Top 10 ways to Get Closer to Jesus

Can you tell me what is so beautiful about this picture? Fathers bonding with their children! Your Heavenly Father wants to bond with you, too!

Hi all,

The above picture is so precious to me because it is my husband with one of our sons, my brother, his two sons (minus his newborn), and if you look close, you can see my eldest son and my niece holding hands. They are all excitedly walking to the pool in my brother’s neighborhood. If one child was going to an empty pool alone, would it be fun? No! The kids are excited about being with each other and being with their dads! If you are a parent, or even if you are a son or daughter, you know that the best parents make time to get to know their children, to bond with them, and to make them feel loved! Why, then, do we not recognize that we should be spending more time with God as our heavenly father? I am guilty of this as well! I have to keep coming back to God and apologize for any time I’ve spent away from him. Through my up and down journey in faith, there are some things I have learned from others and some things I have picked up on through observation of the faithful that I know will bring most people closer to Jesus.

Top 10 Ways to Get Closer to Jesus:

1) Start your day with either a devotional or just a verse and a prayer. It would amaze you how much of a difference 5-15 minutes of time with God can make in your attitude throughout the day! Sometimes my greatest “lightbulb moments” are from one little verse that I’ve seen over and over before, but on that one day, with what I’m going through – it really makes sense and comforts me! My favorite bible is the YouVersion app on my phone because it is always with me!
2) Every now and then look up scriptures that will help you to remember God throughout the day, write them on sticky notes or index cards and tape them to the fridge or the bathroom mirror. Keep them up until you have them memorized and then redo the process with a whole new list. I’ve started to do this with my 7-year-old as well and he is getting into it!
3) Make a conscious effort to talk about God, about verses and about your faith with your family and your friends. You can either do this by joining a bible study, meeting someone regularly for coffee and discussion regularly, etc. You would be surprised how many times faith applies to exactly what someone is complaining about, applies to exactly what someone is struggling with, applies to exactly what someone is searching for in life!

Ethan is excited to golfing with his papa and daddy!

4) Set up some habits that you do yourself that you model to your children, and establish them as rules. For instance: We primarily listen to only Christian music, and sometimes allow for clean kid friendly secular music. Therefore, when my son plays video games and the music has swear words, has sexual content, etc, he already knows, he has to give me the control and I have to change the music selection before he can play. Our kids know that we have safeguards on Netflix that will not allow shows above a certain rating (G or sometimes PG) and then I have the perfect excuse to say no to them.

The Kraut family bonding at the Bay City fireworks!

5) Surround yourself by other like-minded christians. I don’t encourage befriending only christians or completely separating yourself from anyone other than christians. That is like living in a bubble. What I am talking about is protecting your character and your good faith. Surround yourself and your children with christians and generally moral people that you know you can talk about your faith with, that you know you can trust with private information, that you know that you could trust your children with or that would not display obscene behaviors in front of them. You could have close friends that are not christians but that do respect your beliefs and won’t try to put you down or deter you from church. I do not recommend allowing someone to stay in your life who is constantly trying to get you to stray away from your faith, to separate yourself from Jesus, or from the church. That is not being a witness, that is being manipulated and you can’t put up with that and keep your faith in Jesus. You need to stop seeing people like that!

6) Look for evidence of your faith around you. I’ve been asked before, if being a christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That is a good way to judge whether you are being a light for Christ or not! This could be anything from a bible laying on the coffee table to a verse displayed on some artwork hanging up, to a church pamphlet from last week’s service, to a christian phrase on a T-shirt, among other things.

Shawn has persevered through many struggles with asthma but he still needs his mama snuggles!

7)Persevere through testing. Let me tell you, you are going to go through some tests if you haven’t already! We don’t know yet if this test was purposely designed by God to make you stronger and more faithful to him or if you were a victim of circumstances that occurred as a side effect of a fallen world. However, one thing we know. God is good. If God allowed something bad to happen, He will find a way to use it for good. God will use a broken down person, build them up and make them into a champion for Christ. He will not use a pig-headed cocky brat that has never struggled a day in his/her life and can’t empathize with anyone. That’s not attractive at all! John 16:33 (NIV)“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

8)You don’t have to be working in Ministry full-time to minister to people! I struggled with this one for far too long! I kept feeling called to preaching or called to missions or called to some type of christian full-time ministry, but it never worked out that way. God has kept me in a full-time job working with the public because it is where he wants me and where I can do the most good right now. Someday, that may not be the case. Until that day, I will show up, I will smile and welcome people and be a light for Christ right where I am.

9)Accept constructive criticism from other christians and check yourself so that you don’t sin in your anger. Don’t take offense to every little thing someone says that does not line up with your thoughts or ideas. I used to do this way too much. This spirit is not from God and you need to reign it in quick. You are not in control, you are not God. I know this is a fine line category and people should be respectful with you as well. Sometimes I think “Can’t we all just get along? Aren’t christians supposed to be the nicest people on Earth?” In a perfect world, we would be, but the world is not perfect and we are not either.  You just take care of you and make sure that you are being respectful and following God’s commandments and the teachings of the Bible and God will deal with whoever crosses the line in His own way and in his own time.

10) Remember throughout the day that God is listening and sees you and knows you. Imagine that Jesus is sitting right next to you as you read this. If you are a christian, He basically is – you just can’t see him! Sometimes it’s not enough for me to imagine “What Would Jesus Do?” Sometimes I need to ask myself “What if Jesus was sitting here watching and listening to me right now?” Then I can kind of catch myself and prevent some attitude before it starts brewing! You know when someone rubs you the wrong way and you just need that extra moment to prepare yourself to speak to them or see them so that you don’t lose your cool? Trust me, I have had my share of people that got on my nerves! The best thing that I have found is a quick little reminder from Matthew 25:35-40:

35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Blessings,

Aubree

Extra Coffee Required Day #3 “That’s no fair!”

Kissy face 2013 Real life – real tears – let’s talk!

(This photo is compliments of Daniyle Weir Photography from 2 years ago – thanks Daniyle!)

Do you ever feel like you are the only one following the rules, the only one trying your best, and so many people these days don’t hold up their end of the bargain? I’ve been there, and so have my kids. You are not alone! My kids, once again, taught me a valuable lesson recently. Push aside the pile of laundry and/or toys on my couch and sit down and drink your coffee with me…

“That’s no fair!” Ethan (age 6) shouted as I gave Shawn (age 3) something different for dinner, again, because of his allergies.
“Well, actually, it’s not fair to him that he can’t eat lots of the foods that you love because of his allergies. He can’t eat our dinner tonight because of the eggs and cheese.” I stated, completely satisfied with my answer and proud of myself for handling the situation.
– well – I was wrong –
Ethan sat there grumpily eating his casserole when what he really wanted was a plain hot dog like Shawn had. I could see in his eyes that he was plotting how to get back at me somehow.
Just to thicken the plot, Shawn chimed in on this game later that day. “That’s no fair!” he shouted when Ethan happened to get to open one side of the curtains before he did.
“Actually, that’s completely fair, he opened one side, and you can open one side.” I again patted myself on the back a little too early.
“No! Not fair” Shawn stomped his foot in disgust, because he wanted to open the curtains first.
This is when I had to give myself a mommy pep talk. “Walk away, Aubree, don’t lose it – he’s a three year old – you can’t explain fairness to a three year old”. Then I decided to skip the lecture and just give out the discipline as the boys had been fighting and had several warnings already.
“Okay, you go to that room, you go to that room, no toys, you’re both in time out, and you will have to go to bed early if you can’t stop fighting.”
Ooohhhhh, if looks could kill, I would have been a goner for sure. Both boys cried and whined, “That’s not fair – he did it – I didn’t do anything!”
“Whining will not help you, but it does make you go to bed early!”

Isn’t it funny how tantrums in your children seem to bring out your own attitude that you forgot was still lurking deep inside somewhere?
What’s the first thing I do when God convicts me, when he shows me a sign and reminds me that I need to be kind, that I need to be honest, that I need to be loving? I always point out the sin or the fault of the other person. I always point out ‘who started it’ and never accept blame for my part in the argument.

“But God, it’s not fair that I have to be a good wife, a good mom, a good cook, a good housekeeper, and still be nice to whining adults who act like 2 year olds to get their own way.”
God says “I’m not talking about what everyone does, we’re talking about you right now, and your voice is sounding whiny as well. Give me back control, I will handle those other whiners in my own way – you are not in charge of handling everyone else’s attitude. It’s a good thing, because right now, you can’t even handle your own.”

“Well he started it!” I say to God – then cringe as I realize how horribly whiny I do actually sound. Wow, yet again, I realize why God is in control of things and I am not. I crave control almost as much as chocolate most days.  But then when I do have control, I don’t always handle it the right way. I sometimes mirror things I’ve heard and seen from my three year old that I thought were ridiculous when he did them. Lesson learned, again. I guess there’s one more reason that God put my little loves in my life. They teach me more than anyone else ever could, because they tend to act just like me.

I am so sorry for whining, God! Your patience is astounding!

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

” For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Have a blessed day, guys! Please share your lessons with me that God has taught you through your children! I love hearing about them!

Aubree

Extra Coffee Required Day #2: Word power

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Ah, Spring break, that glorious time when the kids are running free and the parents are staggering into work like zombies, because the kids are driving them looney and they got even less sleep than usual. This is the perfect time to think about the power of words and how they affect all of us. So, before you ground everyone for being too noisy and take away their favorite toys because they are annoying (or was that just me?)- pour your coffee, think about how beautiful those kids are while sleeping, and ponder word power with me.

Sometimes I surprise myself with how I react to words depending on who is speaking to me. The same phrase from my 6-year-old could be majorly offensive from my husband, for instance. A joke coming from a good friend may be a major insult, but if I heard it from a random co-worker, I may think nothing of it. Here’s what happens when my son innocently asks about sensitive topics: Ethan (6 years old), had to sit and wait for me to put makeup on in the car for a few minutes one day before we went to a school event…

Ethan: Why do you have to put makeup on, mommy?

Me: I don’t have to, buddy, I just want to.

I could see him thinking about it for a minute and then he came up and peeked in the rear view mirror so that he knew I could see him.

Ethan: “Oh – it’s because you want them to think that you are pretty, right?”

>Okay freeze: if those words came out of my husband’s mouth, we would have exchanged heated, unfriendly words afterwords which may have ended with me in tears and both of us walking away – especially if it was the wrong time of the month – do you know what I’m talking about ladies? Probably something like this “THINK I’m pretty? What are you implying?” As if he were implying that my ugliness must be disguised from all the world to protect the innocent. Anyone out there who knows my husband knows that he is the sweetest person in the world and that he tells me frequently how beautiful I am, but I do tend to overreact if he stumbles on his words by accident:) The innocence of children is their saving grace some days 🙂 ! <

Me: (chuckling) Yes, buddy, that’s why.

Okay, now for the lesson to be learned here… I think that the same rules apply when we speak with our kids, especially young kids. We should adjust our language to them instead of expecting them to adapt to us. It is so hard to tell how they interpret what we say sometimes, but each child is different and part of the responsibility of parenting is figuring out the personality types of our children and how they respond to certain topics and conversation. For example, it’s important to see how they react to our words and the words of other people. Ethan has a natural wild free spirit built in him that is mostly from his father. Along with this free spirit side, he tends to not listen to correction unless he is looking me right in the eye and there is nothing shiny within close proximity, but we have to take the bad with the good, right? When Ethan is speaking with me during free time or play time, he is happy-go-lucky and eager to play and have fun. However, when he is working on something with an end goal, his competitive side comes out.  Whether it is homework, a craft, or a sport, he demands perfection of himself (and others). Fortunately and unfortunately, this trait he got from me. He gets upset if he has to erase something on his homework, which sometimes means he throws the whole thing away in a fit of rage. I have tried explaining to him that it is okay to mess up and that is what erasers are for.      He used to be convinced that he should be able to do homework without erasing anything or else he says ” I can’t do any homework ever again because I’m not smart enough.” It took a long time, a lot of “You’re doing a great job! I love your story!” and hanging everything up on the fridge to proudly display his work, before he started to believe in himself academically. On his T-ball team, he keeps score in his head, even though the coaches do not keep score and nobody gets “out” at their young age. The coaches are always encouraging, and Ethan tries to be, but he gets so mad at the other players and himself if they make mistakes or aren’t paying attention. He tells the kids on the other team when they are supposed to run when he is playing first base position. He can’t bear to see someone “not playing it right” and he often corrects his little brother at home (who barely stands over the size of the tee) when we just play for fun in the back yard.

Obviously, not all children are the same, and I am betting Shawn, my 2-year-old, will be much more laid back about competition and school work as he already is laid back about most things now: clothing optional at home, everyone in the car singing whatever song they want, his favorite activity of the day is generally during a low-key activity such as watching a TV show or listening to music.

As parents, we need to think about our words and how each child will react to them differently. I know I know, hard to do when your 2-year-old wakes you up at 4am begging to sleep with you, but let’s think this through for a minute… grab that extra cup of coffee while the kids are still sleeping – hopefully!

I know that Ethan is going to need an extra dose of encouragement when it comes to competition and homework. He criticizes himself enough for both of us and I don’t need to add to the negative thoughts in his head. I do need to build him back up when he listens to those negative thoughts and gets down on himself.

For Shawn,  he needs extra encouragement to go on the potty and will love the praise and attention afterwards, but he could care less if he plays baseball according to the rules or even finishes the game he started (two-year-olds, God love them!) I can already see the pattern. I’m going to have to remind him frequently that clothing is not optional in public, that holding mommy’s hand is not optional while crossing the road, and that throwing food at the table is still not tolerated, just like yesterday. He will most likely hear the word “no” more frequently than Ethan did even at age 2, because sometimes “no” is required regardless of the mood Shawn is in and at this stage, it’s taking more for it to sink in with Shawn than it did with Ethan. Shawn is not mentally traumatized by the word no, he just doesn’t understand how far he can push the limits yet and likes to test us frequently to see what he can get away with. It’s kind of like how we keep trying to test God.

Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

What are some of your experiences with word power and how it has affected you and your children?

Have a blessed day!

Aubree

 

Power of Prayer

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Shawn in the hospital with allergies/asthma June 2015

Hey guys,

Did you ever get a thought in your head that you know must have come from God because it was way too complex to be your own?

Here’s something I thought of recently that came to mind when I was discussing the frequency of prayer on social media with a friend.  After hearing some thoughts from a non-believer about how crazy it is that prayer can help people to heal, I thought about what it must look like to a non-believer. I thought about how desperately I have needed prayer at times, and it dawned on me… God does not need us to pray in order to act on our behalf! Ofcourse! God does not need us to do anything to perform miracles or to heal the sick or to breathe life into someone whom all the doctors said would never make it!  I heard something once about the power of prayer regarding innocent people who were in a horrible accident… and it really got me thinking. Some people pray for miracles, thinking that their prayer may be what turns around a situation, that they need to tell God detailed instructions about how to revive a child with cancer if God doesn’t save him. (I am speaking to myself here now 🙂 It’s not as simple as God sitting up in heaven thinking “I’d better see how many people pray for this poor child, so I know whether to save him or not” – how heartless and cold would that be? Why would God need us to pray for action, when He is all-powerful? That makes no sense. What he wants, is for us to get closer to Him, and closer to each other during hard times, regardless of the outcome.
God’s word says that we are the hands and feet of the body of Christ, right? That would mean that He wants a group of people and a community to be supportive of the family that is hurting no matter what happens. We don’t know why certain people die and certain people are healed and made new.  That’s on a need to know basis and we don’t need to know. As Christians, we trust that there is an overall reason for good and bad that it is bigger than us, and that is what drives us to hold on to our faith, to hold on to God and to each other.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to say that prayer can’t change things, because it can. It’s just more about how we respond to these situations, I believe. Many people in the bible prayed for miracles. Some saw those miracles come to pass, and others did not. My husband was in a rollover car accident awhile back that could have very easily been fatal, but he screamed “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” while he was rolling over and over. He and his friend in the car came out fine. Since that day, I can tell that his faith in God has grown leaps and bounds. It’s like a time-tested, weather warn relationship – it fits just right!

As a mother who has brought a baby/toddler to the hospital twice, seen my school age child get emergency stitches, and gone into the emergency room twice myself, I know the power of prayer on a personal level. My prayers and the prayers of my family, friends, and church family, are what kept me going through those horrible times. Without God and without prayer and faith, I don’t know how I would make it. God knows that we are weak and frail, and that we need Him. He gave us prayer for us, not for Him. If we had the power to heal ourselves without reaching out to God, there would be so many people who would have never turned to God and never been saved! There would be so many testimonies left untold, so many families left alone without support, so many lonely patients without hope. Thank God, that we need Him!

Take a look at how James tells the sick to call on the elders of the church to pray for him/her. He doesn’t say to tell the sick to stay home alone in bed and wait it out. He steers the sick toward the body of the church – the other believers – those that would comfort him/her, bring casseroles, bring hugs, bring common prayers, and come together with the common prayer for healing!

James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-bible-verses-about-the-power-of-prayer/#ixzz3yxBIBDr7

 

The Morning Rush

Has it been awhile since you spent time with God one on one?
Has it been awhile since you spent time with God one on one?

If there was ever a perfect example of why I needed a morning devotional time with God, it was today. The morning rush attacked me this morning, once again. Anybody else out there stressed out in the morning with all that you need to do? I hear you! I think I wake up with instant visions of my ever-growing to-do list and this is why I get preemptively stressed. Is anybody else like that? I don’t choose to be this way – but I immediately see everything that needs to be done and everything that could possibly screw it up before it happens. For this reason, I admit that I have had some days in the past that I completely skipped my morning quiet time with God because I had convinced myself that I was too busy. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but on those days, my patience is nearly non-existent. I yell at the kids and at my hubby out of anger over little things that don’t matter – I definitely do not use my “customer service smile over the phone” at work – and my co-workers probably notice that I am missing my usual ability to smile easily and handle complaints calmly.

Here’s a little peek into the start of my day this morning 1)Wake up – get coffee ASAP! 2)Spend time with God for at least 5 minutes – reading verses and praying – hopefully more like 15 minutes if I didn’t snooze too long 3)Shower and get dressed 4) wake up hubby 5) start packing lunches and getting breakfast out 6) wake up boys  – FEED all of us ASAP (we are a cranky group before we get our coffee (for me) and food!) 7) Clean up spill #1 from my 2.5 year old – thankfully this time it was an accident 8) Remind boys of the routine – again – have hubby pass out meds and give breathing treatment and vitamins – send boys to get dressed and brush teeth  while I attempt to actually do my hair today 9) make sure that daddy and boys don’t have any major wardrobe clashes then get everything done just in the nick of time – uugghhh! I forgot my ½ finished coffee – I’ll get some at work 10) Do make up on the way to work while hubby is driving – didn’t get to brush teeth once again, but I  store a travel toothbrush and toothpaste at work because this is a frequent occurrence. 11)Discuss with hubby how we are going to get our morning routine down better tomorrow – hopefully 12) Get to work with 1 minute to give hubby and boys kisses and walk in the door. 13) Try to hide the stain on my shirt that I just noticed with my ID badge strategic placement (Yes boss, if you are reading this, there is a reason my ID badge is always clipped somewhere on my shirt) 14)Get my hard-earned coffee and try to gulp down before I realize the lid is not secure 14) Proceed with spill #2 down the front of my shirt – well I don’t have to worry about that old stain anymore – the new one covers it nicely 15) Put my hair up in a pony tail that didn’t last long… 16) Thank God for the peace that He gives me that allows me to still smile and sometimes even laugh at myself because I made an effort to thank him this morning and to praise Him for my blessings instead of scrolling on Facebook like I have done so many times in the past when I get my precious alone time.

Some of you may be thinking – “well geez – you only gave God 5-15 minutes”. Yes, that’s correct, and that is all that I am able to give in the morning. However, that is not the only time that I have for God. Have you ever worked in Customer Service of any kind? Some of my deepest and most sincere prayers are silently pleading with God while I handle one more complaint. I also frequently pray while working out on my lunch break – pray that I can make it running 5 more minutes without stopping – pray that I don’t spend the whole time comparing myself to that skinny girl on the next treadmill because if I focus on Him I can remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Sometimes I pray while creating a post on my lunch break, such as right now. I pray that someone other than my hubby and my mother will read this so that my voice may reach to other busy working moms out there – other women who doubt their worth – other athletes who sometimes feel unmotivated or unworthy in the gym – other women who sometimes question their purpose – other parents who sometimes wonder if their kids allergies will ever get better – other cooks who sometimes wonder if it is worth all of the time and energy to prepare a homemade meal that the whole family will agree to eat – other Christians who sometimes want to hide in a cave away from the evils of this world. I hear you! I am you or have been you at some point! You know what’s going to get you through that struggle? Time with God! He may not be your best friend right now, but you still have the chance to change that! Time with God is not just one more thing on my to do list – it is what relieves the stress and the pressure of the to do list – so in a way, my time with God determines my view – not just my view of myself – my view of the world. I don’t know where I would be without my God time – but I would be a much bigger mess than I just displayed for you with the start of my day.

Let me know how you are doing with your God Time in the comments below. Feel free to email me at krautfam3@gmail.com for recommendations of good daily devotionals that can keep you on track or good hints to sneak in more God time throughout the day. Whether it’s sticky notes of verses on the bathroom mirror or on your desk at work, or a full-out prayer closet, whatever it takes!

Here’s part of my devotional today that protected me from a bad attitude and a gloomy mental state:

James 1:19: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Blessings,

Aubree

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Getting on the Same Page

 

"So we are all in agreement here, right?"
“So we are all in agreement here, right?”

Getting on the Same Page

The human mind is a wonderful thing, but everyone has one of his or her own and each one interprets things the way it sees fit based on previous experience, genetics, levels of stress, levels of sleep, etc. Let’s take a look into how putting two or more brains together to reach a common goal can be a very messy business….

As co-workers:

I have been working with people on a daily basis and let me tell you what, it is hard to work with the general public in any capacity! Whether it is; sales, education, customer service, bagging groceries, etc., you will interact with a few crazies every now and then. The crazy people are actually not the hardest for me to handle, because I can generally not take offense to what they are saying, I can dismiss it with the thought that “Um, yeah, they’re crazy, it doesn’t matter…” What I get disturbed by is the little mistakes and mishaps and misinterpretations that occur just naturally when you work with a large number of people… the things that I cannot control. Yes, for anyone who reads my posts regularly, I think we have established that I am a control freak…moving on…

In our meetings at work we constantly strive to “get on the same page” and review and explain processes and policies and procedures over and over. While sometimes review meetings can seem boring, there are times when there are about 4 different interpretations of the same policy or procedure, so it is a good thing that we discussed it in further detail and clarified what it means. Many people in the meetings argue that we all have different viewpoints and are not going to see everything the same way. I find myself frequently reminding everyone that policies and procedures in the workplace are not optional, they are required, and if we are not all on the same page, then we need to review them and get on the same page quickly for the sake of our company. Stress levels are higher at work during busy times, of course, so we try to have these conversations during the slow times of the year. This prevents many fist fights in the break room, I’m sure!

As a spouse:

If you are married, I’m sure that you have experienced this with your spouse. My husband and I will have a “budgeting date” (that’s what we call it to fake ourselves into thinking it will be fun and not skipping out:) in which we have to “get on the same page” with our finances and it sometimes turns into heated discussions. Sometimes it is about what to spend money on, sometimes it is just about the pure math of budgeting. I have recently learned that I should not budget on only 6 hours of sleep after a long hard Monday when all I want to do is go back to sleep. I got easily offended when he wanted to double check my work after balancing the checkbook and finding something off between out bank statement and our checkbook. However, I would have probably done the same thing if he was the one balancing the checkbook. I can fully understand, a day later, that he had good intentions and just wanted to balance the budget and get things straight, but in the heat of the moment, when the chocolate had run out and the math was staring me in the face, I got so ticked I wanted to scream at him and prove him wrong. My brain then told me “hey – it must be his fault – he didn’t do his part right – I always do it right”. My heart said “Okay, let’s take a step back, he always has good intentions.” Then my brain told my heart to shut up and leave the room and I started yelling and crying and getting offended at his words and assuming ill-intentions. I know – that escalated quickly right? My husband’s face alerted me to my overreaction instantly.

If you haven’t had a discussion like this with your spouse over budgeting, perhaps it was a different weak point for you. Regardless, it ended up being my fault. I had entered a bill into our checkbook twice which made our numbers in our checkbook off by close to $250 and once we found it, I felt horrible. I am a stubborn woman, so I did not admit that it was all my fault right away. But my husband is a patient man, thank God! He did not fight me about it. He told me that he knows it is stressful for me and that it’s okay to get upset and then work through it together. I melted into a puddle before him and apologized and then went to bed shortly after. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I let my emotions get the best of me? As usual, we reconciled our differences quickly, but I can see how this could have spiraled into a horrible feud due to my stubborn attitude.

As a parent:

Do you remember hearing the phrase “Because I said so!” from your parents as an explanation as to why you are not allowed to do something? I remember this clearly and I remember thinking it was nonsense. I kept thinking “What is so wrong with you telling me the truth? I deserve an answer, for crying out loud!” Well, now I am on the other side, and I have definitely used this phrase more than once. It is so hard to explain to a 2 year old why mommy has to make dinner instead of play cars with him. It is so hard to explain to a 6 year old why sometimes we have to do homework even when we don’t want to. It is so hard to explain to both of them why mommy needs a time out now and then, too, but mommy enjoys time outs and frequently takes chocolate with her to the time out corner. Therefore, sometimes, it is much easier and much more productive to tell both of them “Because I said so” when they ask “why ?” for the 100th time about the same issue. Getting on the Same Page as your child does not always mean that they agree with you. It does mean that you have an understanding that you are the parent and they must obey the rules while in your house, even if they don’t understand the rules. This is good training for teaching them how to submit to a boss in the future. I have learned that I have to choose my battles with my kids so that they will enjoy some time with mommy and not always be fighting with mommy.

If you have a misunderstanding about anything big or small, don’t worry. You have lots of company! We cannot let these little mishaps ruin our families, our work, our relationships, etc. We need to keep reviewing, keep discussing, keep cooperating, and get past the tension until we get on the same page with each other.

Matthew 18:21-23NIV Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”

Blessings,

Aubree

 

Lesson Learned….Again…

Lesson Learned...Again

This is a record of the number of times I have learned the same lesson over and over again in the following areas. I am attempting to memorize the verses that match each one in order to get better with age:

1) I will never please everyone, and that’s okay – I just need to do my best to please God

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

  • Psalm 146:3-4 ESV 
  • Lesson Learned 1,556 times

2) My toddler says “no” constantly because I have to tell him “no” constantly. Although sometimes he needs to be told “no”, I also need to find ways to reward him for good behavior and feed positivity into him if I want him to act positively toward me.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV 
  • Lesson Learned 589 times

3) My husband needs me to laugh at his jokes and will continue the repetitive dialogue until I either laugh or say “You’re so funny!” This is a sign of respect and love for him!

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

  • Proverbs 17:22 ESV  
  • Lesson Learned 25,899 times

4) I do not have to compare myself to other women, I just need to be the best me that I can be and love others for being the best they can be.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.                

  • Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

  • Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.           

  • 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT) 
  • Lesson Learned 199,999 times

5) Worrying will not do any good. If I always jump to the worst possible conclusions, it’s like I’m always waiting for the next bad thing to happen instead of enjoying the good things happening right now!

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.                   

  • Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)  
  • Lesson Learned 205,000 times

6) God is my boss and He overrules everyone else, including my boss at work, my family and friends, my government, my pastor, etc. There is a reason that he gave me the Holy Spirit and the Bible, so that I can know He has great plans for me and gain the ability to discern his message to me personally.  If I do not understand this, God will be happy to remind me with a more challenging lesson the next time to learn and grow from.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

  • Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT, second edition) 
  • Lesson Learned 8 billion times

 

Blessings,

Aubree

Having Faith is Brave

Have you ever been told that you only have faith in God if you are weak and can’t manage your stress on your own or don’t have compassionate friends and family to support you?

Here’s what I have to say to that –  Since when is believing in something higher than you or greater than you weak?  Many people with no faith in God believe in love. Does that mean they are weak? No! I’m sure that there are atheists who believe in the wind around them. Can they see the wind? No! They see the effects of the wind: trees blowing, flags dancing back and forth, toys blowing across the yard that have been long forgotten, etc. Do people question what is causing these things just because they can’t see the wind? No! They acknowledge that the wind is the reason these objects are moving around without anyone pushing them!  Although, we can not see it and it is many times unpredictable, it is real and affects everything around us. Aren’t Christians (or really any believers of God) really taking the same viewpoint? I can not prove God’s existence with a bunch of tangible scientific evidence. However, I have seen God affect my life and the lives of those around me to the point that I can not deny that God is real!

HAVING FAITH is not easy, not a cop-out, not weak! Having faith in my God, having faith that somehow He works out all things for the good of those who love Him, that takes guts, it takes bravery, but it is so rewarding and so fulfilling! I am far from perfect, but God is gracious and loves me anyways.  Therefore, I will continue to testify and display my faith for anyone who listens and I will do so bravely.

Blessings,

Aubree

 

 

He Really Cares!

IMG_0193

He Really Cares!

The above photo is of my husband and my oldest son, Ethan. Ethan was scared to go into the pond with fish in it, so Sam was giving him a pep talk. God wants to do the same thing with us, sometimes. He is there for us, reassuring us and helping us in our times of stress, fear, worry, anything that we care about.

It’s so funny the lessons that we learn from our children, because we act just like them when we are with God.
Sometimes I find myself censoring my prayers,  because I feel like He has much bigger and more important things to do than listen to His beloved child. As if God does not already know what I’m thinking and feeling. Um…hello…. Why would I even try to hide anything or pretend that something doesn’t bother me when I’m talking to the creator of the Universe – the all-powerful – all knowing God? I have done this time and time again, but I am determined to break the habit!
Don’t get in that rut like I did! God is here for you and He cares about what may seem like the smallest little insignificant thing, if it’s something that you truly care about, worry about, hope for, dream of, etc.

Example#1: I was reminded of this, again, while our life group for church was going through an excellent Devotional for married couples. It’s called iMarriage by Andy Stanley. You can take a look at the DVD study:HERE

Andy says “You may be thinking…well why would God care about something like that? Because, He cares about you! God cares so much about you that He cares about the stuff that you care about!”
Example#2: I was running outside the other day and felt some sprinkles – the wind started picking up and the clouds were getting darker and darker. Of-course it was beautiful and sunny when I walked out the door, because it is Michigan ad the weather likes to change three times in one day :). I doubted for a bit, but after a minute of stalling, I prayed that God would hold off the rain because I did not want to get soaked, I had to go back to work when I was done, my mascara would run, I would be late, blah blah blah blah. Even as I was praying, I thought to myself – “This is so petty! Why am I really concerned about this when God has much bigger things to handle like Earthquake devastation and starving children?” But, guess what happened!? As soon as I got back into my office, I heard the rain pouring down on the roof!

Yes – our world has hazards, has devastation, and God is with those who suffer and works to help them recover. But then why would I think that He doesn’t have the time or the will to hold off a rainstorm for a few minutes while I get to shelter? He does! HE IS THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! You might think “Yes, but why does He care about this little thing?” It’s not that He cares about the little thing, it’s that He cares about you! You are his precious child!
Example #3: My 2 year old, Shawn, is in an “I do it myself” phase. He wants to turn on and off the lights (although he can’t reach them). He wants to hang up his own coat, take off his own shoes, and pick out his bedtime book. As his parent, it would be so much easier for me to just do all that stuff for him and not have to sit waiting for him to take 5 minutes to take his shoes off. But I care about Shawn and I love that he is showing an independent streak like his momma :). It’s not a big deal to me who takes his shoes off, I just want them off and put away, but I know that it is a big deal to him. So, most of the time I accommodate him and give him his space to try it so that he can feel satisfied that he is a big boy and the task still gets done.

There are also times when we have to run out the door or run to the potty or there is some other crazy chaos in the house and I have to stop Shawn from his independent ways before he hurts himself or someone else, etc. When Shawn and Ethan are fighting, inevitably that is when I have to go to the bathroom. Frequently, I have to take Shawn in the bathroom with me when I have to run to the potty in order to prevent many owies while mommy is pre-occupied with a potty break. Shawn wines that I am taking him from his toys and Ethan wines that he is left alone in the room. One time I had to stop Shawn from running out in the road after a ball. One time I had to stop him from “helping me” get dinner out of the oven. Shawn inevitably does not understand why and throws a royal fit on the floor while I thank God that I was able to stop him from yet another close call.

Let me be clear. God is not my short order cook coming to my beck and call and answering every quick prayer the second I pray it or think it. Life is messy and we don’t see the big picture. God does! No, God is not always going to stop the rain for me. No, He is not going to make my kids well-behaved every single day or make my hair perfect right in time for that important meeting or suddenly suck all of the extra fat out of my body just because I asked nicely.

I have come to realize that I do not always know what is best for me and that God sometimes does not grant my prayer requests, not to frustrate me, but to protect me, or to prepare me for something.  Sometimes I have no idea what is coming around the corner or if God has something better in store for me than what I am asking for and I just can’t see it yet. He may remind me that there is a big picture I am not thinking about at the time and my concern will have to be put on hold. But, God never wants us to hold back from asking for the little things that we care about and worry about and struggle with on a daily basis. He cares about us, therefore, He cares about what we care about! I am so thankful!

Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Remember to involve God in your life with both the big and the little things. Blessings!

Aubree

Words of Encouragement

Hi guys,

Have you had one of those weeks that seems to last for a month? I have been there for a few weeks – okay maybe it has actually been a month….. It seems like it took forever to get all of the bugs and allergies and asthma cleared up in our house and finally get to the nice weather and the ability to get out in the fresh air again!  Just like always, I turned to God much more when I was stressed out with all the crazies going on. I’m not sure why, but I know it’s human nature so all of us have done this from time to time. My goal is to remember to turn to God even when things are going well, to make time with God a priority, not just when I am desperate for His peace, but also when I am thankful to already have peace and joy in the moment.

If you are going through a rough time right now, remember some of these words of encouragement and wisdom from the Lord and know that this too shall pass!

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isiaiah 40:30-31  (This one is taped to my desk as a constant reminder – I also take it with my while running sometimes!)

“For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13 (Another good one for working out! It does not say “I can do easy things” – it says I CAN DO ALL THINGS – not by my power – but through Christ! If you don’t have faith in you yet – cling to your faith in Christ – knowing that He can give you the power as well!)

Have a blessed week!

Aubree