Connecting Emotionally

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This last week has been an extremely challenging week. My son and I tend to have good days and bad days, but for some reason we have been having several bad days in a row. If you want in on the secret of why, I’m glad to tell you. Someone had sent me some links for a seminar done by Cinda Osterman. I have been struggling for quite some time trying to figure out how to be a parent that truly reflects Christ to my children, while at the same time being a firm and loving mom, and being in charge of my home. My son really struggles with needing to be in control of my home. Even though he is five, he is very determined to control the house and to parent us.

A few weeks ago after watching Cinda’s series on Vimeo, my husband and I decided to rededicate our lives and family to Christ. I decided to start getting up at 5 a.m. and doing my worship in spite of the obstacles to do so. Of course, the devil didn’t want to lose us so easily, so he is fighting us in any way that he can. My son and I are the biggest area he can attack in my life. At first he tried the kids waking up at 5 a.m. Seeing me persisting in my worship, he wasn’t happy with that and stepped it up a notch. The following Sabbath there was an announcement at church that the pastor was holding a class that was meant to improve your intimacy with God. I was not prepared to stay, but I decided to stay anyway, as I needed to take the class.

During the class I tried hard to listen and keep under control my two very energetic kids. But, I ended up leaving halfway through as it just wasn’t working. (Of course the devil wanted me to be discouraged.) I asked God what He wanted me to do, and after talking to Pastor, he said that he would find a way to make it work because he knows how much I not only want the class but need the class. (Of course the devil wasn’t happy once again.) I was learning to persist… The following Thursday my daughter got “the runs.” Not only did she get them, but it was dripping out of the side of the diaper and going through three pairs of pants from diaper leaks in two hours! I cancelled everything on my plate and gave lots of baths that day. Friday, it was just as bad. To be honest, I have no idea where it all kept coming from as she wasn’t really eating.

Sabbath morning I woke up and was planning on not going to church. As I was doing my worship (the kids were finally sleeping through my morning worship), the Cradle Roll teacher texted and asked if I was going to be there. I texted her back and said that I was thinking I didn’t want to go because of the issues with Abby for the two days before. As I wrote the text, I don’t know how to describe it — God spoke to me.

“Bitsy, You believe that I am God, right?” I was kind of surprised by the question.

“Uh, yes, Lord!”

He replied, “So you believe that I can do anything, right?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well you say you believe it, but you won’t act on your faith.”

I was a little confused for a minute. “But Lord, I can’t go to church; there is no shower there, and what if it’s contagious?” (Half of our congregation is older; they don’t recover so well from things like this.) “And, how am I going to sanitize a mess that is dripping down her legs and running onto the carpet, especially in the middle of church.”

So he responds. “Bitsy, you need to make a decision. You either believe I am God, and I can handle this, not to mention do anything you need — and you go to church; or, you don’t believe Me, and you sit there all day and miss out on Me showing you my power. Not to mention not allowing Me to build your faith in Me, which you are always asking me to do. So, what are you going to do?”

Talk about a slap in my face! But, He made it clear the way that I have always wanted Him to. So, I decided to go. When I did, Abby woke up and came out. “Mommy, I’m poopy!” I, in my still lacking faith, looked in her diaper. He had already answered my request! So, we went to church.

It’s hard to be like a little child, but each day I am reminded of the trust that we are supposed to have in our relationships with Christ. The trust that my children model to me helps me to understand more of what I am supposed to be like toward Christ. The issue I see is that I need to be emotionally connected to Christ in order for my children to be emotionally connected to me. How do we achieve that? I am still learning that myself. However, here are a few tips that I have found, both for becoming emotionally connected to my children and to my Heavenly Father.

1. Take time… Take time to pray, even if it doesn’t feel like it works. Believe it will. Take time to have devotions and to have quiet time focusing on God. This is totally exhausting to do as a mom of little ones, but it is a huge blessing in dealing not only with life but with marriage and parenting as well. Try to cut out the nonessentials. Make your number one priority your children. Then, pray for the strength to keep it that way. God has really impressed upon me that their relationship with us and theirs with Christ are the only things we get to take to Heaven with us. We have a huge role to play in the bringing up of our children, and if we ask, He will provide the strength to fulfill that promise.

It is so hard to reprioritize, but over the last several months God has helped me to see the most important priority is my children, and to be quite honest, I have had to pray that He will change my heart and help me to enjoy being with my children. (They have been so challenging that I am ashamed to admit I have wanted to be done with parenting.) As I have prayed daily for the last three weeks, and have been focusing on Him, He is giving me His grace to change; and I, in spite of our challenges, am starting to enjoy the precious moments with my kids. In fact I am taking time daily to spend time with them and emotionally connect. As I spend this time emotionally connecting with them, I am also finding that the problems we are having are getting easier. He truly fixes all things if we are patient and willing to submit to Him.

2. Pray over each of your children… If Daddy can also do this, it is a special blessing. Pray to claim promises for them. Every night before they go to sleep, I go in to tuck the kids into bed. I am so tired when it comes to bedtime, that we do worship and they get into bed. I put my hand on my child, and I pray individually with them. I claim Jer. 29:11, and if there is something they are particularly strugging with, I claim promises that help with that. Since I started that three weeks ago, the kids will not go to sleep without it, and they both have a hard time being patient and waiting their turn. There is comfort in knowing someone is praying for you.

3. Focus on little things… Focus on the little things that are done right, that the kids need encouragement in, or that they might need a little extra help in. There is a reason that God says the little things are important. This is because the big things are built up of little things. Notice the little things that your kids do to try to please you. Take the time to teach them the little things that are so often overlooked. When they see that you are happy with the little things they do, then they will realize that in their work and their play, their desire will be to help us and please us.

4. Be thankful... We have started a blessing book, and each morning and evening with worship we all say three things we’re thankful for. It’s amazing the happiness that it has brought into our house. I read a quote and I wish I had written it down, but I didn’t. Anyway, it says by counting the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us, we are building faith in Him. I want my children to have a firm foundation of faith in the Lord.

5. Take His word at face value and believe what He says… Sometimes it seems so challenging yet way too simple. Being children of God is a real challenge. Each day we have to wake up and truly believe that He has our back. Because of how things may look or how badly things go that day, it’s often hard to understand how He has our back. However, He promises that He does, and we must trust Him in spite of our feelings. If we ask He will show us what we need to learn from each situation, and sometimes He even tells us about the prevention of things we may not have been aware of.

6. Be vulnerable… This is the hardest part for us as humans, each day struggling to go through without having to be vulnerable…without having to reveal the challenges, struggles, and pain we are experiencing…without showing our children what our hearts are actually dealing with and the fact that most of the time we are feeling the same way they are, but we just won’t admit it. As I have started to show them how I handle the struggles I am dealing with, they are learning and open and asking about the struggles they are having. They are asking me how to handle things, and are interested in being led by me. They are beginning to understand that on the outside we look like adults, but sometimes on the inside we really feel the same way we did as little kids. It helps them to see we really do care. Remembering that we are all in this battle together helps a lot. And, I am starting to allow my children to respectfully say, “Mommy, do you need to have some time with Jesus?” That helps me to know that I am not being Christlike and I need to surrender to Him.

As we press forward this next few weeks, my prayer is that God will open our eyes and help us to see the things we need to cut out and the things we need to add, and help us to see things we can implement in faith to connect more emotionally to our Lord and Savior and to our families and all of our relationships.

Restoring My Boat

I have spent the last few minutes reading my past posts on this blog, and I realized that God has had me on a journey to explore the whole boat analogy as it relates to my life and my walk with Jesus.

My first post relating to boats was about how the disciples went out with Jesus in a boat, and when things got rough, they completely forgot about him. Jesus, sleeping quietly in a corner somewhere, was completely overlooked.

My lesson was not to let fear make me forget about the One who has the ability to calm the storm and sea.

Soon after, I continued the sleeping-in-the-boat analogy, except I longed, like Jesus, to sleep in the midst of all the chaos and fear that life throws at me. Seems like I’ve had more than my share of chaos and disruptions in the last decade! I wanted to learn to trust so completely that someone has to wake me up to see how God’s put it all in place!

I just watched the movie “The Shack,” and it seems like maybe there’s a new lesson for me to be learned from boats!

To set the scene up for you, the main character, Mack, has gone out on a lake in a rowboat. Jesus tells him that there’s something He wants to show Mack on the other side of the lake, but that He will join him after finishing something up in the shop.

Rowing across the lake

Mack gets halfway across the lake and then stops, almost as if he’s enjoying the peace, the slap of the water against the sides of the boat. Dipping his hand into the water and pulling it back out, he realizes that the water is oily, black, and nasty.

At this point, the boat begins breaking apart. First a crack and then a hole spurting water, it’s clear that the boat won’t last much longer.

In the middle of the chaos, Mack hears Jesus’ voice telling him not to look at the battered boat, to focus on Him, Jesus. He stares horrified and transfixed as the water continues to pour in; he glances at Jesus, but his eyes are drawn back to the disaster that’s happening to him. The boat is soon half submerged. It’s only as it is almost under the murky water, Mack sitting in water up to his waist, that he locks eyes with Jesus.

In that very moment, the boat is once again under him, intact, bobbing on the waves. He breathes a huge sigh of relief. His boat is as he knows and wants it, once again secure.

Mack is relieved when the boat appears beneath him once again.

Then Jesus holds out a hand, inviting him out of the boat onto the waves.

Let me interrupt myself to tell you what’s been going on with us in the first quarter of this year!

Late last year, 2016, my husband was contacted by a businessman that he knew and trusted about being involved in a start-up offering services to the military. It seemed like an awesome opportunity, and he’s been working part time, unpaid, to create budgets, meet with potential employees, etc. His start date — as in full-time and starting to get a paycheck — was March 1, just a month or so ago.

At the end of January, we were contacted by the man who owns the house we live in. For the second time in three years, we found out that the rental property we were living in would be sold. This time, however, we had ample time to plan; our landlord indicated that they would be selling in August.

Then also in late January, we found out that our still-new-to-us minivan had sustained subtle and undetected damage last summer during a hailstorm, and after a month of negotiating, the insurance company determined that it was totaled. Unfortunately, what they valued the van at wouldn’t cover the balance of our loan.

So, right around March 1 of this year, we found out that funding for the new job hadn’t come through, despite the fact that my husband had already given his two-week notice at his former job, leaving us with no paycheck anywhere on the horizon.

Our vehicle was totaled, leaving us with a $2,000 balance to pay on the auto loan.

And, we’ll have to find a new house in the next four or five months.

Yeah. My boat’s breaking apart and the water’s pouring in!

I’ve been watching in horror as each new thing hits, trying to focus on Jesus, knowing that He’s got it all handled and that He’s taken care of our family in the past faithfully.

It’s not like I want outrageous things! My hopes are relatively modest, I believe. I simply want a paycheck to cover bills. I want a new, used, decent vehicle. Tired of feeling like we have no control over our own housing, we want to buy a house rather than rent again.

In fact, with this new start-up opportunity, there was enough of a raise that I’d even begun to hope for upgrades to my boat! A nicer, newer used vehicle! Perhaps we might actually be able to look for a home with horse property — a dream of mine since childhood!

I didn’t want a yacht. I wasn’t hoping for new and shiny. I would have been happy with cushions on the bow seat and perhaps an outboard motor. Nothing fancy.

Suddenly, instead of upgrades, I watched my boat begin to slide under the waters.

Then, in the movie, Jesus restores Mack’s boat! All is well! This has been my hope and prayer since everything started caving in! It’s what I’ve believed God for in our lives!

And, then it hits me.

God doesn’t want us in the boat at all. He wants us out of the boat!

Jesus invites us to get out of the boat!

How much time and energy we devote to taking care of the boat! Tending the boat, upgrading the boat, and praying thanks for the boat — when all along, it might be the very thing that’s standing between us and what would be best for us in our walk with Jesus!

I’ve decided that I’m going to be thankful when my boat is restored…even if it’s a life raft…or a half-submerged log floating by. What I’m going to start praying for is that I will see opportunity to step out of the boat!

I’m going to pray that God changes my heart from dreading uncertainty, and that He shows me the delight and the miracles along the way, just like Jesus then shows Mack the beauty of His creation as they walk along the top of the waves.

Where Do Babies Come From?!?

You know the question is coming sooner or later. So, when is the best time to handle it — sooner or later? And how?!?

This is an area that comes up on the SDA Homeschool Families group page on Facebook from time to time. Over the last several years, many members have responded with advice, as well as with a wonderful collection of resources. These have been compiled to share with you. Some of the resources also have comments by the people who suggested them.*

Keep in mind that, like any sensitive topic, sex education methods and opinions are varied. If you’re looking for input on when and how to address this with your kids, we invite you to peruse the following advice and resources, prayerfully seek God’s guidance in selecting the best responses for your family, and then share the knowledge about the wonder of continued creation and loving expression with your children.

 

ADVICE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

Timing

  • Start young. If you don’t broach the subject until they are teen or pre-teen someone else will have already told them. The Bible is a great teacher, too. Show them the consequences of not following God’s will.
  • Dr. Sears has good advice. I don’t remember all we used, but I do know it’s so important calling every body part the real name and to start using it when your kids are young; it is easier on you and them.
  • Here is what I have done with my son. First, PRAY!!! I couple years ago I was at a loss as to when to start talking about this to him. I knew it would be up to me due to my husband’s background. I decided that the following school year would be good time to start (my son would be going into fifth grade), but God had other plans. Several times He put the thought into my mind, but it wasn’t until my son said something at the zoo did God give me the wake up call and made me realize He meant NOW!!! So, I spent several days going over the basics of God’s plan for marriage, Satan’s attempt to destroy it, the illness that come from immoral activity, and the type of talk that slanders a pure and holy thing — and provided defense mechanisms, should such talk happen in his presence.
  • My boy was young when he first started asking where babies come from, like about five or six. He was also a very specific questioner — wanting as much info as I’d give him. I pretty much gave him all the “academic” basics at that age. He knew what body parts were called, and what went where to make a baby. I also found some simplistic books with illustrations of people and sperm and eggs, etc. The beauty of this approach for us was that he was too young to be in that “oooooo, gross” phase that so many kids hit by about age 10 or 11. It all seemed a little bizarre to him, but his brain was not remotely “sexualized” yet, so it was just information — much like you’d learn about any body system. It also gave the opportunity very young to start planting seeds of morality and our expectations for when this all should happen. Of course, then you have to be prepared for the occasional, “Oh, look! Those squirrels are getting married!” out in public, but that was a small price to pay. Here’s the other benefit in my mind for early information. He trusted me back then to tell the truth. Now he is 12, nearly 13. Changes are beginning in his body, he is hearing terminology from his friends, and his curiosity is becoming more “aware.” Where does he go with his questions? To me! (I was widowed when he was young.) Granted, I have delved into topics with a 12-year-old boy that I never thought I would, but I feel blessed that he is comfortable gaining info from me rather than from his friend’s older brother or some kid on the playground. Also, because we don’t have to stumble over what-goes-where and the resulting uncomfortableness now, we can spend more time talking about the risks of having a girlfriend/boyfriend too early, and a host of other tricky topics that will hopefully prep his brain with reasoning for the day when the hormones totally kick in.

Approach

  • We just read Genesis 38 for family worship last night. I was not expecting it, and i think it is good wording to start the discussion.
  • You know, it came up in science class and that is exactly how I handled it — very practically. I made it not a subject that was taboo, funny or embarrassing to discuss in any way. (This was after praying about it first). And, praise the Lord, my daughter is now 13 and thinks that kids who do talk about it and giggle are immature and silly. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. She also went through Passport 2 Purity a few years after we discussed it. It was good, but had some parts my daughter and I felt were unnecessary and inappropriate for the target age group.
  • I had a little conversation with my five-year-old about the topic. What I realized was, at that age they are quite satisfied to know that boys and girls are different because God made them that way. The major question is truly where the child comes from. I answered simply that he, my five-year-old, came from my belly. How did he get in there? God put him and formed him there from a single cell. That was enough. There were no questions ever since. I think it is important not to make a big deal out of it and answer questions straight forward without unnecessary details. If a child wants to know more and thinks about it, he will ask again. It is important for a child to feel comfortable to ask anything he/she wants to know, and for a parent to be sincere and not afraid of the topic. The key is, I think, not to give more information a child asks for because what he asks is what he is ready for.
  • For the time being I suggest asserting your expertise in this area [in reference to a child who has obtained misinformation from another child]. You have had a baby and little friend has not. There are a lot of pretend stories about this, but you know what’s true, and if he has questions he should ask you because you know all the true stuff and you can help him not be tricked (no one likes being tricked). Then be general… When my son asked how the baby got out, I told him God made a hole for that and it’s at the bottom where the two other out holes are, and when the time comes the hole opens and the baby comes out. I couldn’t show him because God wants us to keep all the holes clean and private.
  • I’d probably just talk honestly with your child about their specific questions and see where it goes. I don’t remember what triggered it, but in the last year or so my girls realized that people have babies outside marriage and asked a similar question. I was just honest about it and said something along the lines of “we’ve talked about how when people are married they can cuddle in a special way and sometimes the mommy gets pregnant. Sometime people decide to do those things even when they aren’t married. That’s not what God wants, but it happens.” We talked some about the Bible verses about marriage, and such.
  • Both my husband and I are physicians (pediatrician and family doc), so our children (eldest is five) know the anatomical names. We answer their questions as openly and honestly as they’re capable of understanding, and we only answer their questions, i.e., we don’t use their one question to give them a lecture on the ins and outs of human reproduction. We always reinforce that they can always ask us anything and try to foster a relationship that encourages open communication. The ongoing relationship and communication that is formed now will be a stronghold in the times when others typically have difficulties.

Science and Nature

  • Depending on the age of your kids, you might think of this more as a “biology” talk. It provides the info they need, and takes some mental pressure off yourself.
  • Farm animals! LOL. Seriously, though, this totally comes up organically since we have goats and chickens. It provides a natural progression of their own questions as they are ready to know.
  • Cats and dogs. Experiences from nature.
  • Nature. Accidentally getting a rooster a couple years ago brought up questions, so we talk of it in terms of mating. But, the oldest knows people call it “sex,” and it was a gift God intended for married people. I agree with keeping it more about biology until they get older.
  • Basic anatomy. I picked up the coloring book used for college students testing for their med-school entrance — just because it’s a cool book and my toddler was into naming bones — and he loved looking at pictures and asking questions.

Caution

  • I remember being so traumatized by books people tried to share with me. So, I just answered my kids’ questions straightforwardly as they asked them, not offering more than I felt was necessary, but also not holding back or acting like it was any different discussion than what was for lunch. They thank me for it now. No regrets. Just know that whatever book you use and whatever graphics it contains will be forever emblazoned on their little brains. Some things are best left to the imagination. Building any strangeness or weird mystery around it can have serious repercussions later, especially for generations that crave authenticity.
  • I would tread very very carefully with this subject. Both my girls, ages four and seven, know nothing at all, except that it is God that creates life and gives a mommy and daddy a baby. The baby grows inside the mommy and then comes out of her when it’s big enough to survive in the world. I was tainted at a very young age by asking this question…probably around four, and my mom took me to the library and got a book meant for kids — but honestly I still remember the images very clearly in my mind, and it was way too much. It went into detail with drawings of how a man gets a woman pregnant, talking about private parts, sperm, eggs, etc. What a child [incorrectly] learns now about this beautiful plan of God could corrupt their young minds and set the stage for problems down the road. One of the best ways to explain all of this is through the plant kingdom: the parts of a flower (female and male) and how pollination works. This is obviously for an older child, but it’s a beautiful, simplistic way to explain it in very gentle non-graphic terms. We just studied plants for homeschooling and how they reproduce, and I myself had no idea that plants have male and female parts and how the whole process works! Quite amazing, and when the times comes I will use this to explain in more detail how it all “works.”

Added Thought

  • The most important piece of advice I gave my fourth-grade son was this: “You can ALWAYS come to me with questions. But, because this is such an important topic, and not everyone is comfortable with discussing it or being around such discussion, please ask those questions at home, and during school hours.” I assured him that no question is too dirty, or too old, or too sensitive to be asked. And, he has asked!!! Pray!!! Pray!!! Pray!!!

RESOURCES

Books

Videos and Other Resources

Hopefully these resources and advice from other parents will be useful to you. We will be placing it in the Files section of the SDA Homeschool Families group on Facebook, and may continue to add resources and advice as they appear in the group.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” Genesis 1:27,28 ESV.

*The comments and resources were gathered from about 30 members of the SDA Families Homeschool group. We’d like to especially thank member Jenn Cook, who did an initial resource compilation, adding a lengthy list of books and sources for the benefit of the group and blog readers. 

Nurturing in a Dynamic Way at the Nursing Home

It has been our beautiful experience this year to visit the nursing home several times. What is homeschool (or church for that matter) worth if we aren’t learning compassion, community, and how to communicate despite age or restriction? I’m the director of our church’s Adventurer program (the homeschool-related benefits of such are for another post), and we made these visits with the Adventurer and Pathfinder groups. However, I know, at least from my childhood, that you don’t need an Adventurer program to make a trek to the local nursing home!

In my childhood, we only sang. The singing was beautiful, the singing was important, but I always felt a disconnect…a large chasm between me and the residents. So, I was very intrigued when a friend told me how they take crayons and color with the residents after singing.

I wanted to take it a step further. I have been talking to my kids about the importance of touch, that when we go to the nursing home, our hand on the shoulder, arm, or hand of a resident does much to brighten their day. A side note: Always remember hand-sanitizer before and after visiting. They don’t want our germs as much as we don’t want theirs, but they crave our touch!

Kids are often frightened to go up and shake someone’s hand, but — I’ve seen it with my own eyes — when they are actively engaged in an activity with them, touch happens naturally, and without fear.

So, what activities are safe for little kids, safe for aging (often senile) adults, easy to do with less-than-fine motor skills, easy to clean up, and not too expensive? Here’s what we’ve done so far…

I called the nursing home’s activity director. She was delighted and said that we were more than welcome to do something extra with the residents. I found a tissue paper fall tree craft that begins with a traced hand and wrist. I asked the students to pair up with the residents so that they could trace each other’s hand and help each other with the glue. Instant touch! And the effects were visible on faces. Comfort of the child, and joy of the aged.

They tore off bits of colorful tissue paper, wrapped them around the eraser-end of a pencil (it’s easier to hold) and used the pencil to push the tissue-paper leaves into the glue on the “finger branches.”

I always encourage the students to give their finished product to another resident that wasn’t able to come to activity time on our way out, but of course that’s optional.

Our latest venture was a beaded sun-catcher craft. Just a thin pipe cleaner, translucent pony beads, some odd beads, a twist, and a thread to hang it from. I wanted to sparkle-up their rooms!

I brain-stormed for a month and finally landed on this idea. I could just see them all working together to string the beads. I could hear the objection from the residents, “My eyes aren’t good enough for this,” and my answer, “Well, good news! I brought good eyes and lots and lots of little fingers with me!” And then, the day before we went, the activity director emailed me and said “about half the residents can’t have beads…they’ll try to eat them.”

Aaahhhhhh!!! I hurriedly packed crayons and fun coloring sheets in addition to the beads. The director said that she could seat them at separate tables. (The twist-up crayons encased in plastic are perfect for older hands.) “Half” turned out to be only 4 residents, so the majority got to work with beads, and it was wonderful to watch student and resident working together to make it happen. Haha, remember to ask before you plan.

Jesus knew the value of touch. Sometimes it speaks what cannot be heard…especially if your hearing is not all that good.

Comment below if you have some touch-promoting ideas for me. We are loving it and looking forward to next time. I think one of those giant toy parachutes with all the handles is in our near future!

Inspiration: Finding Your “Treasure” and Your Purpose

This past week I was filling in the “About me” section on a crafting site I run, and one of the questions that was proposed was, “What inspires you to come up with original designs?” This got me to thinking more about inspiration and motive. What is it? Why/how do I use it? And ultimately, what does it reveal about God’s heart?

I invite you on this journey today, and believe this is something that will not only benefit us as parents, but can also be a good tool for teens who are just starting to grapple with the bigger questions of life, such as purpose, and how inspiration/motivation can lead to finding our purpose, especially when we keep God at the center. I would highly recommend taking the time to write the questions in this article down in a journal, and prayerfully answer them for yourself.

Inspiration

It should be noted that inspiration (or motivation), in the sense that I’m writing about today, means taking an idea or emotion, and expanding on it, either mentally or physically. And, not only expanding on it, but applying the results to my life in a broader perspective — that is to somehow be a clearer reflection of God’s character, and heart, as mother/wife/daughter/business woman/teacher. Inspiration put toward a higher purpose, if you will. This is different than perfectionism, and should not be used to compare yourself to others.

What inspires you? When you find that out, you will find where your heart is.

Personally, I’m inspired by beauty in many forms, both the physical — such as flowers, sunrises, family, lace, ruffles, cozy pajamas, and clean sheets (I can almost hear angels sing when climbing into a clean bed); and intangible — like kindness, love, confidence, and selflessness.

I can either look at these things in a passive/dismissive way, or dig deeper and find some truths that may not be so initially obvious about God, and how He designed me. But, not just me; rather, the whole of humanity. You can also think of inspiration as being where your treasure is.

Now it’s your turn: What inspires you? What breathes life into your heart? What makes “birds sing and flowers bloom” in your soul? What is the “treasure” that draws you to a place so lovely, and sweet that you wish everyone knew about it, and could experience it for themselves?

But why?

Once you’ve discovered what it is that inspires you, look deeper. Why does this inspire or motivate me? What place does this touch in my heart? Take some time and write these down in a journal and answer them for yourself. The way I answer (based on the previous paragraph) is because beauty is comforting, it is healing. It reminds me that there are good things in this world. That there are things worth believing in. That all I have dreamed for and of is not in vain, and that one day, all that is ugly and miserable and sad will be removed. That one day I will behold Him face to face — the One who first dreamed of us, and then created the world and everything in it — purposely. Notice how inspiration came before creation, even for God.

What do the things that inspire me say about God’s heart? How does this reveal a greater plan or purpose? And finally… How can I pass that inspiration on to others?

For one, I need to stay connected to the ultimate source of inspiration, blessings, and love. When I seek to know and understand God’s will through prayer and Bible study, the desire for competition ends. I don’t harbor hate, bitterness, and anger, because perfect love drives out fear (fear being the root cause of anger, hate, negativity). I am free to let the peace that passes all understanding take up residence in my heart. I am free to be the person God made me to be, and He becomes my ultimate inspiration.

It is He who inspires me with grace to become a more effective and focused teacher, He inspires me with patience when my children are having a difficult day, and He inspires me with mercy when a friend says something unintentionally hurtful. He shows me that my purpose is to glorify Him in all things. That by seeking His will, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, I will bear the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). I can’t think of anything more beautiful or inspirational than that.

“…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things,” Philippians 4:8 (NIV).

Below, I’m including the questions asked in this article in one easy-to-see area to make this study more simple.

Questions to Ask Yourself

What inspires or motivates me?

  • What breathes life into my heart?What makes “birds sing and flowers bloom” in my soul? What is the “treasure” that draws me to a place so lovely, and sweet that I wish everyone knew about it, and could experience it for themselves?

Why does this inspire or motivate me?

  • What place does this touch in my heart? Why do I believe in it?

What do the things that inspire me say about God’s heart?

  • How does this reveal a greater plan or purpose? How can I pass that inspiration on to others?