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September 2013

Just a Little Patience by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

Motherhood: It can be kind of hard at times, don’t you think? But if I've learned anything throughout my tenure as a mom, it’s this--the unexpected should always be expected, that patience is definitely a virtue, and that if I’m going to make it out of this thing alive (and with my sanity still in tact), not only do I have to be prepared, but I've got to learn to lean (heavily) on my Heavenly Father along the way.

In theory, this sounds great, right? But when it comes down to it, many of us moms still find ourselves struggling. Take the issue of patience for instance. Who else finds themselves quick-tempered and easily frustrated? I know I do. Yep. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to express this discipline with my children. Maybe the real problem here is that I no longer think like a kid. I think like an adult instead, and expect my kids to think (and act) the same way I do. But as Mark Merrill once stated,  “Patience is choosing to control your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.” Hey, our kids are going to make mistakes. At times, they’re going to do things that make absolutely no sense at all, in this lifetime or any other. They’re going to act out, behave poorly, throw tantrums, and embarrass the heck out of us, but guess what? They’re kids and the whole concept of good behavior just happens to be a learned one. It’s how we respond to those crazy situations that make all the difference. Yelling and screaming won’t get you anywhere (believe me, I’ve tried), but controlling your tongue, using reason followed by firm discipline instead, and implementing the use of prayer most definitely will.  When your patience is all but gone, try a few of these tips to help you keep your cool:

  1. Count to ten…or eighty: Ten seconds definitely won’t cut it so try counting to eighty instead. Take some deep, calming breaths and try breathing your way through the frustration. Remember those Lamaze methods you once used to deliver your now tantrum-throwing child? Try dusting off those birthing manuals and bust out those breathing techniques all over again.  Breathe away that frustration, and keep your cool when tempers threaten to rage. Ommmm.
  2. Pray: Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Hey, God knows when you’re about to flip your lid, and He’s quite aware of just how trying His little creations can be.  So, seek Him out for help any time your patience is being tested and your sanity is in question. Pray often and always.
  3. Keep Calm…and carry on: I feel like this phrase was written especially for me. You too?  Keep this saying close to your heart, fresh on your mind and maybe plaster it somewhere in your home as a reminder when things get tough—because frustration is inevitable when you’re a mommy, which means we had better find ways to deal with it appropriately. Amen?  Keep calm girls…breathe, pray, relax, repeat.

Remember moms—you don’t have to be perfect because you weren’t created to be. Rely on God to help get you through and understand that your very best is more than enough. “Enjoy every single moment. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the inspiring, the not-so-glamorous moments. And thank God throughout it all. –Meghan Matt 

Wonder womanAuthor Bio: Jenny Lee Sulpizio is a wife and mother of three who enjoys writing about anything and everything under the sun, but especially loves to instruct, motivate, and guide other moms with practical advice, tips, and a whole lot of comic relief in the process. Jenny is a contributing writer for The MOB Society and Moms Together, and is the author of the recently released guide for all mamas titled, “Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe: On a Mission to Save Sanity, One Mom at a Time.” To find out more about Jenny or to follow her blog, visit Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest:

Can a Video Game Reflect a Message of Faith?

MarioMy oldest daughter Rachel wrote this amazing article entitled “Why Life is Like Mario Kart Double Dash.” She does a great job of making connections to the “hits of life” and getting “shelled” in Mario Kart.

I talked to Rachel a bit about her faith and how, though she doesn’t outright say it, much of what she is saying has to do with her foundation of faith. “If God weren't present, the boosts wouldn't happen. Just like in the game, if the intelligence system wasn't included the players would fail.”

As moms, we are challenged everyday with the task of teaching our children about Jesus and to help them see Him working in their lives. Because without Jesus in our lives, we are destined to fail.

Jesus is our biggest “boost” of all. That task gets even more challenging with outside influences from school, friends and activities, and even more challenging still in a mismatched home. But in talking to my daughter I realized that the groundwork of faith that I had taught her as a child now enabled her to see this God design in a video game. And honestly all I did was share with her what I believed and saw God doing all around us when she was little.

I share my kingdom perspective. As we talked and played together, I would explain how God designed so many things to show us His love and care for us, like flowers and puppies and kittens. As she grew older the challenges of becoming a teen became fertile ground for helping her to love the unlovable, to see beyond herself and consider what the other person may be struggling with. I made suggestions to help her see how God might be working not only in the situation but her as well. And now as an adult, I have the joy of watching her walking into life, college and now marriage with such wisdom and grace.

Moms and Dads, look at every thing in life as a teaching moment. When our children are young, they are so much more receptive and able—yes, able—to grasp the gift of God’s loving presence and to believe it. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see and ears to hear these opportunities, and then step into them knowing you have the full backing of Abba’s favor. Because you are doing exactly what He has asked you to.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” — Deut. 11:19-21

We can use video games, TV shows, events at school, conflicts with their friends, and even world events as tools to help them know and see Jesus. In our upcoming book, Not Alone, I tell a story about turning a controversial kids’ book into an opportunity to teach my daughter about God’s truth and how evil can try to disguise itself to look like it.

I didn’t have control over this book coming into our home, but I did have a choice over how I would react and handle it. With God’s help, I turned a potential negative into a positive. These are choices we can make when faced with unwelcomed intrusions in our children’s sphere of learning and perception, even when they come into our homes. God is all about turning a negative into a positive—redemption. And from His kingdom perspective the possibilities are unlimited.

Moms and Dads, God has got your back!

Much love in Jesus! Dineen

Teaching Our Kids Respect in a Social Environment

Parenting Tip # 368

Teaching Our Kids Respect in a Social Environment

Okay, I don’t know why I named this parenting tip number 368 because it’s actually one of the most meaningful parenting tips in all my years of raising kids. It’s about teaching our children respect.

Let me ask you a question. Are you ever in a social situation where there are adults and children present such as a BBQ, neighborhood party or church gathering and you find yourself talking to a group of adults and a child bursts into the conversation and starts pulling on her mother? This child begins to moan with great dramatics such as only a small girl can, saying over and over, “Moooooooooom.  Moooooooom.  Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooom.”

She moans again and again and pulls harder and harder on her mother’s arm. All the while, mom is completely ignoring the rising sound of this child’s whining. Standing in this group of adults, you become increasingly distracted and uncomfortable. And finally out of frustration the mom abruptly looks down and impatiently barks at the child, “WHAT?”

Mom daughter handsYep, you have either watched this scenario play out or you have been this mother. I know I was for a while. So early in my parenting I decided I didn’t want to be this kind of mother and I didn’t want my daughter to behave so rudely in front of other adults. I wanted her to respect me and the other adults to whom I was speaking. So, I started a simple communication procedure.

I explained to my daughter that when she sees me talking to another adult that she is not to burst into the conversation because that is rude and disrespectful.

I said to Caitie, “Sweetie, when you see me talking with another mom and you need something from me or need to ask me a question, I don’t want you to interrupt me. What I want you to do is quietly take my hand. When you take my hand I will know that is the signal that you need something. I will immediately cover your hand with my other hand and that way you will know that I realize you are waiting to talk to me. And I promise you that I will give you my full attention just as soon as I can leave the conversation. Can you do that for me?”

“Yes, mom.”

And Wow, did this small change in my parenting result in great rewards. I discovered a miracle with this small but effective request. But the key to the success of this parenting tip is this: Always, ALWAYS remove yourself from the adult conversation as quickly as possible. Then bend down to your child’s level and give him or her your full attention. Then promptly help them with their request. When you do this, the will always respect you and not interrupt.

Your child will be a marvel at parties and BBQ’s and moms will think you are the most amazing mother. But the best part of this kind of exchange is twofold. First, your child learns to respect you as an adult and respect other adults. And secondly, your child learns that he or she is very important to you.

They learn their high value because you acknowledge their need and presence by covering their hand. They know that just as soon as possible, you will give them your full attention and help. This speaks volumes to this little person about how they are loved by you. This small gesture of quiet communication is teaching your child love, respect and honor.

Who knew?

My daughter is now a young adult and we were recently at a neighborhood get together. She came up to me while I was speaking with a friend and took my hand. I immediately looked at her and smiled. She smiled broadly right back at me in a teasing and gentle way knowing that even at 18 she was signaling that she still needed her mom and was showing me love and respect.

We gazed with knowing eyes at each other sharing our little secret of love and communication as I gently covered her hand with mine.

From a humble parent to another, train up a child in the way he should go, and when she is old she will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 Amen. Have an amazing day with your children. They are the best gift God will ever give you. Hugs, Lynn

God ’s Promises for the Mismatched Marriage and Home

In Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, he talks about the differences between a spouse-based marriage and a God based marriage. I believe these characteristics are vital for us to understand in a spiritually mismatched marriage as well and can make the difference as to whether we are struggling or thriving in our spiritual mismatch.

Spouse centeredA spouse-centered marriage is performance based. In other words, I’ll do something nice for him if he does something for me. Or, why should I do that for her? She never does anything for me? And how about this one: He was grumpy last night. No way am I going to be nice to him today. This is conditional love and is self-motivated. Basically, as long as our spouse is performing to our standards, and meeting our needs, we will love them, help them and be a good spouse in return. As soon as they stop meeting that standard, we withdraw our affection, love and help. The focus is on a person and whether or not that person is meeting all of our needs, even the ones designed to be filled only by God. This is a form of idolatry. And in a spiritual mismatch there is a risk of idolatry when we focus completely on our spouse’s salvation and allow it to define the marriage and how we treat them.

God centeredIn a God-centered marriage we love our spouse, because that is what Jesus has asked us to do—love one another. We serve our spouse as an act of serving God and put concern for their needs first. We love them whether they are grumpy or happy (though we may need to hold them accountable for their behavior). And we help our spouse without the expectation of getting something in return. The focus is on God, with prayerful consideration as to which expectations are to be met by our spouse and which expectations need to be met by God. See the difference? I know this isn’t easy, especially if you’re in a difficult marriage. Even a marriage where both the husband and wife are believers will experience conflict if they are more spouse than God centered.

In a spiritual mismatch, as we keep our focus on God, we are able to catch a glimpse of who God created our spouse to be. And when we love them with that image in our hearts, we are partnering with God to release their destiny, the salvation God placed in our hearts for eternity (Ecc. 3:11). This is what unconditional love and acceptance looks like and must be God-motivated and activated. Only through the Holy Spirit can we love a person this way.

SMM MarriageIn a spiritually mismatched marriage, I believe it’s even more important to work toward a God-centered marriage. In fact, your efforts and commitment will be the very thing God uses to show your pre-believer who He is.

  1. When we love our spouse from the motivation that we are serving God—being obedient to God—God sees our efforts. Our spouse may not, but God sees. And He is faithful to meet our needs (Phil 4:19).
  2. In some way, our spouse will be affected on some level. They may not respond right away. They may not respond in a way that you’d expect. But when we are loving our spouse from the motivation to serve God—in essence, if we are loving our spouse from a place of loving Jesus—we become a conduit for the love of Christ to reach our spouse. That’s powerful! We are what the Bible calls the “aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14-16).

But here’s the best part—a promise from God that is ours as the believing spouse in a spiritual mismatch:

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1Corinthians 7:14

My exploration of this verse led me to find out what exactly “sanctified” meant in each use in this verse. The Greek word used in both places is hagiazo, which means to make holy, consecrate. In my Bible commentary I found this wonderful explanation of what sanctified means in this context:

“The word “sanctified” does not refer to moral purity—Paul is certainly not teaching that the unbelieving partner is made morally pure through a believing spouse. What the word emphasizes is a relationship to God, a claim of God on the person and family to be set apart for Him. The tense of the verb stresses that the unbeliever who is in a Christian family has already become and continues to be a part of a family unit upon which God has His claim and which He will use for his service.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Abridged Edition)

The commentary goes on to even reference our children as being covered much like the children of the Israelites were included in God’s covenant with them. Jesus also makes reference to this in Acts 2:38-39 when He says salvation is a promise not just for us but for our children and “for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” This leads me to conclude two things:

  1. God made a covenant with the Israelites, which covered their children and each generation after. God also sees marriage as a covenant, without qualification. Does this mean we can take our marriage as a covenant with our spouse as also a “covering” for our unbelieving spouse? Could this be what Paul means when he says our unbelieving spouse is also sanctified through us, the believing spouse? I believe it does.
  2. If the point above is true, this makes our marriages uniquely different from a marriage of two unbelievers. I see us as that middle place between a marriage between two unbelievers and a marriage between two believers. In a spiritual mismatch have an edge over the first. If what the commentary says is true, then our pre-believing spouse has been set apart by God.



FamilyWhich then brings me to this conclusion: Our place in our marriage is not just about what we pray, what we do, or what we think. It’s also about who we are. As children of God, born into the family of God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, our very presence protects our spouses and our children. No, that doesn’t mean they are saved by association, but it does mean God has a special interest in our marriage and the salvation of our spouse and children that goes beyond the norm. There’s a covenant involved, and we know how God feels about covenants.

So, my dear friends, we can commit our marriage and our family into God’s hands with the full confidence that He’s laid a claim on you, your spouse and your children. He is smack dab in the middle working. On those days that you wonder and doubt, remember this commitment and profess God’s truth—you belong to Him and through you, God has sanctified all those under the umbrella of your faith.

Claim this promise, SUMites! God placed in the Bible for a reason and it's up to us to choose to live in this truth and believe that God is faithful to keep His promises through the generations.

Love you dearly and honored to be on this path with you! Dineen