Help for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

Help for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

Homeschool mom, what are you anxious about?

I can tell you what I was anxious about as a new homeschooling mom. I was afraid I would fail at teaching my kids. I wasn’t a trained teacher, after all.

But even though I’m a psychologist, I was also afraid I would fail as a mom. I thought my kids might grow up to write a tell-all book about my failings: Mommy Dearest II.

Those are two big fears, but I had many more. I was afraid for my health. I was afraid that pesticides and GMOs were killing me. I was afraid my fillings were giving me MS. I was afraid I was becoming allergic to every food.

I was afraid for my family too. I was afraid my son had MD when he started limping as a toddler. On a grand scale, I was afraid my kids would grow up to reject God and our family. I was afraid in my relationships. I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends when a friend rejected me or moved away. I was afraid we were in the wrong church that was on the wrong path.

I was afraid of little things as well. I had a tightness in my gut every time we were running late. I was terrified of forgetting appointments and making people mad. You name it. I was afraid of it.

At one point my anxiety was so bad that my physical and mental health were in shambles. So I am not just speaking to you as a psychologist. I understand where you are if anxiety is a problem.

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Where Anxiety Comes From

Before I tell you how to deal with your anxiety, let’s talk about where it comes from.

Anxiety has a biological component. You may have inherited a predisposition for it. Your idle may be set too fast. Or you may have a physical condition that is contributing to your anxiety. A poorly functioning thyroid gland or hormonal shifts are common culprits.

Caffeine and other stimulants worsen anxiety. I am sensitive to caffeine. I had a frappe one morning and later that day I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling so anxious about.

Depression and anxiety often co-occur. If you suffer from depression, getting help for it can improve your anxiety as well.

Anxiety can be environmental. If you live or work in a place that is unpredictable and threatening, anxiety is a normal response. Until you feel safe physically, emotionally, and even financially, getting past your anxiety will be difficult. Recent research demonstrates that living in a cluttered environment raises your cortisol level, a marker for stress.

Finally, anxiety can be mental and spiritual. Specifically, anxiety is related to what you believe. These types of beliefs can produce anxiety that becomes dysfunctional. For example:

I have no options. Feeling that we can’t do anything to change our situation leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

God helps those who help themselves. This unScriptural notion leads us to want to solve our own problems, even though God wants us to leave it to Him.

I can’t trust anyone. We refuse to accept help because we don’t trust that God can work through others for our benefit.

If it is to be, it’s up to me. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We bear all the responsibility and the blame for everything.

Satan is in control of this world. We forget that Satan can only do what our loving God permits. He is not even close to being God’s equal. Jesus and His body, the church, isn’t on the run.

The Prescription for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

All this talk may be making you anxious! I get it. But I have a prescription that should calm you down. Ready?

First, take care of your body.

If you are anxious, schedule a physical and mention your anxiety symptoms. Your thyroid or hormones may be contributing to the problem. Let your doctor know about any medications or supplements you are taking as these may also contribute to anxiety.

Cut back on caffeine. You don’t need anything revving your engine, right?

Cut back on or eliminate alcohol. Anxious people often medicate with alcohol. While alcohol can decrease anxiety temporarily, it also interferes with sleep and can destroy brain and liver tissue as well as relationships–even if you never work or drive while under the influence.

Practice good sleep hygience. Keep your room dark and cool enough for you to sleep. Don’t use screens right before bed. Go to sleep and get up at the same times, even if you aren’t sleeping well.

Exercise vigorously. Exercise is critical for getting anxiety under control. You must get your heartrate up consistently and I recommend daily exercise. I’d prefer that you are sweating and fatigued after working out or it won’t be as effective in managing anxiety. High intensity interval training is an excellent choice. When you exercise to fatigue, your system won’t be able to overreact to your thoughts.

Consider medication if your doctor recommends it for the short-term. If your anxiety is severe enough that it is wreaking havoc on your physical health, consider taking something to help you do the mental and spiritual work that needs to be done for the long-term. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep taking it. In most cases, the risk of side effects is lower than the risk of a weak immune system from high anxiety.

Address the mental and spiritual side of anxiety.

After you’ve taken care of your body, you can address the mental and spiritual side of anxiety.

The first task at hand is to change the way you think. Our thoughts produce anxiety. Changing the way that we think changes our emotions and even our brain chemistry.

If you have a mild problem with anxiety, I recommend listening to How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend the audiobook version. I also recommend The Anxiety & Worry Workbook by Clark & Beck. These books will help you to think differently, thereby reducing your anxiety.

If you have a moderate to severe problem with anxiety, I recommend seeking out a cognitive-behavioral therapist for help. A CBT therapist will not analyze your childhood but will give you proven tools for changing the way you think and respond in anxiety-provoking situations. An ethical therapist will not contradict your faith, even if he or she doesn’t share it.

Changing the way we think is also fundamental to our spiritual health. If we think that God isn’t really good, doesn’t really love us, and won’t help us, we will experience profound anxiety. This is where I was spiritually. If you had asked me whether I believed those things about God, I would have said no. But I didn’t truly trust Him.

I believe we all have to make a choice once we know Christ. Do we choose to believe that God is good, that He loves us, and will work all things together for our good? Or do we believe that we’re on our own because God doesn’t care? When you’ve decided to believe God no matter what, it makes life so much easier. It means that even when the unthinkable happens and we are grieving without an explanation, we know that God is there, loving us, and working everything together for our good.

Renew Your Mind

The final way to manage our anxiety that I’m going to discuss in this episode is to renew your mind. We have allowed unhealthy thoughts to flood our system day after day. Now we have to marinate our minds in the truth. Reading the word and Christian books daily can help strengthen our faith. The Christian biographies the Benges have written are a great option for you.

Another way we can renew our minds is by spending time with mature Christians. These men and women who have been refined in the fire will continue to speak truth to you and will demonstrate God’s faithfulness in their lives. I have friends who have lost children and spouses, and they all praise God for sustaining and blessing them.

Conclusion

I want you to know that neither climate change nor a new strain of the flu can take you out of God’s hands. He has numbered our days and no one and nothing can change that. I wish you His peace, my friend, and pray that He relieves you of the oppression of anxiety.

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How to Trust God to Overcome Sin

How to Trust God to Overcome Sin

Trusting God to overcome the sin in our lives is one of the tougher areas to trust. I know from experience! I’m talking about the besetting sins, the sins that feel like addictions because no matter what you do, you can’t seem to change. But we can learn to trust Him in this way, just as we have with our health.

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Why should we trust God with our sin?

What are the benefits of trusting God with our sin? What would you stop doing if you trusted God with it? And what would you start doing if you really trusted God in this area? Imagine not having to think about your problem with overeating, your gossip issue, your anger, or your procrastination again! Imagine not having to buy more books or programs. Imagine being free to focus on what God has already prepared for you to do. Imagine the impact being free of this sin would have on your family, your health, your happiness, and your witness!

How would you know you were trusting God in this area? For me, it would mean having peace knowing that He has it under control. He is doing the work, so I can focus on what He would have me do each day. I would be liberated!

Let’s go through our TRUST acronym for sin.

The T in TRUST is for Truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on is Romans 6:14. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Does it feel like sin is your master? That is an illusion that we choose to believe. God has set us free from this horrible master. Do you believe that?

Our biblical account is from Luke 19. It is the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a tax collector. As you may know, tax collectors were despised for one, because they often took more than was owed and kept it for themselves.

Imagine that you, and not Zacchaeus, are in that tree when Jesus arrives. Does Jesus call up and say, “Hey, sinful tax collector. Come down here and repent and return what you’ve stolen.” No. But we often behave as if this is how Jesus deals with us.

We expect Him to say to us, “Hey, glutton. Hey, gossip. Hey, rager. Hey, slothful one. Come down here and straighten up and then you and I can spend time together.” If this is what we believe He will say, why would we want to fellowship with Him? Instead, we want to solve the problem ourselves and THEN go to Him. We won’t feel so guilty then.

But Jesus is calling to us to say, “Come out of hiding and have time with me.” As a result of that time, we will find ourselves NOT WANTING TO SIN. It isn’t that we will have to use our willpower to resist the overeating, the gossipping, the rage, or the procrastination. We simply won’t want those things when we have Jesus. This is what we see in Zacchaeus and it isn’t an unusual response to having a relationship with Christ.

The R in TRUST is for Remembering.

How has God helped you overcome sin in the past? You’ve heard me talk about the chaos I once lived in. I am a changed woman. I no longer want to live in a mess, eat out of my emotions, or yell at my kids. I’ve read wonderful books and listened to talks on these subjects, but God changed my heart, allowing the truths I learned to take root in my life.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God already given you that you can implement? I know I am more likely to be disorganized if I stay up late at night. I am more likely to overeat if I stand up or watch TV as I eat. And I am more likely to talk about others if I spend time with gossips. I can act on these principles as I trust God to change my heart’s desires.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

We can pray for deliverance from the sin that has taken root in our lives. But more important than praying that we wouldn’t behave in a certain way, we pray for a heart change. Rather than praying we can follow a diet to the letter, we ask God to take away the desire for too much food. Rather than asking God to keep us from saying anything unkind, we ask Him for the desire to speak only uplifting words. Instead of asking Him not to let us procrastinate, we ask Him for the desire to do the work He’s called us to do and to have joy in it. Why wouldn’t He answer this prayer? He will! I know it because He promises us He will and because I’ve experienced it.

When we behave in a way that is not in line with who we are in Christ, we confess it, we admit that our flesh has no power over sin, and we believe again that Christ in us is conforming us to His image.

The T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

We thank God that He has overcome the sin in our lives–even as we wait for the full evidence of that. We thank Him for His love and mercy. We thank Him for the gifts that we have loved more than our relationship with Him, and we repent of setting up false gods of food and stuff and approval and getting our way.

I am praying for you as you seek to trust the Lord with the sin you haven’t been able to overcome in your own strength.

Do you struggle to trust God to overcome sin in your life? Let me know in the comments.

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The Most Important Areas to Organize This Year

The Most Important Areas to Organize This Year

Soon, we’ll be in a new year. It’s that time when many of us think of goals like getting organized. You know you’re unlikely to organize everything in a year, so what are the most important areas for homeschoolers to focus on? My answer may surprise you.

Organize Your Homeschool Life All Year

Before we jump in, I want to offer you the digital version of my book, the Organized Homeschool Life for just $7! This year, you can organize more than just the most important areas of your homeschooling life. You’ll be given 15-minute missions that will help you in curriculum planning, preparing for seasons and holidays, and special areas like organizing a business or hobby.

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The Most Important Areas to Organize This Year

So what are the most important areas? I’m going to share six of the most important areas to organize. But here’s a hint. They aren’t your school room, your kitchen, or even your curriculum. What? The heresy!

But I know from experience that if you don’t get these six key areas of your life down, you won’t be able to organize anything else. With them organized, you can tackle any other area easily.

#1 Daily Devotions

The #1 area to organize in your homeschooling life is daily devotions. If you aren’t spending devoted time with God on a regular basis, the risk of operating out of your own strength is high. As a result, you’re more likely to suffer from burnout, depression, and anger.

Yet, it’s so tempting to skip this time. Perhaps you have a baby or early riser at home. Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Or you may have no idea how to find quiet time.

I committed to having daily devotions consisting of Bible reading and prayer more than 20 years ago. That was when I read the Bible through for the first time in a year. The Bible I used was called the Change Your Life Daily Bible by Becky Tirabassi and it did change my life.

I didn’t really know God before I made that commitment. I didn’t think He cared about the details of my life. I felt like I was doing life and motherhood on my own.

I’ve read the Bible several times through in different forms since then, and I continue to learn more about God and myself. I know that He really is working all things together for my good. I know that when committed to Him, I can’t fail. How amazing is that?

If you organize nothing else this year, organize time for God. You don’t have to spend an hour at 5 a.m. Your time could be right before bed. It could be listening to the Bible and praying while walking. It could be using some of your kids’ nap and quiet time to converse with God. No matter when it is or how long it is, keep pursuing it and ask God to give you a desire for it. Why wouldn’t He answer that prayer?

#2 Daily Routine

The second area to organize in your homeschooling life is a daily routine. A routine, or doing key activities in order, is what allowed me to continue to homeschool and have six children. You can hear more about it by listening to the podcast I did with FLYLady on the topic.

Routines sound boring and confining but the truth is they give you freedom and they can even be fun. A quick cleanup each morning after breakfast was a pivotal part of our routine. I had an upbeat music playlist to listen to as we worked. I also set a timer as we worked on each floor. Sometimes when time was short, I would challenge the kids to see how much we could get done in just one minute. I have had competitions for speed during our clean-up time as well.

Whatever you do to make this part of your routine fun will pay off in your sanity. You’ll have a sense of peace and control as you do the simple tasks that keep your home looking tidy. Starting dinner as part of this routine will make your end of the day so relaxing and rewarding.

Routine is also how I brought order to my homeschooling. The kids knew which subjects we would do in which order, but we weren’t being ruled by the clock. If we wanted to read another chapter, we did. I spent less time on other subjects in this case. I found that alternating fun and difficult subjects or tackling the less desirable subjects in the mornings worked well for us.

#3 To-Do List

The third area to organize in your homeschooling life is your to-do list. If you don’t have a way of tracking and completing non-routine tasks, you’re not going to feel organized. Instead, you’ll feel overwhelmed and forgetful.

At one time, I didn’t use a calendar or to-do list in a consistent way. I missed appointments and deadlines all the time. It was embarrassing and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. The fact is I just hadn’t committed to a system for managing these tasks that worked for my personality.

My life changed when I got an iPhone. I made a rule for myself that every event went on my phone’s calendar. That way I would be reminded an hour before and again a half hour before appointments. I also had a constantly accessible place to put my to-do’s and the grocery items I needed. With voice commands, adding these things to one reliable list is even easier.

After a year of experimenting, I learned that I consistently do an average of six tasks aside from my routines. In the past, I would make a list of 25 or more tasks to complete in a day. I felt like a failure when I didn’t even make a dent in them. Now I choose just three priority tasks and three other tasks to put on my Organized Homeschool Life daily planner page, and I frequently complete my priority tasks and at least a couple of the others.

#4 Decluttering

The fourth area to organize in your homeschooling life is decluttering. If you aren’t regularly purging your belongings, you will lose money, time, and self-esteem. You already know that having too much stuff makes it very hard to organize. You spend time looking for what you have in the jumbled mess, give up, and buy more. If you have too much stuff that has taken over your house, you won’t feel comfortable practicing the hospitality that we’re called to. Your kids won’t be comfortable inviting friends over. And you might end up featured in an episode of Hoarders.

Letting go of belongings is an emotional process for many of us. I’ve been in tears packing up the preschool curriculum because I don’t need it anymore. But I’ve learned that hanging onto the curriculum doesn’t change anything. My youngest is still 14! What can change things is letting go of belongings we’re not using so we can truly enjoy the things we are. I can relive the joy of the preschool years any time I want by looking at photos and videos. I don’t want to miss this amazing season of homeschooling because I’m looking backward.

Decluttering must become routine. Everyone in the family needs to learn that it’s just what we do–like brushing our teeth and bathing. Create a regular time to declutter in your home.

#5 Chores

The fifth area to organize in your homeschooling life is chores. You can’t do all the cleaning and home maintenance as part of your morning routine. You need to decide how to get the laundry, the lawn mowing, and the dusting done, for example. There are so many ways to manage chores, and I’ve tried most of them. They’re like diets. They all work if you’re consistent with them!

My tip is to change things up when you get bored. But choose something easy as opposed to complex charts and apps. My kids have done their own laundry from an early age. My youngest does the yard work. Lately, my favorite way to get the rest of the chores done is to move through the house, room to room, as a team. I tell this one to dust, that one to move items to the next room, and the other to vacuum. I might clean the windows as we go. This method keeps the kids engaged and it’s lightning fast. It works if you have little ones too. They can pick things up or help you wipe windows.

#6 Relationships

The final area to organize in your homeschooling life is relationships. You don’t see this in other organizing books, but I knew it had to be in mine. If I don’t dedicate time to connect with my kids and husband and solve problems, it doesn’t matter how cute my school room is or how detailed my curriculum plan is. The whole thing can fall apart.

You need a realistic plan for spending quality time with your spouse or for having time with friends and family if you’re single. You also need a way of making sure you’re meeting your child’s emotional and spiritual needs and not just the academic ones.

I found that I would read books about marriage or parenting or I’d go to conferences and be all excited, but I had no plan for taking action on what I knew would make a difference. That’s why I created separate challenges to address marriage and parenting in The Organized Homeschool Life. And it’s why I added a plan for relationship focus to the daily page in The Organized Homeschool Life planner.

How to Organize the Six Most Important Areas This Year

Those are the six priority areas to organize this year.

  • Some of you will listen and take action with no problem.
  • Others will need The Organized Homeschool Life book to remind them what to do.
  • Still others will need the planner to see when they have time to organize these areas during the week and when on specific days. We know that planning a time makes it more likely you’ll complete the task.
  • Others have good intentions in buying the book and planner, but they need something more. They need a coach and accountability.

That’s why I’ve created Organized Homeschool LIVE. It’s an online boot camp for Christian homeschool families scheduled for January 3rd, but you can complete the challenge any time.

I’ll give you short, fun assignments to organize the areas I’ve just described and more WITH your kids. You’ll begin the year with a big win! You’ll have experienced what it’s like to have time with God, tidy up with a simple routine, cross off your most important to-do’s, let go of things you don’t need to make room to enjoy those you do, get your house clean in a hurry, and connect with your kids and spouse in a way you’ll want to repeat over and over again.

You’ll check in with our supportive Facebook group and friends you’ve asked to participate with you after you complete each challenge. You’ll find yourself motivated and excited about others’ ideas and successes in getting organized.

The event isn’t a course you buy and probably fail to complete, but an action workshop you’ll be motivated to finish. Your kids will have a blast completing the challenges with you. The low price includes immediate access to the digital PDF version of The Organized Homeschool Life book and planner, so you’ll be able to continue organizing the rest of your homeschool life. You’ll also receive a discount code if you prefer to make a separate purchase of print versions.

Finally, I’ve decided to include a bonus session on the keys to achieving your fitness and nutrition goals this year. I’m a psychologist who has battled these issues and has had victory in the Lord. I can’t wait to tell you about it in this session that won’t be available outside Organized Homeschool LIVE.

If you’d like to start with The Organized Homeschool Life book first but decide you’d like to join us for Organized Homeschool LIVE, I’ll apply your $7 purchase to the ticket price! Tickets are just $47. Click the button below to learn more about this special offer.

Tell me more!

I’d love to get to know you inside Organized Homeschool LIVE!

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How to Trust God with Your Success

How to Trust God with Your Success

It’s time for another installment of the Trust Project. This month we will focus on trusting God with our success–success in our homeschools, parenting, work, business, ministry, and more. I’m excited about this focus.

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Before I jump in, I want to share something with you. I want to give you a sneak peek at something I’m working on to help you have success in living the Organized Homeschool Life. I’ve written the book that gives you 15-minute missions to organize your life all year. Some moms take the book and enjoy success with it alone.

Others wonder how to fit even 15-minute missions into their days. That’s why I created the Organized Homeschool Life planner. You take a few minutes to plan every important thing into your day–your time with God, your dinner, your relationship focus, your priority tasks, and even a reward for a day well spent.

But there are some moms who tell me they want me to come home with them and their book and planner and help them get organized. I really wish I could because I know if we worked together to implement a few simple organizing strategies, your life would be transformed. You’d be living the organized homeschool life this year!

I’m working on a way for us to work together to make that happen. I’m so excited about it because it incorporates everything I know about life change and being a busy homeschool mom. I’m calling it Organized Homeschool LIVE. If you want more details as soon as they’re available, join the waitlist.

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What are the benefits of trusting God with your success?

For me, it’s not worrying, of course. But I read something this week that listed so many benefits of trusting God. They are: not getting angry, not getting offended, not being vengeful or bitter, upset, disappointed, annoyed, envious, dissatisfied, and on and on. Amazing, right?

That leads us to see what we will stop doing if we are trusting God for our success. Some things we may start doing is getting busy on what the Lord wants us to do. I don’t know about you, but I waste so much time on the negative emotions I just listed. I could be incredibly productive if I wasn’t sucked into that negative place. I’ll know I’m trusting God in this area if I am productive and content. How about you?

The T in TRUST is for Truth.

Our verse to meditate on this month is Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” I’m going to add Romans 8:28 to this which reads: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We must meditate on these Scriptures until we fully believe them.

Our biblical account this month is Genesis 41. This is the story of Joseph being brought out of prison and put in charge of Egypt. Not only do we see that God was in control of Joseph’s fate the whole time but Egypt’s success was also in the Lord’s hands. Genesis 41 isn’t just a story. It’s His story. It happened. God can be trusted with our success and our loved one’s success.

This month when you are fearful about the results of anything in your life, write down your thoughts and respond to each of them with truth. God will work ALL things together for our good.

The R in TRUST is for remembering.

How has God worked all things together for your good in the past? My friend, who was the host of a radio program for years, had suggested that I take over for her when she retired. We both looked forward to that possibility. She was a mentor to me and my kids would be older when she was ready to retire. It didn’t work out. The ministry group she worked for ended the radio program. She was disappointed and so was I.

But not long afterward, Felice Gerwitz created the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network and asked me to start a podcast. This podcast has allowed me to reach the women I most relate to–homeschooling moms. It has helped me to inspire kids to love reading and writing through Grammar Galaxy, and it has allowed me to speak to thousands of homeschooling parents through Great Homeschool Conventions. God had other plans for me.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God already given you for success? We want to trust and obey that wisdom. I can give you an example. I know that if I don’t write Grammar Galaxy first thing it won’t happen. Even though I know this, I have to battle with myself daily not to skip it in lieu of something more pressing. I’ve learned that success comes from consistency. So to be successful in my business I have to trust and obey this principle.

In my homeschool, I’ve heard time and time again from veteran homeschool moms that things work out. God provides for our kids. That doesn’t mean that I don’t teach them, but it does mean that I can relax about the future. My experience so far is that the veterans were right. My kids have succeeded despite my multiple pregnancies and the fact that I didn’t use demanding curriculum.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

What do you need to pray about? Instead of worrying and working so much in our homeschools, we can ask God for help. He loves to hear our prayers because it means we aren’t depending on ourselves for success.

I am getting ready to launch a completely new resource for homeschool organization, Organized Homeschool LIVE. I believe it will be life changing. But I don’t know if my audience will invest in it. I am praying that those who can benefit from it will join me. But if they don’t, I know that God will use that change in focus for my good. When I pray, I can rest in knowing that the results are up to the Lord. You can rest too.

The T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

We not only thank God for the success we’ve already enjoyed but the future success we will have. I am not speaking from a prosperity gospel mindset here. Instead of thanking God for full-ride scholarships for my kids in the future, I can thank God for the amazing blessings that homeschooling and having a homeschool business have provided. And I can thank Him that no matter what the future holds, I will be successful in having the good life God has planned. Even the surprises and disappointments will be worked together for my good in His hands. What a promise that is! I feel better just saying it. I hope you do too.

We can trust God to make us successful. The benefits of that trust are so worth it.

What keeps you from trusting God with your success? Let me know in the comments.

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How to Trust God with Pets and Possessions

How to Trust God with Pets and Possessions

 

It’s time for another edition of the Trust Project. This month we will discuss how we can trust God with our pets and possessions. This may seem like a more minor issue than some others we’ve addressed in this project. But I know from experience that it can be a challenge.

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Trusting God with Friendships

How did trusting God with friendships go for you last month? It seems as though the enemy is challenging me greatly with every topic we cover. This month, a dear new friend of ours was given an unexpected terminal diagnosis. I spent a lot of time with God on this one. It’s hard. But I have to believe that God loves him, his family, and you and me. This upsetting news doesn’t change what’s true about God.

Why Trust God with Pets and Possessions

We will begin talking about pets and possessions the way we usually do. What are the benefits of trusting God with our pets and possessions? For me, I will have less worry, stress, and conflict with my family. What will I stop doing if I trust God in this area? I will stop threatening my husband if he allows our new puppy to get hurt or killed. Poor guy. I will stop thinking about what could happen to family photos in the event of a fire or storm. What will I start doing? I will start reflecting on the fact that God cares about my pets, and that he even cares about my photo albums and mementos, like the afghan my grandmother made for me. How will I know I’m trusting God in this area? I won’t have the anxiety and irritation I’ve had around the thought of losing my pets and possessions. I hope you answered those questions along with me.

T is for TRUTH

Now let’s work through our TRUST acronym. What is the truth about our pets and possessions? Our Scripture to meditate on is Nahum 1:7:

When we lose things of value, it’s easy for the enemy to suggest that God doesn’t care, when He absolutely does.

Our biblical account is from Job, Chapter 1. Job lost his children and his possessions, his animals. There is much to be learned from Job’s experience, but what gives me peace for this topic is that nothing was outside of God’s control. There are people who believe God created us and then left us without help. That is not the case. God is not too busy or so hard that He doesn’t care when a beloved pet dies or a fire takes all our worldly possessions. Like Job, we may never know the purpose God has in allowing these losses. But we can absolutely know that He cares. This month when you have thoughts that God doesn’t care, write them down and refute them with the truth.

The R is TRUST is for Remembering.

How has God proven Himself trustworthy with pets and possessions in the past?

I lost a puppy after three weeks of sheer joy. It hit me harder than I ever imagined it would. The day after she died, I had to travel three hours, early in the morning to a volleyball match. My daughter told me that the mom I was closest to wouldn’t be there. I had experienced several disappointments with my adult kids just prior to this. I felt so lost when I arrived at the tournament. Not a Job-like experience, I know. But it was all I could do not to sob in the stands.

But then the parents of another girl on my daughter’s team asked me to come sit with them. The mom kept reminding me how much God loved me. I hadn’t told them what had been going on. Then the two of them shared some of their adult children’s disappointing behavior but their belief that God wasn’t finished with them yet. I was so encouraged. I knew God cared because he had these dear believers minister to me.

I have since brought another sweet puppy home and our hearts are healing. God answered my prayer for healing and joy.

Over the years, God has been faithful with losses of vehicles, investments, and even photos. He is trustworthy! He has either restored what was lost or He has given me peace.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God given you to believe and obey? Before I adopted our first puppy this year, I did not know that unvaccinated pups should not be allowed in public places where deadly viruses can live. I am going to obey that wisdom to keep my dog safer.

I have also moved all of my photos out of my basement where water leaking from appliances above is more likely to damage them. Of course, backing up digital and all precious photos is more wisdom to obey.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

What is your prayer in addition to having more faith? I pray that our pets will be safe and healthy, that are vehicles will keep running, and that our home will remain standing.

The T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

What can we thank God for now and in the future? My son’s car that we purchased for our family and were financing for him was totaled this week. It will be more expensive for him going forward, but we are so grateful to God that he is okay and that we have insurance that will help pay for a new vehicle.

I am also so thankful for the joy our dogs have given us. I’m thankful for the memories that my photos captured. And I’m thankful that God has provided through thick and thin.

I pray that you will grow in your ability to trust God with your pets and possessions this month.

Have you lost a pet or a possession that has been difficult to let go of? Tell me about in the comments.

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How to Trust God with Your Friendships

How to Trust God with Your Friendships

Do you trust God with your friendships? Do you believe He will provide you with friends? That He will provide your kids with good friendships? Do you worry about a friend’s health or salvation? That’s this month’s topic in the Trust Project.

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Why trust God with your friendships?

What are the benefits of trusting God with our friendships? One unique benefit is an increased likelihood of recognizing the new friends God has for us. Another benefit is peace and joy as we believe the Lord will work all things together for our good and our friends’ good.

What will we stop doing if we trust God with our friends? We’ll stop worrying about having enough friends for sure. And we may stop keeping to ourselves, suffering loneliness or difficult relationships in silence. Instead, we may start reaching out to new people, taking risks, and putting space in unhealthy relationships. We’ll know we’re trusting God with our friendships if we pray more than we worry and we recognize God’s activity in our friendships.

Let’s work through the TRUST acronym when it comes to friendships.

T is for truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on is Proverbs 18:24:

Have you ever had unreliable friends? Boy, I have! I have been so hurt and disappointed, but I have a friend who is always reliable. And so do you. Jesus is our friend who always says and does the right thing at the right time.

Our Scriptural account is from Mark, chapter 2. Jesus heals a paralyzed man when his friends lower him through the roof. The Scripture says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

I’m not going to argue that our faith can save our friends, but I am going to say that our faith is effective. Do you have unbelieving friends as I do? Know that Jesus hears your prayers and sees your faith on their behalf.

This month, when you have thoughts that lead you to distrust God with your friendships, write them down. Then respond to them with truth. If you think, “I’ll never make new friends at my church, in this small town, or as a homeschooler,” refute that with truth. God gave David a very unlikely friend in Jonathan, didn’t He?

The R in TRUST is for Remember.

Remember God’s faithfulness in this area in the past. Do I have some remembrances to share with you!

I had a new homeschooling friend who had a heart attack and was in critical condition shortly after we became acquainted. Two surgeries and several years of great friendship later, I learned that she had had another heart attack. The doctors saw no hope for her. I was mourning her when I believed the Lord rebuked me for this and encouraged me to ask for a miracle. I asked friends and family on Facebook to pray, knowing there was a good chance that prayer wouldn’t be answered. When soon afterward I saw her wake up and recognize me, I had joy like I had never had before!

In the meantime, I heard from an acquaintance who was not a believer. She knew our friend was in the hospital and things weren’t good. She said she would pray, but I assumed that she meant something other than praying to THE God. Soon after our friend was in recovery, she called me and told me that while she wasn’t looking for Jesus, Jesus came looking for her. She had received Christ as her Savior! I honestly didn’t believe that God would change someone like her, but God is still in the heart surgery business. She is now one of my dearest friends in Christ.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

Often God gives us wisdom and it’s up to us to act on it. I’ll give you a current example. I have been a member of a new church for two years and have yet to form a new friendship there. I can keep praying for friends, but I know that the best way to make friends is to attend a small group Bible study — something I haven’t been doing consistently. That’s my plan going forward.

A number of years ago I was a part of a small group that God was calling me to leave. I didn’t want to leave it and risk losing friendships, even though some of them were difficult relationships, so I didn’t. The consequences of that choice were painful and still are to this day.

What understanding has God given you for friendships that you haven’t acted upon?

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

This is where we pray after meditating on God’s truth, remembering His faithfulness, and acting on the understanding He’s already given.

Four years ago, I was lonely. Many of my homeschooling friends had moved on. I prayed for friendships and I asked a family member to pray as well. The answer came in an unexpected way. I started a Facebok group, then called HomeschoolScopes. Using live video, many of us made dozens of close homeschooling friends. I have met many of these women in person since then and I continue to talk to some of them daily. If you’re a homeschooling mom, join us in the Homeschool Sanity Circle on Facebook. But more importantly, pray about your friendships and your family’s friendships.

The T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

Thank God for the way He’s worked in your friendships in the past. I have experienced distance in friendships that at first I grieved but now am thankful for. I see God’s protection and grace in these changes. Thank God for your current friendships and thank Him that He will continue to provide you and your family with the friendships you need.

I am thankful for the friendships I have made through this blog! It’s such a blessing to hear from you, to get to know you better, and to have your prayers on my behalf. Please feel free to email me at psychowith6 at gmail.com any time.

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