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Entries in Patience (6)

Tuesday
Mar132018

Waiting Well

Wise and winsome Nali Hilderman calls Christian singles to seek and live for the Lord, but her words have often spoken to my own heart as a married woman. In this UPGRADE post for Single Christians, she once again calls all of us to consider life from a biblical perspective.

"Like most people," Nali says, "I really do not like to wait—I don’t like long lines, I don’t like sitting at the airport for a flight or in traffic. I get antsy and oftentimes anxious for things I cannot control."

I (Dawn) DO hate to wait. Waiting is "a waste of time," I say—except when God has us in a waiting pattern for His purposes. Nali reminds us of some lessons the Lord might teach us in this schoolroom of waiting.

Nali continues . . .

I’ll be honest and say I have an especially hard time waiting on God. 

When I wait for other things, I can at least cognitively understand the situation: there are 10 people ahead of me and as one leaves, then I move up. 

There are 25 minutes until my flight takes off, so I can manage that. 

But with God, it often seems like those cognitive “markers” are elusive, and waiting proves angstful and difficult.  This is especially true if, like me, we are waiting on God for a relationship, especially one that will lead to marriage. 

However, God has not left us in the dark regarding this; and I want to offer us some advice on how to WAIT WELL—to give some “cognitive markers” to hang on to in the midst of our waiting.

1. Remember You are in Good Company

Not only are lots of other people waiting on God right now, but the scriptures are filled with countless people who had to wait on God. 

Most of the heroes of the faith—the patriarchs, the kings, the Jewish nation—all had to wait years for God to fulfill the promises He had given them.

Read their stories and be reminded of how they waited (some well, and others, not so well). Visit Hebrews 11 for an overview of many of them, and note especially that some died before they received God’s Promise, yet they did not waiver in their faith that God would provide. What faith!

2. Remember It’s about the Journey, Not the Destination.

More than anything, God desires relationship with us.

Often God's provisions and withholdings are meant to draw us into deeper fellowship with Him. 

I once went through a whirlwind relationship and was convinced God had finally provided a husband for me. I was left in tatters after the relationship ended.

Only through a deep wrestling with God did I discover Him saying, "

This was never about the guy; this was about my relationship with you!”

That led me to an intimacy with God I never knew was possible. Romans 8 says God works in all things. Why? So we may know Him and be conformed into the image of His Son (vv.  28-29).

3. Get busy!

Follow the examples of those in the Bible who waited on God. Though there are some negative examples, most carried on while waiting, and God used that time for what was to come. 

David was a young man when he was anointed King of Israel, but it was a few decades before that promise was fulfilled. In that time, he fought lions and bears, killed Goliath, served another king—who taught him what he was not to do—and walked with God (I Samuel 16-242 Samuel 1-2). 

4. Trust God and His Timing.

The hardest part about waiting is feeling out of control in our circumstances, yet time and time again scripture provides examples of how God is in the most minute details to get His children right where He wants them in order to provide. 

My favorite story of this is the children of Israel in Exodus. They had left slavery in Egypt under miraculous means, only to begin wandering in the desert. The Bible says God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, though it was shorter, but took them to the Red Sea and had them camp there! 

We know what happened next. The Egyptian army came to kill them, yet God miraculously provided AGAIN for their rescue. 

Notice the key point: 

God took them to the exact place where He would prove his power and protection, even though it seemed to make no sense to the Israelites (Exodus 13:17-18).

Dear friends, are you in a season of waiting on God for a relationship or for anything else?  Which of these four markers is most challenging for you? How can you actively pursue one of these this week as you learn to Wait Well? 

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history and political science at San Diego Christian College. She also is currently the Acting Chair for the Leadership and Justice Department. She writes on the connection between Christianity and the public square, both historically and in the present.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of AD Images, Pixabay.

Tuesday
Dec012015

Margin for Error

Deborah DeArmond writes, from experience, about the ups and downs in relationships. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she reminds us to treat each other with exceptional grace.

“Marriage settles over the years. Kind of like the sugar in the bottom of the tea glass,” Deb says. “It's still there and just as sweet as it's always been. But unless we stir it up a bit, we lose some of the flavor.”

I (Dawn) love this picture of sugar in tea, especially as it applies to marriage. The Bible tells us to “stir up” each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), and marriage is certainly a place where this is true. But it all begins with true fellowship and grace.

Deb continues . . .

My husband and I recently completed what may be the most significant collaboration of our marriage, with the exception of producing our sons. We’ve written a book together. Two heads, two hearts, but only one set of hands on the keyboards. It’s only practical.

The topic? Marital conflict. And I assure you we’ve personally tested every idea in the book. We did it while writing the book.

We’re incredibly qualified to author this work; we’ve been disagreeing for years. Forty-plus, to be exact. We’re both strongly opinioned, and not hesitant to share our thoughts—intensely, at times. But at least neither can say, “I didn’t know you felt that way.”

Those intense moments of fellowship, however, have not dimmed the intensity of our love. It’s as fierce as it’s ever been.

Recently, however, during one of those “he said, she said” conversations, I stopped to consider whether it was time to cut one another a break.

The issue was insignificant, a matter of principle. Or so I thought. The Lord encouraged me to examine which “principle” had placed me on my high horse. “Was it love?” His Spirit inquired. “Patience? Selflessness or humility?

Um. No. It was the I’m right, I know I’m right, so just admit it, principle. It’s not in the love chapter. Or the Beatitudes. Or anywhere biblical.  I looked. Ugh.

Then God threw me a lifeline.

“Create a margin of error for one another.”

What does that mean? Isn’t it a financial term? Math is my third language, so I looked it up. Here’s the definition:

Margin for error:

  1. An extra amount of something, such as time or money, which you allow because there might be a mistake in your calculations.
  2. A small amount that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.

 An extra amount of something? Like humility, patience or love, perhaps? Or what about mercy?

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7)

In case of a change of circumstances? Isn’t that our address these days? At the corner of empty nest and why don’t you listen to me anymore? 

So how do we fix it?

How do we inject kindness, patience, and mercy into our interactions?

Create a margin for error.

  • Accept there is a possibility: you said it and I didn't hear you.
  • Abdicate the need to be right; send the high horse out to pasture.
  • Create a margin of extra love to smooth the path.

Some tips to create that margin.

1. Face-to-face communication. Ditch the drive by interaction with ten assorted and unrelated topics on your way out the door or while he’s watching football. Eye contact makes a difference.

2. Write it down. I’m a list maker. If it’s on the list, it gets done. Science confirms our recall is better if we use both head and hand. We get it.

Plus there’s a written record in the event you need evidence in court, “I’m sorry, your honor, I had to put him in time out. Dry cleaning was definitely on his list!”

3. Check for understanding. Confirm you both heard and understood the details in the same way.

“We’re leaving for the airport by 4:30 pm, right? You’re comfortable with that?”

4. Let. It. Go. It’s not my gift.

Ron once said to me, “It’s not enough that I eventually just agree with you. You want me to believe you are right!” Why is that a problem? I mean, I was right, right? So he should acknowledge it. Don’t you agree?

And then I hear the Holy Spirit, tapping His toe. I got it.

Another definition defines margin as a place of safety or something that makes a particular thing possible. Like loving one another, fiercely, all the days the good Lord gives us with fewer bumps and scrapes. Or scraps.

Which of the tips for creating margin would help your relationship today?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her bookRelated by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between moms and the girls who marry their sons, and her new bookI Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb and her husband, Ron, live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

 

Monday
Mar162015

Anger Expert or Patience Pro?

Kathy Collard Miller is an author and speaker who encourages women to trust God. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she helps us trust the Lord with an attitude that can be destructive:  Anger! 

“Why do I keep getting angry?" Kathy said. "I want to be patient, but life and people are aggravating."

I (Dawn) used to think anger was other people's problem. I didn't have a problem losing my temper.

But if we have an undercurrent of anger, it can burst forth in other problems like bitterness, an unforgiving spirit or even something as simple as avoiding people.

Kathy continues . . . 

Life and people are aggravating. We pray for patience, but as someone has said, “Don’t pray for patience; God will give you many opportunities to practice.”

That was certainly true for me.

For many years, I was an anger expert. It was my “go-to” response. I prayed for deliverance but I still was destructively angry. In moments of temptation, I felt helpless and believed I didn’t have a choice.

But the truth is, anger is a choice.

Holding ourselves responsible rather than excusing our destructive reaction will lay a foundation for slowing down our reactions and allowing God to show us alternatives.

How can we “slow down”? When life (or someone) throws something aggravating at us, we need to literally take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?”

Here are three causes of anger that you can consider in that moment.

1. Anger comes from having a goal blocked.

When we desire a certain thing and someone does something or says something that blocks that desire, we react in frustration. Unfortunately, this only means that that “certain thing” has become more important than God. We are choosing a destructive reaction to make sure we receive what we think we need and we’re not trusting that God can provide it for us.

We don’t have to force anything to happen when we truly believe God will provide what we need. He promises in Philippians 4:19:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there something I value that I think is being withheld? If so, can I choose to trust that God will provide what’s best for me according to His plan?”

2. Anger’s source could be a fear of being seen a certain negative way.

Since childhood, I’ve been very sensitive to not appearing stupid. That seems horrible to me. So when someone treats or responds to me with what seems like a suggestion that I’m stupid or don’t know something, I can become angry.

Why does anger seem like a solution? Because my anger points to something they do wrong and it takes the focus off of my “stupidity.”

Sometimes, my husband, Larry, will sincerely ask me, “What were you thinking when you did that?” What do I “hear”? “You must have been stupid to choose that.” I’m embarrassed and feel shamed. So what do I do? Point the finger back onto him with an angry response by rehearsing some way that he did something wrong. But I can choose differently in God’s power.

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there some way I don’t want to be seen right now?" Regardless of how I’m viewed by others, God views me as His daughter through my inheritance in Christ, as Ephesians 1 says.

3. Anger may erupt from not knowing what else to do.

For instance, when my two-year-old disobeyed me, I felt helpless, not knowing how to respond. But forming a plan beforehand empowered me to have options. I wrote down in a column the primary ways my strong-willed daughter disobeyed me. Then in the opposite column, I wrote out one consequence I could give for each disobedience. I then posted the paper where I could see it. Having options removed my helpless feeling, and my anger.

Of course, we can’t anticipate every situation of life that might come our way, but we can try to plan as much as possible with God’s wisdom.

Then in that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “What options do I have? Lord, enlighten my thinking right now. You promise in James 1:5 to give me wisdom.”

God used an awareness of these three possible causes of anger to transform my responses. I actually did become more patient . . . and wise.

Which of those three sources cause your anger most often and how does God want to use that knowledge to empower you to be more patient?

Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 50 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy’s latest book is Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood) from which this article has been adapted. Check it out at http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy. Visit Kathy's website/blog at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

Thursday
Aug212014

Living in Uncertainty: Waiting on God

Julie Watson is a gifted woman who not only has technical expertise, she also has deep compassion for people who hurt. In this UPGRADE, she encourages us with powerful words about patience.

“Having patience, standing in line, waiting my turn … these are things I learned in kindergarten,” Julie says, “but still didn’t do well ... until now.” 

Watching Julie in her long waiting season has inspired me (Dawn) and taught me to trust God’s timing. But what I value most are the lessons God has taught her.

Julie continues…

I quit praying for patience long ago because I realized every time I did, I’d somehow get stuck behind the slowest drivers known to man!

God is not surprised by my impatience, but for my journey, He gave me something very special to wait for.

Nearly 17 years ago I married the man of my dreams. As most young couples do, we made plans for our future. Children were a part of that plan. However, life throws you curveballs, and mine came in the form of a slow growing type of ovarian cancer. Long story short, having children—natural children, that is—were no longer in our plans.

We were saddened, but not devastated. God had other plans … perfect plans!

Fast forward to Easter week 2013. Adoption was always something we wanted to do once we found out we couldn’t have children. It just took us a LONG time to get there.

When my husband and I separately received confirmation from God that it was time to move forward (on Good Friday of all days) we were READY! And, when I say ready, we literally prayed someone would drop a child onto our doorstep the next day!

Needless to say, adoption doesn’t work like that. We waited… and waited… and waited some more.

Living in uncertainty is never fun. Waiting for something I had wanted for so long stirred a whole range of new emotions, and I learned some things along the way:

1) Don’t ever stop talking to God—keep praying diligently for His will to be done and leave your own will out of it!

2) Don’t stop listening to God—keep reading His Word, be still and allow His truth to penetrate your heart! (Proverbs 4:11-13)

3) Don’t alienate yourself by shutting others outkeep your support team on standby; you’ll need their continuous encouragement and prayer!

4) Don’t hold in the anger, frustration or disappointmentkeep it real and be honest with yourself and God. You can even yell at God; it doesn’t surprise Him and He can take it—plus it might be very cathartic for you!

5) Don’t doubt the path God placed you onkeep your eyes on the prize and persevere! (Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 17:7-8)

6) Don’t stop planning—keep your priorities straight, your routines normal and don’t stop living just because you don’t know when “that something” is coming! (Philippians 4:12-13)

So yes, I hate waiting (even still). But, I now see God’s handiwork in the wait. I know the wait will equip me for the task ahead. And, I know that if I trust God and wait on Him, He will accomplish great things in and through me (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).

Lastly, even while writing this article God revealed to me why I needed to wait for what was coming.

We were about to embark on the hardest journey of our lives and marriage.

We chose to open our home to a sibling set of abused and neglected foster children who needed a ton of love. But what do they need almost as much as love? A mountain-sized amount of PATIENCE (1 Corinthians 13:4a).

Had I not gone through this waiting game, I never would have been ready for the most important job of my life: motherhood.

Are you waiting on God for something? How can you use this time to prepare (physically, emotionally, spiritually) for what’s to come?

Julie Watson has worked with pregnancy care centers over the years and is currently a Grant Writer. She and her husband Shawn are new parents to three beautiful children who have forever changed their lives. The process of becoming foster/adoptive parents was neither painless nor short, but was well worth the wait. They know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and plan to adopt as soon as they are legally allowed.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday
Mar182014

How to Stop Yelling at the Kids

Sheila Wray Gregoire, blogger at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, writes and speaks to strengthen marriages. She addresses marriage and intimacy issues, parenting and homeschooling. When I read her great ideas for moms who “lose it” with their kids,* I knew she’d be perfect for an Upgrade Your Parenting post.

“Question 1: Do you yell at your kids because you’re too busy?” Sheila asks.

Thinking back on my parenting years, I nod my head. Uh, huh—too busy. And Sheila addresses some other common reasons.

She continues …

Most of the time I yell it’s because I’m aggravated. And the reason I’m aggravated is because: (1) I have plans, and things to get done, and (2) other people aren’t getting with the program.

We yell because we think the real issue is #2. But what if it’s actually #1?

In many scenarios, the children are behaving perfectly normally. The problem is not that the children won’t get with the program; it’s that you have made decisions which make it virtually impossible for the children to cooperate.

It’s that what you’re asking them (and what you’re asking of yourself) may very well be unreasonable.

Take a look at the last three times you really yelled at your kids. What was going on? Were you in a hurry? What was your schedule like? Is there something YOU can do differently to prevent getting annoyed with everyone and everything?

Question 2: Do you yell at your kids because you’re afraid of something?

Anger is often a secondary emotion. We often feel anger because it’s “safer” to feel than some of the other emotions—insecurity, fear, guilt. So when someone pushes a button that triggers a “scary” emotion, we often react in anger, sometimes without realizing what the real trigger is.

The next time you find yourself yelling, ask yourself: what am I really feeling here? Am I scared of something? Am I feeling guilty about something? Pray about that feeling instead.

Question 3: Are you taking time to talk to your kids?

It seems as if you can never get any time alone, away from constant demands!

Here’s the truth: kids like to “check in” and know that they’re secure and safe. They know that when they have your undivided attention. If you can give your child some undivided attention throughout the day, even if it’s just in short spurts, they’re far more likely to let you have some of your own alone time later. Before you start something where you need the kids to leave you alone, take some one-on-one (or one-on-two) time with them. Make it a habit of giving your kids some attention before you need them to leave you in peace.

Question 4: Are you setting consequences for bad behavior, and letting the consequences do the work?

Yelling is not a punishment, yet when we’re mad, often the first thing we do is yell. Kids often learn to drown it out. You yell; you vent some steam; but nothing really changes.

It’s better to have consequences for bad behavior that are immediate, known, and obvious. When you start following through with consequences, kids usually start listening to you—and listening to the warning, better.

Question 5: Are you using a serious voice?

Have you ever noticed how little kids especially are more inclined to listen when dad says something? Dads have deeper, and thus scarier, voices. We moms have this sing-song voice. You’re likely using the same voice that you use for everyday conversation.

If you have something you really want your children to do, use a lower voice and fewer words. In a deep voice. Change your tone and issue a command; don’t make a statement. Let kids know you mean business, and it may not escalate. Kids need to know the difference between you talking to them and you asking them to do something.

Question 6: Are you letting God help you?

I want to reassure you that God wants to help. He doesn’t want you yelling at your precious children, since they are also His precious children. He says in Ephesians 4:29,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

He also says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. So when you feel weak, ask Him to help you be a great mother to these kids. Even this struggle can help bring you closer to God, and through that He can open the window onto some other things in your heart, and can help heal you and your whole family.

Which of the six questions do you need to work on? Do you have other suggestions to stop the yelling?

* NOTE: Adapted from Sheila’s complete post on this topic, including scenarios for each point. Visit her blog post at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

Sheila Wray Gregoire is a syndicated colunist, blogger and speaker. The author of seven books, including How Big Is Your Umbrella and To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Sheila mixes humor and real-life stories to help women deal with the messy problems many of us face. She holds two Master's degrees from Queen's University, but says her real education has come as a wife to Keith and mother to Rebecca and Katie, who they homeschool and take on mission trips. Though Sheila is married to a physician, she still faints at the sign of blood! For more about Sheila, visit her website.