One step ahead too self-development

Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt, whatever. You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter and holding a grudge against my husband and honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. Because he won’t keep his own record of wrongs, I have to keep it for him and make sure that I correct him when he’s wrong.
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail in harboring bitter thoughts. I fail in becoming offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I remember the day that I realized that I was truly forgiven and that I forgive myself. That day, I was set free. I have never been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated, like, “Gosh I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure.” Like, “Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness that I once received. Scriptures said walk in the same way that you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty two thousandth day, you’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and I get up and I beat myself up about it, like, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I did that. I messed up.” When I got up and beat myself up, that I was living in my works and my own effort and my own goodness and my own perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. He showed me, “You fall, and you get right back up into my spirit, in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t, in that moment, in the middle, whether it’s a day or a month or year, you’re inoperable to work as my child because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on me and what I’ve done and who I am and what I’m here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on me.”
He showed me also that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s just all out blasphemy. That is just arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we gotta forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. What does repent mean? They think it means crying in their closet like, “Oh God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak fleshly soul.” You know what they were doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their own self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years—just belittled myself. I talked horribly about myself. While I’m doing that, I’m completely disregarding the truth that God says: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m his child and he delights in me; six, he’s not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. I’m just whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
So here’s what God convicted me to do—I didn’t learn this from anyone. There’s no teacher who taught me, I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor. I haven’t heard it from a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect. So I know. This is my story. I’ve walked these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God and you need to hear it.
What God showed me to do—when I messed up, he said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall and you keep choosing me and you choose me, and you choose me again because you know that I love you. You know me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
So he showed me when you fall down, get up and say, “Thank you father that I’m forgiven. Thank you, father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank you, father, that I am the righteousness of your son. Thank you, father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank you, father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank you, father, that you make me whole, that you make me complete. I thank you, father, that I am yours and you’re not mad at me and you’re not a mean God like my parents were. No. I thank you, father, that you are so in love with me; that you delight in me; that we’re friends; that I can come to you and talk about my struggles. You keep me whole, that my identity has not changed; that I’m secure; that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that with the fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help over my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave  for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy and I stay worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, his love for us and what he did for us and that alone—that’s it. Nothing more. It’s never been based on you. It’s never been dependent on you and it never ever will be.
But if you get down and you beat yourself up, guess what, it will be about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think he wants to. You don’t think he’s delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But he is. You have to forgive yourself and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.

What relationship means?

Being a homeschool mom, I have a lot of time with my children. I’m with them hours every single day of their life. But just because I’m with them doesn’t mean that I’m actually engaging with them in their hearts. I can even be commanding orders at them or telling them what to do with school, just giving them tasks and challenges, but all the while, not connecting with them or their hearts.
The question is what is the most important, quantity time or quality time with our children? I would argue that it’s neither. Greg Gunn of Family-iD first introduced me to this concept that it’s not about quantity time or quality time. It’s about quality of relationship. When you have a quality relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if you spend five minutes with them or an hour, when you connect with them with your heart, that is what makes the relationship continue to be woven together and glued together thickly.
How can we relate that to God? That’s in my own home. In my own home, I have a choice with God. I can choose to just spend a lot of time with Him and acknowledge Him. I can choose to have a quality relationship with Him. That’s a very different thing. Having quality relationship with God is listening.
I think sometimes we feel guilty coming to God and asking him for something and telling him what our needs are because we feel like, “Oh I haven’t spend enough time with you. I haven’t read the bible enough. I haven’t prayed enough. I really don’t feel worthy to ask you this.” But it’s not really about the time. It’s about the quality of your relationship with God.
I think sometimes your heart can just continue to bow down in thanks giving to him. Like, just when you see the sky and the beautiful sunset or the puffy, beautiful clouds and you just acknowledge the creator. I mean, that’s quality relationship right there. It’s not a work. It’s recognition. It’s honoring of God. I just wanna encourage you to seek a quality relationship with God and your family and your children.
 
 

One Tool To Get into Your Child’s Heart

Pillow talk.
Did you know that our children’s minds review their day’s events every night? Every night in their bed, they contemplate and review everything that happened that day. Now, you have one of two options as a parent: you can stay up late as the child is processing and talk to them and stay up all night, or you can choose a tool called pillow talk.
Pillow talk is a journal that is passed between the parent and the child. At night, when a child is processing their day, they can open up their journal and write down what was the greatest thing of their day. So pillow talk journal, you may ask questions like, “What is the greatest part of your day? What part of your day was the most disappointing?” etcetera. Children remember the good, but they also have regrets at the end of the day that they process at night—regrets of failing a test or disappointing behavior that they showed or regretting the way they treated someone. They also consider their wounds.
This is actually the time of the night that they can monopolize your time until the wee hours of the morning if you let them. I have many friends that stay up all night long with their child because that’s when their heart is the most vulnerable and open.
It sounds great in theory, but if you work or homeschool or anything else that you need to do to be productive during the day, you cannot healthily live without sleep. And if you’re married, your husband may want some of your time too. I believe that if you stay up all night with you kids every night and available to them every beck and call that two things happen: one, you lose intimate time with your husband or your spouse; and two, your kids don’t learn to process and how to healthily communicate at an appropriate time. If you’re OCD, you need the time that your child is in bed to reorganize and pick up your house and clean it up for your own sanity the next day.
Rest is an important part of healing. But I also don’t wanna miss out on my time with my kiddos. I don’t wanna miss out on their sweet vulnerable hearts in the time that that they’re processing. So what can you do? Sleep, clean or have late night talks with them, help?
I personally cannot live without sleep. I’m exhausted. When it’s time to go to bed, I’m usually ready for everyone to go to bed. I want to be horizontal. I don’t need to close my eyes, but I need to be horizontal.
I found the tool that lets me into my child’s heart and allow me to sleep. Pillow talk. It’s a journal the kids and I used and it’s a fun game.
What we do is I will write a note to my child. I may write a note about my heart or maybe a way that I behave with them that I want to apologize for. I may write something that I’m disappointed in, and just my life, being vulnerable and transparent. It has nothing to do with them, but just something that I’m just being transparent about. And then I would write some questions like, “Is there anything that has been bothering you lately? Is there an area that I can encourage you more in, or an area where you’re feeling discouraged?” And these don’t need to be long answers, but the answers will help me ask and have appropriate conversations the next day when we’re alert and awake.
Then we sneak it into each other’s pillow. So I would sneak this under my child’s pillow and leave it there and when they read it at night. It also helps steer their thoughts at night. So at night it gives them something productive to think on. I may even put in a positive message or encouragement in their pillow talk journal, or put a bible verse, or a picture. Sometimes, I draw pictures. I’m a horrible artist but I draw pictures for their entertainment. So we sneak into each other’s pillows and see if we can get in there without getting caught. And it’s just a lot of fun.
When it’s under my pillow, I get to read it and I get inside to their heart. So I can be intentional about my time during the day to pull them aside and make sure I have some one-on-one time to discuss what I read. It’s an open door to have an healthy conversation with them at a time when we’re all rested and healthy.