A New Fairytale…or not.

I was recently surprised at my reaction to a meme that was floating around Facebook. It had to do with “The New Fairytale.” It said the following:

“Once upon a time a prince asked a beautiful princess will you marry me? The princess said ‘no’ and the princess lived happily ever after and traveled around the world and met interesting people and learned new stuff and always put herself first and went to rock concerts and no one ever told her to ‘go make a sandwich’ and kept her apartment and all of her shoes and never got cheated on, period. And all her family and friends thought she was cool and made tons of money and the toilet seat was always down, like it’s supposed to be. The end.” -source unknown

Wow. There are so many things that are wrong with this seemingly innocent little meme. First, let me give you some background about myself. You see, there was a time in my life (and yes, I was a Christian at the time) where this little meme would have truly meant something to me. I was a woman on a mission. I believed that God gave me the gift of leadership and it was my responsibility to forget about men or find a man who didn’t care if I was successful and then make something of myself. I pretty much spent all four years of college becoming that woman. My career path was right in front of me and I was primed to be successful and make lots of money and travel the world if I wanted. Sort of… Ok, so really, I didn’t have a job yet, but I had the drive and my passion was for almost all of the things listed in the above meme. I went to an all women’s college, so the feminist movement was apparent and active in my life. What I didn’t know, at the time, was that God had a different mission; a mission to change my heart to be more like him and to realize that my true calling in life was a little different than what the 22 year old version of myself thought. So, when I saw this meme floating around, I was shocked at how my immediate response was an uncomfortable feeling.

So, let’s fast forward to now. I’m not anti-feminist movement, I believe I have a healthy balance of women’s rights and how that falls in line with God’s plan for families, but I will share more on that some time in the future. For now, I want to talk about some things that set off red flags in my heart when I read this meme.

1. If some prince had asked me to marry him, I’m pretty sure I would have been cool with that! Just Kidding! In all seriousness though, the whole prince/princess thing has gotten out of hand. When I was younger, I loved all of the Disney princess stuff, which wasn’t much then, and I loved any kind of princess costume, wand, crown, etc. I loved it, but I also understood that it was make believe. It wasn’t real. I wasn’t a real princess, in worldly terms anyway, I was a princess in God’s eyes, but the reality is the only royalty in my family was German nobility that happened many generations before I was born and honestly, I know nothing about it. What happened that caused this make believe world that little girls play in to become an adult fantasy? It seems to be more and more common where women get wrapped up in this fairytale land where everything is perfect and there are no troubles to work through. I find this confusing.

2. The next two sections I have problems with are, “The princess lived happily ever after… and always put herself first.” Hmm… Honestly, I’m not even sure how to respond to this. As women of God, we should not be putting ourselves first, contrary to what the world tells us about making ourselves number one. Our priorities should be God, our families/others and ourselves last. It is sound scripture and it’s what God calls us to do. God first, others second, ourselves last. “The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mathew 12:29-30)  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) Does this mean, as wives and moms, we should never care about ourselves? Absolutely not. I do believe that all moms need a break to recharge and be in the best condition to take care of her family, and I also believe we should take care of ourselves in outward appearance, but it should not be our primary focus.

3.  The last two sections I have a problem with are “and no one ever told her to go make a sandwich” and “made tons of money.”  First of all, my husband has never commanded me to “go make a sandwich.” I know that not all women come from good relationships and some husbands are dominating in a non-biblical way and command their wives to do things, but I’m not talking about sensitive or abusive relationships. I’m talking about your “average” marriage. If my husband “asked” me to make a sandwich, I would. I don’t see why this is a problem? I would love to serve my husband a sandwich and if I asked my husband to make me a sandwich, he would. The second part of this problem is the money. Obviously, we should not be making money our priority. Is it nice to have money? Sure. Does it sometimes make things easier? Yes, it does, but when it is our focus, it becomes our god. And God is very clear about that, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Ultimately, the above three problems aren’t the biggest issue I have with this meme, as I realize this meme was not intended for Christian women because if it were, then obviously loving God is the biggest issue. But given the fact that this is a secular meme, the biggest issue with this meme is how it demeans men. It’s putting in our minds that men are not important. It’s telling us women, that we don’t need our men and if we believe we don’t need our men, then we let our men know we don’t need them and the deeper and deeper this belief goes, the more truthful it becomes. There is a problem in this country and in our church, where we are constantly demeaning our men and teaching them to be passive and teaching them that they are not important and making them feel useless in the church, in the home and with our children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty of this as the next. It’s something I’m really praying about and working on and God is really working on my heart in this area. This whole idea, though, is very dangerous. We can’t make our men feel this way. God designed men and women to be partners to share in each others strengths and weaknesses and to need one another! We can’t keep bringing our men down, we have to build them up and we have to tell them why we need them and why they are important. We do this through loving them in all circumstances and encouraging them as their partner.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24

I encourage you this week to really work towards encouraging your husbands. If you do this already, great, keep it up. If this is an area you struggle with, then give it to God. Ask God to show you how to make your husband see that he is needed and how to love him in a Godly way. Do you struggle with sometimes making your husband not feel needed? I find this especially challenging with parenting. Is this an area that you need to turn over to God? Have you seen this same things happening in the church and around you?

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Four Ways to Change Your Prayer Perspective

The other day, I was going about my business, when God decided it was time to speak to me. I was opening the refrigerator to get something to drink and God said, “I answered your prayer and you didn’t even notice.” Wait? What? Woah, this really cut right through my heart. God was right, of course he answered my prayer and I really didn’t notice. It was a small prayer, but it was answered. In fact, it wasn’t just a small prayer, it was a silly prayer.

You see, the Saturday before, I went to the hair salon and got a new hair color. I needed a fresh look. I spent 3 hours in the salon trying to achieve the color I wanted and when all was said and done, I hated it. I didn’t say anything because the shop was closing up and we were already there for 3 hours. I kept thinking it would grow on me, but as soon as I got in my car, I started crying. The tears lasted all afternoon and into the next day. My poor husband! I felt horrible and my hair looked terrible. I immediately called the salon and left a voicemail, but they were closed on Sundays and Mondays, so I had to wait out 2 full days with really awful looking hair. On Tuesday morning, I received a phone call from the salon saying they couldn’t fit me in until the following Wednesday. That meant I had to deal with my hair color for a week and a half. I was so upset because I was going out of town to see my family over the weekend and I really wanted my hair to be fixed since I don’t see them too often. I decided to call back the salon and see if I could get put on a cancellation list and then I prayed. I told God that I knew this was a silly prayer and maybe a little vain, but I was really embarrassed by my hair color. I thought it portrayed to the world that I was somebody else and it made me feel really uncomfortable. The next day, the salon stylist calls me and says, “we got a cancellation for Thursday morning and you were the first person I thought of because I know you were going out of town.” Of course I said, “YES!” I rearranged my schedule and was super excited to go on Thursday to get my hair fixed. After I hung up the phone, I moved on with my day and left it at that, but that afternoon God said what he did, “I answered your prayer and you didn’t even notice.” Doh! I immediately repented and praised God for his answered prayer and for hearing my small cry.

This whole situation got me thinking about prayer in general. I started thinking about how I can make my prayer life more complete and I came up with a few ways. Here are four ways to change your prayer perspective:

1. CONSIDER SMALL PRAYERS: Understand that no prayer is a small prayer. All prayers, no matter how small we think they are, are important to God. We are his children and he hears our cries and though we may think our prayers aren’t that big of a deal, they are to God. We should not take prayer lightly. “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)

2. CONSIDER BIG PRAYERS: Remember, all prayers are the same to God. We are the ones who do the ranking. We determine what we think are big and small prayers, but God sees all of our prayers the same, as children crying out to their father. That being said, if we have ranked a prayer as a “big prayer,” we need to be patient. The reality is that sometimes our big prayers seem to go unanswered because there are a lot of factors that must take place before the full answer to that prayer comes. For instance, let’s say you’re praying for someone to come to know the Lord. It seems like it’s taking forever and you can’t figure out why God would not want this person to come to know him as their personal savior. What I have learned, over time, is that all that waiting time isn’t about me as much as I think it is. That waiting time does build our character and teach us patience, which the Lord is doing, but it’s also about the person we’re praying for and God needs that time to set up everything perfectly so that when it is time for that person to know him personally, their heart is in the right place. Remember, God’s timing is perfect? “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3) God is much bigger than we and he crosses our hearts and paths at exactly the right time to receive him fully.

3. BE GRATEFUL: This situation really pulled at my heart because I started thinking, if I don’t notice the answers to these small prayers, how could I notice the answer to the big prayers? Again, remember, all prayers are cries from God’s children, we do the ranking, but God knows we do the ranking and he uses that to teach us. Let’s take a minute and look at this verse, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 5:21) I know that this is about responsibility and about God trusting us with more, but what happens when we apply this verse to our gratefulness? It made me start thinking about God teaching me to be grateful for answers to my small prayers in order to prepare me to be grateful for my bigger prayers. The heart of this point is if I can’t give God credit for HIS doings, then I am selfish and I am not giving control to the Lord, because I am taking credit for myself for his workings. God is in control, God answered the prayer and it was not my doing. For that, I am grateful!

4. REMEMBER GOD IS BIGGER: Finally, God is bigger! We can’t forget this. God is so much bigger than us, this, everything. He is in control and we are only human. We may not ever understand why God does what he does and we may think we know more than God, especially in regards to timing, but the reality is we don’t! We don’t know anything compared to God. He is supreme and we have to humble ourselves before him and accept this reality because if we don’t we may often not notice those answered prayers and what we think is us losing hope waiting on the Lord, is really us being disobedient in our ability to let God rule our life. “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:18) God is above all!

This situation really changed my prayer perspective. I can’t believe how easy it was to dismiss God’s answered prayer for my own doing. I have really been thinking about this a lot lately and God is really working on my heart to point out my sin of pride and selfishness.

Are there any prayers in your life that you took credit for the answers? Do you remember to thank God once he answers your prayers, even the small ones? I’d love to hear about small and big prayers that God has answered in your life!


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5 Ways to Change Someone’s Attitude

My husband was in a crabby mood recently when he got home from work. I’m not really sure what made him upset, but he was very short tempered and obviously tired and/or irritated. As most humans, I feed off of the emotions of those around me. This is very important to keep in mind as a teacher. I always knew that whatever I was feeling in the classroom, my students were feeling it from me. Whenever my husband is in a icky mood, it always makes me feel upset, mean, frustrated, angry, you name it and I feel it. It’s amazing how much his mood sets off my mood, which in turn sets off our daughter’s mood. It seems no matter how many times I tell him that his mood affects everyone around him, he still doesn’t change.

God has made it very clear to me that it is not my responsibility to change my husband or anyone for that matter. God is responsible for changing, not me. So, what do we do when people around us make us feel bad, especially when they are people we love? Well, the straight answer is, we continue to love them, but to help you along in these situations, I’ve come up with 5 ways to change someone’s attitude:

1. PRAY:  This seems the most obvious thing to do, but if you’re anything like me, it’s not the first thing I think of doing. Usually, I’m so frustrated that the person around me is in a bad mood that the last thing I want to do is pray, but God calls us to humble ourselves and pray in all situations. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) Yikes! Did you see that? “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Do you know what that means? That means that if we refuse to pray continually, then we are not living the will of God, which means, uh-oh, we’re being disobedient. Given this command, I think it’s important that we make sure we pray. Not sure what to pray in these situations? Try a simple prayer like this: 

God, I want to praise you right now for this situation. It is hard for me to pray right now because I’m frustrated, but you said that it is your will for me to pray continually. I pray that you soften my heart towards this person and this situation and I pray that the joy in my heart to follow your will, Lord, will shine so bright that the person near me will absorb your spirit instead of a spirit of moodiness. Thank you for your spirit of peace, joy and kindness. Amen

2. REMAIN SILENT: Hmm… This.is.hard! I’m a strong willed woman. I always have been and I’ve been blessed with a strong willed daughter (more on this some other day). I was raised to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I also was grounded a lot as a child for talking back to my parents and I may or may not have always had to have the last words in an argument. God has taught me and is STILL teaching me how to tame my tongue. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) Ugh, this one gets me every time. It is so hard to remain silent, but I need to remain silent in order to let God work in the situation. Remaining silent not only gives us time to evaluate the situations and to observe what is really going on, but it also gives us a chance to practice self-control on our own emotions and mood. Remaining silent is a way to catch our breath and not say something sharp to the other person

3. USE ENCOURAGING WORDS/STAY POSITIVE: Think about a time when you felt really bad, sad, mad, tired, angry or any other negative feeling. Has anyone ever said anything positive to you during that time? If so, it probably made you feel a little better. Our job in this situation is to say something positive. It could be something as simple as, “you look great today,” or “I know you’re probably tired, thank you for working such long hours for our family.” Maybe it’s a friend’s attitude that’s got you in a tizzy, you could stay positive by bringing up a funny memory with that person. “Hey, remember the time when…” We are called to encourage one another, so it is essential that we do this in all situations, but even more so in these situations. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thes. 5:11)

4. EXPRESS CONCERN: Politely ask your spouse, friend, whomever, if something might be bothering them. Tell them that you noticed they might seem a little on edge and you were wondering if everything was OK? This is not always my first reaction. My first reaction tends to be a snappy, “what’s your problem?” kind of response, which ultimately leads to a much heated argument. When we give attitude back to the person who is already grumpy, we are just adding fuel to the flame. It is important that we have genuine concern for the person and take an interest in finding out what really is wrong. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephs. 4:32) Ouch, another zinger! Be compassionate and forgiving just as God forgave me. Talk about conviction! Expressing concern makes the situation all about the other person and not about us and not about how offended we are by their actions or how “unjust” it is that the other person is upset and taking it out on us. When we love someone, then we should not be selfish, for love is not self-seeking. (1 Corinth 13:5)

5. OFFER HELP: Finally, offer help. “Do you need me to help you somehow so that you can relax?” or “How about you go ahead and spend some time enjoying a TV show or a cup of tea and I’ll take care of everything else tonight.” A simple gesture that could make all the difference in that person’s day. It is our calling to carry the burdens of our family and friends and anyone else. God’s will is for us to care for one another and help each other in all situations. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)

So there you have it, how to change someone’s attitude. If you haven’t caught on by now, the person’s attitude you’re changing isn’t someone else, but rather your own. If we change our attitude towards other people, ultimately, we may find that their attitude changes too. This has been a real struggle for me to realize and God has been telling me over and over how I need to change. I always like to say, “but that isn’t fair, ” at which point God reminds me that he is a fair and just God and that he knows more than I do and more than I ever will.

I encourage you this week to change your attitude towards someone else and see what blessings God will bring.

Are you like me and find it hard to change your attitude when you feel it’s the other person who needs changing?