What His Word Says About How He Sees Me {& 2 Book Giveaway}

What His Word Says About How He Sees Me

*I am so thrilled for you to meet Sara Hagerty! She is a new friend and fellow contributor at TheBetterMom. After meeting her, I began reading her newly released book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, and I literally couldn’t put it down. Her beautiful words and powerful ministry reached deep inside my soul. I pray you will be as blessed and encouraged by her today! ~ Lisa

As I sighed under my breath towards her, I caught her eye.

She’d heard the exasperation that was intended only for me. Her sister was on edge, too. She needed my cheek against hers and my hand on her back, but in my tiredness she got the one-sentence pep-talk that rarely moves a heart. I was coach, today, barking instructions and correcting their errors. I couldn’t see them past the seven things on my list that needed to be done (yesterday) and the fact that I was hours away from dinner and I’d forgotten the main ingredient at the grocery store meat counter. Again.

They were players on a field, not hearts, to me on this day.

But the real evaluation happening in our home was centered around me. Failed! — at the chance to reach her when my sigh betrayed my words. Failed! — at speaking to where she was when I used flat phrases. Failed! — at training when I chose to command, not teach. Failed! — at keeping up with yesterday, which left me in the negative today. All capped off by another family dinner from Chipotle to cover over this mama’s gaps.

I carried my internal report card into the nook off our bedroom, without even noticing. It’s hard to catch on to your own scrutiny when you’re always under it. As I stepped across the threshold into that sacred place where I get to breathe, I heard on my inside His declaration over me: yes, this is good. And I knew as I absorbed the words that “this” meant my home, these children, this environment we’d created in the space that held more laundry and disparate doll clothes and random puzzle pieces than I’d like.

He had a declaration for me that day. It was different than my own.

What His Word Says About Me

Good.

I sank into the overstuffed chair by the fireplace and took note of this pause. He hadn’t waited for a quiet moment so as to better instruct my mommyhood or, rather, to tell me to silence those thoughts. He’d intersected a “C” day on my internal report card with a new grade. The one that actually mattered.

And all of a sudden, I saw it. It was good. My day flipped on its ear after that one phrase from Him. Instead of all the failure, I remembered how she’d let me hold her, long — the one who usually resisted me. And her sister didn’t read words, but pages that day. In my lap. The little tike had a rough morning and I helped him make his bed and he left his room standing tall.

I had missed it all in my scrutiny.

But God had a better word over my day.

What HIs Word Says About How He Sees

The One who spun beauty has an eye for what He made that we can’t mimic; it can only be imparted to us. And any evaluation I might make of my life — and my mess — independent of His, leaves me living in gnawing dissatisfaction.

Mamas, in the twenty-four hour span of today, He saw the dozen diapers you changed and the six times you wiped down the counter after their sippy cup spilled and how you held her, tight, when you really just wanted to plop her into bed. He saw the book you read him, again, and the block tower you built. He saw you folding sixteen pairs of panties and matching an equal number of socks that would be un-matched and worn in days. He saw you wipe her nose that could have just run all day.

He saw your “yes” today. Weak as it may be, His eye witnessed your weak yes.

It’s how He defined you.

Your list is likely different, if you’re like me and fighting a lifetime of negative thinking. You noted when you were short with her. And when you left him to run outside with his shoes untied, just because you didn’t want to tie them again. You didn’t forget that you checked your phone when she was tugging on the hem of your shirt saying “up, Mommy, please.”

We take this information — these analyses on our day — and use it as our catalyst for change. We hang it over our heads like a banner — “better not do that again” — in hopes that a “C” report card may motivate us to make an “A” tomorrow.

But it’s not working. We’re not changing.

Because it’s not the way He works change.

But by my Spirit, He says.

The Spirit of God does not function within our human constructs. His ways that are higher aren’t just better so that we have a tighter list of rules by which we can achieve that “A”. They are other.

They are love of an other-worldly kind.

He sees my weak mommy moments as opportunity and, while not afraid to call them out, He leads me to Himself by His gentle eyes towards my weakness.

What His Word Says On How He Sees Me

I fall under a long line of greats — Abraham, Jacob, David, Peter to name a few — whose God called and labelled them by their weak “yes”, not by their dozens of life-”no”s. They grew because they received, and then believed, God’s perspective on them.

If this mama is going to grow in Him and not just live, stagnant, under a story of what He did once-way-back-when in my life, I need to start believing not only what His Word says about Him but what His Word says about how He sees me. On my worst days.

His love doesn’t fit inside the world’s understanding of love.

And it’s on my worst days, as I mutter one weak “yes” towards Him, that I have the best chance of seeing just how other it is.

Try it on for size: Begin to study in the Word the emotions of God’s heart towards you when you are weak. Give it a week, or three, and watch how you’re relating towards her changes. When we get stuck in our love towards them — when we get stale in our mundane moments — it is inevitably tied to stale impressions of Him. Here are a few isolated verses to start with — however, doing a study on those like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Peter and God’s stance towards them will shed light on how He really sees His broken people:  Exodus 34:6, Micah 7:18, Isaiah 55:7-9, Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 18:35, Psalm 103:10, Psalm 103:14, Psalm 16:11, Romans 2:4, Jeremiah 29:11-12, 1 John 4:19.

For Your Continued Pursuit: John 6:63 | Zechariah 4:6 | Romans 2:4 | Hebrews 6:10 | Hebrews 11:3 | Isaiah 55:8-9 | Psalm 24:6 | Matthew 16:18 | Hebrews 11:21 | Acts 13:22 | Psalm 18:35

A Giveaway for Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Now I’m delighted to be able to offer two copies of Sara’s new book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet! And to give you a sense of how much I enjoyed her book, here’s what I said in my review:

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a very long time. Sarah Hagerty is a particularly gifted writer (she has the most lovely writing style!) and her story touches the deepest of places. I found myself stopping many times while reading and just staring off as I pondered the truth of what she had to say. Inspiring, convicting, and touching. I highly recommend this book! ~ Lisa Jacobson

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

You can purchase her book HERE (I’m actually getting several copies to give for Christmas presents! Shh…..):

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things

You can also enter to win one of two copies here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*A few helpful directions: If you follow either of us on Instagram, simply copy the link provided (example: http://instagram.com/everybitterthingissweet) in the little “box” and you’re good to go!

*Lovely photos are with thanks to Mandie at seeingjoy.com

Sara Hagerty - Every Bitter Thing Is SweetSara is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing, both on her blog and in her book – Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, just released via Zondervan.

Sara’s Blog: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet
The Book: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

How to Build a Sweet Home Together

How to Build a Sweet Home Together as a Family

“That’s one memory I’ll never forget.”

That’s how the conversation began.

“I’ll always remember that sugar-cube castle,” our teenage daughter told me.

My mind did a quick shuffle, sorting through thousands of files, until the right image came up.

Oh, yes. I remember now.

But why? Why did that particular memory stand out so?

The children were young – six of them under the age of nine years. The youngest babies weren’t too much trouble, but the “older” girls were giving me grief.

They had picked up the very bad habit of picking at each other.

A little snide remark here and a slight put-down there.

It was a very destructive habit and I knew it.

The Sugar-Cube Castle

So one night as I lay there crying out to the Lord for wisdom, this idea came to me.

It wasn’t one that I’d read about in a book or article; it just popped into my head out of nowhere.

The nearest thing to a vision.

And in this dream, I pictured a little house made all out of sugar cubes.  It was beautiful and sweet, made with the hands of my own dear young girls.

Along with the picture came this particular verse:

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (Proverbs 14:1).

With that a plan was set in motion . . . .

The very next day I announced enthusiastically that we were going  do a craft together. What great  fun!

So all that morning we built a lovely home made out of nothing but sugar cubes and frosted mortar.

We were like sugarplum fairies in a storybook.

And, oh, when it was done – such a charming sight to see!

As we worked, I shared with the girls that we were like the wise woman who builds up her home, adding a caution that we should be careful not to tear it down. To this they happily agreed and we all drifted into the kitchen to fix some lunch.

But good intentions are not always enough to overcome bad habits.

And, sure enough, the little tearing-down remarks soon started up.

I didn’t say anything this time, however, but merely walked over to our Sweet Home and carefully . . . deliberately . . . pulled one of the cubes out of its special place.

A dark, gaping hole was left staring its ugliness at us all.

A horrified gasp! 

Once again, I gently explained that every time one of us “tears” at each other, we are essentially tearing down our house. The reverse is true as well: each time we lift each other up, we are building it up.

So if that “hole” in the wall bothered them—and believe me, it did enormously!—it would help them remember what they were essentially doing to our own home. 

That if they wanted to build up, to create and to make beautiful, they would need to say something kind and uplifting instead.

After that, I rarely said a word. I would either quietly remove – or add – blocks as was necessary.

I can’t say how long this went on—maybe a few weeks? But this picture did more for them than all my lectures and corrections seemed to have done in the months previous.

I really do wonder now if it was a heavenly vision after all.

How to Build A Sweet Home as a Family

My hope is that it brings Good Memories – and a Sweet Home – for many years to come. 

And I hope the same for your home too. 

In His grace,

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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning to Love

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

The Very Best Gift to Give Your Child…and Yourself

The Very Best Gift to Give Your Child - and Yourself

Surely, she must have something to offer.

Some kind of gift that will bless or inspire others.

Creative.

Mathematic.

A Way-With-Words.

I see each of these gifts – and more – sprinkled among our other children.

But what about this one? This sweet girl. What would be her “gift”?

The Best Gift to Give Your Child

Creative?  No, she’s fairly simple in her tastes. Plays with her favorite toy for weeks.

Mathematic?  She’s 14 and can count to 40.

A Way-With-Words.  She’s talkative alright. But she’s rather repetitive. Says the same thing over and over again.

No, whatever gifts this young girl might have been endowed with were damaged before she was even born. Lost in a stroke. A long time ago.

So now what does she have to offer? 

Mostly she has to depend on everyone else for her needs. She has to have help to get dressed, to eat, to use the bathroom, and even to shower.

And it’s no small challenge to shower this dear child.

She’s nearly as big as I am these days and lifting her gangly, mostly-helpless 90 pounds is almost more than I can handle.

But when I flop her into her special shower-chair, she inevitably giggles and repeats her latest joke. It’s the one that always manages to make me laugh, no matter how many times I’ve heard it.

She loves to make me laugh.

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child

In Christ Alone

Then she sings while I shower her.

Her favorite is “In Christ Alone” and she belts it out loudly and enthusiastically.

Also, painfully off-key but beautiful in its own way.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

When we’re all done and she’s fresh and clean, she always – and I mean always –  gushes:

Oh, thank you, Mama, for showering me!

And she means it from the bottom of her heart. The same thing every time. Like she could hardly believe that I would be so kind as to shower her.

Which brings tears to my eyes.

It is my joy and my privilege. Why should I be thanked? I am her mother, after all!

Yet that’s how she is with pretty much everything: thank you, thank you, thank you.

She’s thankful for the drink of water you brought her.

Grateful for the lunch you made her.

Indebted to you for hoisting her into her bed.

This child has the gift of thankfulness.

The Very Best Gift to Give Your Child This Year

So what if more of us chose this gift? 

I would be . . . 

  • Thankful for my husband. Focus on his good qualities and strengths.
  • So glad for the children God gave me. Not really minding the noise or mess.
  • Amazed at the house I live in. Not even noticing how desperately it needs new carpet.
  • Thrilled with each meal I eat. Three times a day, tasty and plentiful, really.
  • Grateful for my friends. So blessed by their love for me.
  • Delighted with my situation. I have so very much: can get my own drink of water and shower myself.
  • Rejoicing in God, my Savior. Astounded that He would redeem a wretch like me.

Yes, we probably all end up singing in the shower – loudly and enthusiastically – about what Christ has done for us.

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

~ In Christ Alone: Lyrics by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. ~

It would be like Thanksgiving AND Christmas all year round!

It would be the very best gift to give your child . . . and yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends!

Giving thanks,

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(*From the Archives)
**I tell the story of our Special Girl here: A Light in the Darkness and my husband shares about it here: 3 Steps to Triumph in Your Trials.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning to Love

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson *If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

She graduated summa cum laude, but before the day we applauded her achievements there were approximately 36 months of fatigue and perseverance and anxiety that preceded them.

She would come home exhausted, grab a snack, and head straight up to her room. For three or four hours she would labor meticulously over homework. We would have to make her come downstairs to eat dinner.

And since she was a girl, there were lots of tears to go with those hard days of work.

We had a large ottoman in the living room at the time, and when things got bad she would stand at the end of it and do a full face plant on top of it, with arms flung out to the side in total exhaustion and despair.

We found that adorable.

Here’s what I learned as a mom –you can’t do the work for your kid. Of course, for me that partly included my lack of intelligence and the fact that I had not been able to help her with schoolwork since about third grade.

Our kids have to go through their hard times of struggle and labor, and we need to let them do this.

But we can come alongside them, kind of like a chase vehicle in a bike race. So here are some things I did to encourage my children through their hard days…

5 Ways to Encourage Your Stressed Child

Five Ways To Encourage Your Stressed Child

  1. Quietly open the door, without saying anything, and put a plate full of hot chocolate chip cookies on the desk next to her. Don’t forget the milk. (Really, this is all it takes to receive mother-of-the-year award.)
  2. If possible, make her comfortable where she is. I used to heat the rice bag for my daughter and go lay it on her shoulders while she was doing homework. (We live in cold Montana, so this was comforting.)
  3. You know all those chores you hound her to do? Take over some of those for the day.
  4. Praise her work ethic. I would say something like, I always hoped you would grow up to be a hard worker, and now you’re doing it. Not many young people have a good work ethic these days, so I’m proud that you do. An employer is going to really appreciate that quality in you someday.
  5. Assure your child you love her separately from her achievement. I remember sitting in the car with my daughter one day, and she was teary because she thought she might get a low grade in a class (which for her meant a B. The horror.) I said, You know, your dad and I love you so much. Even if you get a B or a C or flunk, we still love you. It’s okay.

We all must go through hard times, but when we follow Jesus He comes close to us and gives us all the resources and strength we need to plug away toward our own completion and maturity.

As we allow our children to work and struggle, while we come alongside them with encouragement and comfort, we are mirroring this work that God is doing in our lives through Jesus.

*What support and encouragement does your child need from you today?

Christy FitzwaterChristy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife south of the border (Canadian, that is.) She has two children –a newly married daughter and a son who is a senior in high school, although she is in denial about the latter. Christy is a librarian’s daughter and an English major who loves the smell of a new book and freshly sharpened pencils but who occasionally can be seen in a kayak as her one claim to athleticism. Living in Kalispell, Montana she teaches high school Spanish at a Christian school in the afternoons and spends the mornings writing her devotional blog, Off the Shelf. Her greatest desire is to help people know and understand who God is. You can also find her at Pinterest and Twitter.

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

How Training Your Child Can Bring New Peace into Your Home

How Training Can Bring New Peace Into Your HomeLike dumpin’ bugs out of a jar.

That’s how their daddy often described it. Our little ones were prone to scatter and wander at will. Each of them with his or her own agenda, heading out in a different direction of their very own.

So full of fun. Free-wheeling. Independent.

And chaotic.

On the days that I wasn’t trying to make anything happen or get anything done – it wasn’t too bad.

But what if I was actually trying to accomplish something? Or go somewhere?

What then?

Then it was a challenge. I felt almost…helpless.

Like somehow these small people were determining my day. Determining my decisions.

Rather than the other way around.

And it didn’t set right with me.

Nor did it settle so well with them. There was this slightly out-of-control feeling to the whole enterprise and so they whined. Fussed. Tested.

And we often clashed.

Then I heard my dear friend from Texas say something that changed my world. Or at least changed my perspective.

I overheard her telling her child in an oh-so-soft, sweet, and….um…firm voice:

Darlin’, you just need to get on my train.

(Accent is optional, but adds an unmistakable charm.)

She smiled and she was warm. She also knew where she was going and what she was doing.

Her children knew it too. They were secure in her plan for them.

Well, that’s what I wanted for our children. I didn’t want to drag them, pull them, or push them.

I simply wanted our young ones to get on board.

How Training Your Child Will Bring New Peace

Looking for Your Children to Get On Board?

1.   Prepare with prayer.

Before launching a new approach, make sure it’s covered in prayer. Even the best plan is only effective as far as it’s carried out in Christ’s strength.

2.   Go slowly.

Especially at first. If your children have basically had free rein of the place? Then slowly add structure. For instance, the first week you might add set meal times. Then naptimes and bedtimes. And when that’s in place, add specific chores or responsibilities – even if it’s only finding their shoes or picking up toys. Then incrementally add on your other expectations until you’re well on your way.

3.   Stay cheerful.

This is a happy train! It really is. You’ve got good things in store for them. Remind them that you have a lovely plan for their little lives. Maybe they don’t “want” to nap? But you know better. You know this is what’s best for them.

It’s time to get ready to go somewhere? Line up what you want them to do and then help walk them through it.

Allow for plenty of time for training though. Don’t wait until the last minute to make your call.

4.   Remember, God appointed you the conductor of this train.

No need to apologize. This is where the “firm” part comes in. No need to make a big deal about it, but remain confident in what God has called you to do.

He’s asked you to be the parent and your child…well, to be the child.

He’s not designed that little one to be in charge – that’s just too big of a responsibility for those young shoulders.

5.   Keep the destination clear in your mind.

The goal is not to get things done. It’s not about getting places on time.

It’s about your child learning to yield his or her heart to your plans.

Much like they’ll be doing - is this not our hope? – to Christ Himself someday.

So why not encourage your young ones to get on board?

And then everyone enjoy the new peace it brings into your home!

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Prov. 22:6

In His grace,

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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson *If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).

How to Restore Your Soul…When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Mind

How to Restore Your Soul When You Feel Like You're Losing Your Mind

To this day I don’t know just how it happened.

She was the most adorable baby girl you’ve ever seen and I was beside myself with gratefulness for her.

First there was her big brother who was very busy and all of 18 months old.

Then there was this tiny pink thing.

My very own sweetheart.

She was beautiful alright, but not the greatest sleeper. She wanted to nurse all night long and it took some of the fun out of it, if you know what I mean?

So I’d been doing this all-night party thing for several weeks when I started getting delirious. A little loco.

One night I found myself walking with her in circles until 2 am  when finally . . . at last . . . got the baby darling to sleep. I gently tucked her in bed and quietly crawled in next to my sound-out husband.

And collapsed into a deep sleep.

For about 12 whole minutes.

That’s when I heard her soft cries starting up again.

I roused myself and leaned over the white, lacy crib and I . . .well, I screamed.  

Something like this: Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!

My poor husband bolted upright in bed, immediately on high-alert. “What is going on here?!”

I stared at him wide-eyed—nearly as shocked as he was. Disbelief at what I’d done. Ashamed and embarrassed.

“I dunno, Honey. I guess I kinda . . . snapped.”

And so her daddy tenderly picked up our baby-doll and took over where I left off. But as he left the room, he gently admonished,

“Hey, don’t let yourself get in that place again, okay?”

Ah yes, That Place.

I can assure you that I never intended to “get there”.

Since then – four boys and four girls later – I’ve learned more on how to avoid getting to That Place.

Hands of mother caressing her baby girl sleeping

Here are a few tips on how to restore your soul when you feel like you’re losing your mind. A mix of spiritual, physical, and just plain practical ways to keep from yelling into the baby’s crib and other crazy-mama moments . . .

What to Do When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Mind

1)  Get the rest you require. Make it a high priority because it can make all the difference. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. Go to bed early or take a nap. Ask friends or family to take over and curl up in a quiet place. Get serious about getting some sleep.

2)  Do this in Christ’s strength. Not your own. Don’t convince yourself that “I” can do this, but minister in His power rather than your own. Place Bible verses around the house, sing praises, and pray as you go throughout your day. Motherhood is a spiritual endeavor.

3)  Don’t neglect your own needs. Sometimes a mom gets so busy she forgets to eat right, to shower, and even go to the bathroom. She forgets to love with her husband or talk to a good friend. My dear, how can you fill up your child’s heart if yours is on empty?

4)  Be willing to ask for help. At first it felt rather stupid and weak, but I figured it was better than a break down. So one older lady folded clothes for me. Another teen girl came over to play with the children. We even sacrificed for a season and had a cleaning lady come in.

It’s now been 19 years since I yelled into the crib.

How to Restore Your Soul When You Think You're Losing Your MindThat baby girl is now a lovely young lady and I’ve asked if she remembered me losing it with her?

She put her arms around me and said she only remembers snuggling together, reading stories aloud, and splashing in mud puddles.

And I’m beside myself with gratefulness.

My very own sweetheart.

Resting in Him.

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*How about you? What kinds of things do you do to restore your soul? I hope you’ll share with us!

*If you would like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).