Heart of Esther

"And who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?" –Esther 4:14


Do you ever have those days where just ONE more thing will send you over the edge??  Yeah.  That was me the other day.  It was just those little things that added up all day.  It started out by being woken up early (4am early) by a little one that is learning to live (and sleep) without a pacifier.  With a nursing baby, my sleep is interrupted as it is.  Still, I woke up looking forward to a little shopping trip without any children-excited to have some space and thoughts to myself (which is rare) for a couple of hours.  You have to understand, I am NEVER w/o my children.  Honestly, I don’t crave time away or frequent breaks.  When money is tight, we have date night at home after the kiddos are in bed.  My husband works long hours and we don’t have any family nearby.  We are also extremely careful about who we allow our children to be watched by.  SO, I do not get time alone (you know what I mean, Mommy’s-not even in the BATHROOM), mkay?? 

Anyway, myschedule was already too packed this week and I was stressed.  Not to mention not feeling well.  It was little things all day like my toddler unrolling an entire roll of bath tissue and proceeding to tear it up in little shreds and spread it all over the house.  Yes, I was getting more and more anxious for my outing ALONE!   I wish I could say something major happened to make me lose my cool and you could relate, but it was something so small and silly…

Ready to walk out the door, I’m running around like a mad lady sprucing up the house (no easy task after a long home schooling day and sports after) so we don’t scare away the babysitter and I get the call that I would NOT have childcare after all and that if I wanted to get a few things I had planned to get done, I had to bring all the children with me.  Sigh.  To be honest, I usually don’t mind taking all the kiddos with me and really and truly enjoy their company.  But this had been a particularly rough week.  I was tired.  I needed a break.  I had even fallen asleep the night before imagining myself with my coffee in hand, being able to casually rifle through a favorite store before getting my “have to have’s” at my not so favorite store.  I literally at that moment felt as if my day had been ruined.

I wish I could say it was something major that put me over the edge.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal.  My toddler spilled a bowl of Cheerios (dry-thank goodness) on my sofa.  IN my sofa.  And crushed them in between my cushions.  Yeah.   And I lost it. Let me reassure you, ladies, it wasn’t pretty. 

Still cleaning up crushed up Cheerios and beginning to feel ashamed for loosing it, I kept praying, and I realized that my day was probably going so awfully because of my attitude and because, in my head, I had planned for things to go my way that day. 

Then, in His soft and gentle way, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and gently ask how often do we this in our spiritual walk?  I began to evaluate my heart.  It’s not that I had a bad day.  It went much deeper than that.  How often do we say a prayer or expect God to do something, or even put limitations on Him as to how we allow him to work in our hearts; and then become frustrated or even bitterly disappointed when things are not as we think they should be?  It’s not just our daily happenings we get easily upset and frustrated over, but major things like money, relationships, even death of a loved one.  Often, we even let a part of our hearts shut down to Him because we cannot understand why things aren’t going our way.

The only way to make it through is to be utterly abandoned to myself and completely open to what His desire is for me…even in the small things.  If I’m not, do I really trust Him?  Do I really believe He is a loving God who wants good things for me?  Do I know who my enemy is? (Hint:  the Word says that satan is the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy). 

I cannot always control what happens to me, but I can choose my response to them, and ultimately, my response to HIM!  After all, life big or small, is lived daily.  Especially as mothers and wives.  That’s why the Word says in Mathew to not even worry about tomorrow and to “Be careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16. 

“Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

And, when Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13 “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!”

So, if I can learn to lean on the One who gives me strength and respond the way I know He would have me to respond first, if I can somehow squash this ME that gets in the way of what He is doing in my life (even if its responding well to spilled Cheerios!) then I can be refined and somehow reach toward the prize…



These early years (about 1-3 years old) are essential in training our children.  You know the verse in Proverbs:  “Train a child when he is young…”  This is when they learn many boundaries. Let me reassure you from the beginning, training little ones can be exhausting!  Little ones have to be dealt with immediately because they do no remember later that they are being disciplined for what they did hours, even minutes ago. It’s always when you are in the middle of doing something else that they need correcting!  Often, I have even had to put down a nursing baby to correct a toddler!
If you’re exasperated, wait!  While training IS hard work, it is also not as hard as you think. Young children love to please. You see it on their beaming face when everyone claps for them! Praise is an important part of training. Correction, without praise when they get it right, only frustrates a child. And the Bible warns parents to not frustrate your child to anger. “Yea!! You did it!” with a smile and clapping hands and they will love to attempt a reaction such as that again! I have found that with just a couple of days of consistency and you will see results!
Teaching no, of course, comes quite easily as it seems toddlers are never too tired to explore the world around them-even it means exploring one cupboard or drawer at a time by emptying its entire contents out and somehow managing to spread it all over the house in a matter of minutes…always while you’re cleaning up…and especially if you’re expecting company! 🙂

Teaching young children to not throw tantrums or scream and cry for what they want by teaching them instead to ask for it (even if they are too young for words, it’s an opportunity to teach words and also teach them to respond in other ways, such as pointing). They are never too young to learn to respond right! One of my slow talkers could never respond to “Yes, Mommy” she could nod her head.

This age is also the perfect time for teaching little ones to help! My toddlers have always “helped” me put laundry in the machine, or fold it, even put it into their own drawers. When I dust, I often hand one of them a clean cloth and they joyfully polish the furniture alongside me. Teaching them to pick up their own toys along with you and this stage is more time-consuming (especially when you know you can do it yourself in a minutes time!), but all my children could easily manage to put their own toys in a basket (and usually they were cleaning their own rooms) by themselves before they were 3 years old. When they work alongside you, it’s an opportunity to teach them not only to do a job cheerfully and all the way, but also to spend some quality time with mom! Little ones love to help-use this to your advantage! It’s a great way of teaching the teamwork that comes from being in a family. We often say in our family “everyone in a family helps out” and “teamwork” or “many hands make light work”!  I always talk about how much we love to live in a clean house or how it makes so much less work when everyone learns to pick up after themselves.  My older ones still talk about how nice it is to live in a clean house (since they’ve heard it since they were young)!
Teach them to obey in public, as well as at home. I remember several times giving little ones “time outs” in the middle of the grocery store aisle (regardless of the stares or sometimes comments from others). Shopping with children is no small task and I felt they could easily learn to control themselves in a store as well as they knew how to at home. Stores are the hardest for parents because we feel (and are) being watched. Don’t give in just to get them to stop! Yes, its embarrassing but honestly, you’ll have many more embarrassing moments if you don’t train them now to stop!  Trust me!  It’s hard at the moment but its much more pleasant when you know you can take your children anywhere and trust their behavior when you’re there. Church is also an excellent place for them to learn self-control and how to sit quietly when needed, at least for short periods of time. Practice at home first! You can have them practice sitting next to you on the sofa or in your lap. Begin with small time periods, 5 minutes or so, then increase the time little by little.

Training your children to respond to commands such as “no” and “come here.” And please, ladies, no counting! Children should learn to respond to your request, not your threats, “1…2…I mean it!…2 ½…”
I have seen first hand how training early on makes the latter years much easier and more pleasant. When my children were trained and knew what was expected of them, instead of being irritated or tired of constant correction, I found I was able to enjoy them and the unique personalities God gave them so much more!


HONOR October 30, 2011

Honor one another above yourselves.”  -Romans 12:10

The other day, my husband and I overheard an advertisement for a popular “family” show on TV.  My husband commented to me, “On TV, they always have to make the Dad the idiot.”  I asked what he meant but quickly saw as in the 30 second clip of the show, the wife and the children all treated the father as if he had no clue, turning their backs on him and rolling their eyes.  Even the children were openly making fun of him.  That sparked a discussion between us and we reminisced about the older shows on TV-“Leave It To Beaver“, “My Three Sons“, “The Andy Griffith Show“.  In all of those shows, the father figure was respected and the one who gave sound advice and helped the children figure it all out in the end of the half hour.  Even the title of an older show “Father Knows Best” says it all.  Since when did our culture take a turn from viewing the husband/father with such disrespect and even disdain?

As we talked, we realized that from the time those shows were aired until now, two significant things had happened.  The first, the 10 commandments was taken out of school; reflecting the culture’s change and turn away from God and His Holy Word.  Second, the feminist movement.  The movement that said women are not only just as good as men, women are better!  The fact is, the Bible is very clear on both the male and female roles.  It is the Christian view, in fact, that always reveres women and respects men.  The Bible says that “man is not good alone”.  In the New Testament, women are to honor their husbands, but men are to treat their wives with love and even as they would themselves!  Only in cultures where the Bible is not followed are women treated as property…and worse.
I think, the demise of society and all the problems we see now (homosexuality, broken families, fatherless children, men who seek admiration outside the marriage and lead to infidelity, pornography, even the drug and prison problems) largely stem from society as a whole telling men they are not good enough, not admired, not respected, and ultimately less than women.  We have told them they must be like women to be worthy.  They must behave like women, think like women, get in touch with their emotions like women, act like women…

We wonder why they aren’t standing up and fighting for their integrity and that of their families.  We wonder why they aren’t taking spiritual leadership in their homes.  Women are taught not to respect their husbands, then wonder why men don’t respect themselves and why their children aren’t honoring them.
Raising boys, God has placed a deep purpose in my heart to show them how men really should be treated, contrary to the message culture is bombarding them with.  God made men to be the head.  To lead.  Deep in their hearts, they are warriors, wanting to fight a battle.  What battle?  Ultimately, the battle of the ages-between bad and good.  (P.S. If you’ve never read “Wild At Heart” by John Eldrigde-check it out!)  Men are made to do spiritual warfare and God made them to want to win because He wants us to conquer evil.  They are to protect and provide for their families.  They are to compete in the business or trade world.  They are to fight for the hearts of their wives and children.  They are made to do things that must be done that women cannot “emotionally” handle.
The feminist movement has changed women’s roles from being revered and treated as different because we were DIFFERENT then men, and has instead, set us up as men’s competitor-trying to battle for the head of the marriage, the children, the home, the church, the office, etc.
Our children are watching how we are treating our husbands.  Ultimately, our sons will learn how to treat their wives and our daughters will learn how to treat their husbands by our examples.  Are we respecting our husbands?  Do we watch what we say to our children about their father?  Are we building him up in front of them?  Or tearing him down and belittling him?  Do we complain and argue with his wishes or do we do it cheerfully because he asked of us?  How do we treat him when he comes home?  Do we respect him when we feel like it-or no matter what because that’s what the Word says?
The other day, I caught myself saying out loud in front of my children, “I wish your dad would remember to do ____ chore!”  No sooner was it out of my mouth, that I felt convicted.  I tried to correct it and said, “You know, Mommy shouldn’t have said that.  Your dad always works hard and takes good care of us.  Isn’t it helpful that he takes out the trash every morning so Mommy doesn’t have to?  That shows how much he loves Mommy.  What can we do for Daddy when he comes home to make him feel special?”

Are we respecting our sons?  Are we training them to lead well?  What about letting them take turns leading the family in Bible reading or prayer?  Are we equipping them to make sound decisions later?  Are we training them to guard their eyes and hearts, to be good with money, to work hard, to lean on the wisdom of the Word?  What about the way they treat their mother or sisters or sisters in the Lord?  It’s good practice at a young age to teach them to look out for their families.  Do they protect their sisters and help their mothers?  Are they using manners and considering others around them?

Men can learn to lead in ways that aren’t dominant and destructive.  The Bible never intended that.  That’s why it was clear that men are to love their wives as their own bodies and to treat them as a weaker vessel.  The Hebrew translation for that means “a beautiful vase”.  I don’t feel belittled when I’m treated as a beautiful, fragile vase.  I feel honored and special and very feminine.  Just as our hearts yearn to be treated that way, men’s hearts yearn to be respected, needed, and admired.  How can we purpose today to honor and show respect to the men in our life?

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