Who me — Discipline Myself?

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness

(1 Timothy 4:7).

Here in Oregon, hundreds of people join the annual race from Mt. Hood to the Pacific coast. It must be exhausting, especially as sometimes it’s raining and incredibly windy.  Other times it’s so hot runners get offered bottles of water all along the route.  But it must also be exhilarating, or why else would these insane people discipline themselves for weeks and weeks of training?  And then actually run, no matter the weather?

I was not raised to be disciplined.  I enjoyed school, did my homework without my parents fussing at me, and generally got along in life.  But when I became a follower of Jesus, my problems with discipline soon appeared.

In my book, I’m Too Human to be Like Jesus: Spiritual Growth for the Not-so-Perfect Woman, I tell the story of trying to get my Bible study done in the early mornings—but I wasn’t very successful. My young children bothered me as soon as the bed creaked, plus I really wanted to just lie there until I absolutely had to get up! Do you relate?  It wasn’t until I chose time with God over my weary body that I discovered the power and benefit of disciplining myself for “the purpose of godliness.”

 

Fast forward several years. Have I got my need for discipline whipped into shape?  I wish!

I am getting to the gym quite regularly (instead of day-dreaming about it) —which is making me stronger and keeping my diabetes in good control. But, there’s another area where it’s needed.  And it’s to do with the use of my time—and priorities–once again.

On a recent Sunday I decided to practice some self-discipline. I wanted to see if I could break my addiction to checking email and discipline myself for something more important.

Here are some things I did, and learned.

  • I chose to deliberately fast from email. I made the decision to give up one thing to give time to another. That’s my definition of fasting whether it’s food or anything else that has control over me. In fact, instead of merely not looking at my inbox for the day, I determined to not even turn on my laptop. I knew I’d been responding like Pavlov’s dog to every sound and wanted to break that compulsion.
  • I learned that I could control myself. I could create more time to spend in His presence  reading the Word, a spiritually expanding book, or taking time to think, reflect, pray, and relax.
  • I discovered I don’t have to allow email, or any other habit, to gobble up the hours in my day. For someone who isn’t naturally self-disciplined, this was a major victory! Now I’m pumped to try something a little more challenging to help me grow some more.

How about you?  Is there a habit, attitude, or hard-to-break behavior that needs kicking out of your life? It won’t happen by magic, but it will happen if you ask God for help and then follow through with the necessary action.

Save

10 Things to Remember When You are Feeling Overwhelmed

by Melissa Maimone

overwhelmAnxiety and/or depression can be an isolating experience. It’s difficult to put into words, let alone describe it to others! It’s tempting to believe we are alone in our experience and that even God isn’t there for us.

But here’s the truth:

–God sees you and is intimately familiar with your story. He has counted the hairs on your head and knows every tear that has fallen from your eyes.  Jesus himself was overwhelmed at times. He has walked in your shoes. Your journey matters to Him. (Matthew 10:30, Psalm 56:8, Matthew 26:38)

–Depression and anxiety are not moral failings. But if we ignore, stuff down, or disassociate from the things in our life that are, it can take a toll on our health. We all are sinful. We all need forgiveness. We all need a way to be free of shame. The things we struggle with most deeply are the things that need God’s grace most deeply. And He’s got it to give. (Matthew 12:20, Romans 3:23)

— God is crazy about you. He loves you. He’s not waiting for you to “get your act together”. He just wants you–exactly the way you are. If you haven’t turned over your heart, your trust, and your pain to Jesus Christ, I invite you to do it now. (John 3:16, Luke 10:9-14, Matthew 11:28)

1. RECOGNIZE THE ENEMY.
Know the difference between the cruel voice of the enemy and the kindness of God who says there is nothing you can do (or not do) that will change His limitless love for you.

2. EMBRACE LIMITATIONS.
You are not going to be enough for all that life demands–and you are not supposed to be! Anxiety will tell you that you are failing–but your limitations are a beautiful part of the way you were made; embrace them (and give shame the boot).

3. REMEMBER.
This time will not last forever. It WILL pass.
You won’t die, even if you’re sure you will. It feels like an eternity when you’re experiencing anxiety, but it always, always will go away.

4. WRITE.
Journal what is going on–it’s a great way to make that unruly mob of thoughts slow down, get in line, and behave enough to be put into words. Your thoughts don’t need to make sense–just get them on paper.

5. STOP.
Cancel appointments. Put a DVD on for the kids. Move at a slower pace. You will only add to the shame and even the duration of your anxiety by forcing yourself to behave as if nothing is happening.

6. CONFESS.
Tell God what is happening.
–Even if your thoughts feel petty or weird–tell Him everything you are worried about and feeling. Worries, when given to God, are prayers.

Tell someone you trust what is happening.
–When you talk to a friend about your feelings, it is unhealthy and unfair to want the other person to become anxious with you. It’s more helpful if they don’t. So don’t resent them if they remain calm in the midst of your panic. They are doing you both a favor.

–A husband can be a tremendous source of comfort. But if you are exclusively talking about it with him and not a friend or therapist, you are probably adding to his anxiety since he can’t actually fix it for you.

7. GET PHYSICAL.
There is plenty of research that proves exercise helps depression and anxiety. It’s probably the LAST thing you feel like doing in the throes of panic, but if you can, get out and walk. If you can’t, wait for it to pass–then work exercise into your regular routine as preventative medicine.

8. ASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH STARBUCKS.
I know, this is my least favorite tip too. But if you are past 1-2 cups of coffee per day, you might be ingesting hot-brewed anxiety.  It’s time to explore Chamomile tea.

9. GET HELP.
If depression or anxiety is regularly affecting your way of life, it’s time to seek medical attention. A doctor might be able to find health related issues that can be contributing factors. Medication may be an option. A trained counselor/therapist can be wonderfully helpful too.

10. WHEN IT PASSES (and it will)…
-Rest: A panic attack is exhausting. Give yourself time to recoup.

-Reflect: What were you doing when your anxiety came on? Where were you? What did you eat/drink? Who were you with? You might uncover some clues to the root of what brings on your anxiety. There will not always be an obvious reason for feeling overwhelmed–but it’s worth thinking through.

-Remember: Take time to put into your memory bank that this did indeed end. Recount how many hours/minutes your anxiety attack actually lasted. Chances are that it was a shorter amount of time than it felt. That info might be important to remember the next time an attack happens.
(See tip #3)


Melissa Maimone is a living testament to God’s ability to shine light in the darkest of places. Through lessons learned from her life-long battle with depression and anxiety, Melissa has a passion to share the healing love of God and the joy that comes from living an authentic life of vulnerability and dependency on Him. Subscribe to her monthly blog and/or contact Melissa at MelissaMaimone.com

Staring Down Fear

by Melissa Maimone
MelissaMaimone.com

Overcoming-fear3I don’t like fear. But fear seems to like me. Fear comes to visit regularly. It’s not like I invite fear. I don’t skydive, wrestle sharks, or eat strange foods. I like seatbelts, helmets, and knowing that my airplane seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. And yet, fear barges it’s way into my heart without so much as a polite knock.

How do we deal with such a rude, uninvited guest as fear? We are are told over and over in Scripture, “Don’t be afraid”, and yet, simply trying not to be afraid doesn’t work very well. It’s kind of like telling you not to think of a pink elephant on a bicycle. You can hardly help it. Ignoring fear only emboldens it. Hiding it helps it grow–like mold in a dark, damp corner.

The best thing we can do is look at fear squarely in the face and describe what we see to God. When we admit our fears to the Lord, an interesting thing happens. Courage shows up. A deep, abiding courage that doesn’t even require kick-boxing classes. Courage that defeats fear is not dependent upon our own strength. It’s dependent upon love. And you’ve got plenty of love at your fingertips.

1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” You have the love of God so completely it’s hard to comprehend how high and how wide and how deep it goes. And because you’re loved, you can confess your fear to the God who already knew you were afraid in the first place.

Do you need a healthy does of courage today? Has fear shown up again and tried to make itself at home in your heart? Remember who you are. Remember how dearly you are loved. And remember that no matter how hard it tries, fear will never be allowed to live where love already does. There is nothing that can separate you from that love; not circumstance, not weakness, and certainly not fear.  When you turn your attention to His perfect love, courage will show up too.

I haven’t had many moments when fear left me alone altogether. I still like safety and seatbelts. But fear cannot bully me out of doing courageous things. I’m too loved for that. So are you.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

overcoming-fear

Allie’s Rules for High School

by

SchoolphotoA few nights ago I had an encounter with my 18-year-old daughter that will be imprinted on my heart forever. I walked into her room; she was sitting on the floor with her laptop. Immediately obvious was her determined focus on something she was typing. While I made a mental note of the messy room and intended to revisit it momentarily, I asked what she was working on so seriously. She looked up and said, “Mom, tell me what you think of this. These are Allie’s High School Rules. I’m giving them to my ninth graders.”

To give you a little context, Allie served as a small group leader to middle school girls on Sunday mornings at our church. That group is entering Milton High School as freshmen in a couple weeks. Allie has poured lots of time and energy into these girls over the past few years, and loves them so much. Having just graduated from Milton herself, she has a fresh perspective on exactly what they’ll be encountering over the next four years. She decided to put together a list of “guidelines” that she’s hoping will help them navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of high school.

As Allie began reading her list to me, I found myself crumbling (in a good way) on the inside. By the time she reached the end of her list, I was sitting on the floor with eyes flooded. I was overwhelmed and amazed at her maturity and strength. I knew she had made good choices throughout high school, and had traversed some hard things in ways that demonstrated her love for Christ and desire to obey Him. But to hear the “rubber meets the road” advice she put on paper was incredible. In that moment, I LOVED her messy room too!

Click here for the rules. They are good ones!

From One Mother to Another

By Tammy Whitehurst
We know how you feel.  Your body aches.  You’re tired. You are worn “slap dab out” as we say in the South. You wonder if anyone can even relate with what is going on in your life.

You ask yourself if there is anyone out there who needs to go back to bed, but can’t? Is there anyone else who needs the stamina and strength to put one foot in from of the other? Anyone out there whose day is so bad they wonder how they will get through without collapsing or falling on the floor and bursting into tears.

Can I share something with you from those who have walked the path before you?  Exhaustion, weariness, sleeplessness, constant tiredness…we’ve all experienced it and we understand. Go ahead and ask for help. We will not view you as weak or a bad mother.

We understand you don’t want anyone to know what is going on. You want to look like a perfect mother with a perfect family. Can we remind you….there is no such thing, but we will keep your secret. We tried that too.

We know people tell you it could be a lot worse, but our own reality is the only one we know. Go ahead and wallow in your woes for a moment. Cry. Have a pity party. Just don’t stay there too long. We will even let you lay on our shoulder and pet your hair while you cry. We understand and we love you.
From one mama’s heart to another, you are never alone. Ever.

God gave us strength and he will give you the strength to survive. The thing we must realize is that we cannot please everyone. Cannot make everyone happy. Cannot fix anyone. Cannot have the solution to every problem. But we go to the one who can. God.

Every mother’s story has its own ups and downs, but the solution is the same.

He is our refuge. He is our shelter. He is our strength.

Keep in mind that you are not doing this all on your own.

Philippians 4:13  “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”

– Tammy Whitehurst travels and speaks full time as a motivational speaker. She is the founder of Joy for the Journey. Find out more about her at TammyWhitehurst.com

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Take to College

10-thing-daughter-768x768

From Annie at ThouArtExalted.com:

On Saturday, my daughter graduated from high school (cue the tears!).

Yesterday I got up, took a DEEP breath, and wrote down 10 things that I think she should take to college. Like every mom, I tend to think of all the things I want to tell her after the fact. This time, I wanted to be ahead of the game. Below is a personal video from me, Annie, as well as a PDF version of the list. At the end of the list you will find a blank box. This is the space for you to add a personal touch and write a note to your daughter!

While I could have given her the good ‘ole instructions of clean your sheets once a week, floss, and take your contacts out every night . . . I wanted this to be more personal and biblical. I wish I had this list going to SMU 28 years ago. (Ouch, that was hard to type!) I know that you must love your daughters as much as I love mine, so I have also included free Downloadable Scripture Cards. Print out a set for you and your girl! See if you can memorize them together. AND ~ If you have any sage advice for this newbie mom doing this for the first time, I would love to hear your suggestions! This list is not the perfect 10 but any means ~ I just know my attention span can only absorb so much! Have fun and please know, I am praying for you!  ~ Annie

To see the video and grab the PDF list, click here!

10 Truths for the Teenage Girl

28475-happy-teen-girl-1200

Being a teenager is such a hard thing to be. My husband is a high school teacher, and he sometimes shares with me the latest “teen drama” happening in his classroom. We’ll often laugh, but not in disbelief. More like, “Oh yeah, I remember when I was that hormone-driven, angsty person, too.” The brains, emotions and bodies of teenagers are rapidly changing, leaving teens in an awkward place of feeling grown up in some ways but not at all in others. Reflecting on my own teen years, it’s hard not to shake my head at the incredible mistakes I made as I waded through the process of growing up.

How I wish I had had more older women in my life, speaking the kind of truth that Lindsee over at Living Proof Ministries shared with a 13-year-old daughter of a friend. She calls it Ten Truths for Teenage Girls—but I can’t help reading her list and knowing I need reminded of these things even now, well past my teen years. Here are just a few of Lindsee’s truths:

Click here to read the rest of the story at Crosswalk.com

3 Questions to Ask Before Watching That TV Show

Screen-Shot-2016-04-07-at-9.40.01-PM-590x295

From Project Inspired, written by Phylicia Masonheimer

There’s nothing like Netflix after a long day of work. I look forward to evenings when my husband, Josh, and I can sit down and watch a show together. But in the last two years of our marriage, good shows have been harder to come by. There have been many times we’ve started a new one only to shut it off due to extreme violence, excessive language or graphic sex scenes. We’ve often asked ourselves if there is anything worth watching on TV anymore.

That may be a question you’re asking as well. Whether it’s TV, movies or music, the media we consume can draw us closer to God or pull us further away. We have to be discerning about what we consume, not just so we can be an example to others, but so we can glorify God in our time here on earth.

Is this really important? Actually, it is. As Christians, we have been made holy by the blood of Christ, a sacrifice that cost God everything. Because God loves us, He wanted to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him. We couldn’t approach His holiness in our sinful state—so Jesus made a way. When we take our holy status for granted by regularly consuming media that contradicts everything God represents, we aren’t doing justice to God’s great love.

The Bible doesn’t lay out rules for media consumption. But it does say to “be holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16). With this in mind, Josh and I started asking ourselves three questions when choosing what to watch on TV.

1. Does this contradict my values as a Christian?

The grace shown to us through Christ is what motivates us to holy behavior. Because we are made pure by Jesus, we choose sexual purity. Because we know the power of His name, we don’t use it as a curse word. Because we are filled with God’s spirit, we don’t get drunk or high. These values aren’t “rules,” but things we do out of gratitude for grace.

When choosing the media we consume, the same approach is required. A TV show known for sexually explicit humor and/or scenes doesn’t reflect God’s design for relationships. A show where every other word is a curse word contradicts the glory of God’s name. We have to be honest about the media we consume. We must ask ourselves if what we are endorsing with our time and attention is consistent with the values we claim to hold.

2. Am I making excuses for the content I’m consuming?

When Josh and I found a show we really liked, it was hard to be honest about the contents. We found ourselves making excuses to watch the show despite the conviction we felt. After all, we aren’t going to take God’s name in vain! After all, we aren’t going to have an affair! But whether or not we intend to do those things doesn’t change the fact we were standing by, watching them play out in front of us. We were making excuses, and we had to stop.

Certainly it was hard. Many shows start out clean but progressively grow sexually explicit or violent. Choosing holiness is usually the harder route at first, but it provides the rewards of peace with God and clarity of worldview. Those are things that last for the long run.

3. If I knew this would desensitize me to extramarital sex, cursing and violence, would I still be watching it?

We tend to believe that watching sinful behaviors doesn’t affect us. Because we aren’t physically engaged in the behavior, we figure it doesn’t hurt to watch it. But as we continually expose ourselves to the things contrary to God’s nature, we become desensitized to God’s ways. We begin to think that the world’s ways are “normal.” We not only make excuses—we start accepting what we see as truth.

This is why Paul warned us to guard our minds:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

What we put into our minds—through media and music—is what we think about. We must stand guard over our minds with vigilance. No, this isn’t legalistic! It’s about walking in the Spirit of God, asking for His guidance, and obeying the conviction we feel in our hearts. By choosing holiness at every opportunity, we keep ourselves in mental and spiritual readiness to accomplish the will of God.

 

Celebrate the Small Wins

When your “To Do” list resembles the “Never Ending Story” more than the exciting vision plan you had so much fun charting out, it may be time to take a step back to see what you have accomplished.

Looking forward to all that lies undone may cause you to hyperventilate instead of high-fiving your progress thus far.

I’ve had one of those weeks.

Loads of laundry were pushed aside as boxes from a recent move took precedence.

Creating gifts and making space for family time, shoved this weeks goals a little further down the list.

This is frustrating to a person who actually adds things to my list as I do them just to have the satisfaction of being able to check them off.

(Can you relate?)

And then, in the midst of my disappointment, a couple of people reached out to comment on my progress.

It was like having someone notice the weight you’ve lost when you feel like you have totally failed in your eating plan!

And that’s when things fell into perspective. There was progress! Losing 5 pounds in 30 days is better than not losing at all –

Celebrate that! Writing one story, sewing one project, reaching out to one friend…

Whatever your goal has been, any step in that direction is a step worth celebrating.

The greatest discouragement in beginning any new journey is the moment when the excitement is diminished by the fear of failure.

So what, you didn’t complete the whole thing this time – you started. Keep going. Take another step.

Five pounds can become 20. Walking a mile can turn into a 5K. And a blog can become that novel.

A friend and I have a running joke about the tortoise and the hare. I may be slow, but I am steady & get there eventually.

Don’t get discouraged if you feel like time is passing you by like that crazy, speeding rabbit.

Stay focused. Take some time to re-read your goals and vision plan.

Note what steps you have taken (writing goals counts) & celebrate them.

Let the excitement you felt when you decided to take this journey reenergize you.

Now get up, brush your self off & let’s go!

We may not be the first ones to cross the finish line –

But we will cross it.

I believe in you & I believe we can do this thing together!

So what small win are you celebrating today?

  • Written by Carolina Sizemore

‘I Will Not Be Silenced’

From Focus on the Family

If you pay attention to the news, you know that religious freedom faces threats on almost a daily basis in our country—especially on our school campuses.

Whether it’s protesters trying to censor a Christian speaker at a college or high-school students being ridiculed for their biblical beliefs about marriage—the pressure to ban any expression of Christian views on sexuality is increasing.

“Both of my kids have been harassed—even by their longtime friends—for their Christian beliefs,” Karen , a mother of two high-school students, wrote to us last spring.

She was describing the one-sided promotion of homosexuality happening in her family’s school district. “The events of Diversity Week and the Day of Silence at [our high school] have become fanatical, even to the point now that … unisex bathrooms are on the way.”

That’s why Karen and her teens were so relieved to discover a timely alternative in Day of Dialogue—a nationwide free-speech event for Christian teens in public schools and sponsored by Focus on the Family. On Thursday, April 14, during this year’s event (celebrating its 5th anniversary!), thousands of students will put their First Amendment rights into practice by distributing Conversation Cards, putting up posters and engaging in other free-speech activities that communicate a grace-filled, biblical perspective on some of the most sensitive issues of our day.

EMPOWER THE STUDENTS IN YOUR LIFE!
Day of Dialogue. EMPOWER THE STUDENTS IN YOUR LIFE!
Would you like to help empower students who have a heart for sharing God’s truth and love in this confusing culture? Let them know about Day of Dialogue, a Focus on the Family, free-speech event for students on April 14. Download the free get-started kit today!
INCLUDED IN THE GUIDE:
• A colorful, step-by-step chart on how to participate
• Access to free-speech tools, including downloadable T-shirt and poster designs
• Engaging “Conversation Cards” and student videos
• Information about students’ legal rights
• Tips for responding to challenging questions

There is also a Parent/Pastor Guide available for adults who want to spiritually encourage the students in their life.

“Thank God we just found out about Day of Dialogue,” Karen said. “It is an answer to prayer. We live in a very liberal area and the opposition to Christian beliefs is harsh. Please pray for our students as they express their beliefs.”

Lily, who participated as a 13-year old student, also explained why she was thankful for the event:
“My teacher for one of my classes wants us all for 45 minutes to be silent [for Day of Silence]; what he doesn’t know is th at I will not be silenced, and I will stand for what I believe—and if that means respectfully saying, ‘Hey, Jesus Christ loves you’ … then that’s what I’m going to do, because Jesus loves us all and died for us.”

Won’t you help empower more teens like Lily by letting them know about the Day of Dialogue on April 14?

You can share this free, downloadable Day of Dialogue Student Guide with them today!