we think we are supposed to be these wonderfully cheerful women when it comes to all our daily chores? I, for example, don’t mind a little bit of Sesame Street or Bob the Builder, and I don’t always mind cooking. So no, I am not waking up pumped  to start dealing with diapers and school and children and husband expecting all these things of me.

But in fifteen or twenty years, when I look back at my life, am  I going to regret  this time at home with my kids? Absolutely not. I can tell you, without a doubt, that I will know then, in my bones, what I already know now – I wouldn’t trade t he work and  sometime-drudgery for anything! I know there are some moms out there who have to work – after  all, I dropped my oldest off at daycare years ago when I was a single mom. You do what you gotta do. But when you have a choice, choose your kids. Choose your kids over money and stuff. It won’t be gratifying instantaneously, probably.  But it will be down the road.

Think you’ll go  crazy staying a t home? Then don’t! Take your kids to a class for moms and children. Hook up with other moms. I love taking  my kids for an early-morning walk  at the park. Get out of the house every day, for some  part of the day, if you must. But unless you find a quiet. calm center, your days as a stay-at-home mom are going to be long.

But, getting back to the original point, going out and going nuts are not things a parent should do. But who said we can’t have fun? My husband and I have an active social life – we have a small group that meets  once a  week, a Sunday School class, and social activities with our church friends. I have a gym class once a week. I get out and do things.

The bottom line is that work is work. Sometimes we enjoy our jobs and sometimes we know we’re having the kind of day where you show up and work to get paid.  It’s the showing up and  working hard that counts!

There But for the Grace of God…

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I have definitely uttered this phrase many times in  my life – there but for the grace of God go I. I was thinking about that when I read Jeremiah 4:19-21 — “Oh, my anguish, my anguish!  I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry. Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.How long must I see the battle standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?”

The context of these verses is that Jeremiah sees the enemy coming to defeat Judah – and not on enemy turf, but on Judah’s turf. He sees the destruction of the lives of his countrymen, and he weeps.

He is not relieved, at all, that his life will be spared – not in that moment, at least. He knew his life would be spared for God’s purposes, and he knew of the sins of his fellow Jews. But he felt, as a human being, a deep compassion for them.

We all say, “There but for the grace of God go I,” but do we really mean it? How much compassion  would we have on strangers, our fellow Americans? Our fellow world? Or would we confine our protection, our hope, our love – for only our family and friends? If you knew of the destruction of an entire race of people, would you shake your head and mutter about how lucky you are because of God’s grace, that you live in a different country? Or would you weep? Many of the Old Testament prophets wept for their fellow citizens, despite their multiple, horrible sins.

We cannot, on the  other hand,  tolerate and condone sin. We have to speak out against it, in the right way at the right time. I dare say there are not many instances where we should pause and consider the situation before calling out sin.

We should stand for God. For Christ. For the Bible. Period. That is God’s way. But we should also stand for love. For compassion. For sympathy of people we don’t understand, who are poor or lost or hurting. Thanking God for His grace is wonderful, but I think  if we spend more time on our knees for the blessings of others we will find that our world will turn a bit smoother – a blessing in itself from God!


Here’s how the nicest version of comparison goes. The first is what you say to your girlfriend; the second is the thoughts that run through your mind directly after you speak.

“She has better hair.” It’s long and shiny, and mine is too short. I hate my haircut.

“Look at her! She is so skinny.” How does she do that????? She’s pushing a double stroller!!!!

“Can you imagine all the work she does? It must be really hard getting it all done.” Dadgummit. She has three kids under the age of five, works full time, and she serves on three committees at church. With her husband traveling like he does! How does she look so perfectly coiffed all the time????

Here’s how the normal version of comparison goes. (These thoughts may be accompanied by a bit of a snarl).

“Good Lord, somebody give that poor girl a cheeseburger! STAT!” I…

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Since 9/11, terrorist concerns have worried even the staunchest of us who proclaim to be fearful of nothing. Add to that the threat of nuclear war (at any time, by any country) and it seems that none of us are safe. If you spend any length of time thinking about it, I promise you’ll develop a severe complex.

Today, I read a CNN article about talks with Iran over its nuclear capacity (or supposed lack thereof, depending on who you talk to).

First of all, the Middle East has been unstable in democratic terms since the beginning of time, and I am not foolish enough to think that money, troops and talks will change that. It is what it is. It’s a tribal thing. Democracy will not work in countries like Iran.

Secondly, which country do you think Iran’s nuclear weapon will be aimed for? I’m betting on the…

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Why do You Have to do Things the Hard Way?

My Mama asked me this constantly when I was growing up. What she meant was that she had told me what or how to do something, and I had not done it her way. Either I thought my way was better (meaning faster) or I didn’t believe she knew what she was talking about so I had to go and reinvent the wheel. It drove her insane.

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Now that  I have kids I get it. Now that I’ve been married twice, I get it.  Some day I need to write a post on why our husbands have to be told to do things and why, when we finally break down and just tell them (as opposed to assuming they have enough sense to figure out that the trash needs to be taken out without having to be told) they don’t do it the way we tell them to. Although they have to be told to do something, they decide they somehow know better how to do it, and of course their way usually takes longer and is riddled with mistakes that we have to go back and clean up after.

Ugh. I digress. I love my husband and my kids. I know I am really annoying at times. So. We’re even.

Anyway, some things actually have to be done the hard way. In Straight Talk, Joyce Meyer wrote that our minds should be edifying You – that we should be full of praise,  edifying others as well, and that we should be full of faith and hope.

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A lot of people out there find it easy to be mellow and following this directive wouldn’t take much for them. They’re the kind of people Meyer formerly thought didn’t have a pulse – meaning they don’t demonstrate emotion because they have to be stirred up by terribly unusual things to emote. Oh my goodness – she and I married the same man! I sometimes wonder if he has a stone for a heart. Not because he’s cold-hearted, and he is actually very sweet, but it isn’t because he feels spiritually beatific all the time. It’s because he does not  feel much. I cannot even begin to imagine how that works. Only in really negative situations does he express feeling.

It’s easy for him to be positive. He doesn’t experience negative feelings and for whatever psychological reasons, he is just more mellow, which comes across as “positive” but is really more  passive. A lot of people are like this – it isn’t weird or anything. I, on the other hand, emote A LOT. I mean, on any given day I can live the “feeling life”of three people – or  more! It’s much easier for me to be  negative. I don’t enjoy being negative – it’s not fun.

I know why I have a tendency to be that way. I know that I hate it about myself. I know that I despise it in others. I think about it every morning  when I wake up and I tell myself that today will be different. Today I will try this or keep trying that. And the good Lord has  yet to give me a spirit of calm. Gracious. It is very frustrating to want to be better and to struggle with something every day, all day.

I wonder if there really are people  out there who don’t think about their faults on a regular basis – who don’t want to improve themselves. What must that be like? Because I am determined to eventually be able to stomp mine out!

Gimme Gimme!

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How many of you have heard that if you just ask God for what you want, He will give it to you? Show of hands concludes that this is not a foreign concept. Now. How many of you have asked God for what you wanted and not gotten it?…Again, this is very familiar. The last question I pose to you is this: When you didn’t get it, did it make you feel like He answers the prayers of more godly people favorably? I thought so. I am not alone in this.

I think that feeling is true! John 15:7 – If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

There you go. It’s right there in black and white. It is a Biblical promise. So what’s wrong with you that makes your wishes remain untrue?

Because in order to get whatever your wish, you have to remain in God. You have to let the Word remain in you. Now. Let’s say you want a new car. Let’s say your car is in decent shape but it’s older and you want something new. All you need to do is get a loan so you can buy that new car you want.

Just for luck, you pray before you enter the bank to meet with the loan officer. You ask God that He look favorably on your meeting. And at the end of that meeting, you leave very discouraged, frustrated and, frankly, angry, because you did not get the loan. You know you could make the monthly car payments, but you didn’t have enough to put down on the car. And you don’t understand why God didn’t give you what you wanted.

Hopefully, in the future, you will realize that if you didn’t have the money to put down on the car, you shouldn’t buy the car. If the car you already had needed to be replaced, I think that God would have paved the way for you to get a new car -it just might not be you wanted. Or He would place someone in your life you could carpool to work with. Get the message?

Does it say in God’s word that you get to spend money on whatever you please? No! Abide in God; His words abide in you. Ask what you need and it will be given unto to you. BECAUSE you dwell in His place. And it is a place of  peace, comfort, prayer – you become a permanent resident there.