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Christy Catherine Marshall

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June 22, 2009

I hope all of you moms out there are having a great summer, enjoying these school-free days with your children. I’m keeping busy driving kids to summer camps and the pool.

Today, we made three big batches of homemade play-dough, and it’s amazing how this never fails to entertain all ages.

I have another lovely article to post here, with permission from the author. I hope you can find a few minutes to read Karen’s thoughts. She inspires me to seek contentment and joy, found in the relationships I treasure.

Multiple Streams of Contentment

By Karen Whiting

My mother didn’t smile on my wedding day. She spent the day overwhelmed with sadness although she loved me and loved my fiancé. He was everything she wanted in a husband for me. The wedding stayed within budget and everything went off fairly smoothly. My extended family all attended, everyone got along, and tried to cheer her up. Yet, my wedding photos will always show her sad expression.

The day before the wedding my mentally handicapped brother had lost his little job of waiting on tables at a school cafeteria. Although social workers could easily place him in a new position, mom remained discontented and focused on that problem the entire day. She made the mistake of magnifying one problem, so that it robbed her of joy on such a happy occasion.

Many people let one problem override all the blessings in their lives. It steals their contentment. They forget to trust their anxieties to God and rejoice in the blessings he has given them.

Some people fixate on something until it changes their personality and fills them with negative emotions that spill out in sin. Herodias, in Matthew 14, is an example of a person whose discontent led to a life of sin. She had a husband but chose the sin of adultery. She must have been discontent with her husband. She felt more discontent at hearing John the Baptist speak of repentance and point out her sin. That led to her plotting the murder of John the Baptist. She trampled over people and even used her beautiful daughter to get her way. She ignored John’s calls to repent, the one action that would have healed her heart and given her joy. Her bad choice snowballed into disaster for many.

In contrast, Paul spoke about contentment in Philippians four and said that he had learned to be content in prosperous circumstances and impoverished situations. His circumstances could not rob him of his joy or peace. It is very seldom that every detail in life is perfect because we live in a fallen world, but we can make choices that help us remain content despite our circumstances.

My mother finally discovered how to be content after a stroke left her partially paralyzed. She started to listen as we expressed gratitude for her life and what she could still do. When she complained that she could no longer do crafts, I mentioned that with her good hand she could write letters, a lost art, to grandchildren away at college and to her friends. She struggled to use a walker and spent much of her time in a wheelchair, but she spent time thanking God for her blessings of family, the patient care-giving of my father, the use of one hand, and a new ministry of writing letters of encouragement to family and friends. She realized that joy came as she filled her life with multiple streams of contentment.

Viewing all the different blessings in life is like seeing many streams that flow into an ocean or a lake. If one stream dries up, others keep flowing. One stream of contentment we can create is to do something for others. It gives us purpose. List your abilities and talents and consider ways to use them to bless others.

God is a giver of blessings. We learn in James 1:16-17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Blessings from God may be in the form of friends, financial security, a home, health, pets, clothing, and food. The meeting of our basic needs is a gift. Each one of these can become a stream filled with blessings. So let the abundance of gratitude for blessings flow into your heart. Consider each aspect of life as a different stream. There is always one stream that is bubbling up with blessings to fill your life with contentment.

In Philippians four, Paul provides wisdom regarding contentment: he urges people to live in harmony, rejoice in the Lord, and give anxieties to God in prayer. He encourages people to let their minds dwell on positive thoughts, stating that we should think about what is true, lovely, honorable, pure, true, and anything excellent. Positive thoughts help our emotions flow in an optimistic direction. To do this, list the blessings in each stream of life.

Spiritual streams include a relationship with Jesus, prayer, church family, Christian music, Bible study, and church fellowship.

Relational streams include family, friends, faith friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and new people we meet.

Blessings in daily life include past memories, pleasant thoughts, encouraging words, compliments, accomplishments, laughter, and smiles.

In creating the world, God also created beauty to provide natural streams of contentment filled with beautiful sunsets and sunrises, wonders of nature, blossoms, gentle breezes, showers that cause the earth to spring forth in color, and creatures that scurry and fly about.

After listing the positives, praise God for each one. Thank God for each friend and every little circumstance that is going well.

Then list past prayer requests that God answered. Thank God again for each response. Then add any new prayer needs. It’s easier to trust God and give away worries when you recall the past times when God met your needs.

To prevent the flow of blessings from drying up, of being blocked as a dam blocks a river’s flow, spend time nurturing the streams. Paul’s contentment continued in prison and despite hardships. He nurtured his relationships. He continually prayed and wrote letters. He sent greetings to friends and encouraged his companions and fellow-workers with praise. Paul’s later years stood in stark contrast to the discontented man who watched alone, as his soldiers stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58-8:3). They placed Stephen’s cloak at Paul’s feet. It’s a lonely image of someone isolated from others. He made threats from the anger of discontentment and asked others to write letters for him, letters to imprison Christians. As a Christian, he viewed the blessings in life as gifts from God and knew the joy of friendships.

Paul developed a network of friends everywhere he traveled. And he encouraged his friends to live in harmony and stay focused on their relationship with Jesus. Paul’s letters to Timothy urge Timothy to continue his relationship with God, to visit him, and to fill his life with loving actions.

Paul’s wise words offer ways to keep the streams flowing. First, continue in your relationship with God. Do not let blockage occur from sin. His letters encourage people to keep the relationship with God right and strong. He sang songs in jail and praised God in the midst of trials. Secondly, work at relationships. Keep in touch with people, invite them to visit, praise them and express gratitude for their friendship. Paul generated streams in lives of others. Paul had discovered the truth of Jesus’ words in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

My mother suffered from cancer in the final months of her life. When she called to say she had cancer I asked, “Mom, are you ready to go home to the Lord?” She said, ” Yes.” I could hear joy in her voice in spite of pain that filled her body. My children put together little care packages and wrapped up a tiny treasure to open each day. They made little crafts, wrote cards, wrapped photos, and taped messages. She smiled at each little gift. She had something positive to look forward to each day. My father, her husband of fifty years, read Scriptures at her request. She nurtured the streams.

My mentally handicapped brother had to be coaxed to visit her. He didn’t think mom would know him because she was so near death. As he entered the room I asked, “Mom, do you know who is here.” She almost yelled, something very difficult for her to do and said, “Johnny. I hear Johnny.” That melted Johnny’s heart and he stayed by her side for the afternoon, holding a cup and straw for her to sip water. She thanked him. She had learned to work at the relationships even when it became most difficult.

Until her final hours my mother did not feel pain. As she passed on to heaven, my dad and some siblings surrounded her. My mother had learned an important truth: streams of contentment can be a powerful force to ease pain, change our perspective, and create peace in our hearts.

About the Author:

A creative person with creative solutions- that’s Karen Whiting! She has a heart for busy women and desires to help them free up time for what God has truly called them to do in relationships and ministry. She challenges listeners to discover ways to connect, serve, and treasure one another.

Karen found time to follow God’s call to write even while she and husband, Jim moved around the US and raised their five children. They currently live on Maryland’s eastern shore and are new grandparents.

An author of ten books for women, families and children, Karen writes to creatively strengthen families. Her articles have appeared in dozens of magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, and Parent Life. Karen has been named Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the World, and Professional Speakers Network member of the year award. Karen has been a guest on numerous radio shows and hosted the educational television series Puppets on Parade. With humor and inspiration, Karen loves to encourage women to nurture their relationships and family life.

Find out more about Karen at her website.

To schedule Karen for a speaking event or interview, please contact Kathy Carlton Willis Communications at WillisWay@aol.com or check out the KCW blog.

By: Heather Ivester in: Christian Living,Family,Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on A Gift from Karen Whiting



June 10, 2009


I ran across this article in my email in-box and thought it offered some great ideas. The author has given permission to post it here, and I hope you can visit her encouraging website, Mom and Loving It.

“Saved By the Bell: A Summer to Remember”
by Sharon Lovejoy Autry

The final bell rang. The kids screamed for joy. Mom sits in the carpool line wondering, “What in the world are we going to do all summer?!”

Maybe as summer has begun, you’ve found yourself resentful and angry because your children constantly “interrupt” your schedule. If that’s how you’re feeling, you’re normal.

But, wait. We wanted these kids, right? Are they really interruptions or blessings in disguise? How can we move from simply surviving the summer to making it a summer to remember?

Here are a few ideas to get you out of the summer survival rut:

1. Realize they won’t be this way forever. What is it about your kids that you won’t have in two years? If you are a parent of:

* Preschoolers: Look at their hands and notice how tiny they are. Enjoy that.

* Elementary children: When you’re away from home, call them. Their voices sound small on the phone. That always reminds me to enjoy their innocence rather than expecting them to act like little grown-ups.

* Tweens: Laugh at and enjoy their giggles (usually girls) and the fascination they have with being gross (usually boys)! Hopefully that won’t last forever!

* Teens: Even if they are driving you crazy, make your home the safe place. I still remember the fun place our parents created at home. It was our refuge. Let kids feel safe in your home by cutting down on the criticism and looking for ways to build them up. Mom and Dad’s secret was a ping-pong table. We spent hours there.

2. Say “no” with a smile. It makes you and your child feel better. They know you have some regret at having to say no. You are on their team.

3. Play music. Anger and music don’t usually dance. Movie soundtracks, praise songs, music from my teen years or even classical stations. I rarely find myself upset with my kids when we have music playing in the background.

4. Go outside. Sometimes taking a walk or bike ride with the kids can do wonders to change everyone’s perspective.

5. Things aren’t always as they seem. Remember that the way you are seeing things at this moment is probably not how it will look in a couple of hours. Frustrations can build and dissolve quickly when you have kids.

6. Offer them 30 minutes of your time. After they have helped pick up around the house let them pick what the two of you will do together and watch their eyes light up! For older kids, offer them the day off after helping for an hour.

7. Ask your kids what they think is fun. You might be surprised to find that their idea of fun often doesn’t cost any money. My sister was amazed to find that her 7-year-old son’s idea of “fun” was playing tag in the front yard with dad, mom and his little sister.

8. Slow down. Successful parenting doesn’t mean you have your children involved in every possible extra-curricular activity. Successful parenting means you are there for them. If you’ve been running all year, it takes “practice” to enjoy staying home. Don’t give up. Turn off the computer, TV, cell phone, etc. and read or play games (no matter what the age of your children).

9. Pray. When you are at your wit’s end, ask God to help you remember what to do with your kids. On our own, it’s hard to enjoy the moments because “life happens.” But God has a way of giving us perspective that will slow us down and help us see our families the way He sees them: with love and compassion.

The next time you blow your top or realize you’re just surviving your kids instead of enjoying their clumsy feet, silliness, or their constant desire to talk on the phone, stop and think, “one day I’ll miss this!” The funny thing is, tomorrow we’ll be longing for today. If we choose to think like that long enough, the kids won’t be the only ones sad to hear the school bell ring this fall.

Sharon (Lovejoy) Autry, a mom of 3, co-authored Mom and Loving It, Finding Contentment in REAL Life with her sister, Laurie (Lovejoy) Hilliard, mom of 4. Visit their website, Mom and Loving It.