Mommy Moment: Self-Control

“Knock. Knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Control Freak–Now you say control freak who!”

Staying on top of the activities and choices of others comes almost too naturally for me. It’s when I try to discipline myself into my own better behavior that I continue to fall short.

I have potty-trained 6 children, corralled my spendy husband into a monthly budget, kept many potential two-year-old temper tantrums at bay, and have managed to keep most gaseous body functions or discussions thereof away from the dinner table.

However, despite my own tidy table manners, I can toss a tantrum of my own once in a while. At times, I totally lack the ability to resist greasy restaurant food or a bowl of Blue Bell if offered, and there are days when nothing in heaven or earth can persuade me to fold the laundry.

Everyone needs self-control. As mothers, our job is to take the infant who can control nothing in his life and gradually nurture him into maturity where he does call the shots.

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. -Proverbs 25:28

Our job to protect our children from harm and pollution of the world can be absolutely undermined if we do not exhibit self-control in our own lives. It is what we model before our children that they truly assimilate into their lives.

When we make good decisions for life, there’s a great chance our children will too.

When we make horrible decisions in life, there’s a Great God who forgives us…and that’s a super thing for the wee ones to know and learn as well.

God is in control. Are you struggling to submit to that truth? What’s in your way?

Let Him have “it” … He’s really great at what He does.

James 1 hidden in our hearts.

Cari winter2012

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Holy Hobby

“So, do you think you’d like to help us with a multi-media elective?”

My long-time friend and I stood against the brick exterior of our daughters’ dance studio. He was hesitantly willing to participate in a worship arts program for kids in our community. Skeptically, he probed, “Whose idea was this, anyway?”

“Mine.” I gleamed. “I think it would be so awesome to work with kids every day for a week in the summer and then present a musical for the community. They could explore creative forms of worship and have such a feeling of ownership!” I dreamed out loud. “You could work with a small group of kids, teach them some photography techniques, and help them create a slide show!”

He shook his head in dismay, “You just make up new volunteer work for yourself?” His silent smile blossomed later that year into five days of his attentive investment into the lives of some very enthusiastic grade schoolers.

“Whose idea was this, anyway?” The memory of his disgruntled query amused me for many days.

I suppose it was my idea, but I hope it was the Lord who gave it to me. God has placed within me a driving desire to inspire and equip this generation of worshipers. Regularly, He stirs my creative waters and these seasonal churnings demand my attention and thought and prayer. I love brainstorming with the Lord. I try to read His mind, while He already knows my heart. In our communal silence, He mentions opportunities, sparks ideas, and leads me to search His Word for confirmation.

Earlier that year, I had sat in a high school auditorium watching my daughter’s drama camp present a musical. It was well done, but lacked … Spirit. As costumed children happily danced around and sang, watching for their stage marks, I wondered if a worship arts camp would be effective in our neighboring small town. I worried that I was not qualified to lead it since I didn’t have a teaching certificate or much theatrical experience. I encouraged myself that I DO love to worship the One True God, and if He wanted a worship arts camp in our town, He could definitely make it happen.

There, in that dark, noisy theater, my devotional daydreams were interrupted by my husband who was sitting beside me. He put his arm around my shoulders and whispered, “This isn’t any better than the musicals you guys do at our church. You could do something like this in our town next summer.”

God speaking to two people at the same time. Cool.

When I mentioned the idea to our Worship Pastor, he was excited and supportive. Completely cool.

We have had two successful summer worship arts camps, with another planned for next summer. I love directing children’s worship. It is a volunteer position, and I milk “volunteer” for all its worth. I don’t do it for money. I do it for love: love for God, love for worship, love for kids, and love for discipleship.

Meeting with those kiddos takes time and talent. It takes away from my other pass times and Sunday nap times, and it requires that I be prayerfully prepared. But these are small investments compared to the rich return! I’m sure some of the reward is in Heaven, but God is graciously pouring out vast benefits here on Earth.

Children can access faith and fun much more easily than stuffy adults. Our “rehearsals” which are really times of worship are energetic and pure. I am nurturing relationships with my children’s peers. The adults who serve as partners in this holy hobby are now my own wonderful friends. We are exploring the goodness of God and venturing out in our own creativity to honor Him. We are learning skills. We are writing Truth on our hearts. We are hiding His Word. We are helping others. We are worship leaders – not later when we grow up – today.

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go in to the house of the Lord!'” -Psalm 122:1

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Laying Down the Good

Our boys are still at the ages where they like mom to lay down with them at night as they fall asleep. Each night I get the plea,

” Mom will you please lay down with us?”

“Mom, you have to lay down with me, too!” 

and pretty much each night I do. We are going to sleep these days to the melodious sounds of DC Talk. Each boy gets one song ( unless I inadvertently fall asleep…ahem) to drift off to dream land. Usually, it doesn’t even take the entire song.

There are many nights when I have to choose to stop and do this. I have so many other things that need to be done. Good things. It’s a good thing to clean the kitchen at night. It’s a good thing to make sure we have clothes to wear for the next day. Some days, for my sanity’s sake, it’s a good thing for me to sit and watch a favorite tv show. Threw that one in just in case you thought all my “good things” were so noble as the first two.

I am sure you have your list of “goods” as well–especially if you are a single mom. I have had a few nights here recently when my husband’s work schedule had me solo parenting. Many of you have the same situation. Many of you are single moms for other reasons. Whatever the cause, time is precious to a single mama. She has much to do and not much time to do it in. The list of “goods” doesn’t just battle for the time of mamas, but of so many of us just as women. We have “good” things that need to be done that limit our time with others. Time that they may so desperately need and we will be called to lay down. When that girlfriend calls and you can tell her heart is heavy, but you were just on your way to do this or that. When your aging parents require a trip to Wal-Mart, a trip you know will take an entire afternoon that you really just don’t feel like you have to spare. When that neighbor needs to be run here or there, calls you last minute to see if you can facilitate him or her, and completely changes your plans for the one day you had off.

There are lots of “good” things that we need to be doing. Scripture tells us to keep doing the good (Galatians 6:9).  It does not, however, tell us to get caught up in it. The Word does not tell us to place doing the “good” above all else. Above love. Above relationship. Above investing into others.

This week I have been to a fundraiser for a father of 3 fighting cancer. His list of “goods” has probably changed. This week one of the boys in the AWANA group I work with lost his mom to cancer. His “good” is different now, as is his entire family’s. You have similar experiences I am sure. The family whose child requires more than they ever thought. The couple fighting for their marriage. The spouse carrying the load of the family, due to some injury or illness that has come upon his or her loved one. All of their “good things” they thought needed to be done before have changed.

What I pray for us all is that it doesn’t take a major event to put our “good” things into perspective. I pray we would have hearts that seek what God esteems above what we think He does. I pray our desire to be seen as a good friend, a good mother, a good wife, a good whatever doesn’t trump the very ones we are trying to be good to.

While we continue to do the “good” things on our list, as we should, Lord helps us to remember what You desire. Give us sensitive spiritual ears to hear the nudgings of Your Holy Spirit that we may know when to lay down our “good” things for holy opportunities, no matter how small they seem to us, You place before our feet and hands.



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3-book Set of Children’s Books

3-book Set of Children’s Books

Please leave a comment on this post OR email Trish (specifying which gift you are interested in) to be entered. All drawings will be on September 8th at 5pm MST to give everyone a chance to enter.

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Marriage and Baggage — Part 2

Yesterday, dear readers, I opened wide my suitcase to show you two areas of baggage with which we struggle in our own marriage (Read Here, if you missed it). Today my suitcase carries a can of worms! Oh let’s just get it out on the table shall we? Here are two more areas of baggage with which we struggle:

  • PAST/ PRESENT HURTS —  When a little bird is learning to fly, the Mama bird will fly with her little one and be at-the-ready to fly right underneath, to undergird her bird in flight until that baby learns how to fly steadily. I actually watched this the other day out in a nearby field. The mama bird was watchful, intent and faithful to swoop down when needed to steady her student. So it is with our past and present hurts.  Some ground is new for us, and we need wisdom in learning how to navigate and grow strong.


As a couple, we are to undergird one another in their hurts–not enabling for poor behavior stemming from the hurts, no.  But standing with and beside and cheering one another on, being watchful, intent and ready.  If counsel is needed, get good godly counsel without delay.  Sometimes, we just need to shut our mouths and LISTEN without interruption. Even so, we are navigating this course together.  To be strong, we must be willing to get underneath one another as they fly, meaning we pray for them and speak encouragement and listen. {This is a topic I will touch base on more personally next week–probably two posts worth.}

  • PRIDE — Oh each one of us should have just groaned. We ALL have pride and are prideful.  It is in our fabric. Let me tell you, this kind of baggage is poisonous, if given full rein.  It will destroy your marriage and any healthy relationships you are building–tearing apart families, churches, communities and nations. Scripture tells you to take it off or put it off, like clothing. Call the attitude for what it is and throw it off. Now granted this word has been misused in our language, as it has two distinctly different flavors .  There is proud of someone for an accomplishment–that is the FOR you kind of pride.  Then there is pride and arrogance that is paired with unteachability–this is the AGAINST you kind of pride. This is the kind of which we are talking today.

Here is what we do in our marriage: when we see the other acting from pride, we tattle on them to God. We keep on tattling until we see an “invitation” with the other to discuss the behavior. When the invitation comes, we gently share that we know and understand where they are coming from, but the outworking of it is prideful, arrogant and destructive.  For instance I have said to my Chris before, “I know this person in your life is acting in a way they shouldn’t and you are feeling threatened and angered by their behavior, so you are taking this into your own hands and handling that person in a way you should not. Turn them over to God. Charge it to His account. (Philemon 18) He will be faithful to take care of it.”

As we bring our baggage to God, each weight and hindrance that it represents, He gladly TAKES it from us and carries the weight–cast your cares on Him, every single one. He invites us daily to stay in the yoke (the kind built for two and intended to plow the ground ahead) with Jesus, letting Him bear the burden of the weight.  Our only job there in that place is to go where He leads, one step at a time and one day at a time. As a couple, we let God teach us about our baggage and the layers and layers of baggage within our hearts and lives.  It isn’t a quick process, but it is one that in the long run allows us to be all that God intended for us to be and do what He has called us to do.  I will close with a verse that has marked my walk that past two years, may it arrest your attention:

“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time–pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy, so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the Name of Jesus, He will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving Himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving Himself freely.” 1 Thessalonians 1:11-12 The Message

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Marriage and Baggage–Part 1

A few years ago, I traveled with my friend to a weekend conference. As we were waiting for our luggage at the final stop, my very large and well-used suitcase (which had been given to us by a friend, who often traveled internationally) was coming down the luggage shoot and the handle just fell out and came first. Then came the bag.  And we laughed our heads off! Now my friend also works at a fine luggage store and said wryly, “You gotta get a new suitcase! That ain’t right.”

We ALL have baggage–whether is it packaged all nice and pretty or falling down the shoot and falling apart. The packaging really doesn’t matter so much–“controlled” junk and out of control junk is all the same junk.  Eventually the contents come pouring out over time, for any semblance of control is a facade.

Earlier this week, I spoke about how to divorce-proof your marriage.  The topic alone is a difficult one.  There are so many scenarios and situations that begin with, “But what about…?”. I know. I get that. We are all unique and created to be so.  Marriage is the marrying of two hearts and lives, but that does not equal “same lives.”   It means we have a wonderful supply of talents and abilities and a terrible lot of baggage we try to hold at bay, until it comes seeping out or pouring out in a torrent. We should celebrate and utilize those positive parts–talents and abilities. The negative parts, well, we have to face and deal with them in a healthy way.

That is my subject for today and tomorrow–dealing with the baggage. So let’s discuss today two kinds of baggage, which we may be carrying:

  • CHILDREN — No they are not baggage, and having them or not having them, wanting them and not being able to have them can all grow into some serious baggage of heart and mind. They are truly a blessing.  They do not fit into neat little packages nor do they arrive when we want them. They are often not on our schedule! But as a couple, we should discuss them openly and honestly.

If you are longing for a child in your home, the first place to begin is with one another and in prayer–seeking God one day at a time. I have been where you are–longing is hard, I know, so lift your eyes to God. He has a plan, knows your heart and is the initiator of this desire for children! So trust His plan, His way and His how. It is worth the faith you will gain, as you trust Him.

With children, sometimes they try to take the place of hierarchy in the home, which is the wife’s or husband’s.  As a couple, we must guard here. They need to know that mom and dad are a united front and there is no way they can come and usurp authority. Of course, we must tend to the children’s needs–and as babies, they need a LOT of our time and attention. This is where, as a couple, we must be proactive in spending time together and doing those activities we love to share! Model to your children the importance of united front, by showing them that while they are important and valuable, you and your spouse have time set apart that is just you. Believe me, children will try to get around the system and use many methods to divide.  Be watchful for this behavior and nip it in the bud. Love them and lead them.  Show them it is okay, even GREAT, for mom and dad to like spending time together, just as two.

  • APPEARANCE/ WEIGHT — It is completely unfair to think that we will always look the way we did back in the day. It is an unfair expectation and unrealistic.  We do not have personal beauticians, trainers and make-up artists following us around.  So if we see a movie with “so and so” and “such and such,” who (though our age) still have maintained their youthful appearance, some of it is hours and hours of hard work on their part, some is money they have to pay such people to train, brand and dress them, and some can be special effects or airbrushing. So let’s face it, while it is important to pay attention to daily hygiene and health choices, we are not going to be on film (nor is Better Homes and Gardens likely to come and do a photo spread on our homes!). We need to drop this ideal of perfection that our society is throwing at us on a daily basis.

Do your best to invest in your health for LIFE and enjoyment of life with your spouse, family and friends.  Invest.  But do not let it steal the joy from the blessings you have in your everyday imperfect, yet wonderful life! Choose daily to make good choices and let go of that standard of perfection that is daily trying to steal, kill and destroy your joy, your marriage and your peace. Spend yourself on investing in your inner self and relationship with the LORD, not spending more of your time, effort and worry on clothes and things that “re-package” your baggage. God made us in all shapes and sizes–and beauty that is real exudes from the inside of a person reflecting on the outside. Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind that can conceive can tell you that.

Take time this afternoon and evening to pray about these two areas of baggage, which you may be carrying.  Ask God to get in your business of heart and mind–to the marrow of the motives and intentions.  Ask Him to show you how to cast the weight of your burdens upon Him.  He is faithful with each part and is not going anywhere.  He is with you every step of the way! More tomorrow…

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Dirt Cake

This is a fun recipe to make with children.  They love it–making and eating! It is especially good to theme in with planting season–plant seeds while waiting for it to chill.  You can even make this individually in small pots for a dirt-themed party.

1 1/4 lb Oreo cookies, crushed
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, melted
3 1/2 c. milk
12 oz. cool whip
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding

In a large mixing bowl, blend powdered sugar, butter, and cream cheese. Add 1/2 c. milk and blend (I like to use a hand mixer). Add pudding and 3 c. milk and blend. Gently fold in cool whip with a rubber spatula.

In a 12 X 12 inch dish, layer 1/3 Oreos, 1/2 mixture, 1/3 Oreos, 1/2 mixture and top with 1/3 Oreos. Chill for one hour.

Optional: Can add gummy worms for fun!

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A Letter To My Future Self

A lot of people have written letters to their past selves here on A Martha Heart.  I’m taking a different angle and wrote a letter to my future self.

Dear 42 year old Donna,

So, now you’re over the hill.  How’s the hair?  Are you completely grey yet?  I’ll bet you just have a small streak of brown on your left side instead of the streak of grey on your right side.

Right about now you have a 15 year old daughter and an 11 year old son.  It’s possible that between puberty and teen-hood that you all may not be getting along so well.  So, it is important right now that you remember a few things and bits of advice you received from moms that you trust.  Things that you always have said you would do, especially where your daughter is concerned.

Keep talking.  Don’t allow the lines of communication to close down just because she rolls her eyes at you and finds being around you to be the most repulsive thought ever.

Don’t make anything off limits.  Believe it or not, you do want her to tell you and ask you things.  You may think, “I’d rather not know this” but you really do.  Really.

Be the parent.  You don’t have to give her a choice as to whether she is going to spend time with you.  Be the parent and spend time with her.  Force the issue if you must.

Remember what each of them were like just a few years ago.  Remember how Sarah used to just impress you so with her knowledge of the Bible and things of God.  Remember how she used to love to play outside, climb trees and hated the thought of shaving.  Remember how Nathan could always make you melt like buttah with those blue eyes and eyelashes of death.  Remember how he used to love to cuddle and snuggle in your lap first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

And most of all, remember how badly you have wanted grandchildren for the longest time.  If you kill your kids now, there’s no chance.

Hang on, dear one.  These teen years will be a wild ride, but the reward is coming!

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Chewy Lemon Wafers

2 egg whites
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. margarine
2 t. grated lemon rind
1 t. lemon extract (can substitute vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon, margarine, lemon rind and lemon extract. Blend well. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 7-8 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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