Tag Archives: a right heart: living it out

camping, complaining, and the condition of our hearts

My husband, our three kiddos, and I went camping in the Adirondacks a couple of weeks ago. It was a really good trip – the kids are at such great ages for it. We saw bugs and toads and deer and even a black bear! Our son had a whole day of man-time with his daddy in a canoe, and I shopped with my girls in the little town nearby and took them swimming in a lake with the mountains in view. But despite all of the good stuff, my middle daughter found something – no, everything – to complain about.

camping, complaining, and the condition of our heartsLet’s see…She complained that the car was too hot. The trip was too long. Having the windows down was too windy. There was a bug in the car. She was hungry. And thirsty. We were going too fast. The roads were too hilly. It was too hot when we arrived at our camp. And there were bugs in the woods. She was hungry and thirsty. She didn’t get the top bunk. She didn’t like the chairs we had. The fire was too smokey. There weren’t enough water bottles. Her water bottle was dirty. She didn’t want to eat chicken. Or hot dogs. Or sandwiches. She couldn’t use the iPad. She couldn’t go to the bathroom alone. The shower was weird. She wanted to stay up later. The slides at the water park we went to were too steep. The water was too cold. She was hungry and thirsty. She wanted a different towel. Our hike was too long, and it was hot outside. We brought the wrong snacks. She wanted to wear different shoes, but without socks. The ride to and from the hike was too long and hilly. The ride back home was too long, and we went too fast. And she was hungry and thirsty.

I almost. Went. Insane. But God really showed me a LOT from enduring all of that complaining.

Complaining can be expressed in a lot of different ways.

Of course when we think of complaining we think of finding faults or problems with things that aren’t really that big of a deal. But that’s not the only way that we tell others that we’re dissatisfied. My husband and I have movie nights sometimes, and when he picks a movie I don’t like I complain by doing something else while I “watch” the movie. I was at a friend’s house recently and when one of the kids didn’t get the swing they wanted, they complained by refusing to play. If someone feels that a co-worker isn’t pulling their weight, they might complain by gossiping about that person. Complaining takes a lot of different forms, and depending on the circumstance we choose which method will be most effective in communicating it and rallying others to our cause.

Complaining communicates a lot of things about who we are.

Complaining is thanklessness. Complaining is an attitude of entitlement and greed. Complaining is lazy. Complaining is arrogant. And complaining communicates a lack of contentment for what God has provided. It tells other people that we think we are the center of the universe – or at least that we think we should be.

There are things about our lives that are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and irritating – and till we get to heaven there’s nothing we can do about that. But WE are responsible for our responses. God has given us power and freedom to view our circumstances the way He wants us to, and at times even to change our circumstances – and it’s up to us to follow through.

Complaining affects the people who hear it.

There are some activities that many Christians hesitate over because they fear leading others into sin – and that’s a good thing. Drinking and entertainment are a couple of hot topics that come to mind when I think of things that might tempt another Christian to sin. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 contain instruction regarding our freedom in Christ, and not allowing our freedoms to cause others to stumble into sin – that is the context that we most often think of causing others to stumble. Sadly, I never – NEVER – considered that complaining might make others more likely to sin. But it does. Mark 9:42 shows us how seriously God takes the matter: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” Wow.

Over my week of camping with my glass-half-empty daughter, I responded to her complaining in a variety of ways – some good and some bad. The good mom and Jesus follower in me answered patiently, and disciplined in love. But at other times, I lost my temper, I was sarcastic, I complained about something myself, I gossiped, or I distanced myself in an unloving way. I take ownership for every one of those responses. But what I realized was that when I complain, others are tempted to respond poorly – just like I was. When we complain, we may be causing others to stumble into their own sin in more ways than one. And as for those who are not saved, complaining will keep them from seeing Christ in us. 

Complaining is a condition of the heart.

Complaining is more than just a statement about something we don’t like – it’s a condition of the heart. God is our provider, and the Bible tells us that He will always give us what we need (Luke 12:22-34). So we don’t need more than what He provides for us! Philippians 2:14-15 tells us that we should do all things without complaining so that we can be a light in a dark world…so that we can be set apart…and set apart is what it means to be HOLY! In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul says that he had learned to be content in any and every circumstance, and that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him – I can only imagine how difficult it was sometimes to be content in jail as he was, and persecuted as he was.  But the same power that rested on Paul rests on us…The same God that empowered Paul empowers us…The same Jesus that saved Paul saved us. And Jesus is enough. Always. If our hearts truly believe that He is enough, we will find nothing to complain about.

My family survived our camping trip, and I’m really glad we went. The same daughter who complained about so much is also the one who is fearless to try new things, who is crazy fun to be around, and who loves to sing songs about Jesus. I feel like God allowed me to catch just a glimpse of what He sees in our hearts when we complain. My prayer is that He will teach me, and all of us, to live a life overflowing with thankfulness toward Him for all that He has graciously given to us.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]With a grateful heart, Melissa[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Time is running out! Enter our July Giveaway NOW!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we have published in July, Colette has added ONE MORE of her FAVORITE THINGS to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
a lilac scented Yankee Candle,
and a beautiful salad tong set from anthropologie!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!

1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!! The giveaway ends this week!!!
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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by stillwellmike http://flickr.com/photos/stillwellmike/9539948576 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

broken arms and broken people

Colette @ awriteheart.comI sat near a group of boys who were watching an internet video of a compilation of people whose bones were being broken. Cell phones had captured footage of athletes, skateboarders, goof-offs, and casual arm wrestlers, each one in excruciating pain. The boys watching were mesmerized by the awful sights. They replayed each incident over and over because the brokenness was shocking. I looked at the video and watched a couple of the nauseating accidents. The injured would see their broken limb, scream and turn away in terror. It actually brought tears to my eyes to watch. I noticed that just about two and a half million people had viewed that particular video. People have a hard time taking their eyes off of brokenness.

This is kind of how I felt reading the news this morning. Broken people giving solutions to broken politics, broken men and women changing their identity, broken people wounding and killing parishioners as they sit in church, broken souls enclosed in broken flesh literally arguing that wrong is right and right is wrong. The last one I read before I slammed the lid of my laptop was about people selling the body parts of aborted babies. Brokenness is defined as “something or someone that is fractured and damaged, no longer in one piece or in working order.” Yep, that about sums up our world.

As Jesus stood and looked over the city of Jerusalem, the Bible says that he wept (Luke 19:41). This word, wept, in its greek translation means more than just sadness. It means that he grieved with his entire being as He looked on the brokenness of those that he came to heal. I wonder what would happen if we grabbed the heart of Jesus for the brokenness of our world. Not anger or hatred…but true grief over brokenness.

In the middle of brokenness we must…

Remember why we are here.

Isaiah 61:6 reminds us that we are called the Priests of the Lord and Ministers of the most High God. We, who were broken and made whole, are given the privilege of tending to the needs of the lost and hurting. We are commanded to bind up broken hearts, to wrap tightly and bandage their wounds.  When we show kindness and love to those who are broken, when we genuinely point them to Jesus, when we cry with them and hold them while they weep…we are binding and wrapping tightly. So often we can only see the ugliness of peoples brokenness and are repelled by it. Instead we must remember that behind the brokenness is a heart and a soul that needs healing and freedom. Needs Jesus.

Remember to proclaim freedom to those who are bound.

We do that by demonstrating it in our lives…in our walk and sincere talk. Many people don’t even know that they need healing. And if they do know it they don’t understand the way to freedom.  But offering hope, not condemnation, will cause them to grab the key to freedom, which is Jesus. Recently a man came into my office and asked “what is it about you Christians? My chiropractor is a Christian, my doctor is a Christian and then you. You are all so happy. What is that all about??” Living out a demonstration of our joy in the Lord is proclaiming freedom in Christ. Isaiah 61:10 says it so amazingly “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he that clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”  Everyone notices when people walk around in their wedding garments and Isaiah reminds us that our JOY in the Lord should stand out like this.

Remember to  keep our eyes on Jesus.

If we dwell on brokenness..our past brokenness, others brokenness or this world and its brokenness…we will be overtaken with grief and hopelessness. Through Christ there is healing, hope, life, newness, freedom, joy and complete salvation. Looking at brokenness reminds us of what we are saved from and we must look at it with great joy that the Messiah has come to deliver mankind from the mess of sin. When you look at the sun setting each night and rising each morning, remember that he died and rose again so that we might be set free. And just as the sun brings light to this earth, may we remember to mimic our Savior.  Does the lost world look at how we live and do they see us treat people as Christ did when he walked the earth?  He fed them, talked with them, ate with them, healed them and ministered to them.  Lets keep our eyes on the Son…and be reminded to love others like He did.

Remember that He is the healer and the one to be glorified.

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Psalm 124:8.  I love the way this verse reminds us that brokenness is the Creators problem and He is the answer, the help needed and who has a plan to fix it all.  I noticed that each hurting person in the video cried out for help.  “Call 911” or “Call my mom! ”  They called for whoever they knew could help.  Our help really is in God.  Brokenness is ugly and brings with it such terror. With wholeness there is beauty and peace. And yet, God allowed brokenness in order for us to understand wholeness. Which then proclaims His glory. Isaiah 66:5 says “let the Lord be glorified“.  in other words, let him be seen. Show him. Show his goodness and his righteousness. Its all about showing HIM. It amazes me… that a perfect God would take imperfect people in an imperfect world to show Himself. That is incomprehensible, pure grace. Isaiah 66:18 reminds us that one day “…it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory” Yes, its true that every knee will bow and confess him as Lord. Until then, as we face brokenness, lets commit to glorifying the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Remember the Word of God.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  II Chronicles 7:14 We are never told to yell and argue with people over sin.  Gods people are to turn from THEIR OWN wicked ways….. to humble themselves, pray, seek Gods face, turn from their wicked ways, and THEN God will heal the brokeness in our land.

Yes, people have a hard time taking their eyes off brokenness.  But there is good news.   In Isaiah 61:1 it says “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…men shall call you the Ministers of God.  It shocks us because what we are seeing, the brokenness in our world, is pretty unbelievable.  Christian, we can’t allow the despair to consume us.  We must respond to it, not in fear and anger, but in love and kindness, proclaiming the good news of Jesus.  We are commanded to do this!  There will be a day when all will be made right but until then, may God be glorified in our ministering to the brokenness of this world.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Let your light so shine, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got EVEN BETTER!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee,
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner,
and a lilac scented Yankee Candle!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!
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what it takes to be a great leader

Colette @ awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”John Quincy Adams” type=”center”]If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.[/blockquote]I heard bickering and yelling from a group of little children to the left of me.  One of them shouted, “You’re not the boss of me!”  It made me smile thinking how this dance begins early in life. This leader/submission dance. We find ourselves both in leadership and in submission all throughout life. The greater responsibility in getting others to freely submit lies with the leaders behavior. Most leaders go about it all wrong, like the children I observed. They push and pull to get what they want. Leadership is meant to bring order but so often it yields the opposite. 90% of counseling is due to chaos of some sort: children not obeying, marriages failing to live out loving submission to each other and to God, employees and employers in conflict, families in confusion, and on and on.

It doesn’t matter how many people you lead – one or a thousand – these principles from God’s word will make you a great and successful leader, guaranteed.

Great leaders are humble.

[pullquote type=”right”]Pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18[/pullquote]Just yesterday a college professor informed me that the majority of leaders struggle with unhealthy self-centeredness and pride.  I think of Saul and how he started out his leadership. He was humble and submitted to God. Then later in his  leadership journey he turned purely narcissistic, concerned for himself alone. In so doing he lost respect and power. And like all arrogant leaders his end came fast and hard.

Shortly after I received my counseling degree, I was offered a job. As I sat across from my new employer he said sincerely, “What can I do to make you successful? Whatever that is, I want to do that for you”. I have never forgotten that impactful, humble statement…and it was 20 years ago. I learned that a great leader is a humble leader.

Great leaders give.

[pullquote cite=”Jim Rohn” type=”right”]Leadership is action, not position.[/pullquote]For God so loved the world that He gave…The greatest leader of all gave. He poured his love, His kindness, His power, His purpose, His grace, His blessings, His mercy…on US. He gave His Son who gave His life for mankind. It’s easy to submit to God when we truly understand how much He gave. And when leaders do the same, give instead of take, they become GREAT leaders.

I received a card in the mail and inside was a rare $2 bill. It read, “Thank you for being an important part of our staff.  Your unique personality, skill, and dedication add so much to our team.” It was hand written and signed by my employer. It sits in the back of my dresser drawer and although it was 30 years ago,  I still remember. Giving can be in the form of a lot of things….appreciation being one of them. We don’t forget great leaders who give!

Great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Jim George, author” type=”right”]Serving others prepares you to lead others.[/pullquote]John 13:14 says ” If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  The principle of foot washing to the disciples of Jesus was this: Serve others and Jesus will serve you. The most high God, in the form of man, washing dirty feet?  It makes me shake my head in awe. Serving is true leadership. Leaders must not forget that without people there wouldn’t be leadership….and serving them brings natural and willing  submission. God’s way makes me smile…the way up is down, the first shall be last…give and you’ll receive. It may not always make sense but it’s true, great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Alan Woods, author” type=”right”]We all have been called to be foot washers.[/pullquote]My dad, in training for the Pastorate, was given a job to do.  He was asked by his pastor to clean the bathrooms of a school. For free. My dad did that for five straight years. He went week after week and I never heard him complain. After working a full time job, teaching karate, raising a family and going to school full time…He cleaned dirty, smelly toilets. His pastor, Les Hobbins, understood an amazing truth that he knew my dad would need to understand…Great leaders are truly servants.

Great leaders submit to God given authority.

[pullquote cite=”King David” type=”right”]Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me… [/pullquote]Every day of my life I pray King Davids words, Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. We are influenced by many things and can be tempted to loose sight of truth.  So often we don’t even see the intentions and impure motives of our own hearts. It doesn’t surprise me that David, a great leader who had fallen and rose up again, wrote these words. He understood that if he didn’t stay accountable to God, he would surely fall again. He understood that only God can keep our hearts clean and our spirits right.  If man chooses himself as his final authority he will certainly fail. I see clearly through Davids words, that he figured out the importance of submission to Gods authority.

In preparation for teaching, I wanted to understand what it is to be blind. Blind folded, with my husband as guide, we walked the entire mall and the parking lot. I trusted my husband completely because I knew that he could see what I could not.  I learned a lot that day and was able to make spiritual application to all of it. One being this: God sees what we cannot. I have no problem giving myself under the authority of a God who sees and knows all things. It’s the safest place to live out life. Great leaders certainly understand the importance of submitting to God, EL Roy, the Strong One who sees.

Great leaders are trustworthy and loyal.

[pullquote cite=”John Maxwell” type=”right”]Leaders must read the people, then lead the people. They must understand the timing, the people, the situation, and the priorities, then act accordingly. Their action depends upon how they read these factors.[/pullquote]Miriam was a leader in the Bible who had many good qualities. But the reason she was removed from leadership was because she spoke against her brother and was complaining to others. She stirred up trouble by not controlling her words. God, in a great example of wise leadership, took care of the problem by stopping the destructive dissension and removing its source, Miriam herself.

I have found it easy to submit to leaders in my life who are trustworthy, loyal and who speak kindly. And I have watched leaders handle discord and dissension both the right way and the wrong way…which leads me to ask for wisdom continually. The Bible tells us that if we ask God for wisdom he promises to give it to us in abundance. Great leaders need wisdom as much as they need air to breath. And they most certainly need it to be trustworthy & loyal problem solvers.

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power, but love, not force, but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion.  Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve”.  ~John Stott, Christian theologian and ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Let’s all strive to live out GREAT leadership…being humble, giving, trustworthy & loyal servants as we willingly submit ourselves to a Holy God.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Make me a servant, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better – AGAIN!!![/custom_headline]
With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner!

Julyday4

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!
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the heart of friendship

Melissa @ awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”C.S.Lewis” type=”center”]Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
“What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”[/blockquote]

We NEED friends.

The Bible talks a LOT about relationships, and about the needs that we have that only a true friend can provide. God made us for relationship, and right from creation we read about people needing people. Adam and Eve, Moses and Aaron, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, Christ and His disciples, Christ and God the Father…The Bible is full to the top with people who needed other people. Even God desired fellowship with man – a thought I can’t even wrap my mind around – but it just goes to show that we weren’t made to go it alone. I’m naturally introverted, so I gravitate to solitude. Instinctually I want to be alone, and I want to prove my worth by taking on challenges by myself. But God made me to need others, and despite my tendency to make an island of myself it’s important for me not to think that I should do life all on my own. We need each other for so many reasons…For accountability, for companionship, for joy, for sharing heartbreak, for corporate worship, for encouragement, to learn humility, to learn about what insights others have into the heart of God. God gave us friendship for our benefit!

Friendships change because other people change.

[pullquote cite=”C.S. Lewis” type=”right”]“What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.” [/pullquote]Friendships begin under all kinds of circumstances and conditions, and it’s unlikely (if not impossible) for those conditions to always remain the same. A friend who had a particular need at one time will more than likely grow out of that need; a friend who was strong at one time may stumble into a period of weakness; a friend who was always available may become busy and preoccupied with other things – and so on. We know in our HEADS that people change and that their circumstances change, but it’s difficult to swallow when a friendship we value changes. A dear friend of mine always says that there are “seasons” of friendship – even endings of friendships – because all of our lives are in a constant state of flux. Change may not be what WE always want, but so often it’s what a friend needs.

Friendships change because WE change.

Are you different than you were when you were seventeen years old? Of course you are. We all have seasons of life which will dictate our needs, and we tend to seek out friends that can fulfill those needs. It sounds pretty selfish, but we all seek community with those who understand us best. My daughter was in sixth grade this past year, and as far as friends are concerned she did a lot of growing up. She had a group of friends at school, and she ended up deciding that they weren’t people that she wanted or needed to be around – so she kindly started sitting with another group of people and integrated herself into a new group. That’s no small feat for someone her age! It showed me something important – that it CAN be done. Our needs can and will change, and we can kindly engage in new friendships that better fit us – all without animosity and drama.

Some friendships exist not because WE need them, but because someone else does…So we need to consider what God has for us in those relationships. There are friendships that are REALLY messy and inconvenient, but God can show us so much about ourselves and about Him through those friendships. Let’s be careful not to count out the people that are hard work to be friends with…Those might be the people who need us most.

BFFs are few and far between.

To find a friend who understands not only what you’re going through but who you really are is rare and precious. I’ve only had a handful of people over the course of my life who I’d say were “best” friends. They are the ones who I let see me at my worst, the ones who lovingly tell me when I’m wrong, the ones who encourage me to be the woman God wants me to be, and the ones who stand by me during my own seasons of weakness – times when I give nothing back. They are friends who can see how I feel without my having to say anything, and who know what I need before I realize it myself. If you have a true BFF, cherish them and be a great BFF in return!

It takes one to know one.

Good friendships come from two peoples’ involvement, not just one. Granted, there are times when one person or the other will bear more of a load, but overall a friendship needs to be a two way street. It’s easy for us to analyze the quality of friendship based on someone else’s performance, but we can’t forget to evaluate whether we are being good friends ourselves.

Friends will let us down because they’re people.

No matter how good our friends are, they WILL let us down – because they’re human. I’m not saying that we should overlook it when friends consistently treat us poorly, but we should expect some imperfection – and at times let it roll off. The trade off is that we, too, will let our friends down, as well-intentioned as we might be, and those friends will hopefully do the same for us.

Jesus is our ultimate example.

[pullquote cite=”C.S.Lewis” type=”right”]”Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”[/pullquote]One thing that I cherish most about Christ is that He is predictable – always good, always loving, always just, always righteous. No matter how I change, He is the same. He’s reliable, eternal, invested, perfect…PERFECT. His expectations of His friends always remain the same, too – simply obey (John 15:14). That’s a tall order, but I can rest assured that His expectations will never vary.

During His ministry He called Himself a friend to those closest to Him, and He laid down His life for them. Even before He was crucified for the sins of man He laid His life down for those around Him – He was patient, kind, forgiving, generous, self-sacrificing, sympathetic, honest, gentle, loving, and endlessly seeking the souls of others.  He calls us to do the same – to lay our lives down for our friends. THIS is true friendship. John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

[blockquote cite=”C.S.Lewis” type=”center”]“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”[/blockquote]

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Leaning on Jesus, Melissa[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better – AGAIN!!![/custom_headline]With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes Godiva Chocolates, a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie, and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!
[/content_band]
Feature image attribution: flickr photo by Dani_vr http://flickr.com/photos/dani_vazquez/8261614253 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

the amazing things that happen when we are thankful in ALL things

Colette @ awriteheart.com

[blockquote type=”center”]In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18[/blockquote]

I went for a long walk on a beautiful day. Thinking on thankfulness, I wasn’t too sure about the verse above and being thankful in everything. I rephrased it into a question. It’s the will of God to give thanks in all of the circumstances that have to do with me? I had lived a long time believing that God didn’t want me to be thankful for certain things. Things I considered bad, wrong or unfair in my life. I took a deep breath, began walking faster and first thanked God, out loud, for all that was good. Easy!

[pullquote type=”right”]”How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?”[/pullquote]Then I thanked God for what I considered bad in my life. For every heartache I’d felt, for what I didn’t think was fair, for what brought me pain and tears, for any thing…past and present…that had gone wrong. Some situations popped into my head that I didn’t even realize that I was gripping onto with anger and bitterness. Let me tell you how hard that was. It was agonizing. It brought actual physical pain to surrender everything, in thanks, as something that was passed through God’s sovereign hand. I would think of a difficult time and before the words of thanks came out I stopped. I wrestled internally with God and asked Him if I was really suppose to thank Him in that? I continued, “How could you possibly want me to be thankful in something that brought pain…something so ugly!?” I couldn’t stand to even think of it let alone be thankful in it.

I wondered if this is what the Bible meant in Hebrews 13:15 and Psalm 116:17 by a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise – the kind that costs something. Then in my struggling I was reminded of Job. The awful trials that good man endured were terrible. Satan was behind all of them and God allowed it: the destruction, the deaths, the sickness, the heartache, the hurt. He allowed it for so many reasons: to test Jobs faith, to show Himself strong, to show Job that God is all he needed, to give us all a living example throughout history about God, His sovereignty and His love for this man who, again in the end, was blessed abundantly.

The same holds true for Joseph. In the end he was thankful in all that had transpired in his life. The abandonment, the mistreatment, the separation from his father…all of it God used for good. The very thing that hurt Joseph became the avenue that God used to bless him. God was the faithful One in his life and He elevated Joseph to places of leadership. Then one day Joseph had a decision to make: would he curse his brothers and repay evil for evil? He didn’t. Instead he wept and embraced his brothers with sincere forgiveness. GOD was the hero of Job’s story. And GOD was the hero of Joseph’s story.

That day as I walked I told God that I want him to be the hero of my story as well. I thanked Him IN it all and because of that I was then able to be sincerely thankful FOR it all. I released all thanksgiving to Him. I thanked a sovereign God for allowing even the most difficult things in my life. I realized that he allows them for my good and for his deserved glory.   Had I never experienced difficulty, how would I understand in the sufferings of others?  Of Christ?  How would I be able to teach and understand forgiveness had I not been faced with situations that needed both my forgiveness and my need for forgiveness?

[pullquote type=”left”]Nothing compares to the cross. [/pullquote]Towards the end of my walk, I thought of the cross. For many years I have said and sang songs of thanks for the cross. The place where the most atrocious thing happened. Where God, who came in the form of Jesus, was hung and beaten and paid the price for all sin. Giving thanks in that? Had it not been for the cross and Christ’s crucifixion, that awful and precious act, we would be lost forever. God has a plan and a purpose for all things. All things. Nothing compares to the cross. Not any hurt or sorrow that I have or ever will have compares to the heartache of the cross. How thankful I am for the horrible, beautiful cross!

Amazing things happen when we are thankful in ALL things!

  • Our perspective changes and we can safely trust a sovereign God whose greatest characteristic is love. We no longer need to harbor bitterness, blame or anger because we know that God has a bigger and better plan…..for pure good and His glory.
  • There is a miraculous shift in the deepest part of our heart.
  • We are set free from burdens that we are not suppose to bear.
  • The cross becomes more and more our center.

I encourage everyone to spend time in thanksgiving to God for ALL things, the good and the bad…because nothing is wasted in His hands. I have watched many brokenhearted people do this. It’s one of the most difficult, emotionally draining commands given. But also one of the greatest and deepest healing things a person can do.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good…” Psalm 100:4 That we can enter in at all is unfathomable – THIS is the amazing grace of God. For this grace and for all things I am truly thankful!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Give thanks with a grateful heart, Colette[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Our July Giveaway Just Got Better![/custom_headline]With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes Godiva Chocolates, and a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie – Colette’s favorite store!

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!

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six things we must remember in an argument

Melissa @ awriteheart.comSince last week’s Supreme Court decision about gay marriage, I’ve read and heard a LOT of debate…Unfortunately the vast majority of those discussions ended poorly or without resolution. As I’ve continued to read and listen to these dialogues, a few thoughts have come to mind that I believe we must remember when arguing or debating with someone. Whether it’s an online discussion or an argument with our spouse, remembering these principles can help us keep the peace even when we can’t agree.

Your “opponent” actually believes what they’re saying.

The person who is so adamantly opposed to your viewpoint, whether that’s your husband or some online stranger who thinks your opinion is too extreme, really truly believes what they are expressing to you. They believe it with the same passion and vigor that you have for your own opinion. We tend to think that those with opposing views haven’t thought out their opinions, and are just argumentative people looking for a fight – and sometimes that IS the case. But most people hold their opinions for a reason, and can substantiate why they think and feel the way they do. They aren’t unintelligent, they aren’t necessarily uninformed, they aren’t crazy, and most of the time they aren’t intentionally trying to oppress anyone…They just happen to disagree.

There may be angles that you haven’t explored – and that’s ok.

In any argument, we all are hesitant to admit when we’re unprepared or can’t defend ourselves…but in truth, everyone is unprepared for what could be said. It isn’t always the worst thing to tell a person that you don’t know the answer to a question, or that they brought up a good point that you never considered. Conversations can be continued after you’ve done more research, or after you’ve thoughtfully considered new points of view. Being defensive about someone’s thoughtful conclusions won’t win anyone over – so in humility, be willing to concede that you haven’t thought of everything.

People can believe whatever they want – and that’s a good thing.

This is America, right? Unless you’re reading from a place that doesn’t allow citizens the freedom to speak and believe what they want, no one is obligated to believe as you do – and that is something to be thankful for. God gave us freedom to choose, right from the time that He created us, and we can’t take that freedom from others. As well-intentioned as we might be trying to “convert” people to what we believe is the right way of thinking, it isn’t our job to change anyone’s mind or heart.

Listening well goes a long way.

5 things to remember in an argumentThink about the last time you had a heated discussion with someone. While the other person was talking or writing, were you thinking about the next thing you were going to say? So many times, our lack of willingness to stop and listen prevents us from  hearing where another person is coming from, and all we do is reiterate our own opinions over and over instead of having a real dialogue. Understanding someone’s point of view is valuable even if you don’t agree with it, and the person on the other end of the debate will be more likely to feel as though you respect them if you conscientiously listen to and acknowledge their side.

Social media and texting are not ideal for having an actual conversation.

How many times can I say this…Social media and texting are not ideal for having an actual conversation! Humor, sarcasm, compassion, kindness, sadness – all of those are difficult to convey by written word, and it’s easy to misread someone’s tone or miscommunicate your own thoughts and feelings. Too short a response can be read as aggressive…No response can be read as passive-aggressive…Too long a response can be read as controlling…Too long between responses can be read as uncaring…Too many responses can be read as overbearing. We make some pretty sweeping assumptions based on how and when others respond. So be careful debating or arguing online or over text massages…And if possible, just take the person out for coffee and talk it out.

Love for God and for others is your obligation, even if the conflict remains unresolved.

My pastor mentioned something this past week that really stuck with me – we aren’t supposed to be a balance of grace and truth…We as Christians are supposed to be FULL of grace and FULL of truth. That’s how the Bible describes Jesus in John 1:14 – He was 100% grace, and 100% truth. So no matter what the argument is about, be like Christ when you write and talk to others about things you disagree on. Rarely did Jesus exhibit anger toward others – and when He did, it was because of hypocrisy or oppression of those in need. He also never chased anyone down to make sure they did what they were supposed to. He told them the truth in love, and then allowed them to make their own life choices. Following His lead takes the pressure off of us, and leaves it to the Holy Spirit to change someone’s heart…And that’s how it should be.

Arguments and debates are often unavoidable, but we can take steps to work toward a peaceful ending. It’s possible to disagree while maintaining a positive tone. Romans 12:9-12 calls us to do our best to live at peace, and with God’s help we can!

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]In His perfect peace, Melissa[/custom_headline]

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/48352229_caf6c84ceb_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]Colette’s July Giveaway Will Just Keep Getting Better![/custom_headline]

With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! The first thing in Colette’s basket is…GODIVA CHOCOLATES! Read our next post to see what she’ll add next!
colettesbasketday1

There are THREE WAYS TO ENTER!!!
1. Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of July – click HERE!
2. Follow us Instagram – click HERE!
3. Tag a friend on our Facebook wall and encourage them to follow, like, or subscribe – click HERE!

You CAN be entered more than once! SUBSCRIBE, FOLLOW, and TAG NOW!!!

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Featured image attribution: flickr photo by pj_vanf http://flickr.com/photos/vanf/6124579928 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

is yelling at your kids really that bad? part 2

Colette @ awriteheart.comAs an anger management counselor, I have worked with parents who are different in many ways. But similar in the fact that they all love their children, want what is best for them and want them to succeed in life.  However, they could all say the same words as author Julie Ann Barnhill when she writes,  “In fits of uncontrolled anger I have acted and spoken harshly and irresponsibly toward my children and have thought even worse. In the midst of parental rage I have tried to justify what I called ‘discipline’ when in reality I had crossed a shameful unspoken boundary.

In my experience, parents who yell in anger focus only on fixing their children.   I hear them say things like, ” If my kids would do what they are told and what’s expected, if they would clean their rooms and stop fighting with siblings….then I wouldn’t get angry.”   Dealing appropriately with issues such as obedience IS important,  but I strongly believe that parents must fix themselves and manage their anger before they will succeed in changing their children’s behavior.  (Proverbs 25:28)  It’s interesting to me that most abusive and angry parents blame others for their anger and behavior.  But again, the answer lies in managing themselves first and then successfully correcting the normal or strong willed, disobedient, disorganized and/or challenging child.

Parents who yell in anger at their children identify with one or more of the 10 types of parents below:

The frustrated parent

The frustrated parentFrustration is a result of unresolved issues.  A frustrated parent often has more than one problem that needs solving and dealing with children is only one of them.  I suggest to clients that it’s helpful to list  frustrations and stresses and then work on resolving them one issue at a time. Getting someone to help with solutions may also be beneficial.  Not all problems can be erased, but all can be worked on. Suggested reading: Frustration – From Source to Solution: Beating Emotional Cancer by Adrian Brown.

The militant parent

This parent demands absolute and prompt obedience.  Often what they desire is right but their content gets lost in their delivery.  Many times they are more concerned with  behavior and obedience than with relationship. They tend to see immediate obedience as being separate from relationship.  That may be true in settings such as the military, but unfortunately, it isn’t separate when it comes to the parent-child relationship.  Rules without relationship equal rebellion.  Often militant parents are impatient and approach discipline as “my way or the highway”.  Unfortunately, they fail to see their child as an individual with feelings and emotions, but in relationship these two things matter a great deal.  I encourage a strong understanding of Emotional Intelligence with the militant parent.  Suggested Reading: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart to Heart Connection by Danny Silk.

The forgetful parent

This parent forgets two things:  they forget that they are dealing with children who are not mature in their thinking, who need help with problem solving, who are usually acting their age, and who need hours of consistent training to become successful, responsible adults. Secondly, they forget to praise the good behavior of their children.  Often, the forgetful parent overreacts to negative behavior and overlooks positive behavior. Suggested reading: Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.

The tired parent

The Tired ParentThe tired parent is just too tired to invest in the demands of proper training and discipline of their children. It takes a lot of energy to parent well.  I sit with many parents, problem-solving the underlying issue of being tired.  Sometimes the problem is easily solved…Get more sleep and cut back on nonessential busy-ness. Other times the problem isn’t as easily solved.  Single parents and those who work demanding jobs find it exceptionally hard to find down time.  These parents must find creative ways to rest and get rejuvenated.  Often, it’s a matter of being better organized in order to find the time to rest. Suggested reading: Hope For the Weary Mom by Brooke McGlothin.  Timeout for Tired Moms by Judy Crawford.

The undisciplined parent

This parent finds themselves undisciplined in many areas of their life.  Since they aren’t consistent in self-discipline, they are unable to manage and discipline their children. They resort to yelling in anger because it is the easiest way to react.  The undisciplined parent lacks structure. They may run late for appointments and then demand that everyone else hurry. The solution may be as easy as getting up earlier, making lunches the night before, and planning ahead.  Time management would solve a lot of frustration for the undisciplined parent.  I suggest planning personal schedules with a daytimer. Suggested reading:  Developing Discipline and Self Control by Joyce Meyers.

The powerless parent

This parent may be a passive person who lost control of their children early in childrearing. They give up because they see no way to improve their situation, and they allow the kids to make the rules.  It is important for every parent to lead by example and by consistent training – when children have no one to lead them they make up their own rules based on survival skills. They need parents who are strong in convictions, morals and beliefs.   Suggested reading:  You Can’t Make Me by Cynthia Tobias,  Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.

The re-creating parent

This parent tends to subconsciously re-create the dysfunctions from their own childhood.  For instance, their parent was a yeller and even though they didn’t like being yelled at, they now yell at their child.  It’s what was instilled in them and then it’s  just easier to do what comes naturally.  I encourage these parents to work hard at breaking the cycle of generational dysfunction – it is possible! Suggested reading: Making Peace With Your Past by Tim sledge,  Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands,  The Sacred Romance by John Eldridge.

The unhealthy parent

The Unhealthy ParentThe unhealthy parent can’t effectively meet the demands of positive and productive child rearing. I suggest that all of my clients get a complete physical to rule out any health reasons that may be contributing to their anger. Many test results have come back with problems of thyroid, hormones, blood sugar or blood pressure.  Once  health problems are corrected, people are then able to properly respond to situations in their demanding lives.  It’s also important to eat right and exercise in order to be a strong and healthy person. There may be other areas in which a parent is unhealthy: addictions, substance abuse, emotional disorders or mental health issues. Whatever it is that is causing a parent to be unhealthy must be dealt with and managed. Suggested reading: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: Bad Habits and Addictions by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend,  TouchPoints for Recovery by Ronald Beers and Amy Mason.

The angry parent

This parent has internal anger that is not being addressed and resolved. Internal anger is due to something from the past or present and has turned into bitternness. Bitterness, the Bible says, defileth a man.  This type of anger can stay dormant for a long time, but it always surfaces. It either turns inward and shows itself as depression…or it turns outward and it shows as explosive, mean and or short-fused reactions towards things, animals or people. Suggested reading: Anger Controlled Parenting by Vivian Lamphear and Sherry Marlar,  When Anger Hurts Your Kids: A Parent’s Guide by Matthew McKay Phd and Kim Paleg, Phd. Suggested action: Find a safe place to talk where anger can be exposed and dealt with, preferably with a Christian counselor or psychologist.

The spiritually weak parent

The spiritually weak parent will struggle in all aspects of life and especially in childrearing.  It’s best to look at the opposite approach in order to understand what a spiritually weak parent is not.  The spiritually strong parent, one who knows Jesus as Savior and continually grows in Christ, makes a happier and more stable parent.  They follow the handbook of life, the Bible, and are given grace to accomplish what they are called to do as leaders.  Their greatest example of parenting is pictured through God the Father. Following His example of unconditional love, patience, and correct discipline is by far the most excellent path to follow. Suggested reading: Done by Cary Schmidt, The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot.

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Melissa @ awriteheart.comRight now I have three kids at home, and on any given day I can fit into any one of the categories listed above. Yesterday morning I was militant, today I’m tired, and because of an event later in the week I know I’ll tend to be frustrated and stressed. I used to fit into MORE of these categories MORE of the time, and my kids behaved no better. By seeking God about my relationships with my kids and by truly seeking to act more like Jesus myself, I can see changes in how I behave AND in how my kids behave. YES they need discipline, and a lot of it! But discipline motivated by love for a child and by obedience to the Lord will be more successful than discipline motivated by anger.

Happy Kid!None of us will ever be perfect parents, but be encouraged! Your kids are resilient, your kids LOVE YOU, and they WILL forgive you! Mine forgive me all the time! If you messed up today, repent and ask for forgiveness – from God and from your kids. Ask the Lord for a better tomorrow, and believe that He can do a work in your heart.  The Lord CAN change the relationships you have with your kids!

 

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Yes, yelling at your kids in anger is really that bad.  But it ‘s a new day!  We encourage you to be the best parent you can possibly be.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Change our hearts O Lord, Colette & Melissa[/custom_headline]

Read Part 1 of “Is Yelling at Your Kids Really That Bad?” HERE

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Subscribe to our email newsletter TODAY, July 1st, and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from Kate Foster! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just click HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to subscribe – the more the merrier!

giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes a Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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how to beat the odds, one win at a time

Colette @ awriteheart.comI wish I knew how long the baby had been crying. I’ve been told that after a day or two the neighbors in the apartment building called the police because of the non-stop crying. When help arrived they found him and eventually put the pieces together:  A ten month old baby boy had been abandoned. After his troubled, teen parents fought, they left each other, left him and separately left the state. After five years the boy was reunited with his mother who had remarried an alcoholic man who was mean and abusive. Screaming, yelling, name calling and fighting became the norm in their home. This boy (my dad) grew up, married, had three children and began the cycle of horrible dysfunction all over again. Until, in his 20’s, he knew he must change. For the sake of everyone that he loved and for himself, he knew that he had no other choice but to change. And that’s exactly what he did.

a secret to successMy dad is now 74 and has lived a successful life in every way. He became a strong marine, a wise leader, a compassionate preacher, a black belt in karate, an amazing long distance runner and a terrific golfer. Most importantly, he became a wonderful husband and the best dad a girl could ask for. How does someone change dysfunctional behavior? How does someone with raging anger and a violent temper stop acting the only way they have ever known? How does someone succeed in life when so many odds are stacked against them?

When I asked my dad how he achieved success in life, this is what he said:

“Success isn’t measured by failures and disappointments.  Success is measured by achievement in spite of, and even because of, failures and disappointments. I never stopped learning from difficulty but instead, used them to motivate me. When I understood that I was made for more and that God had a purpose for my life, it changed everything. I never stopped working to be what God had planned for me to be. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have and what was unfair, I focused on what I was thankful for and how good God is. I saw the hand and grace of God in every step and through every season of my life. There were many times when I thought about giving up but I didn’t”.

With a twinkle in his eye he continued, “I just never gave up!”

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Melissa @ awriteheart.comSuccess never comes easy. We have reached the 3 month anniversary of awriteheart blog – which happens to be right about when statistics say that we should be signing off for good. 99% of blogs fail in three months, and Colette and I knew the failure rate when we started. When the idea was conceived, we had GREAT plans for this AMAZING blog, and we were SURE it would succeed because we believed that God was in it. What we didn’t know was that lasting 90 days, being committed for even that seemingly short time, would take more perseverance, prayer, encouragement, and positive thinking than we realized.

Our struggles have been different…I struggle with understanding the website and its language, and I struggle a LOT with time management . I struggle with my ego and my competitiveness when I watch the stats. I struggle with writer’s block, and with finding my voice…Wow, have I struggled with that. There was a week or two when I just couldn’t finish a post and Colette had to fill in for me, which was really humbling for me.  Colette talked me through plenty of days when I felt like the fifth wheel. She encouraged me by reminding me of texts and comments we had received from readers, and of personal accounts they had shared. She showed me that there is purpose in what we are doing, and picked me up when I couldn’t see that vision.

Colette struggles to write with excellence – she struggles with expecting perfection in each sentence and each word.  She struggles with feeling let down when she doesn’t see tangible results. She struggles with putting herself out there and making herself vulnerable by sharing personal stories. There were times when I reminded her that this isn’t about perfection and that God uses even the posts that aren’t the most popular. I dug through emails, texts and comments to show her what God had done with things we had written. I encouraged her to share MORE of her personal stories, because they resonate with people.

Along the way we’ve learned to keep going despite the bumps in the road, and to celebrate the wins. We encourage each other to see the good that HAS happened instead of the good that hasn’t. We see progress not in large numbers or great statistics, but in one life story at a time – one right heart at a time.

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20141109-DSC_9603-Edit2In life and in our endeavor of blogging, success never comes easy. In any circumstance, part of success depends on deciding to celebrate the wins instead of focusing on the losses. Any story can seem unsalvageable – but the decision to see purpose in it and the desire to use every part of our lives to glorify our great God makes all the difference. So we are thankful for the difficulties…the crashed computers, the time constraints, the Facebook glitches, the writer’s block, the insecurities, and all of the other struggles that come with writing. Those difficulties have taught us more about ourselves and about the God we serve.

We are so thankful to have reached this three month milestone. We have seen the hand and grace of God in each step of our blogging journey, and because of that we continue with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. We are encouraged by YOU – our readers – because of the successes and insights that you’ve shared with us.  It is because of those wins that we are even more determined never to give up.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]To God Be The Glory, Colette & Melissa[/custom_headline]

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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from Kate Foster! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just click HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to subscribe – the more the merrier!

giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes a Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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three things that social media steals from us

Kate Foster - guest bloggerThere’s this thief I know. Every day I open my doors, lay out the welcome mat and let him waltz into my home. He doesn’t go for my jewelry, look for my laptop or rummage through my drawers. He goes straight for my mind. He binds me up and takes me hostage. He flaunts his successes and parades his achievements. He isn’t purposefully malicious, but he reminds me of my shortcomings and magnifies my flaws. His source of information always seems to be new and fresh. When the day’s done, he releases me and walks out of my house. I turn off the lights, lock the doors, kiss my husband goodnight, and go to sleep. The next morning I wake up, brew some coffee, unlock my doors, and let that thief do his work again. The cycle continues and I welcome it. The thief is my friend. My choice. My daily companion.

The thief is small, I can carry him with me. All day. EVERYDAY. If I was totally honest, in my heart of hearts, I’d admit I don’t think I could live without him. I’m attached no matter how much he distracts me or how small he makes me feel.

This thief that threatens my joy is named social media.

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media. I love drawing inspiration from other photographers and bloggers on Instagram, seeing birth announcements on Facebook, creating dream houses and wardrobes on Pinterest, and catching up with old friends. We are accessible EVERYWHERE. We have tablets, smart phones, laptops and wifi at almost every restaurant, store and work place. You don’t have to search for it. We are always plugged in. Connected. Peering into the life windows of friends and strangers at just the click of a button. Social media is amazing, but if you’re not careful, it can open the door of your mind to thieves. Thieves that steal things a lot more valuable than appliances or jewels. My iphone has been my teacher lately, and here are three things I’ve seen this thief, left unguarded, steal from me.

Joy

Comparison is an acid. It eats away at our self-worth until there’s nothing left. We place ourselves in recliners and press play to the highlight reels of thousands of peoples lives. My feed is full of moms with perfect children, brand new outfits, glorious hair and Pinterest homes. One friend has a husband who surprises her with personalized love notes written in candles nightly, while another always seems to be a step ahead on the corporate ladder. We compare our mundane daily tasks to the live feed of edited and carefully selected photos of the best moments of someone’s life. It’s easy to forget that behind the picture is a life. A person. A person who isn’t untouched by life’s ups and downs. Immersing ourselves into others happiness can set the perfect arena for wallowing in self pity if we aren’t vigilant. Don’t compare someone’s chapter 10 to your chapter 1. Count your blessings instead. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning.

Time

the thief we call social mediaI’m always connected. How many memories, opportunities, and hours have I wasted? Forever gone. I’m embarrassed to even try to calculate it. These are waters I’m still learning to navigate. Time is precious, and social media isn’t evil…it’s a balance. I have seen blogs help mend broken hearts, stay at home moms start their own thriving small businesses, and my life has personally been saved on a daily basis by Pinterest and its mind blowing archives full of recipes. The resource is invaluable. The important thing is to be all there, WHEREVER you are. Live in the moment. The newsfeed will be there tomorrow, but the moments will not.

Confidence

Constantly being connected to hundreds of people and subjecting yourselves to their opinions and advice can have positive and negative effects. Living your life on a stage in front of your peers is something new to this generation. We have never been so accessible, so widespread. When we expose ourselves we can expect people to make mistakes, to say things they don’t think through. We open ourselves up to more opportunities to get hurt and to make thoughtless mistakes ourselves. It’s easy to judge our worth and popularity based on how many “likes” we get or how many “followers” we have. Our sense of self worth is tied up in what others think, and when those expectations aren’t met we can get shaken. We doubt ourselves. It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of people and forget whose opinion matters.

Everything in life comes with a warning label. Even the best things come with the possibility of a negative side effect. Social media is everywhere. We can’t ignore it or run from it. I choose to embrace it. I embrace it knowing its ups and downs. The thief can lose his power over me when I gain an understanding of how he works. I have to know myself. Set guidelines and ask for accountability. This week I had too much. I was feeling inadequate and struggling with my thoughts. I finally just handed my phone to my husband and told him to hide it. I know myself, and know what things trigger me. I am responsible for me and have to know how guard myself. So what are a few things I can do to keep this thief from stealing?

Use social media as a platform for good.

Encourage one another, cheer each other on. You never know who is watching. Make your wall your ministry. Hide friends who focus on negative controversial articles. Choose friends who share truth and speak encouragement over your life. BE ALL THERE. Wherever you are. If you feel yourself getting bogged down, UNPLUG. Put your phone away. Grab a book. Take a walk. In the pages of the Bible, remind yourself who you are and what God thinks you are worth.

I have a journal I keep for when I need a boost. Hope. I call it “Letters from Abba.” Using Scripture, I write notes to myself straight from the heart of my Father. I’d like to share this one with you based on Psalms 42.

My daughter,
Look to me. Sit at my feet. Let me sing over you the song of my goodness. Don’t forget My faithfulness to you throughout your whole life. My protection, guidance, deliverance, blessings; all of it. Your soul thirsts for Me. Good. Seek me. I am here. I haven’t wandered off. When the waves and billows compass you, HOPE IN ME. Quiet your noisy soul. I am in the rain, the fog, the waves, the noise. Hold out your hand and walk towards my voice. I’ve got you. I love you. It is only in Me you can find your worth.Your title and accomplishments don’t matter. Your value comes from the fact that I want you. It has nothing to do with you or what you do. It’s all about Me. Your heart is worth My blood, My life. Don’t let others play with it or abuse it. Guard it. Protect it. I spent my last breath on it. You are loved. You are worth it. You are Mine.
~Abba

Social media is a subject that isn’t new. It isn’t some break through, but it’s where I find myself now. These past few weeks I have been reminded that I have control over who I allow into my mind. I don’t want this thief to be allowed to steal my joy, time and confidence. I want to use this gift to be a blessing to others, and I hope you do too. Never forget, you are more than just a screen name.
[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]@katelynjoyfoster[/custom_headline]

Kate Foster is 23 from Rochester, NY and recently moved to Athens, MI. She is a lover of Jesus, her husband Ethan and dark chocolate. She dabbles in many things but enjoys crafting, decorating, and photography. Visit  Foster Happiness, Kate’s Etsy shop, and Kate Foster Photography to see some of her work!  Also visit her Jamberry site!

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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from our guest blogger, Kate! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just click HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall and encourage them to subscribe – the more the merrier!

giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes a Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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is yelling at your kids really that bad?

Colette @ awriteheart.comShe brought an audio recording. Although it was her husband who had secretly recorded her while he was away at work, it was she who freely pressed play for me to hear. In the recording she was screaming. Screaming at her three young children. Out-of- control screaming, name calling and cursing. As an anger management counselor I have heard many recordings. None of them shock me but they all affect me. Usually they are brought to me from a partner or an older child. They want me to understand what is happening in their home and hope that if someone can hear what they live through, then maybe they can help. Tears streamed down her face and I held back mine as we listened to the screaming that went on and on. I heard babies in the background, the little ones who somehow provoked her to such rage. They were crying and one was begging her to stop. When the recording ended she looked up at me. She was now the one doing the begging. For help.

I have heard so many excuses as to why a parent screams.
I know I shouldn’t scream but I had a bad day“,
“I wasn’t feeling good“,
I am just so stressed out”,
yelling is in my heritage and it’s in my blood”,
the women in our family are screamers”,
the men in our family have always yelled”,
they just got under my last nerve”,
he pressed my buttons”.
Although parents often feel bad for screaming, the excuses make them feel better… justified… and  lessens the guilt.

The Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Training in this verse doesn’t just mean good behavior, it means bad behavior as well.

[custom_headline type=”center” level=”h3″ looks_like=”h3″]Nine major consequences to children when parents scream in anger: [/custom_headline]

They will scream at others .

You are modeling and training your child how to treat others.

They will  live on a roller coaster of their emotions.

is yelling at your kids really that bad?You are showing them how to respond wrongly to emotions, such as frustration, anger, and annoyance, etc.  The most successful people in the world are people who have high emotional intelligence (ability to use emotions intelligently and to read other peoples emotions).  It is said to even rank higher on the scale than IQ.  People who can control their emotions are stable and wise.

They will become poor problem solvers.

You are training your child to scream and yell instead of problem solve whatever the issue at hand is.  One woman stated that she was screaming at her girls to stop screaming at each other.  She realized that her screaming was not going to fix the problem.

 They will feel insecure and shamed.

By screaming at your child in anger you are planting shame within them.  It takes hold and produces the fruit of insecurity.

 They will be confused about what real love is and learn to push others away.

When children are shown both love and hate by their parent it causes children to be confused and afraid to trust people.  They also learn quickly how to disconnect from others.  It will negatively affect their future marriages, relationships and general well being.

They will be internally, and often externally, angry and rebellious.

child yellingYelling causes defensive walls to go up and deposits seeds of resentment into a childs heart.  Many times children who grow up with a yelling parent will  have deep, underlying hatred for that parent; anger will be returned.  It will negatively affect the parent/child relationship 100% of the time.

 They will learn to sin towards others.

The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. The anger itself is NOT the sin. Yet, many fail to see that yelling and screaming at another person in anger is sin.

They will be fearful and struggle with the proper view of God.

The parent-child relationship is suppose to be used as a positive picture to show the relationship between Abba Father and the child of God.  Children who are raised with stable, kind, loving, fair disciplinarians rarely struggle with God the Father and His characteristics.

They will feel unsafe.

Yelling parents are not safe and good relationship takes consistent safety.

I heard a man say recently “That boy deserves to be screamed at!” My blood boiled. Oh, is that right Mr. Foolish man? Yes, a child needs to be properly disciplined and trained. Yes, a child needs to be sternly corrected. But a child should never be screamed at in anger. Part of the definition of abuse is: language that condemns or vilifies (shouting, use of foul or abusive language towards another) usually unjustly, intemperately and angrily. So according to the dictionary, yelling in anger at your child is abuse.

A highschool guidance counselor, after hearing me speak on this subject, said that he is guilty of screaming at his own kids in anger. He said “ I don’t have any intention of stopping. My kids better just do what I say or else!”.   Why in the world would anyone ever think that this is good, productive parenting? It’s true that you may get your child to obey out of fear, but you will lose their heart. And when you lose their heart, you lose relationship.  You lose influence.  You lose them.  You lose, period.

Save your yelling for positive parenting – before your child runs into the road or falls into deep water. Use your yelling voice to get your child’s attention and for his safety instead of a way to explode your frustrations, thus giving way to their dysfunction.  I wonder….What if you were being secretly recorded while disciplining your child? Would you allow someone else to yell at your kids the way you do?  What if your authority yelled at you the way that you yell at your kids?

Is yelling at your kids really that bad?  YES.  I have worked closely with angry people and their families for 16 years and my answer again is “yes”.  I have seen many people change when they understand the seriousness of their behavior , when consequences are explained to them and when they realize that screaming is a choice.

Parents, do what it takes to positively train and effectively communicate with your children. The choice is yours!

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be” –Thomas A’Kempis

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Take my lips and let them be consecrated Lord to thee,  Colette[/custom_headline]

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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just contact us HERE and we’ll do the work for you!

If you’ve already subscribed, enter by tagging a friend under any post on our Facebook wall @ https://www.facebook.com/awriteheart and encourage them to subscribe!

giftbasketkateThis gift basket includes a “Foster Happiness” designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

Sign up today!

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