A Special Guest-And A Merry Family Christmas!

Merry Family Christmas

Today, my longtime friend, Kristie Christie (yes, you read her married name right) is sharing a beautiful message here at Mother Of Knights. Kristie and I have known each other for more than a decade-long before either of us was married. We have been bridesmaids together, laughed our heads off over anything and everything, and we share a mutual passion for Jesus Christ. Will you give her a warm welcome--I love what she has to share about a Merry Family Christmas!

When I was a little girl I used to lay on my belly looking at the cover of the Amy Grant Tennessee Christmas album. I liked my family, but printed on this album cover was a large happy family in holiday sweaters posed in a house in the snow. It looked like heaven—or at least like a Hallmark movie—I wished they would adopt us into their wintery family. I lived in Burbank—-a bit of a departure from Franklin, Tennessee. As hard as I prayed for a white Christmas, we didn’t get one. Not even once.

The good news is that you don’t have to have snow or perfection in order to have great holiday memories—-just creativity and the commitment to slow down and to savor the moments you’re living. I don’t know why it is, then, that I always think it’s going to take maximum effort to make Christmas really super special. God just wants me—-present-to-my-life—-“me.”

I’m so good at filling up Pinterest boards. I love collecting ideas and dreaming of the moments I could create if I would execute these whimsical ideas. You too? Christmas approaches each year and I dream, “this year…I’m gonna…” and just as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are finished it feels like it’s New Years again and think, “Oh next year, I suppose…maybe next year.”

The funny thing is that my favorite memories of Christmas were simple, they were cozy and I look back on childhood with wide-eyed wonder because something special seems to happen at Christmastime. I remember cutting down a Christmas tree with our friends from church and loading it on top of their station wagon. I loved putting out the nativity each year and planning where I thought each person should stand. Christmas memories are made by quality, not quantity. Rather than squeezing it all in—-I want to notice our life and savor it by the Christmas tree with the ones I love.

I have created Sunday School curriculum for the last 10 years—-creative, multi-sensory, and meaningful—-but fun. It’s been my greatest joy because I wanted to help kids know what Jesus meant when he said he had come to bring us “Life to the Full” (John 10:10) and that God isn’t boring like Sunday School had a reputation for being. Because of this, I received a few emails in recent years requesting I create a Christmas devotional for the family at home. I thought this was such a great idea—-but of course, this ended up on the list of “things I meant to do…but didn’t get to.”

This year, I’m making this dream happen and I’m gathering a group of loving, fun parents who want to do more than put an elf on a shelf—-and want to have some fun, meaningful moments that center around what the heart of Christmas. I have nothing against the elf on the shelf or Santa—-all so much fun—-I just want to make sure that we are having conversations that can help us pause together.  I want to make sure that we’re not too busy to slow down to think about what this all means—- that God came to earth to love us.

I hope you’ll consider joining us for Merry Family Christmas. Here’s how it will work: each day you’ll receive an email with a daily devotion (story, good questions, scripture verse to read). You can do this around your table, before homework, before bed or in the car before you rush off to school. Next, you’ll receive a well laid out colorful guide to a weekly Family Night. This one will be a little more involved—-but not overwhelming. During the week you can gather a few items and be ready to spend time together in your living room—-making some memories and reflecting on the week together.

Join families across the country and some around the world who are already committed to have a Merry Family Christmas—-a time of intentional, focused time with people you love the most: your family

YOUR TURN! What are some other ways that you focus on Jesus during the holidays? I'd love to hear about some of your favorite traditions!

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

5 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong

When Your Child's Personality Rubs You Wrong

Do you have a child whose personality can rub you the wrong way and wear you out? Maybe your son or daughter is your exact opposite, or maybe they are so much like you that it's scary! Both scenarios can create battles of the will and exasperate both parents and kids.

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The Christmas Stocking That Exposed My Shaky Marriage

The Christmas Stocking That Exposed My Shaky Marriage

It was our first Christmas together as a married couple and we had agreed not to go crazy on gifts. My husband’s birthday is in early December, and mine is the day after Christmas! Instead, we chose to give each other Stockings filled with little presents.

I spent months finding the perfect trinkets that my husband would love-all his favorite things in small packages. A high quality utility knife, top of the line socks, his favorite cologne. I told him to open one of his gifts first and I joyfully watched as he tore open the paper, revealing my thoughtful choices.

And then I opened mine, my heart filled with excitement to see what my new husband had lovingly chosen for ME.

I pulled out a pink feather boa. And some silly plastic glasses with a mustache. Then, a pair of crazy fuzzy socks and a roll of mints. (I hate mints.) My husband grinned and I kept digging to the bottom, thinking a set of pearls or a gift certificate must be in there somewhere.

Nope.

I looked up at him in disappointment—and disbelief.

“What?!” he asked, as his smile faded. He really didn’t know.

In his mind, stockings were for funny gag gifts, a time to be goofy and whimsical. In my mind, they were meant to confirm the idea that good things come in small packages—preferably with brand name labels attached and lots of pricey sparkle. More than that, stockings were meant to communicate that the giver really knew you—knew the things you preferred and enjoyed.

We had miscommunicated and made assumptions about one another’s intentions and plans for what a Christmas stocking should hold. It was a lesson to us that we had a ways to go as husband and wife and learning to communicate and manage expectations, but it also revealed to me that I had a long way to go in learning contentment.

That was just one of many rude awakenings for me that first year together as husband and wife. I allowed my disappointment to hurl me into a downward spiral of discontent, questioning if my deepest longing—to be known and loved—would ever really be a part of my marriage. I became sad, then hurt, then angry, then bitter. It wasn’t just the awkward exchange of gifts. I knew that was an honest mistake, but it left me feeling disillusioned, because I let it. In my mind, I rehearsed all the other shortcomings of my life, besides the challenges of being a newlywed.

There were plenty of other areas of day-to-day living that simply were not measuring up to my ideals. I had been skipping along the treacherous line of thinking that because I had been a “good” Christian, my long awaited for blissful marriage, cooperative children, 4-bedroom house, and selfless BFF should materialize and bring me my heart’s desires. When that didn’t happen, I got angry. Not rage against the machine angry, but a quiet simmering of discontent that infected my heart and clouded my perspective.

I snapped at my kids. Bickered with my husband. Coveted my neighbor.

I guess I wasn’t such a “good” Christian after all.

Over time, I realized that my anger issues were rooted in discontent, which was rooted in pride. The Holy Spirit began to convict me. All my efforts to change my circumstances weren’t working. I needed a heart transplant, STAT.

Linda Dillow, in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, quotes Henry Kissinger: “To Americans, usually tragedy is wanting something very badly and not getting it.” That was me. The ideal and tranquil life was something I felt I deserved and instead of counting my blessings, I turned my desires into idols.

An idol is anything we value more than we value God and His plan for our lives. I had plenty of those. Had I yielded to this notion sooner, I could have avoided a lot of heartache. I’m still not there, 10 years later, but I’m not where I was either. The truth is, yielding our will is no easy thing, but it is the freeing thing.

My prayer for 2015 has been this, “Lord, help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else.” You see, I thought that my husband’s ability to read my mind and shower me with thoughtful gifts would make me content. I believed that a house with a white picket fence, happy kids, and relationships with like-minded friends would satisfy me. The head knowledge that only Christ can satisfy had not made it to my heart.

God took me on a roller coaster ride that pried my clenched fingers off the safety bar of my grand illusions, one white knuckle at a time.

Eventually, I discovered that the Bible that I believed was true was not just true, but true for me. In me. Nothing else really does satisfy like Jesus. I really do love Him, even if He takes everything I have ever wanted, away. I really can be satisfied loving my wild child, instead of a compliant one. I truly can find contentment in the companionship of my Savior when friends seem distant. The Holy Spirit really does give me peace that is supernatural even when my husband falls short….or I do. I really can be satisfied in a tiny apartment where I bedeck myself in a pink feather boa and crazy socks.

Our anger or bitterness may not have originated over night. Maybe, like me, your melancholy is the long brewed product of drinking the poison of discontent. Do you have an idol in your life? Is a happy marriage more important to you than living out the Fruit of the Spirit, despite the hardships? Do you keep wondering why it has to be you with the son who has ADD? Are you having a pity-party because you haven’t had a call from a girlfriend to see how you are doing since two years ago?

Perhaps today is the day you can turn the tide towards humility and contentment by saying a simple prayer, “Lord create in me a desire to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else”. And when the life you want eludes you, you will realize that the better life is not in obtaining your heart’s desire, but in receiving the heart that God desires to give you.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3-5)

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Friends, this post contains an affiliate link and when you make a purchase through this link, Amazon gives me a few cents to help my ministry at no extra cost to you! Thank you!

YOUR TURN: Can you relate to my story? Is there some seed of discontent that needs to be uprooted in your life? How can I pray for you?

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

4 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

Day-Tripping At The Huntington Library With Kids

Day-Tripping At The Huntington Library With Kids

There is no question that I am a city girl, but I love nature and being outdoors. The luxury of living in Los Angeles is that you get plenty of each-the best of both worlds! One of my favorite spots to savor the beauty of nature is at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. Besides the fact that you can view collections of rare art and books, explore various gardens that boast some of the most beautiful flowers, plants, and trees in the world, the Library offers one of the most delicious high teas in town! It’s all you can eat, which is dangerously appealing.

The first Thursday of every month offers free admission, which requires an advanced reservation. I scored some coveted tickets a couple months ago so I took my three knights with me. The Library is elegant, as are the grounds-not exactly the kind of place I first think of to take my kids. I wasn’t sure how well it would go over with them, but in the end, I had to drag them away! It broke my heart a little to pass the tea room up this trip but I didn’t want to push my luck with my boys! Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite should you want to plan your own trip to the Huntington Library.

Quinn, Oliver, and Oakley inside the Rain Forest Conservatory! It was humid and damp inside and the boys enjoyed examining every nook and cranny!

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If I wasn't a Believer already, these next photos would give me great pause for thought-they are so creatively designed!

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The Venus Flytrap was a particular favorite! You can try to introduce your boys to culture and beauty but they will still be most fascinated by the plant that kills bugs! Boys WILL be boys!

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There are various rooms with experiments set up for hands-on fun! Here's Oakley (4), trying one of them all on his own, like a big kid. Sniff, sniff.

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The dome of the Conservatory let in the most perfect light through the canopy of leaves.

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Of course, we headed to the Children's Garden next!

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My boys got WET, which was fine by me! One of the things you learn to let go of as a boy-mom!

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May he never lose his sense of wonder......

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Next up, we took the scenic route towards the Rose Gardens and found some amazing fountains and statues!

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I asked the boys to make up a little story about what they think might have happened to the men and women in the statues. They had some wild ideas!

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In a moment that caught me off guard, Quinn told me that he thought this angel baby must be like our babies in Heaven....

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This little guy was quite busy, buzzing.

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I could have stayed all day looking at every rose, but the boys were on a mission so we moved pretty quickly through the girly rose section.

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The Japanese and Chinese Gardens were the biggest hit with the kids!

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Ahh, yes. KOI! Quinn was especially enamored with these big beauties! He was seriously bummed when it was time to move onward and upward!

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Quinn (6) wants to be a scientist when he grows up. It was so evident at the Gardens where he lingered and explored while his brothers pressed on to see the next surprise around the corner. I love them all in their uniqueness!

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Oliver (8) is growing up to fast for my comfort. His little bro worships the ground he walks on. Nothing better than brothers who love and admire one another!

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When we went into some of the Library's buildings that held artwork, I kept hands held in mine and we moved rather quickly. My littlest is so tempted to touch the untouchable, that I only spent a brief time indoors-just enough to introduce them to the artwork.

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And of course, where there are trees and boys....

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Finally able to run wild and free!

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They often hold hands, just because. Love....

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As we headed out to lunch I got a few glimpses of my own favorites-SUCCULENTS!

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I was a little nervous about taking the boys to such a widespread and pristine Garden and Art tour, but it was totally worth it! We squeezed it in right before school started and though our schedule is less open for these kinds of jaunts,  will be going back soon!

The best part for me was stretching myself to let them find their own engagement, be their unruly selves in a rather dignified environment, and go with the flow. Taking three energetic boys to a pristine environment held lots of potential for me to micro-manage and get stressed out, but instead, I was purposeful to be kind and to speak to them with the same respect that I want shown to me, so we had a truly happy day together as a result. Which reminds me of this post, Have A Kinder Son By Tonight, that I am sharing over at The MOB Society today! Before you go, check it out and see how I cultivate kindness in my sons lives, then tell me what you think! And if you are local, schedule your own day-trip to the Huntington Library sooner than later!

YOUR TURN: Have you been to the Huntington Library? Did you have tea? What does your city offer in the way of Art and Gardens that I might want to check out if I come to your neck of the woods? Are there things that you shy away from with kids that you might decide to try even though it makes you nervous to think about how they will behave?

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

When Your In-Laws Don't Respect You

When Your In-Laws Don't Respect You

Years ago, I taught my students Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. One famous line from this poem is that “Good fences make good neighbors.” Most of us realize that healthy boundaries in relationships are often necessary-there’s a reason that sage Benjamin Franklin said that “Guests, life fish, begin to smell after 3 days.” Few relationships are harder to apply boundaries too than our in-laws and for good reason.

Our parents spend decades raising us, shaping us, guiding us. It can be hard for them to release us to our spouses, necessary as it is. Some in-laws simply don’t understand how much they can either foster a healthy and supportive relationship for their child’s marriage, or bring great division and harm to the union. The stress and pressure of poor relationships with our mother or father-in laws can cause frustration, anger, and bitterness-which can easily infect our marriages, and therefore our children. And sometimes, it’s our brother or sister-in-laws that can do just as much good, or harm.

As mothers, how are we supposed to navigate these complex relationships?

When I met my mother-in-law for the first time, I knew that she wasn’t going to play the kind of role I had always dreamed of. Years before I met her, she suffered several major strokes and was wheel-chair bound, living in a home for the elderly and disabled. I knew that my husband and I would serve more like parents to her, than the other way around. Still, she's been an incredible example of faith and love to me. Even though she spends her days in bed or wheel-chair bound, I have never once heard her complain. She loves her Savior and always pours that same love out towards others. But my husband also had loving older siblings who were more like parents to him, and so in some ways, I suddenly had 4 sets of protective in-laws to navigate. Their family is a close-knit bunch of loyal Italians and they have been generous and kind to us over the years and all the cousins have great affection for one another, but it wasn’t easy for me to fit in initially.

Guy and I With My Wonderful MIL

My husband Guy and I realized early on that we needed to become a strong new unit as a couple and that we could both firmly, yet lovingly, set boundaries with our in-laws on BOTH sides. That’s never easy. I have heard from hundreds of couples on this topic over the years. Many of these couples have varying issues from overly intrusive parents, to disregarding their parenting styles and requests, to extreme favoritism over their son or daughter as opposed to their new in-law. Here's a post about what to do when someone simply just doesn't like you very much.

If we choose to respond Biblically, I believe that most cases can result in peace and unity in our families.

Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. As spouses, we must communicate, listen, and be united as a couple about the problem with our in-laws and choose to protect our marriages above all else.

If your spouse is suffering or struggling, as a result of conflict with extended family members that should be your main priority. God instructs us to “leave” the home and authority of our parents and “cleave” to the new relationship we are building with our spouses. If your husband is not standing with you in solidarity over any particular issue, then the first matter of business is to work on your marriage-which may very well necessitate Biblical counseling.

Ultimately, if we feel secure and safe in our marriage and our spouse’s commitment to preserve our relationship and unique family goals and beliefs, than the anxiety of in-law pressures is greatly reduced. Sometimes, that means being grateful for your spouse and the new life you get to create together, instead of wasting time lamenting the dream of having ideal in-laws. Let go of the things you simply can't change.

  1. Ask yourself if YOUR PART in the equation looks like this:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

We are to offer the same respect, honor, and Godly treatment of our in-laws as we are commanded to demonstrate to all people, regardless of how they treat us or our children. If you have sin in your own life in this area, it’s time to work on your part first.

  1. I like to take the confusion of making choices as a parent out of the equation by following this one cardinal rule:

Never make decisions based on FEARS or PEERS.

This applies to my in-laws too. Sometimes, moms over-discipline or give in to requests they don’t feel comfortable with when they are with extended family. We have to become very self aware and confident in OUR decisions so that we don’t behave towards our children or in-laws as a result of fear of what they will think or because we feel peer pressure to do things their way.

If this is a struggle for you, prepare yourself before you meet with them so that you have a clear image in mind of how you will behave as the wife and mom in your family, and do not give in to fear or pressure. God gave you authority over your home and children, and honoring how the Lord leads you is what matters most. Be authentically you, and if they don’t accept that, it’s okay. God accepts us just as we are and following His leading is what will bring us peace, not the approval of our in-laws.

  1. Just as I have talked a lot on my blog about being consistent, dropping the rope of tug-of-war with our kids, and training our children with loving-kindness, we can take a lot of the fight out of our in-law relationships in much the same way.

When my child persists over an issue and I have already communicated clearly with them, I don’t have to get angry, upset, or continue to argue with them. I can simply say something like, “Son, I understand that you want to stay up late, but as your mom I know that you need sleep and it’s now bedtime. Please go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and I will help you get dressed for bed.” They may whine and complain. And again, we can empathize and repeat our same statement of expectation, following through on our standard.

When in-laws become emotional, manipulative, or threaten our boundaries, we can respond in a similar fashion to them as we do to our wayward kids. We can calmly and kindly say to our in-laws, “I appreciate that you want to spoil our kids with sugary treats because you are loving grandparents, but John and I know that their bodies can’t handle it. We can provide snacks for you to give them that are healthy but still yummy, or we can give you a list of ones we recommend if you want to shop for them yourself. Just let us know which you prefer.” If they dishonor your repeated request, then you may need to follow up by explaining that the kids simply won’t be eating at their house. You don’t need to become embroiled or pulled into an argument or crumple under manipulation.

Eventually, it may be necessary to explain that if they simply don’t respect your decisions that you may have to come up with some creative alternatives-just as we do with our children when they don’t honor our role. It may mean that you need to take some time away from the relationship altogether, or put some more secure boundaries in place, but this should always be lovingly and clearly communicated-not an act of bitter punishment or unhealthy division.

The Bible puts it like this in Romans 12:17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

As wives, we can either add pressure to our husband’s burden or we can cultivate peace with both sets of in-laws. Never underestimate the power of prayer and your own gracious spirit towards your spouse, your children, and your in-laws. Expect the Lord to prepare their hearts as much as yours, and ask God to give you wisdom. In-law relationships may very well be the biggest challenge you will face, but they don’t have to leave you in turmoil that negatively affects your kids. Keep doing the good parenting, entrust your commitment as a family to the Lord, and walk in faith that God will honor your desire for peace.

I’m not sure if my own in-law relationships on either side of my family will ever be what I dreamed of, but that’s okay. I choose to be grateful for the many ways that they have helped shape me and my husband. Seeking peace and pursuing it is the mark of a daughter of the King of Kings, and pleasing Him by our Godly responses to any conflict is the righteous thing to do and leads to blessing. When your mother or father-in-laws can’t be pleased, focus instead on pleasing your Heavenly Father, and you’ll never be disappointed.

SHARE:  What stood out to you the most from this post? How can you work more towards being a peace-maker or better communicate your needs as a wife, mom, and daughter-in-law? Do you have wonderful in-laws? Tell us what makes them so great!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

13 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

3 Lessons To Remember When God Says "No"

3 Lessons To Remember When God Says No

Some time ago now, I went through a season where God said “Yes” to almost every heartfelt prayer I could lay on Him. I look back on that time in my life and it reminds me that God is powerful! Able. Benevolent. All Knowing. And Good. He blew my mind with His ability to answer my prayers before I uttered them and He overwhelmed me with His diligent provision-credit card debt wiped away overnight, a startlingly clear path laid out for my career, and the dream romance that I longed for.

And then a different season came whistling coldly down the hallways of my heart. A time of agony, loss, and years of sacrifice. Job loss, physical illness, loneliness, and lots of unwanted change set me up for defeat. Doubt was ever present and my dim hope limped along the narrow path that wound precariously through the valley of my burdens.

But it wasn’t a total loss. I learned some valuable lessons that would shape my prayer life.

This week, I went to see the film War Room, by the Kendrick brothers, and I do recommend you see it-for the believer, it’s a powerful reminder that our battles are fought in the spiritual realm! It’s the story of a woman whose marriage is falling apart and how she meets a true prayer warrior who reminds her that her battle needs to be fought in her prayer closet, not at the dinner table. The movie ends on a high note, but I want to caution viewers that sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want, especially when other people’s hearts are involved. What do we do then?

Sometimes God says “Yes.” Often, He says “Wait.” But what do we need to remember when He says “No”?

First, our perspective is ours to shape.

We have two choices when God says “no” to our prayer requests. We can succumb to sorrow, disappointment, and fear which is the gateway to bitterness and depression, or we can renew our faith in God that He has good plans for us, grieve with a sense of joy, and count our blessings:

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

Only one of these options leads to a life that God can use for His purposes. And when God makes the most of our trials, bringing unexpected beauty from ashes, there is always purpose in our pain. It would add insult to injury to hinder ourselves from a long term blessing because we couldn’t trust that God’s “no” is a mercy.

Second, we don’t know the bigger picture.

In our humanness, we think we know what is best and yet, we honestly don’t. God sees the grander picture clearly and if we truly believe that He has plans for our good, and not to harm us, then we must have rock-solid faith that whatever it is we wanted, would have done more harm than good:

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

The flip side of that coin is that sin and the unseen spiritual warfare between good and evil is always at play. Sometimes, God allows evil to play itself out, but even then, He restrains it and uses it for good in the end. I know that God’s plan is life, and yet He allowed me to miscarry twins a year ago. I don’t believe that was ever God’s design, but because sin and death are a part of this fallen world, He allowed it. I also believe that somehow, He will bring good from a tragic circumstance-I simply need to trust that He sees the bigger picture and will overcome loss with blessing in His time. This requires a long-term and eternal mindset. Instant gratification doesn’t build character, and character is what God is after most in our spiritual lives.

Third, prayer is not only a means to an end.

We pray because we want answers, but God sees prayer as so much more than that. Prayer is also the place where we enter into the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. We are engaging in a relationship, not just an exchange of requests. Seeking to know God and to yield to His plans for our lives is an opportunity to grow more intimately aware of the person of Jesus Christ on a personal level. If my kids came to me simply to see what they could get all the time, without being with me just to enjoy the mother-son relationship, I’d be pretty disappointed. God longs to be with us and commune with us-prayer is the vehicle with which we get to enjoy God Himself, the Creator of the world and everything in it! That’s a powerful and humbling thought!

Prayer is also a place where we confess our sins and any thoughts that are not Godly. In prayer, we come with our burdens and cast our cares onto the broad shoulders of Jesus Christ:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It’s a time of profound exchange-my weariness and shame for His strength and peace. Prayer is not so simple as requests and answers. It is the hub of relationship and heart transformation.

God is not fickle when He responds to our heartfelt requests. He is purposeful whether He answers yes or no.  Praise Him when He says “yes”. But don’t forget to praise Him when He says “no” and ultimately, you will see that both answers are a win-win.

Pray With Me:

Heavenly Father,

Help me to see that You are always good and that even when you answer with a “no” that you have my good in mind. Thank You for Your wisdom to keep from me anything that would not be for my best, and thank You that You can turn even the effects of living in a sinful world, into something for my good and Your glory! Help me to trust You when I don’t get the answers that I think I want and help me to grow in my faith and trust in You.

In Jesus Name, Amen!

YOUR TURN! Let's talk in the comments section below: Has God said “wait” or “no” to you recently? How can I pray for you as you wrestle with His answer? Have you seen the blessing that comes from God’s protection when He answered “no” to you? I would love to hear how God’s answer was best for you!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

8 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom

Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom

Last year, I had a bunch of credit from an online shop that sold high end sunglasses. Over the years, I went through my cheap shades as if they were disposable and I had been toying with the idea of buying a quality pair that would last.

With the money from cumulated gift certificates, I ordered a beautiful blue tortoise shell pair of uber chic Fendi glasses. It was one of the few big splurges I have ever made!

From the moment I put them on, I realized that all those years of wearing 5 dollar glasses had conditioned me to see the world in a subpar light. But these beauties were of such quality that I could see clearly and in perfect comfort-no more scratches and squinting. No more pinched skin on the bridge of my nose, or headaches from ill-fitting ear pieces. I didn’t have to view the beautiful sunny days around me in off color compromise because I could view them in the perfect balance of shade and light.

I hadn’t known what I was missing. I really did get what I paid for, in both cases.

It reminds me how much the way we view the world alters how we live our lives. When all we can see before us is an uphill battle, or defeating relationships, or messy rooms, then just about everything loses its luster.

When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who had emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. Ignacio didn’t live a lavish life and he had plenty of trials that he could have focused on, but I never once, in the 7 years we worked side by side, heard him grumble or say a negative word about anything-no matter how small. He was so thankful to live a life of freedom and relative plenty as an American, that he never forgot where he came from and how blessed he was.

He also had a passionate love for Jesus Christ and few people shined brighter than Ignacio. When I think of the word contentment and joy the first image that comes to my mind is a smiling and kind-hearted Cuban man who often showed up at my door with an iced coffee or a sweet roll. I don’t see him as often as I would like to anymore, but I’ll never forget the example he was to me of how much our attitudes and perspectives will either imprison us in misery or free us to live life to the full as God intended.

Ignacio viewed the world through the lens of thankfulness and it made all the difference.

How about you and me?

Negativity and sorrow can be crushing not only to ourselves but to everyone around us. I bet you can think of someone that is a “joy robber”. You know, those people who you come away from feeling kind of “meh” or like you just had the wind taken out of your sails? Instead, we all have a conscious choice to focus on the good, count our blessings, and determine to say things that will build people up. It doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about our struggles, but the believer should always have a confident hope and joy that is contagious, despite hard times or challenges.

As parents, we can “huff and puff” all around the house sighing over this mess or that behavior and making everyone feel our displeasure. We can say that we want to show a Christ-like example to our kids and then grumble our way through each tiny obstacle in everyday living instead of serving our families with joy and gladness as an act of worship to Jesus Christ. It should never be like that for a mom or dad who is pursuing a love relationship with the Lord.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about it:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

My mother-in-law is a perfect example of this. After her husband of 30 years suddenly passed away, she endured several severe strokes that have left her in a wheel chair and in a convalescent home for nearly two decades. I have never heard her complain. She remains in bed most of the time now and yet she continues to talk about her love for Jesus and takes an interest in the wonderful things everyone else is doing outside the small walls of her shared bedroom. Even though she has never had the chance to push her grandkids on the swing or take a family vacation with us, she still shares our excitement and joy over our opportunities to do so as a family. It humbles me every time.

Grandma

Our joyful and positive outlook on life can make or break the spirits of those around us but one thing is for sure. We waste our own lives when we have a negative mood that permeates our thinking. You and I have this one chance to take hope by the scruff of the neck and be a light that draws others (And our own kids!) towards us like a moth to the flame.

We want to leave a legacy of joy and hope for our children, not discouragement and oppression because of our attitudes and careless words. I wish that it was as easy as donning a pair of designer sunglasses but this kind of legacy involves doing some intentional heart work.

Do whatever it takes to commit to a more joyful outlook. Toss the mediocre lenses of your mind in the trash bin and upgrade them for a pair that gives you a more hopeful and accurate view of the world around you.

YOUR TURN: Would you consider yourself a “joy-robber”? Do all the little demands of everyday life get to you and steal your joy? What kinds of things work for you to keep your perspective balanced and Christ-centered? How do your kids respond when you are a happier mom or dad?

Let me know your thoughts in the COMMENTS and if this post blessed you, please share it with others!

P.S. This post contains an affiliate link and when you make a purchase through my link, I get a little credit at no extra charge to you and that helps my ministry-thank you!

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

7 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).

I Am Parent, Hear Me SCOLD!

I Am Parent, Hear Me Scold!

My face took on the gross resemblance of a sour prune, wrinkled in anger and frustration. The scolding and lecture followed. And thus, so did the tears. The issue at hand didn’t improve, my child’s heart did not suddenly change for the better, and the only thing that was certain is that I had just wounded our parent-child relationship.

My child lost. I lost. And none of us were the better for it. This was a pattern that I hated and wanted to change, but I knew it would take some radical changes on my part.

When we become parents, we automatically believe that scolding is a part of parenting.

We parent, therefore we scold! What makes us think that a child is going to respond well when we run off at the mouth at them? Have any of us been productive for a boss who was always on our case, made us feel 2 inches small, or had only harsh words for us every time we messed up? Did that create a good culture and motivation for doing well on the job? Yeah, not so much. But as parents, we take this for granted with our kids, largely because we can get away with it. But it's doing much more harm than good.

If we examine Scripture, we find that there is a better way and that scolding, is in fact, unbiblical.

In his book, The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo, he quotes from Mark 14:3-5 and then elaborates on the passage. Take a look:

“And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining (at the table), there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; (and) she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly (remarking) so one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and (the money) given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her” (Mark 14:3-5)

One of the Greek words from which the term scolding (in the above text) was derived, means “to snort with anger.” It was used to describe the snorting of horses. In his book, Hints on Child Training, first published in 1891, H. clay Trumbull, considered to many to be the founder of Sunday School, explains:

     “To scold is to avail or revile with boisterous speech. The word itself seems to have a primary meaning akin to that of barking or howling. Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of temper…the essence of the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of strong feelings that, while eminently natural, out to be held in better control.

     If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to weigh them, or to show and excited state of feeling, the parent’s first duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured, there is no use of the parent’s trying to attempt any measure of child training. The loss of self-control is for the time being an utter loss of power for the control of others.

     In giving commands or in giving censure to a child, the fewer and the more calmly spoken words the better. A child soon learns that scolding means less than quiet talking; and he even comes to find a certain satisfaction in waiting silently until the scolder has blown off the surplus feeling which vents itself in this way. There are times, indeed when words may be multiplied to advantage in explaining to a child the nature and consequences of his offense, and the reasons why he should do differently in the future; but such words should always be spoken in gentleness, and in self-controlled earnestness. Scolding-rapidly spoken censure and protest, in the exhibit of strong feeling-is never in order as a means of training and directing a child.”

Convicting stuff, right? I recently wrote this post which confirms my stance that training a child should always occur outside of times of conflict. When we try to train or teach our children when our feelings are running high, we almost always resort to scolding.

Can you imagine what your parenting would like if you bucked the system and culture of parenting that scolds kids and places a premium on authoritarian methods as opposed to respect, kindness, and gentleness?

I’m not there yet. Too often I feel the urge to scold my kids, but I have made a lot of progress. This is a daily practice for me, and I would love to see some of you commit to practicing self-control in the way we speak to our kids too. Take a look at these passages that affirm a more gentle approach and a more effective way to reach the hearts of our kids:

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:14

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:3

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Take some time to evaluate what leads you to scold your children in the first place and consider how you can respond Biblically in those moments. Make a plan in advance to handle the difficult moments with self-control and wait until you can speak calmly and lovingly towards your kids. And remember that a lot of good can come from asking your kids for forgiveness when you fail. I have eaten more than my fair share of humble pie, but it goes a long way for our kids to see us working on our weaknesses too! That in and of itself is a great life lesson!

Let’s commit to growth in this area of our parenting! Let’s put scolding on the shelf and replace it with words that will build our kids up while also giving them loving correction with kindness!

Pray With Me:

Father, I want to be patient and have self-control as a parent. I don't want to scold my kids and spew angry words at them. It hurts them! I need Your loving help and strength to guard my mouth. Change me from the inside out so that I see my kids as You do, Lord-impressionable, fragile, blessings, gifts! Keep me from scolding and lecturing and help me to point them to you and train them up in times of peace and calm, not in the aftermath of conflict or the heat of the moment. Give me wisdom!

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Note, this post contains an affiliate link to the book I mentioned and when you make any purchase through that link, I make a few cents to support my ministry at NO EXTRA charge to you! Thanks for your help! :)

YOUR TURN! Do you scold your kids more than you care to admit too? Can you see the benefit, from a Biblical perspective, of speaking in a way that is gentle and consistent as opposed to becoming angry and spewing the first words or lectures that come to mind? What can you do differently for your own growth, even if your kids never changed?

 

Follow me on Facebook for more inspiration and discussion! Find me on Twitter: Amber Lia and Instagram: MotherOfKnights. Start pinning on Pinterest as well!

2 Comments

Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).