Christian Encouragement, Life, motherhood

What’s it Like on the Other Side of Me?

Nicki Koziarz By NICKI KOZIARZ

Did you know it’s possible to get demoted from Room Mom to Assistant Room Mom?

It is.

It all started at the school open house. My little pig-tailed daughter and I walked into her new teacher’s classroom. She greeted us with a warm smile and told us to look around the room and check out all the papers that were on her desk.

I knew what papers were on the desk, so I quickly made my way there.

And there it was …

The purple sign-up sheet, listing all the volunteer roles for the year. And with a blank line next to the most coveted spot for all the moms at this school.

Room Mom.

Room Mom seemed like a Pinterest dream come true for me. The chance to be at my daughter’s school for all her important events and to unleash my DIY skills!

I couldn’t believe the space was blank. It was never, ever blank by the time I got to the open house each year. So I quickly wrote my name down and went home to get my party-momma hat on.

This is going to be the best year ever!

And it was … for about four weeks.

In the midst of all the Room Mom excitement, several doors of opportunity opened up for me in other areas of my life. I took on a part-time job, began speaking at events and my afternoons were spent shuffling kids to this activity, and then to that activity.

Before I knew it, I was completely overloaded. I was desperately trying to fulfill all the commitments I had made, including Room Mom. However, returning emails in a timely manner became hard and my availability to help cut out crafts became limited.

And after my Fall FAIL party craft [Pinterest lies. Oh how it lies!], one of the other moms began to get frustrated with me.

Soon after, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher explaining that she felt like this other mom might have “more time” to fulfill the Room Mom assignments and suggested I assist her.

Well then.

To be honest, the teacher was right. The other mom could do this Room Mom thing in her sleep. She was great at it! And she did have more time to offer than I did.

Still, something inside me ached in knowing people had become so frustrated with me, and I had no idea. Pride had clouded my vision. I couldn’t even see how my overloaded schedule was affecting the people around me. I just kept telling myself I was doing the best I could.

In reality, I needed to admit my overload and ask for help.

So now, when I’m sensing my schedule is overwhelmed, I ask myself the best reflective question I’ve found:

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

After I ask that question, I take notice of the commitments I’ve made and adjust them to avoid frustrating the people who are depending on me to fulfill my obligations.

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

This question helps me pause, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show me anything I need to change.

Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?

It’s the question that helps me step into conflict and see the perspective of the person I’ve offended or frustrated.

Yes, this question leads to a hard-humble place. But it’s also a grace-filled place, like James describes in our key verse today.

When I pause to ask what its like to be on the other side of me, God gives me a perspective that is beyond what I can see. And no, I’ve never checked that Room Mom box again. [smile]

Lord, thank You for the grace You bring to us through humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (NIV)

Proverbs 15:33, “Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
For more wisdom on making wise choices with your schedule pick up a copy of The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

For a chance to win a copy of The Best Yes visit Nicki Koziarz’s blog today!

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is an area of your life where pride has slipped in and clouded your ability to see things for what they are? Tell us in the comment section today.

Pray and ask God to help you answer the question Nicki posed today: “Right now, what is it like to be on the other side of me?” Then walk humbly in His grace by apologizing to someone and seeking to make amends.

© 2015 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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blogging, devotional, encouragement, God, Inspirational, religion

Hope for When You Feel Squeezed and Broken

Ruth SoukupBy Michelle McKinney Hammond

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” Genesis 39:20b-21 (NIV)

Lysa TerKeurst

When I was a little girl growing up in Barbados with my grandmother, I loved to watch her make sausage.

First, she would take big chunks of meat and slowly squeeze them into a machine known as a sausage stuffer. Before long, the meat would break down and come out the other side all gushy and floppy.

I used to feel so sorry for that meat.

Next my grandmother would add zesty spices and meticulously squish the meat into encasements. And you know what happened? Some of the best sausage you can imagine was formed. It had a wonderful flavor and a long shelf life.

As you can see, sausage making is quite the process! But the process had a purpose.

Have you ever felt like that sausage? I have.

The process of being squeezed and uncomfortable can break us down, making us feel helpless, alone and sometimes even good for nothing.

We can question, God, where are You? Or, Let’s hurry this discomfort along, OK? (I’m famous for that!) Or even wonder, God, I thought You loved me. What did I do wrong?

Let me remind you of something, friend. Being squeezed by outside pressure doesn’t indicate God’s rejection, abandonment or that He made a mistake. Sometimes in His great sovereignty and love, God allows for our character to be refined. God reminded me of this recently when I was studying the life of Joseph.

You may remember Joseph and his coat of many colors. As a teenager, Joseph had big dreams; however, a series of unfortunate events seemed to circumvent those aspirations. He faced difficult and disappointing times — more than once — and was even sold into slavery by his very own brothers.

Can you imagine going from favored child to slave? I wouldn’t have had a very good attitude about that. “I’m supposed to mop this floor? Don’t you know I watched people mop the floor of my house?” Dear God, get me out of this mess!

But not Joseph.

Time and time again Joseph’s plans went differently than expected, yet he ultimately chose to follow God every step of the way. Regardless of outside pressures and demands — slavery, slander, abandonment or imprisonment — Joseph chose to be excellent. The Bible tells us he advanced because of his positive attitude, and he experienced God’s kindness and favor in the midst of struggles and disappointments.

In our key verse, Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”

Let’s be honest. The refining process isn’t easy or comfortable. Prison was a dark place, a place where Joseph really didn’t want to be … a place where he saw no way out.

But throughout Joseph’s story, God reminds us, very diligently, that no matter how awful and appalling the circumstances, He was still with Joseph.

Want to hear some good news?

He’s still with us, too.

So, friend, if you feel like my grandmother’s sausage, squeezed and broken down, please remember, our God has great purpose in His refining process. He uses whatever He can to form the character He desires for us, His dearly loved kids.

In many ways God works like my grandmother — squeezing and squishing until there’s nowhere else to turn but up. And when God adds the fruit of the Spirit to our lives, then encases us in the shell of holiness, purity and sound character, we too will have a longer shelf life … a life that glorifies Him.

Dear Lord, sometimes my days are hard and I feel squeezed in every way. Thank You for the reminder that You will never leave my side, even when it’s uncomfortable. Please help me to experience Your kindness today in a fresh new way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:3-4, “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (MSG)

1 Peter 4:12-13, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (MSG)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Joseph: Waiting on God’s Timing, Living in God’s Plan by Michelle McKinney Hammond can help give you insight into the power of your choices as you wait on God while pursing your dreams. Watch the first session of Joseph free here.

Visit Michelle’s website for more encouragement.

Enter to WIN a copy of Joseph Study Guide with DVD: Waiting on God’s Timing, Living in God’s Plan by Michelle McKinney Hammond. In celebration of this Bible study, Michelle’s publisher is giving away 5 study guides with DVD! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, April 27.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What situations have proven to be uncomfortable for you? How have you responded?

In what ways can you see God at work in your life today?

© 2015 by Michelle McKinney Hammond. All rights reserved.