Memory Verse Week 3

I have two friends waiting for test results. I’m not talking the “I wonder what I got on my math quiz” sort of test. I’m talking big tests. Bad tests. Scary tests.

Another friend is trying to figure out where she and her kids are going to live next month.

Me? My problems are little in comparison, but they still weigh me down. If I’m supposed to write and speak and lead with kindness, why is it so hard? When will I feel like I’ve finally gotten good at it?

What’s your thing? What is the giant in your room staring you down, daring you to pick up your slingshot and hit it between the eyes? I know you have one. We all do. And then that thing goes away and we get another one. It’s part of the growing process.

You know what else is part of the growing process? Trusting.

That’s why I picked this particular verse to memorize this week, because I need to remember that I’m not in charge– the world is not in charge– GOD IS IN CHARGE. And he loves us. And he would love to fight for us, if only we would close our mouths from complaining and hand him the reins, and trust him.

A long time ago, way back in the beginning of the Bible, God worked mightily through Moses to save his people. God used Moses and a whole bunch of plagues to help the people he loved escape their life of slavery in Egypt. But then the Egyptians came running after them. God’s people (the Israelites) were standing in the middle of nowhere with a huge sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other.

You know what they did? Wait… let me tell you what they didn’t do. They didn’t stand there thinking about all the times God had saved them in the past, or how He had just done a series of amazing miracles on their behalf. Nope. They panicked. They looked at Moses and started pointing fingers and complaining and accusing, saying things like “What’s you’re deal, Dude? Why did you bring us out here? Were you trying to kill us? We were better off as slaves.”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it sounds very familiar to me. I’ve had that inner dialogue.

But instead of saying, “Yep, you’re right. I totally screwed up,” Moses speaks life into their weariness. He says, This isn’t over. The Lord is going fight for you. Just stay calm.

That’s our verse to memorize this week: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

What happens next in this true story? God parts the Red Sea, the Israelites walk through on dry ground and the Egyptians who follow get swallowed up and drown.

Kind of gruesome, but totally awesome of God… at least if you’re an Israelite.

So this week, whatever giants you face, whatever army seems to be coming after you, I hope you’ll turn to God and quietly say, “I know you’ve got this. Thanks.”

P.S. Thank you Tania Meek for making us all beautiful graphics. You can find the whole series under the Resources tab at http://nicolejphillips.com/leading-with-kindness/

Also, if you happen to be good at power point presentations using gifs and graphics, would you email me? Technology seems to be one of the giants staring me down and I sure could use some backup. Thanks! 😉

Game for Some Family Time?

For as much time as we spend together, when I look at my little family, I have to admit, we aren’t great at spending time to together.

There comes a point in the evenings where we all end up in the living room at the same time. I’m watching HGTV, Jordan is looking at her phone, Charlie and Ben are on iPads and Saul is sitting with his work computer on his lap, making clips of his team’s latest game.

We’re so close, yet so far away.

I blame electronics (and myself for letting them have electronics). I think, If I were a better mom, I’d have the energy to get off this couch and create a fun, educational, entertaining, non-virtual activity for us all to enjoy. And then I turn back to Tiny House Hunters and wonder how that lady on the screen thinks she’s ever going to live with a composting toilet. It’s 7pm and I’m in my pajamas. We only have another hour and half before bed. Why bother trying to be super-mom now?

Based on the suggestion of a friend who knows nothing of my grudge against electronics, I watched a TED talk by Jane McGonigal. Jane is a game designer, and I have to admit, when she started talking, I may have groaned a bit. I really didn’t want to spend 20 minutes of my life learning how I could get 7 minutes of it back again if I played video games.

But then…

Jane mentioned something that cut straight to my heart. She said parents who play video games with their kids have better interactions with those kids during the game, but also after the game.

I have to be honest. I’ve never been a boy. I’ve read books recently about how to parent boys, but nothing seems to click. They are noisy and messy and sometimes defiant (sorry to all you boys who are NOT any of those things– I’m speaking about my own experiences here). Basically, as much as I love my boys, they are altogether confusing and occasionally frustrating to me.

So I figured, What do I have to lose? What’s another night with our noses in electronics? And I downloaded Yahtzee to all of our devices.

You guys, I don’t know how long it can last, but these last few nights have been the best evenings in our household ever. Seriously. The entire family is now addicted to rolling electronic dice. Pathetic? Maybe, but just this morning my 11 year old spent 15 minutes telling me all about Tim Tebow instead of reading the back of the cereal box. His lips were suddenly loosened.

My 6 year old left this note for me on the counter…

No, I’m not the best, most fun and prittyist mom around. I’m just a mom who feels like she may have stumbled upon a winning combination.

Memory Verse Week 2

The demon of depression has chased me since I was a kid. I remember being in elementary school and feeling like my chest had a heavy weight sitting on it. I didn’t know what it was at the time– even after a teenage suicide attempt, it took me well into my adulthood to come up with the diagnosis “depression.”

The last time I remember having an episode was about 2 and half years ago. It was August and we had spent the summer settling into our new home in Athens. All of a sudden it hit. I crawled into my bed and knew I didn’t want to get out for a very, very long time.

There are two peculiar things I’ve noticed about depression:

  1. When you’re NOT in the middle of an attack, you feel like you’re healed. Hurry! It’s gone! I’m cured! This is why so many people who are on anti-depressants go off their medication. They start to feel better and think they don’t need them.
  2. Panic sets in at the first sign of an attack (at least for me it does).

Okay, I admit it, I was one of those people who started to feel good and ditched the meds. Saul and I had a long talk about it. I had made a lot of behavioral changes (exercise, no alcohol, daily acts of kindness, daily time reading the Bible). Saul was on board. He agreed to “watch me” and let me know if my mood seemed to be slipping.

With the exception of that one spell two years ago, which thankfully lasted less than a week, I have been fine. But I am diligent in minding my mind.

What’s that mean, “minding my mind”?

It means that I refuse to let my mind wander over to the dark side. I choose what I’m going to think about. When thoughts enter my mind that begin to give me that “heavy weight” feeling on my chest like I had as a child, I stop. I purposely reroute my mind and think of something else. That’s why I memorize scripture; so I have something positive and truthful to meditate on when the clouds comes.

Sneaky as depression is, it likes to try to wiggle its way in first thing in the morning. The moment my alarm goes off, before I even step out of bed, depression says to me, “What is the point of getting out of bed? You won’t accomplish anything that matters anyway.”

I can only listen to that voice for about 3 seconds before I have to get something else on my brain or I know I am going to be a wreck for the day.

So that’s where today’s memory verse comes in. I know I need a word from God to memorize and use first thing in the morning, and I thought maybe you do, too.

Spend the week committing it to memory so you can pull it out before you even put your feet on the floor. Ready? Here it is…

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

On a side note, this verse was written by Jeremiah. He was known as the weeping prophet because he just couldn’t stop crying. I guess he knew a thing or two about depression, huh? Actually, he was sad because people wouldn’t stop sinning and follow God. But even in the midst of his anguish, with his world literally falling apart around him, Jeremiah stopped to remember that God is good. I hope you’ll remember that truth today, too. God loves you and so do I.