My daughter is the joy of my life. Yes, I seriously mean that! But I must admit that the joy of my life can sometimes seem like the thorn in my flesh. Do you ever feel that way? Most, if not all of you, do; I’m sure of it!
As parents we may feel this way quite often when our children are constantly calling our name, complaining, arguing, or being disobedient in one way or another. It can be quite a challenge to keep our cool. In fact, sometimes when we are so tired and weary of these actions, we lose it. We collapse. We explode. We instantly snap into emotional frustration and anger. Where our tongues were once kept in check with methodical consciousness of what to say and what not to say, they now become like a loose canon shooting forth destructive words that slam into the ears of our precious children. It’s not until our lungs release, the smoke clears, and with a big sigh we return to reality. We realize we have just hurt our children. We have caused pain with the most powerful part of our bodies - the tongue.
Looking back on my childhood, I am reminded of how words spoken to me had a great effect on my life, both in encouraging and destructive ways. Most of the destructive words spoken to me were fueled by anger. Both of my parents displayed this kind of anger occasionally, but let me just say that I believe that my parents raised me to the best of their knowledge. I believe they never meant to hurt me with their actions. I believe that my parents loved me; they just did not always speak the way God intended for love to be spoken.
As a parent myself today, I, too, struggle just like my parents did. I, too, believe that I am raising my daughter to the best of my knowledge. I know that I do not ever want to hurt my daughter, but on occasion I do. And I believe that she knows that I love her even though there have been many times when I have not spoken love as God intended me to.
A few years ago, something happened to me that made a huge difference in my life concerning anger and words. There was a period of time where I was really getting angry with my daughter a lot. I would get angry about silly little things like what she decided to wear that day or if she made a mess in the kitchen and so forth. I started realizing the severity of my anger when the range of decibels in my voice was so high that I knew next door neighbors could hear me. The words I chose to speak in those moments were definitely destructive. I began saying really hurtful words like “Are you stupid?!”...“What’s wrong with you?!”..."Why can’t you be normal?!” As God began to open my eyes to this destructive pattern (which I myself had witnessed as a child), I asked Him to help me overcome it. I prayed every day about my anger. I searched the scriptures on anger but also on speech. What began to happen to me was a miracle that only God could do. Every time I would get angry and raise my voice at my daughter I would start to cough. The coughing was so bad that I had to stop lecturing her on her imperfections to get a sip of water. Time after time I coughed, unable to speak to my daughter. As the coughing increased, the destructive words began to decrease. I became more aware of the poison I was spewing out of my mouth. I began to see the terror and fear in her eyes as the tears streamed down her precious face. I had asked God to help me. I did not know how or in what way He would help me. I just believed. In that belief, I found my miracle - the cough. But the miracle did not stop there. God began to heal me from the inside out through the counsel of His Holy Spirit and His Word. Several Scriptures lighted my way …
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check."
"Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity ... All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice."
Ephesians 4: 26, 27, 31
"My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness."
A transformation took place like a butterfly from a cocoon. I began to speak to my daughter with a calm voice. I began to speak encouraging words, hoping that they would somehow over time replace the ones that tore her down. I began to realize the true power of the tongue when used as the Lord intended. Now this doesn’t mean that I never disciplined her when she needed it, but it does mean that I responded in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. I chose to no longer be a loose canon blasting destructive words into my daughter’s ear but more of a butterfly in flight with beautiful phrases.
The miracle was the cough, but it’s not what God used to answer my prayer. What answered my prayer is my willingness to go to Him and say that I was weak and that I could not overcome this weakness on my own. That’s when God responds to us. That’s when miracles happen.
Keep it up and carry on,
God… is my cheerleader! Yes, I said cheerleader. No, I don’t mean that kind. Of course, He doesn’t wear a skirt and carry pompoms everywhere He goes, but He does cheer us on. He’s rooting for us every day to run down the court, shoot for the goal, and receive the prize of the high five. Now, I know you must be thinking … why am I running? What goal? The prize is a “high five”? What does that mean? Well, I am glad you are asking these questions because my hope is that you’ll understand why God is my cheerleader and why He can be yours too.
When I was in high school, I played basketball. I usually played two positions which were the small forward or the power forward. Both required a great deal of running as I was closest to the goal. So in order to be able to run without losing my breath, I had to build up my endurance. The best way my coach knew how to do that was to get the team to run drills. Whoever came up with the name of the drills we were doing wasn’t kidding. They were called “suicides.” That’s right, suicides! Those drills nearly killed me most days, but when I tell you they worked, I mean they REALLY worked! With every practice, I was building up my endurance. Every breath became a little easier, and in time, I became a runner -- at least on the basketball court. You see, the one thing I know about running is that it takes effort. It takes effort to decide that you're going to subject your feeble body to pain. Yes, running is painful when you begin, but over time, as you practice the sport, your body gets stronger. Where I was once weak, I now was made strong as I began to practice more and more.
You see, God is my cheerleader because when I choose to make an effort, no matter how hard or painful the task, He is there giving me strength and whispering to me, ”You can do this! Press on and fight hard! Don’t surrender and fall beneath the white flag. You’ve got this! I believe in you.” His words of encouragement cheer me on.
Did you notice I said He whispers? Just as God doesn’t wear skirts and carry pompoms around, He also doesn’t shout at you. He prefers to cheer for you with a still small voice. He’s hoping that you will be still enough to listen and believe what He is telling you. God wants and desires to see you grow, to be all that He created you to be. So as you're running, take time to focus and listen to God’s voice.
Now that you know the answer as to why you need to run, what about the goal? What is the goal and when will you know you’ve reached it? I’ll never forget what my coach used to teach us about the goal. He said, “Aim for the square. If you hit the square, then you’ll make the goal.” The square is an outline of a square in the middle of the backboard right above the hoop. It is the target. In order to aim for the target you have to have the right position. You have to make sure you bend your knees and when you jump, throw the ball up and over with a slight hook of the wrist. Of course, I must admit, that was not the easiest thing for me to accomplish. I would always try too hard, forcing the ball just a little too much, which in turn caused the ball to bounce off the backboard instead of falling right through the hoop. It took great skill and focus to hook the ball with just the right amount of strength.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run but also when I shoot for the goal. The goal is simply to overcome. To reach it you have to get in the right position to overcome with just the right amount of strength. The right position includes choosing righteousness, keeping a sense of self-determination, and focusing on the prize ahead. Waking up each day to decide that you CAN and WILL overcome the adversities that come your way no matter how tempting, how painful, or how hard it may be. God gives you just the right amount of strength to do so. All you have to do is use it. Are you willing to put forth the effort? Practice the right position? Shoot for the goal? God knows you can do it and so do I!
So you know why you must run and shoot for the goal, but what about the prize? Why is the prize a “high five?” While playing high school basketball, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment with every goal I made. It felt so good to know that all my hard work paid off. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the high five I got from all my team mates every time I made a goal. It was a great reward. The high five meant that my teammates had confidence in me. It showed me that they were proud of me and that I could be proud of myself.
You see, God is my cheerleader not only when I run and shoot for the goal, but also when I receive the prize of the high five. When I choose to make the effort to overcome in righteousness with his strength, God is proud of me. His confidence in me shows me that He is proud of me and that I can be proud of myself. This sense of accomplishment helps me to keep running, to keep shooting for the goal, and to keep receiving high fives from Him!
So what about you? What will you choose? Will you choose to allow God to be your cheerleader? If you do, you’ll never regret it. Because in the end … You WIN! Not on the court but in LIFE!
Keep calm and journey on,
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak; and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40: 28-31
Hello, my friends!
My name is Amy.
And … this is my JOURNEY.
I’m a homegrown MISSISSIPPI girl who uprooted to Slidell, Louisiana, 7 years ago with my husband, Blaine, and daughter, Sarah. I have been married to my Prince Charming for almost 15 years. Our birthdays are six days apart, and for five days a year I get the opportunity to brag about being younger! However, I think he quite enjoys that. My beautiful daughter, Sarah, is 10 years old and in 5th grade. She's my little fish in the sea that loves to swim and draw mermaids. My husband and daughter are God-given treasures whom I cherish. But there is a greater treasure I love even more. You might be thinking, "What treasure could be greater than her family?" Well, I’m glad you asked! That treasure is my salvation in Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I received His gracious gift back in 1992 and have cherished it ever since.
You may have noticed some of my words are in different colors and fonts. That’s because one of the talents the Lord has given me is CREATIVITY! Yes, I actually took the time to make each of those letters a different color! That's the quirky, detail-oriented side of being blessed with a creative mind. I have several different hobbies I like to indulge in which include scrapbooking, making pottery pieces, making jewelry, and making hair accessories. I am always looking for ideas, and I confess that Pinterest has become my new best friend.
I also love being a SERVANT. For the past 6 years, I have served as Creative Arts Coordinator for Northshore Church where I attend with my family. I have the privilege of working alongside our Worship Leader and the Creative Arts Team in creating stage designs for each sermon series. This position of service has been most rewarding because it allows me to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him and my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. It can't get any more rewarding than that, right? Well, another opportunity to serve in creative ways came my way also!
That opportunity was Total Woman U. I have been blessed to be on faculty of TWU for two years now. I decided to join this organization because I needed to be a part of it. For most of my life, I tried to conform to the standards of others so that they would be pleased with me. I was a pleaser, not a believer -- that is, a believer in myself. I had such a lack of confidence that I was always worried about what others thought of me. Since joining TWU, I have learned SO much about the “Amy” that Christ designed and the purpose for which He created me. I have learned that I am a UNIQUE creation and that I am BECOMING more and more in His image as I strive to live for Him till the end. The good news is It’s not the end! There’s work to be done! So will you join me? Let’s journey together, shall we?
Keep Calm and Journey On,
Meet the Authors