Amy Simon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Retaking the Reigns

I don't know about you, but I've been REALLY frustrated with this parenting-thing lately. I've been getting angry with my children and feel like they don't listen to me. They fight with each other, argue with me and whine about life.

At first, I blamed their behavior on upcoming changes in our lives. We're leaving for vacation soon which includes air travel to a new place. We also have a baby on the way. Those are wonderful circumstances, but sometimes kids process things that are new by acting out.

After a couple evenings of crying to my husband about how to handle these two children, I came to a realization. I've let go of the reigns in my home too much. It happens from time to time, usually slowly. Lack of follow through on wrong behavior, loosening standards and expectations and upset schedules until I suddenly realize that I'm not in control of my home any more.

Don't get me wrong, my husband is the head of our house and Jesus is in control. But on a day to day basis while my husband is at work, God has placed me in authority over my children. If I'm so frustrated with their arguing and fighting and complaining, it's because I've slacked in that authority. If I'm whining and yelling back at my children rather than calmly instituting consequences for their behavior, then I'm doing something wrong. I've learned that usually when I have negative emotional responses to my children's behavior, it's because I'm not taking control of the situation.

So, I'm grabbing back the reigns, which is always a little ugly at first because the kids have gotten used to running the show, but I think it's working. I'm a calmer and happier Mom, my home is more peaceful and my children are happier.

When I announced to the kids the other day that some changes were going to be made and explained those changes, my seven-year-old announced soon after, "Mom, you're the best!" Kids need and deep down desire order, calm and consistency in their lives. So if you need to take back the reigns in your home, know that you're doing the right thing for everyone!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Living at Peace?

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

I really like that verse. You know why? Because it makes it clear that it ISN'T always possible to live at peace with everyone! I'm not thinking of the 'living' as talking about my own immediate family (although peace there seems hard to find at times, especially with two arguing kids!). Rather, I take it more to be talking about our relationships within the Body of Christ and without.

Our family has dealt with at least a couple specfic relationships where everything has seemed fine until some sort of conflict arises. We do our best to try and resolve the situation and talk things through. We're not perfect, but I think we're trying to do things as God would have us. But, no matter how hard we try, things blow up in our faces and the relationship is strained. It's sad when it involves a fellow Christian, but Paul is clear that sometimes it happens, no matter how hard we try.

It reminds me of Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts. They were partners in ministry, serving God together and traveling all over the Roman Empire telling others about Jesus. In spite of how close they must have been, spending so much time together, they had an argument over John Mark that they couldn't resolve. They finally decided to part ways. You can read about it in Acts 15:36-41.

If you have conflict with someone, do everything you can to resolve it. But, peace takes two. Sometimes, after you do everything you can to fix the relationship, it just doesn't work. That's OK.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Do Over!!!

We had a very rough start to our homeschooling morning this Monday morning. Everybody had a bad attitude - me included! After trying for half an hour or so to get everyone to comply, I had an idea. I sent the kids to their rooms and told them that I wasn't happy with anyone's attitude this morning, including my own. They were to go upstairs and talk to God about their attitudes and pray that He would change them. I would do the same.

So, we went to our own corners for a few minutes and spent time with God. I confessed my attitude and my hollering and asked God to give me His love for my children. I asked Him to help me treat them with His love, patience and joy.

The kids came down a few minutes later and the rest of the morning went SO much better! I think I'll use that idea more often!

Do you need a 'do over'? A reset button? Thankfully, God allows us that. We can come to Him with our stress, our sin, our bad attitudes and lay them at His feet. He takes them away and fills us with His goodness instead. What a God we serve!

Monday, February 1, 2010


"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7

This idea of trust struck both my husband and I lately, although God used different means for each of us. What are the two hardest areas in life to trust God with? Our health and our finances. I'm sure some people have other 'trust issues' but I'm guessing those are the big ones.

Joe is very financially wise and we've been working to pay off our mortgage early. He confessed that he was tempted to think, "If we just get the house paid off, then it won't matter so much if I lose my job." He realized that although paying off the mortgage is a wise thing to do, he shouldn't trust in that to provide for us. God will take care of us, regardless of what happens. (He doesn't have any reason to think he may lose his job - you just never know!)

I was thinking about it from a medical standpoint. If this test just comes out this way, or if the doctor says this is OK, then all will be alright. Well, it's good to be healthy and to work toward being more healthy, that shouldn't be what we're trusting in, either.

I'm guessing the Psalmist was talking about going to battle with chariots and horses in Psalm 20. It would be a very logical thing to think that if you only had enough chariots and well-trained horses, that your chances of winning would be better. Isn't that a normal way to think? It would be like going into battle today and thinking that if we had enough soldiers and weapons, we'd be more likely to win. Soldiers and weapons are definitely good things to have in battle, but God says we should trust Him instead of trusting in those things.

What are your 'chariots and horses' that you're tempted to trust in rather than trusting in God?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Family Devotions?

Does the Bible teach us to have family devotions? Not that I'm aware of. I have "Bible time" with my kids as part of our home school and we pray as a family, but we've never been good at doing traditional family devotions. We talk about the Bible and how to live it as things happen, though.

Are family devotions a bad thing? Of course not. Kudos to those who do them! But sometimes I think we make too big of a deal about them and lack things that are more important.

"Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking bout them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land..." Deuteronomy 11:18-21

These verses talk about making Scripture part of your family's everyday life, not just one compartment called "Bible time" or a "family devotion". For me, I've run into problems when I have my own devotion time, say 'amen' and then promptly forget everything I just read and prayed about.

We need to teach our children to walk with God throughout our day (and we need to do it as well, of course!). Living our faith is easy during family devotions (unless you have small children, then devotion time requires immense amounts of patience). It's when you close the Bible and start going through your day that walking with God gets difficult.

Purposefully look for opportunities throughout the day to teach Biblical principles to your kids. Write Bible verses on cards and hang them in places around your house to help you remember as well. Do your family devotions, but make sure you keep walking with God and teaching your kids to do so once the devotion is over!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Spiritual Eating Habits

As my age slowly creeps upward, I've found that keeping my weight where I want it gets harder. I actually have to watch what I eat now! I also seem to have a sensitive blood sugar, so I feel icky if I don't eat right.

In my attempt to eat healthy, I've noticed an interesting principle. Eating junk tends to make me crave more junk. Sometimes one helping makes me feel gross and I take the attitude, "Well, I feel icky anyway - might as well have have another." Or, one doesn't bother me and I figure that I can therefore afford to have another. Regardless, eating junk begets eating junk.

On the other hand, when I eat better food, I feel better and crave sweets less. Eating well begets continually eating well.

I think there is a parallel in the spiritual world. It's been quite a challenge to set aside time to spend with God alone. I used to be a morning person, but I definitely am not any more. But, if don't spend time with God before the kids get up, it's much harder to find time 'alone' to spend with Him. As I continue in the pattern of not taking that time, it doesn't bother me as much. I get frustrated when I think of spending time with God because I don't know what to read or what to pray about. Instead of feasting on Him, I fill up on 'junk food', finding satisfaction in lesser things.

But, when I spend time with God consistently, nothing else fills me the same way. I develop an appetite for spiritual things and lose my desire for the things that are not of God.

What is spiritual 'junk food'? Anything that I attempt to feast on instead of God. I find myself checking email and facebook every few minutes, hoping to bring excitement to my day. Those things aren't bad or wrong, but I sometimes look to them to fulfill me. Watching TV, shopping, eating, they can all fit into the category of spiritual 'junk food'. Taken too much or for the wrong reasons, they fill me up with empty calories and don't satisfy. They dull my appetite for God's Word and His presence.

When I find myself in the bad cycle, either literally by eating junk food, or spiritually, it takes some extra effort to switch the momentum. There is a period where I REALLY want something sweet but have to force myself to say no. Once I'm 'good' for a while, the sugar cravings subside. The same thing happens spiritually. There is frequently a period where I feel like spending time with God is hard and a big effort. Once I stick it through, I begin to see my attitudes and appetites shift.

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never go thirsty." John 6:35

What will you feast on?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God in the Plans

Yesterday, which was Saturday, December 19, the last Saturday before Christmas, we did our Christmas shopping. Yes, apparently we are certifiably insane. We and hundreds of other parents who swarmed the stores. Knowing it was going to be nuts, I had my list all made out and knew what to get at each store for each child.

We got to Target, our first stop (yes, the kids were with us, forcing us to try and shop sneaky without the kids figuring it out). Target was packed and the shelves held almost none of what I was looking for. A few days earlier, I had found what I wanted, but by Saturday it as gone. Frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed, we left with one gift.

Joe suggested that we ditch most of my list and head to the hobby store. He argued that it wouldn't be as busy and we would find higher quality gifts that would inspire creativity in our kids. I'm not one to discard my lists and plans easily and it took a lot of convincing for me to relent. I was concerned that we'd spend more money at the hobby store, but off we went.

Once at the hobby store, we had a great time. We let the kids look around and got ideas for what interested them, then I watched them while Joe bought things and hid them in the car. The things we got were much better quality than we would have gotten elsewhere. I relaxed considerably and admitted that yes, my husband had been right.

Then he told me that he had prayed that morning that God would lead us in getting the right gifts for our kids. We were convinced that God had answered that prayer.

Why hadn't I thought of that? I think I have the materialistic "presents" side of Christmas so segregated from the spiritual "Jesus' birthday" side of Christmas. My wise husband invited God to be part of our plans to bless our children with gifts that would help them grow as well as remind them of the gift of Jesus.

Praise God that He wants to be in all of our plans, both those deemed 'spiritual' and those considered 'worldly'. When we walk with Him, all things are sacred and He wants to be involved in all of it.

May you invite Jesus to be Lord over all your plans this Christmas and always!