3 Tips For a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

ManagingYourBlessings.com

Many students are returning (or already have returned) to school this month and sometimes in the transition things can become chaotic. I cannot count the times that summer seems to vanish without warning and the next thing I know, it’s time for school again. I know I certainly do not enjoy being stressed out when I can prevent it. In my experience there are three things that help make this back-to-school transition for our family run smoothly year after year.

3 Tips For a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

  1. Lay out clear goals with deadlines throughout the summer. I have found that getting things done a little at a time gives me the freedom to stress less and enjoy summer more. If you are able to get your child’s supply list at the end of the year, then do so. If you are able to schedule doctor and dentist appointments staggered throughout the summer, then do it. When I map out my goals – writing them down – it helps give me a tangible way to see them coming to pass. And this, my friends, gives me great peace.
  2. Make the time to pray over your back-to-school goals. This is an important step. All too often we can find ourselves caught in the “busy” of life managing to get to our appointments and cross off things on our to-do list leaving God out of the equation. I know I’ve been guilty of this very thing. I also know that when I do things in my own strength, I have no peace and tend to be grumpy to those I love the most. Praying over my goals has allowed me to hand over all the stress of day-to-day life back into God’s hands giving me the peace and strength to move on and show my family more grace. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  3. Talk to your children about your expectations for them in making the transition. This always helps our children when they understand what is expected of them. It gives them the opportunity to work through things in their heart and minds giving them time to formulate questions or concerns. Because our family is military, we move often and this can cause a different type of anxiety in each child. We have discovered that when our family is able to communicate both our excitement and concerns for the upcoming school year that we thrive during the transition. This makes for a fun back-to-school season!

When we set clear-cut expectations and transitional goals for our family, praying over them, we find that we have less stress and more fun every summer. It’s important to recognize that our children find comfort in this process as we settle into a new routine every fall. I am thankful for a loving and merciful God that guides us through life giving us the wisdom we need to life a peaceful, Christ-filled life.

Does your family have any routines to cut out the chaos and replace it with God’s peace? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Carlie @ Managing Your Blessings

What You Know Will Make A Difference, But Sometimes Forget

We make time

At the end of yet another hard day of exasperated children and weary parents, I leaned over to kiss my oldest boy goodnight…

…to say I’m sorry for the harsh words,

…to say that I regret that he was caught in the crossfire of stress-out parents who put themselves, and not one another first,

…to say that I shouldn’t have allowed my stress and frustrations to rule my actions. 

…And his simple response was humbling and convicting:

“I’m finding that when I get up early and read my Bible, my day goes so much better. It really makes a difference in my day,” he says.

Somehow, my 12 yr. old connected the dots where my sophisticated, deep-thinking, rationalizing mind was failing to recognize as basic and true: I need God’s Word to direct my heart each day…not to check it off the list, not to earn favor with Jesus, not as a lucky charm…but simply because God’s Word transforms our hearts and minds.

We know this to be true, and yet there are days we choose email over transformation, believing that clearing our inboxes will change our lives. And it does, but not the way truth can.

We know this to be true, and yet there are days we choose physical self-improvement over transformation, believing that physical remodeling will make everything better. And it may, but not the way truth can.

We know this to be true, and yet there are days we prioritize our to-do lists over transformation, believing that crossing one more thing off will make the difference. And it will, but not the way truth can.

There are many reasons why we may not read our Bibles regularly, but it always comes back to this:

We make time for what we think will make the most impact in the thing that matters most to us. 

And so, I remember, again, that what draws me to Christ and the Word of God, is not guilt, fear, or fastidiousness, but rather – LOVE. I love my savior. I love the family he’s entrusted me with. Therefor, I will remember to prioritize what is most important to me, and ask the Lord for the discernment to not make what’s most important, ME.

When Christ matters most in our lives, the impact of drawing near to him each day will make the greatest difference in the lives I seek to love well.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  - Romans 12:2

Because of grace,

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www. gracelaced.com

(Photo by Tish Goff)

 

 

7 Ways to Pursue Peace in the Midst of Perplexing Problems

7 ways to pursue peace

We all know the signs: heat heads up the neck; sweat trickles down the back. Mind races; thoughts huddle around imagined hypotheticals. . .  all the possibilities ending poorly.  Agitation and distress engulf until pacing the floor seems the only viable option.

For each of us, the tension triggers differ: perhaps an argument with a spouse, the woes of a financial shortfall, the confusion of a directionless future, the decisions of a wayward child, the stress of caring for a dying loved one, the unknown of a potentially serious diagnosis, the demands of a calendar too full. . .

Whatever the source of worry —  even if it is worthy of great strain indeed —  our responses to difficult circumstances speak volumes about our faith-lives.

And then there’s “do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6).

But sometimes our very real problems — all puffed up and perplexing — overwhelm our optimism, hinder our ability to hope, and amplify our tendency toward anxiety.

How should we respond, then, when hope flies? when belief falters? when faith fades?

A man of action, Paul gives us very specific tactics — all of them practical in chapter four of his little letter to the Philippians — for pursuing peace in the midst of perplexing problems:

  1. Rejoice.
    Especially in the face of turmoil we must choose joy.  This does not mean expressing forced happiness for cancer or pain or joblessness. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!” (AMP). It is in the Lord that we should be delighted and glad. There is so much to celebrate when it comes to God! Express who He is and what He means to you: He is Savior and Friend and Counselor and Guide; He is Father and Creator and Light and Truth.
  2. Be others-centered.
    When under great duress, what comes naturally is zeroing in on the self; we want the world to know we are uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden. It makes sense, then, that Paul says we should do the opposite.  Instead of focusing on ourselves we should be “unselfish and considerate in all [we] do” (Philippians 4:5 NLT). The most powerful testimonies for Jesus are those where His suffering people centered not on their own pain but on bringing hope to others.
  3. Remember God’s nearness.
    Also in Philippians 4:5, Paul reminds us that “the Lord is near.”  Sometimes, when we’re experiencing great angst, God feels far away.  We would do well to remember — despite how we might feel — that God is closest to us during tough times.
  4. Pray.
    Obvious, right?  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to friends or family first, before going to God.  Also, prayer can affect everything!!  You had an argument? Pray for reconciliation, improved relationship, healing words, love-filled responses, wisdom, discernment, forgiveness. Bring every aspect of your situation into His Light.
  5. Thank God.
    Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts is a fantastic resource for learning how to live a thankful life. After reading her book, I can literally find hundreds of reasons for which to express gratitude to God at any. given. moment.  She encourages readers to write down gifts each day — an amazing discipline!  At the very least, may we speak our gratitude out loud to God as we pray!
  6. Expect peace and protection.
    Scripture doesn’t say that God’s peace might come; it says that God’s peace will come (see 4:7).  In fact, when God’s peace comes, it will blow. our. minds.  Because it “transcends all understanding”. Not only that, but it “will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  Believe it, friends!  EXPECT it!
  7. Revise thinking.
    When I am anxious, my thoughts tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, woe-is-me settings and pity-party plot lines. Paul challenges us to ponder instead “whatever is noble… right… pure… lovely… adorable… excellent… praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

So friends, when anxiety comes — and it will come — remember that to stop being anxious, you can actively pursue peace using Paul’s strategies!

Blessings,

Rhonda

When Motherhood Becomes Hard…

When-Motherhood-Becomes-Hard.jpg

When Motherhood Becomes Hard

No matter how much we love our children, motherhood at times is just plain hard. From the sleepless nights when our precious babies are new to the world, to the tough issues that we tackle with our young adults, being a mom is no easy feat. What can we do during those hard times in order to stay positive and maintain a healthy relationship with our children?

Although I believe that each individual situation is unique, I do believe that there are always some surefire ways that will work across the board to lift your spirits on those hard days no matter what your situation is. I want to share with you what I do to get through the rough patches that motherhood brings along every now and then.

Pray.

It is imperative that we pray for ourselves and our children during times when their is a strain within the relationship. I cannot count the times that prayer has pulled me out of a hard time into a time of peace and restoration. And while it is an easy thing to say, it isn’t always easily done, right? I pray often, but in times when motherhood is presenting challenges, I have to fight the temptation to give in to my emotions, and make sure I pray first before anything else. If you are stuck and not sure what to pray, there are so many wonderful books on prayer to help you out.

Have an accountability partner.

This alone has saved my relationship with my children more times than they’ll ever know. When my husband is home and not away on deployment or training, he is my first accountability partner. He always helps build me up when I am feeling like a horrible failure of a mother. I also have a few close girlfriends that help keep me in line when ever I am tempted to throw in the towel due to a hard motherhood day. Without these valuable sounding boards in my life, I don’t know if I could have successfully made it this far in my motherhood journey.

Forgive yourself.

This was something that I used to struggle with when I was a new mom over 13+ years ago. I would beat myself up over every mistake I made and feel guilty for days on end. However, God taught me that the free gift of salvation would be in vain if I was not receiving and practicing His forgiveness. Not only towards others, but also forgiving myself. I am so glad that I made the choice to obey and forgive myself for the mistakes that I make (and will make in the future) on my beautiful motherhood journey.

Laugh and cry.

Yes, both. Both laughing and crying are good for your motherhood journey. When times get rough, releasing your emotions is crucial. Be sure to cry if you need to cry, and laugh when you need to laugh. Never hold back on either if you are having a hard motherhood day and you will feel better, I promise!

Even though motherhood can be hard, there are many ways to keep our perspective in the right place. For me this occurs through prayer, accountability, forgiveness, laughing, and crying. I pray that you will find what helps you in the midst of those rough days and bounce right back and see motherhood for what it is — beautiful!

Much love to you dear friend,

Carlie @ Learning To Speak Life

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