Changes That Last

Changes That Last

Jennifer E

Jennifer E

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
Jennifer E

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Willpower Myth

Usually, when I want to change something in my life it is either a behavior I want to start or a behavior I want to stop. For years, I struggled with feeling weak and that I just didn’t have any “willpower.” However, I have discovered that willpower is a myth. I once heard willpower described as “God’s will and power in my life.” 

the-will-power-myth-change-that-lasts-pin

Isn’t that a great description?

I got it all wrong when it came to stopping behaviors in my life because I did not change my focus. I did not replace the behavior with something else. Whatever I focus on I will want and will probably give in to. For example, if I am trying to stop eating chocolate cake and just tell myself over and over, “Don’t eat chocolate cake. Don’t eat chocolate cake. Don’t eat chocolate cake,” I will probably eat chocolate cake. It is not enough to simply resist the chocolate cake; I need to replace the thoughts and behavior with a different one. Otherwise, we often will replace one unhealthy behavior for another one. Jesus speaks about this concept in Matthew 12:43-45:

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

Changes that Last

Replacing old behaviors with new ones can be hard. When I had my third child, I was thirty-six years old. Just like with all my pregnancies, I gained more than I was supposed to. I finally decided that I wanted to make a real change so I did two things that have worked for me in the past.

change-948024_12801. I asked for accountability.
2. I created small, obtainable goals.

I texted a good friend of mine and asked if she would be my accountability partner. Then I set a list of goals for that week. My first goals were to walk 5,000 steps daily, journal all my food intake, and do some kind of intentional exercise for fifteen minutes three times a week. Every other Friday I would send a picture of the number on the scale.

Gradually, I worked up to 10,000 daily steps and continued journaling my food. I also added goals of drinking 64 ounces of water each day and thirty minutes of exercise five days a week. And, I continued to send a picture of my number on the scale to my friend every other week. Having to be honest with another person by texting her each day whether or not I reached my goals really made me think about my choices and kept me motivated to reach my goals each day. I lost twenty-five pounds before I found that I was pregnant again!

ecclesiastes-4-12

This idea of strength in numbers is also rooted in scripture. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says:

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

 

Proverbs 27 also contains words of wisdom about a friend’s counsel in verses 9 and 17:

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense…
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.

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How do you bring about changes that last in your life?

Forget the willpower myth and find what really works!
Let It Go! A Lesson in Control

Let It Go! A Lesson in Control

Candace B

Candace B

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I help my husband in every way in his position as a youth minister (It's a true labor of love and we wouldn't be anywhere else!). I am also working on my teacher certification so when both my kids get into school I will have a job that I am passionate about, get to see my kids all the time, and will be out when they are out. I am most importantly a Christian and strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B

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Does this sound familiar?

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small. And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”

Yes, that is a part from the well-known song “Let It Go.”  If you have small children, you have heard this more times than you would like to admit. But have you ever really listened to the lyrics?  These are some beautiful words of truth to live by in everyday life!  I would like to focus on one topic that plagues me on a daily basis: control.

Yes, I said it, control.  I feel that as parents, it is hard not to control everything.  Things would be better, run more smoothly, and you would get things done a LOT faster if you did things rather than the little people.  I would like to point out–I do not have all this figured out, hence the reason why I am writing this post!  But I hope this may be a source of encouragement for all the parents out there who want to “help,” “guide,” etc. your kids in all they do.

let-go-of-control-let-your-childs-talents-shine

Here are some points to consider:

1. Give them space.

Kids need space to do what they need to do. If you are over their shoulders they do not have the capacity to express what they would like to do.  You will realize your kids are capable of SO much more than you think.

2. Let them make mistakes. 

Instead of calling them “mistakes,” let’s say learning by trial and error.  They will make mistakes, but this is how they will learn, grow, and understand what they could do to make it better next time.  You want them to understand that there will be tough times, but they need to learn to work through it on their own.

3. Be present.

Be there, love them, lend them a hand when they need it.  It is always important that you are still there with them so they know you are available when they need you.  There is a fine line between hovering and hanging back to let them figure things out. Make sure your kids know that when things get tough, you will be there to assist in any way possible.

letting-go-of-control-to-let-your-kids-talents-shine

I wanted to write this post because every day I try and want to do EVERYTHING for my kids.  I tend to assist, hold their hand, insist that I do it for them.  But what I have learned is that when you let go, you let your kids show you just how much they can amaze you.  Recently, I wanted to do a painting craft with my daughter.  I knew that my instincts to not let her would creep in. So I decided to embrace what she could do.  The time we spent together painting blessed me tremendously because I learned what an encourager she is!

“Mommy, you do a really good job!”

“That is beautiful!”

“You are the best Mommy ever.”

It brought tears to my eyes because just letting her paint by herself showed me one of many talents God gave her!  We serve an awesome God!

Make no mistake, God works in all of us when we let him and he works in your children as well.  He blesses, he cares, and when you let go…you let God take control.  What a beautiful sight it would be if we let go and have full faith and trust in God!

How do you “let it go?

proverbs-12-25

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Building a Prayer Wall with Kids Kindness Cookies Random Acts of Kindness A Refuge for the Struggling Soul Christians dealing with Anxiety

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yay!  Back to school!  Some consider the kids’ return to school the most wonderful time of the year. If you are a homeschooling mom, you may not feel that way.  I am by no means a homeschooling expert, but I have completed over thirteen years of home educating my children.  My oldest child graduated and is off to college so I guess I am what is considered a home school veteran.  So here are some of my survival tips to get through the school year.

1.  Put God first.

I know this should go without saying, but sometimes we forget.  Start each morning by having a quiet time with the Lord.  I know it can be hard. After a sleep-deprived night, all I want to do is send my husband off to work and then crawl back into bed.  I cannot tell you how many times I have fallen asleep reading my Bible or praying in the morning.  At some point in the morning, have some time with God.  It will set the mood for the entire day.

2.  Pray without ceasing.

I do this a lot.  There are those times when one child just is not getting it and the baby is screaming and another child is literally climbing the walls (Yes, my children climbed the hallway walls).  All you want to do is run away.  That is when you need to pray.  God gives us what we need if we ask.  All we have to do is take a deep breath and give it over to Him.

3.  Get organized.

I’m not talking about daily routines.  I’m talking about taking time away from everything and spending that time planning the upcoming school year.  You can go over material and familiarize yourself with it.  I have previously done this with a group of friends for a weekend.  We shared ideas and discussed materials.  I also have friends who have gone to a hotel for the weekend. If you do not feel that you can do this, home school conventions are great for getting away just for a little while.  This is also a great way to recharge.

4.  Don’t get bogged down by schedules.

This does not mean throw everything that you planned out the window.  Life happens.  Many of us are in the “sandwich generation” where we take care of children and parents.  This can be the cause of many unexpected events.  If something happens or one of the children get behind, remember, we home school.  We can always “catch up” later.  Be flexible.

5.  Start the year off with something fun.

We always start the year off with baking cookies.  I know this may sound strange but I think I got the idea from a home school convention.  What we do is I pick out a recipe.  I do not help with making the cookies, but I sit in the kitchen and tell each child what to get and what to do.  They must follow directions and work together.  If anyone fails to follow directions or do their part, they do not get to eat the cookies.  This really encourages and helps with listening skills and cooperation.  This helps set the tone for the year.  If you need to do it later in the year to get them refocused (or you just want the kids to make you some cookies), then do it again.  Oh, I almost forgot the most important part–they have to clean up, too!

6.  Make time for your husband.

Sometimes we spend so much time being a mom and teacher that we forget to be a wife.  Our husbands are just that: husbands, not children.  Be there for them and support them.  Make them their favorite meal.  Listen, really listen, to what they say.  Be supportive.

7.  Take care of yourself.

As moms, we put everyone else ahead of ourselves.  It is hard for us to not take care of everything and everyone and take a moment for ourselves.  Take a bubble bath; go shopping; have lunch with a friend; read a book.  If we do not take care of ourselves, we will not be able to take care of our children.

8.  Have fun.

Spend time playing games, singing together, dancing silly, taking nature walks.  These can be fun and educational.  Education is not just working through books; it is also experience.  Anything can be educational.  Homeschooling is not school at home.  It is educating the entire child.

We must remember that we only have 18-19 years with our children and it will be gone before you know it.  Spend that time having fun.

Do you have any other tips to make back to school the most wonderful time of the year? 

school-year-survival-tips-1

Raising Kids in the Church

Raising Kids in the Church

Candace B

Candace B

I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I help my husband in every way in his position as a youth minister (It's a true labor of love and we wouldn't be anywhere else!). I am also working on my teacher certification so when both my kids get into school I will have a job that I am passionate about, get to see my kids all the time, and will be out when they are out. I am most importantly a Christian and strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
Candace B

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I never thought it would be this difficult, did you? When you became a parent did you realize just how hard it was going to be? Most (if not all) would say a resounding, “No!” I know I would.  Most importantly, did you know how hard it would be, not just to raise your children in God but also get them to Bible class and worship without losing your mind?

 “It is just too hard.”

“My kid doesn’t even understand.”

“We will get them into Bible class when they get into the youth group.”

If we wait until they get into the youth group, we have waited too long.

God gave us these blessings to show them love, support, and how to put God as the highest priority!  School is great and sports are fun too.  However, when we as parents start putting those things first, we need to look inside ourselves and see if our priorities reflect the Bible’s guidance on the matter.

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

proverbs-22-6

This scripture is powerful! Training up a child means making God the ultimate priority.  If we place him in every part of our life, our kids will follow our lead!  As parents, our kids want to be just like us, so we need to make sure we are showing Christ through ourselves first.

The world is already an imperfect, sinful place and it craves for us to be the light.  Some in the older generation might say, “This world is going to pot,” or “These kids don’t have a chance.” These types of comments truly break my heart because my kids are growing up in this world.  I refuse to believe that they have no chance but to live in a corrupt world!

If we let our kids grow up thinking there is no hope, not only will they feel discouraged but they will lose sight of what God needs them to be and that is THE LIGHT!  I pray that we encourage them as much as possible to believe that they CAN make a difference!  Bible class and worship reinforce hope in their lives.  I witnessed my daughter sharing this hope with another child at my son’s t-ball game. It was the sweetest thing ever and I welled up in tears.

“Did you know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins?

She gets it! And it’s because she is part of the church.

Let’s encourage our entire family to be part of the church. Don’t wait to introduce them to God’s family until their formative years have passed.

make-it-a-priority-to-worship-and-fellowship-with-the-body-of-believers-it-will-become-a-routine-and-worship-will-become-second-nature-to-our-children

A few ways to make life easier and enjoy going to Bible class and worship:

1. Take the kids to Bible class. This gives parents and children the opportunity to connect with the body of believers, and most importantly, they get to learn more about Jesus!

2. Rotate different toys and books. Each week in a small bag or backpack, bring something to worship that they haven’t had the chance to play with in a while.

3. Talk to your kids.  Set expectations of how to act during worship before it begins.

  • “We need to whisper.”
  • “Stay seated on the pew.”
  • “We need to pray, sing and listen.”
  • “Worship is not about us, it is all about God. If we stay nice and quiet, more people will hear more about God”.

4. Bible class and worship are important.  Make it a priority to worship and fellowship with the body of believers.  It will become a routine, and worship will become second nature to our children.

This has been on my heart. I hope it is a great source of encouragement to you and plants the seed that Bible class and worship are a blessing. Most importantly, know that your church family doesn’t mind that your little one wiggles and giggles. They are glad you are there. May God bless you and your sweet families!

What are some ways you have found helpful in making Bible class & worship a priority?

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

I’m a natural saver. I blame it on my dad. From the age of thirteen (and my first official job), my dad taught me to save. His method for my paycheck savings involved putting 50% in a bank account to be “saved” and the rest I could spend however I wanted.  I later figured out the purpose to my “saving” was so he could “borrow” (and not necessarily return) the money for family expenses that he and my mom couldn’t afford (or didn’t budget for).  Sometimes that meant 50% of my paycheck went toward groceries, school supplies, or gas for the car.  While this is not an example I would encourage parents to follow, it did get me into a habit of saving.

With Dollar Bills Come Great Responsibility

Over the years, I’ve read books and blogs, watched videos, and taught courses on how to save and spend wisely.  That by no means makes me an expert, but I have learned a thing or two about making the money that comes in last as long as possible. (I attribute this newfound interest in learning to my husband, who is an excellent teacher of good methods of handling money and all things finance-related.)
Every dollar is important (of great worth), and we have a God-inherent responsibility to be a great steward of each dollar we get.

(Insert song: She works hard for the money!)  We work hard for our money, don’t we, friends? Since we work hard to earn it, we need to learn to work hard to save it and spend it.

Today’s post is about spending!  It’s a little bit about saving too–frugal ways that allow us to hold onto those dollars so they last a little longer.

Couponing Done Easier

Ok, I’ve tried the whole Extreme Couponing thing. It doesn’t work for me!  To those of you who do it well, I commend you!  I’m not going to teach you anything extreme.  Instead, I’ll show you slow, diligent moderation.  If you want extreme, check out some of the Queen C’s (C for Coupons!) online like: Krazy Koupon Lady.

Frugal Couponing:  Guidelines I use when couponing

1.  Only coupon what you normally buy anyway.

I used to get caught up in all the coupons: “Buy 2, get 1 free.” “Buy 2, save 50 cents.” “Save $ on over-priced items that wouldn’t normally end up in the shopping cart and are a more expensive alternative even with the coupon.”

Don’t fall for these marketing techniques unless it’s:

a) something you need,
b) something you’re buying anyway,
c) something you need that quantity of, or
d) the best alternative, price-quality wise–if there’s a cheaper alternative you and your family can live with “this time,” then save and go for the cheaper alternative.

Side Note about “This Time”:  Part of being frugal (and a good steward of resources) is to keep a “this time” attitude.  It puts into perspective the short life of each purchase. When comparing brands and prices, think about the life of the product.  How long will it last? One week? A month?  Will my family survive with (cheaper toilet paper or generic ketchup) for just this month?  What about every other month?  Can they handle a cheaper, generic brand just this one time?  You might argue that the difference in price is only a dollar, or even only few cents.  

Remember our goal: to hang onto each dollar a little bit longer. That includes those few cents of savings on each item in the cart. It’s the small things. In order to be more frugal, we have to learn to make small changes now. Small changes now will turn into big changes later.  Every penny counts.  Don’t spend it “just because you have a coupon.”

2.  Use coupon apps.

There are so many money-saving apps out there. Depending on your city, some work better than others.  It might take some trial and error to find the apps that work best for you and your region, but if you want to save money, it’s worth the time to figure out.

Personally, I only use apps that give me real cash savings or cash back, not the ones that work on a points system.  There are some good points systems, but right now, I focus on real, immediate cash.

My favorite apps are:

  • Walmart Savings Catcher – download your receipt after each purchase and watch the real cash grow.  Transfer to PayPal or a Walmart gift card.  They also have an online version: https://savingscatcher.walmart.com/.
  • Kroger and Whole Foods coupon apps–because I don’t have to print anything.
  • I check the Krazy Coupon Lady app just for things I’m going to be buying anyway, so I don’t get caught up in the hype of spending gas, printer ink, and time running all over town to get free things or ‘money-maker’ things that I don’t need.  Time is worth spending frugally too!
  • Ibotta has become another favorite app.  I look for items I plan to buy, and then scan the item and receipt for cash back via PayPal or gift cards.
  • This app doesn’t usually have many items that I normally buy, but for the little time it takes to scroll through and upload receipts, I still consider Checkout 51 worthwhile.

Even if you average 25-50 cents per shopping trip (like me), that small change quickly adds up.  I’m currently at $5, but hey, that’s a free coffee!  Who doesn’t like free coffee? With Checkout 51, I can cash out when it reaches $20, in which case, who doesn’t like a free movie?  Or one hour of free babysitting? Compliments of a grocery app–yay!

3. Stay on Budget and Just Say No.

Have you noticed we live in an extremely high-consumption society?  The rest of the world calls us consumerists and gluttons.  Why do we let ourselves get caught up in the hype?

Part of frugal living is just saying no.  No to things we don’t need.  Delaying ‘wants’ until we’ve saved up to pay cash for them, which means saying ‘no’ for right now.  There is a time to spend.  Our culture is REALLY good at it.  Admit it, so are you!  I definitely am!

First, though, we need to learn to save.  Save for future needs, for emergencies, for wants.  Save just to save.  If you’re wondering why we learn to be frugal, it’s for those reasons just listed.

A Side Note on Saving:

Saving is the foundation to Big Giving.  Do you ever wish you had enough money to support a missionary for an entire year or build a hospital in a small village? Do you ever think about what it would be like to fund an entire non-profit event?  Or sponsor your kids’ sports team or band trip?

People who give big first had to learn to save big. I recently read that somewhere.  They learned to say no to things they didn’t need so that later, they could enjoy (and appreciate) the things they wanted.  To learn to save big, start small. Start with small, frugal decisions.  Talk it through with your spouse, kids, and friends.  Get them on board and excited.  They’ll hold you accountable and learn along the way!  Who knows? Maybe they’ll do this with you!  It’s so much more fun together!

Being frugal doesn’t have to mean turning into a skimpy cheapskate, but if we learn how to be thoughtful and conscientious about our spending–and saving–we will be on a good path to better things in the future.

Have any other easy couponing tips or apps to share?

hanging on to dollar bills_by tina
Six Tips to Prepare for Your Mission Trip

Six Tips to Prepare for Your Mission Trip

Toni B

Toni Burns was raised in a missionary family, they lived in Italy until she was 11.Upon returning to the states her family worked in South Dakota. While in college at Oklahoma State Toni did a summer mission trip to Ukraine. The following year she moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend missions school.She interned in Kosice, Slovakia for 13 months.After her internship she finished missions school and got a degree in Human Development from Texas Tech.Toni and her family lived in Guadalajara, Mexicofor 10 years.During that time they helped plant churches and minister to the Mexican people.Toni and her husband, Cory, mentored 21 year long interns during their stay in Guadalajara.
Currently Toni is a Realtor® in Lubbock, Texas and enjoys ministering to those she helps buy and sell houses.

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Preparing for Summer Mission Trips

Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the warm weather and traveling. Over half my life, I have been blessed to do mission work and travel to other countries. I have worked in Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and most recently spent ten years in Mexico.

There is no greater joy than traveling around God’s creation sharing Jesus with others. Many of you might be preparing to leave, or have a loved one leaving for summer mission trips. I would love to share some things with you that I have learned about missions to prepare you for this great experience.

Mark 16:15

1.  The American way is not the only way.

Yes, we live in a great country and are very blessed in many ways. Please do not expect or want natives to act as Americans do. They are God’s creation just as much as you are, but they might do things differently than you do.  It’s not a question of right or wrong–it’s just different. Embrace the differences and praise God that we are all different even though we are made in His image. Praise God for the diversity in cultures.

Enjoy the culture you are visiting. Try new foods, activities, and enjoy the sights.

2.  Bless the people, but at the same time make your work simple and reproducible. 

It’s fun to bless the natives with neat gifts and crafts from the United States. Just make sure that you are not making it an environment where they think the only way they can bless others is by having neat things that they might not be able to get.  Help them see that sharing God’s message can be simple and is reproducible.

3.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  

You will fall in love with people and places on your trip. Please don’t tell them you will come visit or promise to send them gifts, etc.  Remember, “let your yes be yes.” It is easy to build a deep love for those you will serve. As you leave you will want to promise them that you will see them again. Hopefully that is true, but realistically you might not ever get to go back. They will hold on to that promise and will be disappointed or bitter when you can’t fulfill your promise.

4.  Be more like Jesus every day. 

While living on the mission field my husband and I mentored twenty-one interns. One of the most important things we tried to instill in them was that being more like Jesus every day is all that is expected of them. God will do the rest. We go on these mission trips wanting to save the world. If we go with expectations of baptizing and converting we might come home feeling like a failure. This is one of the devil’s ways of discouraging the church. Did you come home more like Jesus? Do you have more of a vision for what God wants? Did others see Jesus through you? Don’t define your success with things that are out of your control.

5.  Don’t expect those at home to understand what you have experienced. 

You will come back a changed person. Unfortunately many people back home will not understand how life-changing the experience was. They might not even think to ask you about how it went. Before you leave, set up some times to meet with people when you come back. Maybe you can host a breakfast or lunch for your supporters, missions committee, and family. Plan times when you can talk about your experience so others can be blessed by what you learned.

6.  Have a great time and keep your eyes open to His blessings!

 

Six Tips to prepare for your mission trip

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