Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Water Your Own Yard

(This was originally posted on my personal blog in January... just wanted to share it with you all here, on Polishing Rubies.)

A long while ago, an acquaintance from high school wrote me a long rant.  All about how much she had envied me and how I was so popular and had all the friends I did.  How hurt she felt by me because she and I never were good friends.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I read it.

It made me realize how we only have our own perspective. And that perspective is almost always incomplete.  We jump to conclusions because of our feelings, often with no regard to what might be going on in someone else's world.

I wondered if she forgot that I came into high school, with all of about a dozen people knowing who I was.  I was the new girl, and as I quickly found out, people aren't always nice to the new girl.  During my first week of high school some girl hit me in the back of the head, just because.  I came home crying almost every day of that first week.  I told my mom, "I had no idea kids were so mean!"
I wondered if she knew I had people threaten to beat me up. They told me they didn't like my clothes.  They would terrorize me by threatening me under their breath as they passed me in the hallway.
I wondered if she knew that even though I made the cheer squad, I always felt on the outside because I didn't try out until Sophomore year.  There was always a whole year of memories that I wasn't apart of with the girls in my grade, and so I always felt a little bit on the outside.
I wondered if she knew how invisible I felt to so many people.  And how afraid I was of starting conversations.  I wondered if she knew how frightened I felt every time I got up in front of the student body for cheerleading, choir, or student council.
I wondered if she knew that horrible lies got spread about me.  And how misunderstood and alone I felt through all of it.
I wondered if she knew that the Sr. Class President would sit and pretend to shoot at me while I tried to conduct student council meetings my Sr. year.  And that a whole group of people tried to write me in as "The Biggest B****" for Senior "favorites."
I doubted she knew that the day they announced Senior Favorites and said that I had won "Most Popular," I was sitting under a tree eating lunch all by myself.  I'm sure she didn't have a clue that it didn't mean anything to me.  That I would have much rather gotten "best smile" or "most likely to succeed."
Being popular amounts to the number of people who know your name.  It doesn't reflect anything on your character (or your happiness for that matter.)
It doesn't mean anything.

I tried to write her back as sweetly as I could.  I apologized.  I tried to explain my perspective.  I tried to encourage her to let it go... we were kids.

But it didn't help.  It wasn't enough.  I could have ignored her.  At least then maybe some of her accusation of me would have been founded.  But I truly and honestly wanted to help her see that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.  Still, even ten years later, her expectations of me were beyond my reach.  There was nothing I could do to redeem myself.  She didn't want to see me any other way.  She just wanted to remain angry at me.

But her perspective wasn't a true picture of reality.  In the middle of what seemed like the perfect life to her, she had no clue about MY pain.  She hadn't even considered for a second that I had any.

I love the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

What good does it do you to look at someone else and be angry and jealous at them for the relationships they have?  Think about it.  It's just making you a crabby, joy-robbed person, making you less lovely, less enjoyable to be around.  So, you push people away.  But you want what they have.  You think the grass is greener on the other side?  You think if you could just have her husband, or his dad, or her friends, that then you would feel loved?  Then you might be happy?  It's not likely.  The truth is if the grass is all trampled on your side of the fence by your bitterness and anger, if you could get to the greener side, you'd trample it too.

We need to realize that what makes the "grass" green is not how everyone treats us, but how we treat others.  It's not people meeting the expectations we have for them, but it's about us raising the standard for ourself.  It's about reaching out when we don't feel known.  It's about remembering though we feel forgotten.  Its about loving even if we don't feel loved.  And remembering that everyone is fighting their own battles.  Whether you can see it or not, everyone is bruised and scarred and imperfect.

I firmly believe that one of the keys to a happy life is to quit comparing.  Quit wishing you had things different, and make the most of what you do have.  Quit wishing everyone else would be different and YOU be different.  Next time you think your husband doesn't notice all you do, instead of getting hurt over it, why don't you take the time to show appreciation for him?  Next time you wonder when the last time a friend thought about you was, instead of crossing them out of your address book, why don't you drop by with a bouquet of flowers "just because."  Next time you wonder if you pastor even notices if you go to church anymore, instead of leaving the church, why don't you stop and ask him how you can pray for HIM? Water your own yard, and quit trampling on what you do have. You might be surprised at the joy you find.

"Those who bring sunshine in the life of others cannot keep it from themselves." - James M. Barrie

"A man that has friends must show himself friendly..." Proverbs 18:24

<3 Johnna

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lies vs. Truth

This post has been moved.  You can now find it HERE.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parenting From the Overflow: Day 9 - Overflowing Self-Control

Overflowing Self-Control

My Thoughts:

To me, self-control seems to be the thing that's needed to make all of the other fruit a reality.  Without self-discipline, can we really expect all of the other traits to become a reality - especially those areas we struggle in, in particular?

I never used to think I had s self-control problem, because I'm not "impulsive."  I'm the kind that usually thinks through all of the possible outcomes and consequences.  But when it comes to my emotions, I've realized just how much self-control I've been lacking.  And when self-control is lacking and my emotions start spinning, I find myself dealing with jealousy, depression, anxiety, impatience, anger, selfishness, discouragement, brashness,... and everything that is opposite of the fruit of the Spirit!

It seems the older I get the more I struggle.  Although I think it has more to do with the responsibilities I have and the pressure I put on myself to "do it all."  Sometimes I'm surprised by it.  But always, if I start evaluating things, the root cause is some lack of self-discipline in some area of my life, which is usually accompanied by poor decision-making.

I love, though, that this action-taking fruit is one of the evidences of the Spirit in our life.  Some people buy into the idea that "it's all up to God" (and in that, make provision for the flesh.)  No! God wants to give you the power you need to overcome!  We cannot do it without Him.  BUT... self-control comes at a conscious choice! "  Terri Lynn says, "we must submit ourselves to His bidding and discipline ourselves to time in the Word."¹

This area is like exercising a muscle - the more we use it, the stronger it gets.  I so desire that "overflow of the Father’s grace"² in my life.  I want my children to first experience that grace, coming through their Mama! ♥

Terri Lynn gives these ideas for cultivating a heart of self-control:

- Be faithful in God's Word.
- Memorize scripture.
- Learn to laugh.
- Choose grace - both for your child, and for yourself!

"When we give our children a self-controlled mother, 
we have given them a precious gift."³

On the Polishing Rubies Facebook Page, I shared this photo and asked you Mamas how you were building up your house physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We need to consider this often - take careful inspection of our house and repair any damage done as quickly as possible, whether that is on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.

If you haven't memorized this verse yet, take time to do so.  Spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to show you areas that need to be addressed first, and then take those steps of action!

Just for Moms:⁴  

Make a list of ways you can build your home. Include very practical things like repair and maintenance but also other ideas for building relationships and spiritual growth. Develop a plan for putting these ideas into action.
I'm going to be taking whatever extra I can and investing it in flowers for my house.  The way my house looks is completely embarrassing to me.  We live in a rental, so I haven't wanted to make the investment, but I think after a year and a half, it's time to stop waiting for God to move me out of this house and to make it lovely.
I'm also going to be more committed to my time with the girls each day, and not allow myself to get distracted by other things that seem pressing at the moment, but will be there for me faithfully even after my children are gone.
And as for spiritual growth, the girls and I have started to read 3 chapters of the Bible together each day.  I am also doing an in-depth study on

If you have never developed a mission statement or core values for your family, take time to begin praying about how God would have you define your home and family. What is He specifically calling your family to do, your home to be?
I have done this (the values for the family) and bought a canvas to paint it onto, but I never did it.  I'm going to make this one of my projects this summer.  I'd love to see what you come up with as well!
The Lord began our family with the verse Psalm 34:3, "Oh Magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together" so this has a prominent influence in regard our family mission/values.

1 Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 50).  . Kindle Edition. 
2 Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 50).  . Kindle Edition. 
3 Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 51).  . Kindle Edition. 
4 Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 54).  . Kindle Edition. 

A few moms over at the Polishing Rubies Facebook Page are going through the book "Parenting From the Overflow."  Feel free to grab the book and jump in with us, or share your comments below.
<3 Johnna

Monday, June 3, 2013

Parenting From the Overflow - Day 8 - Overflowing Gentleness

Overflowing Gentleness

My Thoughts:

I could relate so well to Terri Lynne's journal entry.  I shared with you a week or two ago about how bedtimes often are a struggle for me.  When we were just getting settled in Oregon, Sunday mornings were hellish.  I had a very emotional 4-year old who was having a hard time adjusting to a new environment and a missing our old church, and a potty-training 2-year old who inevitably messed 2-3 outfits before I could get her to church.  The pastor started threatening to pull my husband out of ministry and leadership if I continued to show up to church late.  I was a mess.  I really just needed a hug.  Unfortunately it turned Sunday mornings before church into the most ungodly hour of our week.  Gentleness, patience, compassion - all went out the window for the sake of appeasing the pastor and getting my toddlers and I to church on time.

Thankfully those days are long gone, and I have since repented and sought forgiveness.  Thankfully Sunday mornings are now full of ministering to our family in a sweet (usually) peaceful environment, before we head off to corporate worship together.  Thankfully I now understand that how I treat my daughters before church has a greater impact on them than what time I get them there.

But, oh how I still need to grow in gentleness!  Especially with three girls!  And especially because I want to teach them to have a gentle and quiet spirit as seen in I Peter 3:4 as a mark of a godly woman - a woman that is valuable to God!  How can I do that if I, myself, am not gentle?

What does scripture have to say about gentleness?...
Philip. 4:5 - It's something that should be evident to all - an obvious, marked character.
I Peter 3:3-4 - It should transcend any physical or surface beauty.  It is truly a mark of inner beauty and something that blesses God's heart.
Col. 3:12 - It is a mark of God's elect, and an active characteristic.

We are called to cultivate this gentleness— this meekness of spirit, grace of soul, strength of character— in our own hearts and lives. And then, as it grows in us, allow gentleness to overflow onto those around us, especially in our homes.¹

I loved the words Terri Lynne used to define gentleness - "meekness of spirit, grace of soul, strength of character."  I cultivate these things in my life by continually considering my attitudes, and lining them up with the truth of God's Word.  By choosing to respond the way Christ responded.  -- And with daughters!! Oh, this gentleness in our responses is SO crucial!

"...gentleness requires the total depletion of self to be refilled with the fulness of Christ."²

It's true.  It's hard!  Too often I hold on to little bits of "me."  My self gets in the way of what God's trying to do.  I don't really want to  be depleted of my self.  That would mean no more excuses!  But oh, what I am missing out on by not partaking of the fulness of Christ!!  I cannot experience the fulness of Christ when I am determined to be full of my self - my pride, my rights, my blame.  Why do I want to hold on to these things!? Someone remind me!  Oh yeah - because letting them go is HARD!


When has gentleness been hard for you? What are some specific struggles you have faced in this area?³
Particularly, right before and after we moved to Oregon.  The whole experience was so trying and I felt completely out of control  I'm not proud of the way I handled my self through the journey.  I tend to get hard and negative when things get the way they were.  I didn't like the person that I was when fear took over.
As I shared before also, I was just this year confronted about my critical spirit toward my brother.  It's hard for me to be gentle toward him sometimes, but I'm working on that.

"We need to sow seeds of gentleness in a thousand little ways 
in order to reap the harvest of overflowing gentleness in our homes."⁴

How do you practice gentleness? In what ways have you seen the seeds of gentleness reap a harvest in your home?⁵
In the way that I speak, and handle my children, being careful not to be harsh, insensitive, or taking my frustrations out on them.  I have seen them harvested as I see the ways my daughters deal with each other in a kinder, more long-suffering and more patient way, particularly my eldest daughter.

Is it hard or easy for you to surrender? Why?⁶
Usually it's hard for me.  I've found it's very often hard to get to the heart of a matter in myself.  I'm not honest with myself the way I should be.  But when I am I can usually see how it is affecting the way I deal with my daughters.  It is then that surrender comes easily.  But I have to get to the heart of the matter.

How will you join me in practicing gentleness?⁷
I will make a conscious effort to listen to what they have to say - making sure they feel heard and validated.  I am also going to take the challenge to consistently speak words of life and encouragement as opposed to criticism or condemnation.

Commit these verses to memory... and don't forget that you are dearly beloved!

Just for Moms:⁸

In what ways is it difficult for you to practice gentleness?       
It's difficult for me to practice gentleness when I am lacking grace for myself.  I realize that I tend to put too much pressure on my daughters at times.

Call the person you have asked to pray with you and share these issues. Ask for her encouragement and prayer as you seek to develop this attribute. 
I'm going to message her tonight.

Determine to stop and count to ten before speaking. Sometimes simply slowing down and pausing can help us to be gentle with our words and responses. Do this for 24 hours and evaluate how it helped you be clothed with gentleness.
Ok... 24 hours of pausing for gentleness, starting now!

Dear Lord, help me, and these precious mamas grow in the area of gentleness.  Help us to first be that example of that gentle and quiet spirit that you regard as a treasure.  Give us grace toward our daughters, and gentleness toward them as we train them up.  Help us to remember that you aren't finished with us yet, and that you are just beginning to shape and mold them.  Let us be a useful tool in your hand as you create these girls to be lovely, godly young women. - Amen.

1. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 45).  . Kindle Edition.
2. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 45).  . Kindle Edition.
3. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 45).  . Kindle Edition.
4. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 46).  . Kindle Edition.
5. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 46).  . Kindle Edition.
6. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 46).  . Kindle Edition.
7. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (p. 46).  . Kindle Edition.
8. Underwood, Teri Lynne (2012-10-05). Parenting from the Overflow (pp. 47-48).  . Kindle Edition.

A few moms over at the Polishing Rubies Facebook Page are going through the book "Parenting From the Overflow."  Feel free to grab the book and jump in with us, or share your comments below.
<3 Johnna