We Gave Up Complaining for Lent

This year, our family is observing the Lenten fast in a rather unorthodox fashion. While food items such as meat or sugar are often fasted, this year we have decided to do something quite different: We’ve decided to give up complaining for Lent.

Yes, you heard me right. Complaining. It’s easy when your life mostly consists of first world problems to start getting picky and stop being thankful.

God’s word is very clear about complaining – He says very clearly again and again, “DON’T DO IT.” Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining or arguing.”

In contrast, God tells us, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Put Off Complaining, Put On Thanksgiving

It’s not enough to stop whining and complaining. While the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” rings true, there is an important element missing.

While at times we may be able to bite our lip and suck in our snarkyness (is that a word?) and agitation, if we are grumbling in our hearts nothing has changed.

Don’t get me wrong – there are times it will take everything we’ve got just to keep our tongues from spewing out molten lava of negativity. And that’s important! Because what we say has a strong impact on the people around us. They either leave our presence uplifted or discouraged.

Beyond those “molten lava” moments, our family is trying to grab hold of a new practice. Scripture clarifies that we are not only to “put off” the unfruitful deeds of our sinful flesh, but also to “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him” (Colossians 3:10).

Write Down Your Complaints – God Can Handle It!


Psalm 142:2 says, “I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my trouble.”

I started by putting a long sheet of butcher’s paper on one of the doors near our kitchen. I wrote on the top left side “Complaints.” On the top right hand side I wrote “Thanks to God.” Then I told our family that if they had a complaint, they could write it to God on the wall.

Sometimes we don’t even realize what we are saying, but as we write it down, our thoughts become clear. When one of my daughters complained that she couldn’t have cheese (we have stopped giving her dairy due to skin problems) I said, “I understand that’s frustrating – let’s go write it on the wall.”

She wrote something to the effect of, “I’m tired of not having cheese!!” There was definitely an exclamation point involved.

But then my husband asked her, “Well, have you seen anything positive come from giving up cheese, though? Anything to thank God for?” She admitted that yes, her eczema is getting much better, so she wrote that down on the right side of “Thanks to God.”

Writing out our complaints to God and seeking to turn them into thanksgiving has not only helped us to become more aware of our negative attitudes but has also caused us to recognize gifts that God is giving us in that area of perceived lack.

Experts say that habits are a process, not an event. We’re not going to be “complaint-free” by Easter. But we’re getting started on the right path which will hopefully lead us to a deeper place of contentment and trust in the Lord as a family and as individuals. We’re giving space and grace for failure and we’re focusing on holding one another accountable.

And long after our “complaint/thanksgiving wall” is filled to the full, we will hopefully keep up the practice. Won’t you join us? Perhaps lying beneath some of your strongest complaints are some of your greatest blessings.

Creating Healthy Boundaries with Technology

Multitasking has become an asset and for many a requirement in our pressure-cooker culture, so much so that we’ve come to think of it in positive terms. It suggests a quickness, clarity, and efficiency of thought. But those who study the brain describe it differently.

It’s not really that you multitask, it’s that your brain oscillates between two activities,” says the noted pediatrician and researcher Dimitri Christakis…Christakis’s research aims to identify optimal media exposure for children and his findings thus far suggest that multitasking undermines the capacity for sustained attention and deep thinking.'” ~ Catherine Steiner-Adair

This quote is from a book I am currently reading called The Big Disconnect. The subject matter of this book has shaken me deeply and made me pause and consider my own addictions to technology.

The Perils of Compulsive Connection

My goal in this blog posting is not to get you to trade in your smart phone. I think I only know two people who still don’t have smart phones and one is my 95 year old grandmother.

My goal is to perhaps cause you to think about how many times you look at a screen every day and why you do it.

Here are a few questions I asked myself to help get you started:

“How often do I really need to check my email?”
“How often do I really need to respond to text messages?
“Are there times during the day when I should just turn off my phone completely so it won’t be a distraction?”

If you are a parent or are married, you may benefit from pondering these questions:

“When my child(ren) or spouse are with me, how much of the time am I distracted by some sort of screen?”
“If my spouse or child were to describe my relationship with technology, would they say it is healthy? Would they say that in our home we utilize technology for specific purposes, but it doesn’t undermine our relationships?”

Friends, I don’t even consider myself to be very tech-savvy, but I winced when I realized that it has become a habit for me to “just check” my phone way more times during the day than is needed or even warranted. Just some food for thought.

 A Life of Unhurried, Undistracted Devotion

How might our dependency on multitasking or technology impact our relationship with God?

There’s that awesome story in the Bible of the two sisters – Mary and Martha. Here’s my own fun, modern-day version:

Martha was cranking out a Pioneer Woman recipe for dinner, posting pictures of it on Facebook, pinning her place setting arrangement on Pinterest and washing dishes at the same time.

Her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching. “Mary!,” Martha cried annoyingly, “Didn’t you get my text messages?! I need you to come in here and help me now!!”

“Oh, sorry, Martha – I turned off my phone because I wanted to give the Master my full attention.” Word.

Friends, we (daily) have a choice to make. Are we going to settle for a stressful, margin-less, compulsively connected existence? Or will we focus on setting healthy boundaries with technology, slow down to truly tackle the task before us or give our undivided attention to the people we are with?

It’s not going to be easy, but day by day, hour by hour, I want to fight to follow Mary’s example and choose the important over the urgent. Let’s be masters over our tech devices rather than allow them to master us. Will you join me?

Entrusting Our Children to God


During our family devotional time yesterday, we read the story of the birth of Moses:

A man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and had a son. She saw there was something special about him and hid him. She hid him for three months. When she couldn’t hide him any longer she got a little basket-boat made of papyrus, waterproofed it with tar and pitch, and placed the child in it.

Then she set it afloat in the reeds at the edge of the Nile.The baby’s older sister found herself a vantage point a little way off and watched to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him.

She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.” Then his sister was before her: “Do you want me to go and get a nursing mother from the Hebrews so she can nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Yes. Go.” The girl went and called the child’s mother.Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me. I’ll pay you.” The woman took the child and nursed him. ~ Exodus 2:1-9

Something Special


Moses really was “something special.” The Bible tells us so! His mom saw his beauty and hid him so that he wouldn’t be killed.

When she couldn’t hide him any longer (I’m picturing the awesome, really noisy sounds that older babies make when they are learning to talk) she had a decision to make.

She could grieve the loss of a son once someone discovered him. Or, she could get creative and pray. I find it interesting that she technically did what Pharoah had asked – she put her boy in the Nile. But instead of leaving him to drown, she sets him up to survive.

She creates a special little “boat” for him to ride in down the river and his sister runs after him to try to make sure he’ll be okay along his journey.

It’s a good thing she’s there, because once Moses is found, his sister is ready. “Aw, he’s a cute baby, right?,” I can picture her asking Pharoah’s daughter. “I know you want to keep him, but should I get a nursing mother to take care of him for you?”

BRILLIANT, child. JUST BRILLIANT. Think about it: Just moments before, a mother let go of her child, not knowing if and when she would ever see him again.

Not a day had passed and here he was, back in her arms again, her milk still warm and ready for him in her breast.

Oh, and by the way, she got PAID to nurse him!!! It’s truly unbelievable.

Entrusting Our Children to God

As a mother, there will be many times I have to let my children go and entrust them totally to God. I’ll never forget when my first daughter was a little over a year old and my husband and I left for a trip to Haiti to help the victims of the severe earthquake there.

I left her with my parents for 8 days. It was only eight days, but it seemed like eternity to me when I held her in my arms for the last time before leaving.

We had never been apart for more than a few hours until then and I will admit I was anxious and afraid. Here I was going to another country that was in the midst of disaster, rioting, and large-scale unrest and handing over my baby girl to my parents for safekeeping.

I held her tightly in the dark nursery room, rocking her and crying. I felt the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit comforting me, “Trust Me. I will take care of her. Don’t be afraid. Learn to entrust her to me now when she is a child. Don’t wait until she’s older and leaving your home. Put her life in my hands.”

God Cares for Our Children

God is so faithful. God took care of Moses. God took care of my baby girl, too. I remind myself regularly that my children do not belong to me- I have dedicated them to the Lord and they are ultimately His.

We as parents are stewards of these beautiful little people. Our words and thoughts, our training and actions have a lasting impact on their minds and hearts. But we cannot control their choices or their future.

Let’s take a moment today to thank God for our precious children and to dedicate them afresh to the Lord.

To open up our hands before God and say like Hannah, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.


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