Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Moms: Take Charge by Making Smart Choices

The following is a report on the practical applications of Robin
Chaddock's book, 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, (Harvest House
Publishers, 2007).

It's easy to feel out of control as a mom when you let society's
pressures and other people's agendas take charge of your life. But if
you use your God-given ability to make wise choices, you'll gain
control so you can live the abundant life God wants for you.

Here's how you can run your life so it doesn't run you:

Stay in touch with God. Every day, stay connected to God through
prayer. Get to know His voice speaking to you and make it a habit of
asking Him for guidance before making decisions. Ask God to reveal His
vision for your life, and help you clarify your values. Make time to
reflect regularly on how God is working in your life.

Discover who you are. Get to know and affirm who you are as a unique
person. Recognize clearly what you stand for, and what you won't stand
for. Figure out your central passion and greatest strength, and use
that information to make choices that bring out the best in you. Ask
God to give you the confidence you need to make smart decisions. Don't
compare yourself to other people and the decisions they make; feel
free to make choices that are right for you, no matter what other
people think. Resist the pressure to give into other people's
expectations for you if those expectations don't align with what God
is calling you to do. Realize that you don't need to compete with
other people. Just do your best, and be at peace with that. Remember
your true identity as a beloved and free person in Christ, and refuse
to base your sense of identity on anything less. Ask God to help you
see yourself from His perspective.

Make decisions wisely. Constantly ask yourself what you will do with
your life in light of your faith. Keep your vision and values in mind,
and as you make decisions, discern whether or not each choice will
help you stay true to them. Understand your own motivation before
making decisions. Be proactive about making decisions, realizing that
if you don't decide when faced with a choice, that in itself is a
decision to just let your life control you. Think for yourself and
don't let others talk you into something you don't feel confident
about. Don't take situations at face value; ask questions. Consider
all available information carefully, think through the various
options, and weigh the potential consequence of each option. Be able
to clearly articulate your beliefs and the reasons behind them.
Evaluate any message in light of the sender and the sender's
motivation. Be wary of people who urge you to do something simply
because it has "always" been done that way or because "everyone" does
it that way. Understand that when you say "yes" to one thing, you'll
usually have to say "no" to another. Know that even though you often
can't choose your circumstances, you can always choose how you view or
respond to those circumstances. When you make a mistake, don't be
afraid to correct it mid-course if you can. Stay focused on God's
intentions for you and avoid getting tangled up in society's demands
and expectations.

Think healthy thoughts. Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so
you can get rid of unhealthy thoughts and think correctly about God,
yourself, and others. Embrace the truths about God in the Bible. Think
the best about yourself as one of God's children. Ask God to help you
see other people as they truly are, without overlaying them with your
expectations. View situations in the world from a stance that is both
realistic and optimistic. Ask God to help you replace negative
thoughts and thinking patterns with positive thoughts and thinking
patterns. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself in your mind, and
replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Pray for the peace
that only God can give.

Forgive. Understand that being in an unforgiving state erodes your
ability to use good judgment and make healthy choices. Know that God
expects you to be willing to forgive because He has forgiven you. Rely
on God's help to forgive, remembering that He will always give you the
power to do so. Forgive yourself for not being someone else you
compare yourself unfavorably against. Ask God to give you the
confidence you need to embrace your uniqueness and distinct purpose.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive yourself for what you've
intentionally done or left undone that has resulted in harm. Forgive
people who have pressured you in the past and influenced your
attitudes and behaviors in unhealthy ways. Carefully evaluate the
opinions and worldviews that other people express, and don't give in
to pressure to take them as your own. Know what you believe (and why)
and stand by your convictions. Forgive your friends and family members
for ways they've hurt you, and manage your emotions and expectations
so you're able to see those you love from a realistic perspective.
Forgive God for ways He has acted in your life that have made you
angry with Him. Understand that God is in ultimate control of your
life and trust that He knows and wants what's best for you. Pray for
the faith you need to recognize God's love, wisdom, and power –
especially in situations that don't transpire the way you want them to
turn out. Enjoy the peace God gives you when you forgive.

Be grateful. Realize that gratitude will give you the freedom you need
to make smart choices. Don't let perfectionism, unrealistic
expectations, or worrying steal your gratitude. Choose to be grateful
in all circumstances – not just ones you enjoy – trusting that God
will use everything in your life to fulfill good purposes for you.
Regularly notice both large and small blessings in your life and thank
God for them. Know that gratitude will give you the contentment and
confidence you need to make wise decisions.

Celebrate your uniqueness. Instead of comparing yourself with other
people or competing with them, embrace the distinctiveness of who you
are and be content with that. Remember that God has unique purposes
for you and your family to fulfill. Live in the present. Stay focused
on what you really want to do, rather than what other people want you
to do. Find creative ways to celebrate the unique qualities about you
and your family's unique culture, such as by going out for ice cream
or taking a hike together.

Call out the best in your kids. Decide to teach your kids how to make
smart decisions. Start by accepting them for who they truly are – not
just who you want them to be. Let your kids know that you appreciate
them for who they are instead of just what they do. Mention specific
traits and passions you recognize in your kids that make them special
people to you. Help them discover and articulate their vision and
values, and focus on how they can contribute to the world right now
instead of waiting until they're grown up to contribute in significant
ways. Be willing to let go of your kids more and more as they grow
older; help them become independent. Respect and honor your kids. Look
for God's Spirit inside your kids and affirm God's work in them.

Take care of yourself. Give yourself the foundation you need to make
healthy choices by taking care of your health – spiritually,
physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember that God highly
esteems you; let that knowledge motivate you to care about yourself.
Ask God to help you make choices that will bring you energy (such as
pursuing a creative project) and avoid choices that will drain your
energy (such as gossiping about other people). Look at your daily
routine and pay attention to how you could change it to incorporate
more healthy choices (such as drinking water instead of soda or
spending time in prayer instead of watching an extra television show).

Listen. Ask God to help you become a careful listener who gains the
wisdom to make smart choices. Pray frequently, and listen to the Holy
Spirit when you do. Listen to wise counsel from spiritually mature
people you can trust. Listen to your kids by making time for them and
focusing on what you most need to respond to in their lives. When
you're listening to people, make eye contact with them. State in your
words what you think they're saying. Express empathy and
understanding. Ask questions to clarify or draw out more information.
Don't judge the people who are speaking, and don't get distracted by
thinking of your response while they're still talking.

Laugh. Recognize that laughter will help you live in a state of grace
that will enable you to make wise decisions. Allow humor to give you a
clear perspective on stressful situations. Don't take yourself too
seriously. Learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to laugh at
them. Laugh with your kids and enjoy the time you have together. Let
laughter dispel your family's fears and refresh you all.

Play. Realize that play will rejuvenate you and improve your
perspective on situations so you can make smart choices. Give yourself
permission to rest and relax. Trust that God is in ultimate control of
your life, so you can let go of your concerns long enough to play with
your kids on a regular basis. Find creative ways to integrate play
into your daily routine, such as including your kids when you're
cooking and making a fun meal together, or singing songs or playing
pranks on each other as you clean the house. Ask God to help you see
the world through the eyes of your children and feel carefree. No
matter what your circumstances, choose to be joyful instead of giving
into stress.

Stay in touch. Stay in touch with your physical surroundings by
creating a home environment that helps you maintain balance and
promotes clear thinking so you can make wise decisions. Choose to
express your affection for your kids through touch regularly, such as
by hugging them every day, to keep your relationships with them
healthy and give them the confidence they need to make smart choices
of their own.

Make connections. Connect with other people so you'll have the support
you need to make smart choices. No matter what season of life you're
in, be sure to invest significant amounts of time and energy into your
marriage to keep it healthy and growing. Choose your friends wisely,
avoiding relationships that suck the life out of you and building ones
that provide mutual support. Find friends who you can trust to share
your sorrow, concerns, and joys with on a regular basis. Know that,
while you can't choose your family members, you can make wise choices
about how you will relate to them and how you will allow them to
affect you.

Don't hesitate to say "no" when you should. Never let guilt, anxiety,
comparison, or competition cause you to accept an invitation to do
something. Instead, examine your motives whenever someone asks you for
a commitment of your time, energy, and talent. Continually ask
yourself why you're considering the activity, event, or project.
Understand that there will likely be many good things you need to say
"no" to because they simply don't align with God's plans for you right
now. Don't take on responsibilities that aren't yours to take on.
Trust that, if you're not meant to do it, the person asking you will
find someone else who can help. Don't feel obligated to give a reason
to people when you decline their requests; simply decline with a firm
graciousness. Don't feel as if you need to respond to people's
requests right away; take the time you need to think about them before
replying. When you sense that requests will provide opportunities for
you or your family to grow in your vision and values, then say "yes"
with confidence. When it comes to the media's influence on your
family, don't be afraid to say "no" to destructive forces by setting
boundaries on your kids' television viewing, Internet surfing, and
other media use. Say "yes" only to media that will help them grow into
the kind of people God wants them to become. Enjoy the peace that
comes from making wise choices.

Adapted from 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, copyright 2007 by Robin
Chaddock. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or.,

Life coach Robin Chaddock is the author of Discovering Your Divine
Assignment and Being a Wise Woman in a Wild World. She holds degrees
in psychology, theology, and organizational management. An
award-winning community college educator, Robin also encourages
hearts, inspires change, and shares God's deep, eternal love with
audience members at conferences, retreats, workshops, and seminars.

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