Just do what I tell you…

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Ever have those conversations with your husband and you say “Just do what I tell you to do, gahlee dude!!”? Or is it just me?

I find myself wanting him to think like I think, react the way I react, handle the way I handle, deal with the way I deal with, respond the way I respond…which would totally make him me, and to me that would be just fine. (insert the “oh heaven stars please no” emoji here)

In those conversations, I find that I can allow satan to lead me to anger so quickly. When TJ does not think, react, handle, deal, respond the way I do I immediately am drawn to the anger emotion of “WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO WHAT I TELL YOU to do??” I mean, I am intelligent and rationale which should qualify me for being able to make intelligent and rationale decisions about things right?! I know more than he does about certain situations so he should be willing to let me tell him what to do right? I never ever am led by emotion and never make decisions based on personal feelings. (I lie…to myself to make myself “feel” better. Acceptance is first step to recovery.) So, what do I do in these situations? Do I handle these times in ways that would please my Lord…or put a smile on the devils face?

I admit, I usually get a “well, if you are not going to handle this the way I think it should be handled then I am going to just sull up and pout and probably not talk to you or lie down with you tonight…or 5 nights from now” attitude towards him and determine to punish him for not doing what I think he should. That is my go to move. Well, it WAS.
When I began to seek The Lord in a true and humble way, I discovered SO MANY “things” about myself that I needed to change. I needed a transformation of thinking. I was (and still struggle in this) so self-absorbed that I truly believed I deserved to be happy…and satisfied…and fulfilled…and blah blah blah. I put myself and my thoughts on things and my ways and my wants SOOOO far ahead of TJ’s SOOOO many times and yet somehow still felt as if I was a great Christian wife for/to him. I had allowed satan to blind me in my understanding of the woman GOD had in mind when He formed me. I met all the “check list” requirements…I played “the part” very well. I LOOKED like I was truly a good wife for him. And then Jesus shattered that mirror. I asked Him to show me my true self…and man—she was ugly. And pitiful. And selfish. And such a liar. I was claiming all the rights things and yet upon peeling away the layers, Jesus showed me that what I was actually doing was satisfying mySELF. I was putting mySELF first. I was raising mySELF above him. I was focused on what I looked like in the marriage. How people looked at me was my priority. The results of this realization: I was ashamed. I was heartbroken. I was embarrassed. I mean, I adore TJ and have loved him for as long as my memory stretches back…how could I have been such a “bad wife?”

satan is so good at what he does..that is how I was so bad. he wants me to be confident in myself and satisfied with my life. he wants me to buy in to what he sells, which is a false sense of reality. he tricks me into a mindset that claims to love The Lord and my husband when in reality I love myself. and he laughs and laughs and laughs when I play along. he loves when I am blind. and confident. and secure. and comfortable. I hate that guy. I mean really?! just leave me along already.
he will not. he is after me. and my thoughts. and my actions. and my marriage. he is after my soul.

BUT THANKS BE TO GOD FOR JESUS. The Protector of my thoughts. and my actions. and my marriage. THE Savior of my soul. HE showed me where I was failing. HE was honest with me in saying “Tressa…baby…listen to Me…ya got some stuff to work on. I WILL show you (from My word) AND THEN I will help you (since you sought Me) as you work to be who I desire you to be!” And so I began the process of refining. For HIM first…and him second.

It starts with me respecting my husband and his place in God’s order of authority. I respect, with all my being, the man he was created to be AND the man he desires to become with every day he is granted. He was created to be my head, my authority, my teacher, and my leader. Yes I am a willing helper to him in any and every endeavor and my soul is JUST as valuable to Jesus, I just recognize based on Scriptures who he is intended to be for me and respect that. I see the wisdom in God’s decision to have this order. I recognize that TJ is strong in his thinking and has a very calm and rationale and respectful nature. He seeks Him. He listens to Him. He studies His word. He prays to Him for understanding and wisdom. He fails. He sins. He gets back up. He asks for forgiveness. He leads his family. He patiently and lovingly listens to me and then makes the decision The Lord would have him to make, based on what He says for him to do. See, he listens to His Father. He obeys His word. He thinks, reacts, handles, deals, and responds to situations in the way God would have him to…he is so good to not let my “well, if you are not going to do it MY way” crap distract him from what his purpose TRULY is in this life.
When I seek for how GOD designed my marriage to work…I find that His way is SOOOOOO much better than mine. When I seek for how to love my husband the way He tells me to…I find such wisdom in submission and obedience to his authority. When I seek for understanding of my place in God’s order…I find its purpose has meaning and beauty. When I seek for answers to all my questions about my failures, and selfishness, and ignorance, the lies I have believed…I find that God is telling me “Just do what I tell you!”

“I will choose to listen and believe The Voice of truth.”

“…to love their husbands…”

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Ever read these verses in Titus 2: 3″ the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,”
and wondered “why do we need to be taught to love our husband? I mean, surely I know how to love my husband without anyone teaching me how right?” Evidently not if The Lord Himself revealed for older women to teach younger women in this. The Lord in His infinite wisdom knows how we need the advice/counsel/knowledge of those whom have “been there/done that.” When women around us have gone through the challenges of being a newly wed bride and have come through them with a knowledge of “this works/this does not,” it benefits younger women who will be entering those stages of life or whom are already there. Women are to be sharing advice…educating each other in these areas of our service to our Lord first and then to our husbands. This is an area of teaching, in my opinion solely, we have shoved over in a corner to be busy teaching other things in other areas for other reasons. I am not sure that this shoving has been done on purpose so much as it has just been neglected. Maybe women 50 years ago just were not interested in teaching other women “these” things. Maybe women over time just are not interested in being successful at “loving their husbands.” Maybe we have become women who are MORE focused on ourselves…our wants…our needs…our careers…our social life…our equality than we are on our husbands. Maybe when I joined my life to TJ’s I had no real idea of what that actually meant. So, who is to blame? Me because I did not look on my own for the counsel of The Lord in what He means to be a wife? Yes. I take full responsibility for that part. But maybe…just maybe…the women around me who could have been teaching me and influencing me and guiding me and giving me godly advice were more focused on teaching me to be equal to a man instead of submissive to one…teaching me to be independent instead of dependent upon my husband…teaching me to provide for myself instead of appreciating being provided for…teaching me to be in charge instead of being obedient…teaching me to be seen instead of being a modest soul…teaching me to date and be available instead of being chaste…teaching me to be satisfied in life instead of being completely empty because I have given all of myself to my husband. See, in not teaching me to love my husband…they were teaching me to love myself, the world, my career, my independence, my “stuff.” This teaching produces selfish – career oriented – independent – provocative – and very educated women who eventually marry once the “all about me and what I want to accomplish out of life” time frame of life has passed. Now…does anyone wonder why our sisters are not fulfilled, happy, satisfied, complete, and successful at being married??? We. Are. Not. TAUGHT. To. Be.

Upon the beautiful gift of my beautiful daughter – who is NOT really MINE I was reminded of yesterday (shout out to my Shelana: I know what you meant and I know your heart and I love you BUT you made me cry so I hated you for 17 seconds) – obeying the gospel of Jesus, and becoming a servant of His in His kingdom, I was made aware of “what” I was teaching her. I was teaching her a nice and pretty mixture of the Lord’s teachings AND the world’s. I was straddling that fence just as pretty as a little jockey on a race winning horse. I was doing jusssssssssssst enough of what God says to not interfere with what the world around us says. I was teaching her all the “right” things…go to church, study for your Bible class, wear long enough shorts, do not be disrespectful, say some prayers, say “yes mam/no mam,” read your Bible for the love of God. Play.the.part. “Do” all the things that will give the impression that we are being godly mom and daughter…team Bragwell women!” Oh, and when you are reading your Bible and you get to the part(s) about being silent, submissive, obedient, modest, gentle, loving, selfless, chaste, a wife, a mother, a homemaker, just kinda scan over those because what you are REALLY supposed to be is heard, and a leader, and equal, and seen, and independent, and educated, and beautiful, and career oriented. BUT-you are going to do all of that in the world AND STILL CLAIM TO LOVE THE LORD…ok?! Make sense?! You got that?!! Ok good…momma loves you baby. I have successfully screwed up your entire mental processing of God and His will for you because I have mixed in what the world (aka I) want for you in this life…so you will be HAPPY!!!
I want to vomit when I realize it. When I verbalize it to her. When I beg God to forgive me for it. My heart breaks that I was successfully failing at teaching her the principles and characteristics her Father, her Creator, her soul Holder desires for her to have. I was producing another woman for the WORLD and NOT THE KINGDOM!
Thanks be to God that He gives time…time to see with open eyes, time to repent with a broken and contrite spirit, time to humble ourselves to His ways and let go of ours. He allows us to see our wrongs and make them right. I was all kinds of wrong for my daughter. And there was nothing I could do to UNdo the last 11 years of her life as my student…HOWEVER, I could start on THAT VERY DAY with a humble heart to seek The Lord and His word for HOW TO TEACH HER WHAT IS RIGHT.
See…I did not know what He said. I had been doing what I was told to do my whole life. I was repeating the instructions. I was putting in a little of His word with a whole lot of what the world says is accepted mixed with what the church was approving of. Gah, that is a recipe for pure hell. Literally.
So. I asked. I asked people first. Got the world/church/accepted version. Ok…sounds good. I will just go with that right? Naw. Uh-huh.
So. I asked. This time…I asked Jesus. Here’s exactly how it happened…I walked into my bedroom, shut the door behind me, crawled onto my bed, sat Indian style right smackdab in the middle of my bed, raised my face to look up and this is what I asked…
“Lord, what do YOU want me to do?” followed by…
“I do not know what YOU say…I know what they say…but I want to know what YOU say! I am going to look (seek) for what YOU say…and YOU tell me I will see (find) exactly what YOU want me to know…and THAT is what I will do. WhatEVER THAT IS…I will do!”
Well let me tell you ladies something you may not know about asking our Father for something…you better mean what you are asking for when you ask for it. Because He does NOT HESITATE to answer when it is for His will to be done. His will is that we seek Him. When we find Him (and we WILL), will be be obedient to what He says? Will I? Here’s the short version of the next year and a half:
Me: “uh-uh yes..I see. Got it. Yep completely understand. Wait, I gotta actually DO THIS? (hear me laugh extremely loudly here) You want me to do whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Naw, can’t. People are going to think I’m crazy. Even worse…my friends are going to hate me. Gahleeeeee, WHAT WILL church people think? THIS cannot be what You actually mean. Ok, STOP. MESSING. WITH. ME. Lord.”
Him: (and noooooo I am not claiming He spoke to me like in the “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” movie…just painting a picture here) “Yes Tressa. It is just that simple. I mean what I say. I meant this then…I mean it now. Flip on over and read the “same today, yesterday, and forever” part.
Me: “But that is NOT AT ALL what I have been told. I mean, I am to be doing ________, and _________, and __________ too right?”
Him: “Is that what I have told you or is that from some human?”
Me: rolling my eyes -which I know I should not do…I mean He CAN see me- “I know…but doing this will make me so different, and not like the better different I so admire being btw!”
Him: “Yes dear. You are called to be different IF you are going to be Mine. I do not force this on you. You made the decision to say ‘lead me Lord’ did you not?”
Me: (feeling so low and pitiful and weak and sad and overwhelmed and scared and doubtful) “yes…but I want to do both. I want You to lead me AND I want to be cool and fun and accepted and liked and I want everything to stay the same in my life. Can I not just have both?!”
Him: rolling His eyes at me at this point…”No baby…no you cannot. Following Me looks just like Jesus’ life of following Me. Remember Him…My Son Who willingly was hated and forsaken and lied about and made fun of and spit on and badgered and beaten and left ALL ALONE to die on that cross for YOU? Do you remember that? Now what part of HIS LIFE of following Me looked like what you know of following Me today? Think about that baby. Obedience to Me will cause a lot of physical hardships for you…just like it did for JESUS. But do you Who He had His eyes fixed on?? ME. He trusted Me and what I had told Him and He obeyed. Hard-yes! Alone-yes! Lied about-Yep! Friends turn on Him-sure did! Did they think He was weird-very! Did His obedience look different from the Jews and their leaders-so so so so different! So…you in or you out?”
Me: “Well when You put it like that….I don’t know.”
I should have been struck down. Dead. Right there on my nice clean out in the middle of the room bed. I was there, approaching His Throne, begging Him in fact to tell me what to do. And as soon as I am told I start doubting?! Looking for another way?!! Wanting it to not be so hard?! I am pathetic. But the story does not end here. Thank God.
When I told God “I don’t know,” I was scared. Scared of what I would find upon my true and humble search. Scared that I would cause trouble. Scared that people would begin to doubt my spirituality. Scared that I would be looked at as a problem. Scared that it would be hard. Do you know who the father of that kind of fear is??? satan. And I was allowing him to convince me that following the simple instructions of my Father was too hard and would cost too much and would cause too many problems and would run too many people off. Ladies…do not ever doubt the power you award satan with when you fear obedience because of what it will cost you. And again, thanks be TO GOD that He allowed me time to see this. Awwwwwwwwww yeah…”seek and you WILL find” not probably find or may one day stumble across…WILL FIND. And so, I began to seek.
One of the very first things I remember understanding in this search was I was not alone. On May 20, 2000 at approximately 2:24 I became his wife. I am a wife. Hmmmmm, I know God has things to say to me about being a wife. I knew a few right off the top of my head…and knew fairly well what they meant. Now, physically there has never been a woman to ever live on this earth who has loved a man more than I love TJ Bragwell…she just has not/does not exist (in my world anyway -insert laugh). So loving him has never been an issue. Been doing that since I was 5. However, loving him the way God says to love him…I had never really thought about. So I began there. And allow me to tell you ladies something else…praying for the ability to love your husband the way God tells you to IS THE best place to start. Praying for a heart that will receive instruction from Him to be submissive to your husband is key. Now look, I am never going to claim in any of my writings that I know it all/understand it all/get it all right in these areas. BUT I DO KNOW God’s plan for marriage and I do know that He instructs and desires women to accept the place/role/purpose He formed us to fulfill. And since I made the choice…me, I made it…to be a wife AFTER I made the choice…me, I made it…to be a follower of Jesus…I am to obey what He says.
So, with the instruction for me as an older woman to be teaching the younger women “to love their husbands,” I am here. I am willing. I gladly accept this charge and I am smiling as I type to you all that I love my husband…AND I want to knock him in the head, drag him out the door, and call a locksmith to change all the locks before he can come to. I am human. I am a woman. I have hormones. I have a headache everyday from what is known as “occipital neuralgia” (long story but it is a result of a flat cranium-probably from my sister dragging me out of my baby bed as a child repeatedly, who knows really) so I get the “I’m ill and do not feel well” syndrome. I am short tempered at times. I do not know the pain some of you know in a marriage. I do not know what it is to have a husband who does not seek his God. But I do know pain. And when you boil away the “reasons” the pain exists…it’s just pain. And pain sucks. And it’s real. And it hurts. Sisters, we need each other. WE NEED help in times of uncertainty of where our marriage is going. We need advice when we enter into new stages of marriage we have NO IDEA how to handle. For instance…I have NO IDEA how to handle a marriage and the need/want for intimacy WITH A TEENAGER AND A 12 YEAR OLD BOY CONSTANTLY AROUND..AND AWAKE…AND AWARE! I have never been “here” before. But for you women who are in any stage pre teenage years…I am here for you. I got all the advice you want. I can make you laugh. I will listen to you cry. I want to tell you that after your first born child you ARE going to feel fat and ugly and weird and mean and sad and tired and overwhelmed and alone and you are going to LOVE YOUR MOTHER so much it will hurt and probably have NO DESIRE for your husband to touch you for a while. But there are correct ways of handling such emotions that will not destroy your marriage until you can feel “normal” again. Example: when Autumn was born, I had SUCH a hard time allowing myself to feel sexual. “I am someone’s mother for God’s sake” is the mentality I had and DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING!!! I told TJ one time “I want to have sex classy…I cannot be swinging from the ceiling fan anymore!” ummmmmmmmmm what? He had NO IDEA how to understand that because he is not nor will ever be a mother. And the only thing I knew to do what to tell him what/how I was feeling. I did not NOT talk to him. I did not talk to my sister, mother, best friend, and NOT talk to my husband. He was THE ONLY person who needed to know that I was feeling that way. And because I did, and he knew my sincerity in my feelings, he did his best to understand and deal with that time frame. He was patient with me. I was open with him. If I had just rejected him and not ever made time for him and cared nothing about his sexual needs, 2 guesses what would have happened. One is all you really need. We survived through communicating and raw truth. Oh, and my sexual needs for classy went away. Praises.
So ladies, sisters, friends, I promise you whatever it is you are feeling in your marriage…there is a real solid good chance it is normal. Do not be afraid to ask an older woman you know for advice. If she is serving the same Lord you are, she should not hesitate to help.

I received this today in an email…
(props again to Shelana)

And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our Lord calls me to teach younger women many many character traits to possess…many ways to behave…to love their husbands…to love their children…and to be busy being a woman. I do not know everything at this point, BUT THIS I KNOW. So, here I am. I am at your service.

My daughter…my beautiful precious gift God so willingly and freely gave me…is a young woman. I have partnered with her daddy all these years in teaching her about God, His kingdom, obedience to Him, and the punishment for disobedience. I now gladly and humbly accept my responsibility to teach her about being a woman in that kingdom. I will graciously and proudly teach her submission. I will live by example what I teach so that she sees it implemented and “how it works” in a marriage. I will lovingly and proudly teach her the beauty of the role(s) He placed us in and to see the blessings involved in obedience to them. I will reform my heart over and over and over to be the example of modesty and patience and self control and selflessness she so deserves. I will live out His commands in my life so that she will know she is not alone. I will instill in her an appreciation for marriage and being a mother. I will show her happiness in a home. I will teach her to love her home, to love to cook, to appreciate housework (well I will teach her to not cuss while doing it). I have been given —I mean just STOP what you are doing and THINK about this— a precious soul as a gift from my Father in heaven. A gift to love and enjoy and witness grow and change and develop into the woman He desires her to be…and I am the earthly director of this process. So when I am faced with the world’s version of what to teach her -selfishness, vanity, equality, independence, self-willed, popular, seen, heard, ME ME ME…knowing THAT conflicts with what her Father designed for her to be -selfless, modest, submissive, dependent, empty of self, not conformed to the world, gentle, shamefaced, and NOT focused on her wants- I will PROUDLY choose the Lord’s way for her. We have taught our children since toddler days this philosophy:
“you may not understand all the ‘whys’ for the decisions we make concerning you BUT YOU CAN BE ASSURED OF THIS…every single decision we make, we make because your SOUL is the most important thing to us in this world. We will exhaust all measures to return it to its Maker for an eternity!”
So I am thankful for her obedience to His gospel…because in it, I became truly obedient to His will as well.
Funny how that works.
And the teaching continues…

“Took this…thought of you ;)”

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We just MUST share THESE types of captured moments. And then with the little addition of “thought of you” it brings tears WITH the smiles! I am in AWE of His Majesty and designs of the canvas of the heavens. To know He can do T.H.I.S and thinks and loves little ole me…humbling.
And my sweet Lindley…even with the flu you still don’t stop the awesomeness that just FLOWS through you do you??!!! Thank YOU for being awesome and allowing me the privilege of loving you!
AND…who else sees the Tyrannorsaurus Rex at the bottom??!!! #amazing #feelsosmall #HesSOgreat #sharinghisbeauty

A little bit of the beginning…

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Here’s a glimpse into the story of how I became “His Wife Their Mother” …

His Wife.

“I, Tressa Carletta Hovater, swear upon this day that I will never get married nor have any children.” Signed, dated, and witnessed by my mother’s best friend’s husband…my “uncle” . This little piece of paper still exists btw and he still reminds me “how things don’t always end up how ya expect huh baby?!”
I met my TJ in 1981 as the very mature age of 5. The first day of kindergarten and I was SMITTEN! We were the elementary love birds until the summer after 4th grade. THAT story will be shared at some point…its HI-larious. So long story short, we never dated in high school…we always knew I was “his Tressa” and he was “my TJ.” After our glorious high school days, we went a whole year and never saw each other. That was strange. However, the following year brought about situations for us to hang out often. Meaning…I moved a lot from apartment to apartment back to my parents/city to city/junior college to university and he was ALWAYS the friend who showed up with a truck and a trailer. 7 times in 3 years this TJ of mine loaded and unloaded my junk (The final time was in OUR home…insert “awwwwww.” lol)
sooooooo, I MUST share this part of the story now: I accidentally fell in love with him. and that is the honest truth. I had always loved him…we were just “us” but never in an “in love” way. That all changed upon an invitation I extended to him because I realized I had never done anything for him. He was always willing to help me and I couldn’t remember if I’d ever even said “THANK YOU MAN.” I called him one afternoon from my mother’s office and asked the following question (which would change my life FOREVER…)
me: “What are you doing tonight?”
him: “nothing why?”
me: “how about I take you out to eat for moving me all those times? I have never offered to do anything for you.”
him: “sounds good.”
me: “how about Red Lobster? I’m paying.”
him: “see you at 5.”
My mother at this point asks “are you sure you know what you’re doing?” and I reply “yes mother…it’s just TJ!” Ha!
He drove to my mother’s house – the current place he had moved me – and I drove from there. We L.A.U.G.H.E.D the whole night. Literally. I was laughing so hard driving down Jackson Avenue amongst all those red lights and had to pull over because mascara was running in my eyes and I couldn’t see to drive. And you will quickly learn I LOVE TO LAUGH. LIKE ITS MY FAVORITE FAVORITE. So when we get back home, he comes in to say “Hi” to my mother and as I’m walking him to the door he gives me a simple kiss on the lips -nothing unusual- and as he is walking out the door and the door closes…like a BOLT of love lightning IT hits me…and I say to myself “COME BACK! I LOVE YOU!” and immediately following: “Oh crap.” the date was August 26, 1996.
I knew TJ was not in love with me. I knew he loved me because I was “his Tressa” but that was all. I didn’t know NOW how to handle this situation I had UNWILLINGLY created. So I did what every person of integrity would have done…I kept my mouth shut. Shock, I know. But I wrote it all down. My journal held it all. (still have that journal btw).
Fast forward to December 11 same year. TJ’s birthday. His 21st birthday…ya know, the BIG ONE. He was teaching as an adjunct faculty instructor as NWSCC at the time, night classes, and his students wanted to take him out. I was invited as well. I was always included in the guy stuff…all my buddies were TJ’s as well. After the dinner party of students and seafood, me-TJ-and 2 other friends went mud riding. Which led to TJ wanting to show me the cabin he and his dad were building at the time (we now are owners of said cabin and THAT is still surreal to me). So it’s me and TJ. Driving down what seemed to be a 28 mile long gravel driveway with nothing but woods surrounding and a speed limit of 3 because of the horrible conditions of potholes and washed out ditches. Like I seriously asked about half way down “arrrrrre you just taking me down here to kill and bury me?” hahaaa. we arrive at this “cabin”…which was a floor with 2 walls and some black plastic hanging up. there was a blue chair. (that blue chair is currently in our bedroom in our cabin…wow the great reminder that is). As I’m sitting in the blue chair and he is walking around telling me the story of how this whole cabin thing became a project (I don’t remember a single word he said…he was/is so beautiful) I blurt out – without any thought which is very Tressa-like – “so, is now a bad time to tell you that I’m in love with you?” and in his very TJ-like manner he replied without hesitation, “no, I don’t guess its ever a bad time to hear someone loves you.” aaaaannnnddddd he continued right where he left off. No BIG deal. No overreacting. And no questions. We carried on with the night and then made our 28 mile (actually 1.8 but when you go 3 mph it seems like 28) trip back to his house.
Nothing really changed for us. We kept on hanging out…laughing…and loving each other just as we had always done. 3 years and 3 “breakups” later…those stories will be in a lesson probably entitled “what NOT to do in a relationship!”…TJ was hit by lightning as well. Cleaning out the bed of his truck one afternoon – we had not talked in 6 months and after this “breakup” had decided we were moving on and stopping “this” because we were gonna end up hating each other – he’s thinking about life/girls/situations/ and finds himself repeating in his mind “well Tressa isn’t that way” or “Tressa would have never done that” and “Tressa is different.” Then when he jumped out of the bed and hit feet hit the ground IT hit him…and he says to himself “it’s TRESSA. well I be dang.” He immediately thinks of calling me…and backs out after his next thought “ahh, she’ll call me.” SO. typical. TJ. And I LAAAVVVVVVVVE it! :)
6 months later we buy my engagement ring….6 weeks later he proposes…and 7 months after that…I became His Wife.
My uncle brought the signed contract I had broken to our wedding. Well played Rudy. Well played.

There are sooooo many great and funny and embarrassing and sweet and stupid stories to insert in the above and with time I’m sure they will be told. TJ and I are just two souls connected at age 5 in a little suffocating kindergarten classroom with a story written by our Great and Awesome God still unfolding. I want to share that story. It is beautiful and ugly…sweet and salty…up and down…right and wrong…but it is real. It’s ours. and we are loving it.

More to come on the “no kids allowed” clause that was broken as well. I haven’t signed a “I, Tressa Carletta Hovater, …will never…” contract since.

My “happy” song

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I am THE biggest Justin Timberlake lover in the existence of people. Like, his wife has nothing on me. She cannot say she has loved him since his tight curly bleach blonde hair N’Sync days…but I can. When I was pregnant with Scout and had the abruption which lead to his emergency delivery at 34 weeks…TJ tells me to “go to your happy place” which at the time was Justin’s video for “Rock Your Body” and if you’ve seen the video, the end where it’s a whoooolllllleeeeee bunch of Justin’s in one place, you’ll understand why. and that was 12 years ago. I love this man. I honestly think if we met we would be friends. No doubt actually.
Anywho…with age comes (well it should) maturity. Being in my “refining” process, my heart of happy inspirational music has changed. I STILL love Justin and STILL think we could be friends but on a more appropriate level now. So I decided, after realizing what was stuck in my mind with almost every song of his I listened to, to give up listening to some of those songs. If you know me, you know this was a decision that caused you to think “wow, she’s for real about this whole refining thing huh?!” And I should have never watched the video for one of his latest songs. I have repented and asked for forgiveness. Moving on…
I have developed a true connection with Christ inspired music. My Pandora stations no longer consist of music that sparks desire and lust and fantasy. When I realized “these” were the thoughts in my head from “this” music (and no I am not suggesting to anyone else to do the same, not saying JT’s music is bad, and not saying you’re a bad person if you listen to it…this is just ME) I knew it had to go. So, now what? Because I L.O.V.E music. Like, singing is by far ONE of my favorite things ever. It’s peaceful and relaxing and fun and entertaining and thought provoking and memory enhancing and all things good. Well it can be. Should be.
I now listen to songs which lead me to dwell on, consumed with, and wrapped up in Jesus. In good. Even some that cause me to focus on my sin. I HEAR the message of a song now more than ever because I LISTEN for it. I have come to understand the true wisdom in silence. And listening. Absorbing. Songs like “Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave do just that. Overwhelm me. Jesus is overwhelming. The song “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli focus me on “when I fix my eyes, on ALL that YOU are, then every doubt I feel deep in my heart, grows strangely dim.” And my NEW (and appropriate) “Happy” song is “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” by Building 429. And I advise you to listen. Just listen to the message. It will make you HAPPY!!

My FAV line…”Lord I believe that all Your words are true, doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with YOU!!” Press On sisters.

Logic and Quiet. Bless my children’s hearts.

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Me: “Ok Scout…go get some clothes to change in to after services so that you will not have to wear your Sunday clothes to the get together.”
a brief pause and then this…
Scout: “Are we coming home to change first mom?”
This is why I never wanted children. Dumb questions. I knew I had a challenge on my hands with this one so I calm down my SARCASTIC inner self, named “Queen” in college, and replied with the following:
“Scout, use your logic.” (yep. I’m THAT mom. he was 6.) to which he asks…”what’s that?!!”
And my desire to have adult minded children went into overdrive and so began my plan to train my children (6 and 7 mind you) to use their logic. I didn’t care that TJ said “baby, children normally do not start using logic until they are in their teens.” So!!! I thought. Gah, I needed a class in “how to comprehend children are NOT 35 year old grown mature logical rationale adults” really badly. Little did I know, with a little training, a lot of pushy mom syndrome, and consistent reminding…my little bitty people started their journey of being logical thinkers.
God help me.
“It’s going to be super cold this morning babies so ya might wanna wear layers of clothes today!”
my oldest -whom I was sure would take to this more quickly than the younger- walks out of her room with a short sleeve tee on BUT A TANK TOP UNDER it and asks “this good mom?”
the will power it takes me to not use all my sarcastic energy boiling inside of me…I should win some type of award for. Like “And the winner of controls sarcasm in raising children goes to———–Tressa Bragwell!” My acceptance speech would be killAH.
“What does logic tell you about your question Autumn? If it’s SUPER cold, which is colder than just cold, will JUST a tank top under JUST a short sleeve shirt keep your ALL of your arms warm? Remember…we are learning to THINK before we speak right?!”
“All you had to say is ‘no’!” Breathe Tressa. Just Breathe…like the Faith Hill song. Man she’s pretty. Oh, I have a small case of long drawn out thinking past what I originally was thinking. Apologies.

So HOW do you train a logical thinking in children? I had no idea. But, I figured THIS would be a great starting point. (no claims to know anyTHING perfectly btw.)
THIS being implementing a “quiet time” every morning. We began a “routine” of every morning before school we sit down for about 10-15 sometimes and just be quiet. The 3 of us. Mom, 7 year old daughter, and 6 year old son. I was required to be in my office by 7:00 so we would make it a point to be dressed, teeth brushed, lunches/snacks packed, backpacks ready, etc by 6:40-45 (we live 3 min from school) and then we would sit. No TV. No noise. Just us and the quiet. I told them we were doing this because our days are SO filled with noise, and sounds, and talking, and racket, and TV, and “stuff” that we never made time to just “be quiet.” We never gave our minds time to handle it all. We are accustomed to going…and going…here and there, this sport, this practice, this school event, this church function, this family day, this spend the night party, this this this this this…I’m mentally exhausted just TYPING it. I had realized we were training our children to be “goers” and not “thinkers.” I wanted to care less about being everywhere for everything than I did for how my children were learning to process “LIFE.” Busy is NOT how I want their minds to function. So, we sit. And think. And process. And most importantly…we pray.

THIS was easily implemented let me say because they were trained for 6-7 years to “do as you are told” by us. We did not have a LOT of defiant behavior at this point because we had pretty much beat that out of them already. Jesus spankings. Appropriately. Not all “beating the crap outta a kid” kind of thing. We enforced “the rod of correction” because we do not want to condemn our children’s soul to hell. We did not do the “one more time” approach much either. We pretty much, from early on, took the “if you do what I tell you NOT to do, you’re gonna get a whipping. period.” approach and I gotta admit…at 6-7 years old, it had worked. We were on the down swing of whipping a kid every 5 seconds type days. I was nicknamed “Warden” by my husband. So.be.it. Lol.

So when I say “kids, we are going to start being completely ready for school in the mornings by 6:40ish because we are going to have “quiet time” in the mornings because at no point during our day is it quiet and we need time to just BE for a minute or 20″ they gave no thought to it other than “ok mom.” And so began the process of “logical training” in my children.

For a long time, we JUST sat in the quiet…I told them they could think about their day and what they were looking forward to, or could think about how much they love their mother (believe me, it takes some want to to love me. bless.) or they could spend their time praying. Talk to God and thank Him for your morning. Thank Him for giving you life, and your abilities, and your senses, and your family, and your safe environment, and your school, and your friends, and your teachers. See, when you just stop of a few minutes…you really realize how MUCH He has given you. Thank Him. Thank Him for your bible and for your sight to read and your mind to absorb. Thank Him for Jesus. Over and over. AND OVER. Thank Him for your daddy who works so hard at being the man he should be for you. Look around you. Your daddy does what he does so you can have what you have. Thank Him for giving you your daddy. Ask Him to protect your daddy as he goes to work and back and while he’s working. Thank Him for each other…your sister is your sister for a reason and be thankful for her. Your brother is serving a purpose in your life and be thankful for him. (trying to get your 7 year old daughter -who is very “mature” for her age- to pray and be thankful for her much less mature annoying silly gross stinky brother…funny stuff.) After you have spent time just simply being thankful, ask Him for the help you need today. Ask Him to help you when you have that fear come over you about pooping in the toilet at school and someone hearing it plop and you being embarrassed by that. (scout – true story). Ask Him to touch the heart of that mean boy who pulls your hair and calls you “mommas baby” every day as you walk in a straight line to the lunchroom. (autumn – true story…we taught her about “being the bigger person” and “being a good example” and FAILED at teaching her it was completely ok to punch this kid square in the nose after so much torture, which she would have NEVER done…too much like her compassionate and loving daddy. vomit.) Ask Him to protect our hearts from anger and fear and sadness and nervousness. Ask Him to give your teachers a good attitude. And then remember that you are able to pray to Him because of His Son and what He did for you. So for about the first year…we sat. We prayed. In the quiet of the morning. It was AMAZING.

Then a new development in the logical training 101 came about. We began to pray out loud together. We would take turns in the morning saying a prayer for us all. We would say out loud what we needed help with that particular day or what we were especially thankful for or who we knew needed our prayers. Me, my 8 year old daughter, and 7 year old son in our living room, holding hands and bowing heads together…praying. Talking to our Father about Him, our day, and His blessings we SO did not deserve. It was beautiful. Special. I will take those memories over a game winning shot or an all A’s trophy or a Class Favorites award A.N.Y day. I cannot fully express to you how precious these times were. Man, God is so good.

Well with time, and with change, and with maturity, came news “ways” of spending our morning quiet time. 9 and 10 years old by now and I start wondering “are they getting this?” “Do they know WHY we are doing this?” “Do they even care?” So, being a very challenging type minded person, I decided I would “test” them. I stopped calling the morning meetings. I stopped reminding them “its 6:30 do you have your teeth brushed?” every morning just to see what would happen. I continued my being ready and sitting down…and guess what?!! So. did. they.
Amazing right?! I mean, who knew if you trained a child to do something over and over that eventually he/she would just do it without having to be told. That God. He’s SO smart.
So, the time of doing your own thing in your own way began. We would spend our time in different rooms. We were free to pray, think, study, read, rest, whatever we wanted really. And that was extremely nice because I could see that they were “getting it.” They understood the “why.” And I couldn’t have been any prouder.

Oh yes I could. When Autumn was 11 and Scout was 10 (the year following the “doing our own quiet time thing”) they self reflected and applied the teaching they had received of “sin is when you disobey what God has said, sin separates you from God, Jesus is the only way to be brought back to Him” and in a moment of eating supper at our dinner table and normal conversation of the sermon we had just heard at services…the lightbulb went off. The door bell rang. Ding. “Ohhhhhhhhh….I AM A SINNER!” hit them both. They knew that disobeying us was disobeying Him and that when they KNEW what we had said and they CHOOSE to do what they WANTED instead, THAT WAS SIN. Sin put Jesus on the cross. So that means I did that. I cannot fully describe to you the looks on their faces upon realizing this…there was a “oh I am so sorry Jesus” mixed with a “oh crap that means I am lost if I am not with God” and an instant “I want Him to forgive me!” The most heart breaking AND the most inspiring looks I had ever seen. On my children’s faces. Faces I birthed. Faces I had kissed a concagillion times. Faces I had washed. Faces I had watched sleep peacefully. Faces I adored. Now shamed by the realization of what sin did to their Jesus. And guilt knowing THEY were the cause. And a desire to MAKE IT RIGHT. “OH HAPPY DAY…HAPPY DAY…WHEN JESUS WASHED…MY SINS AWAY!” There has never been a more completely true song written. It was made to look so ugly (sin) and was truly the most beautiful thing to ever take place (forgiveness). They were baptized that night with their earthly mom and dad present and loved ones gathered around to celebrate their new birth…their birth as a son and daughter belonging to their proud Father in heaven. It was truly the best day ever. Humbled. Wow. As I relive it through words typed on a keyboard…chills cover my skin and tears flow from my eyes. There is no-thing, no-where, no-nothing I would rather be than “his wife their mother.” I am getting to live the best “things” in life with my favorite people ever. Hands raised Lord. You are AWESOME!

Now at the ages of 13 and 11 (50 some odd days from 12), we now spend our times in the morning as follows:
We don’t have to be ready until 7:00 now because new boss meant new work time of 7:30. Fist bump.
Ready meaning ready physically AND spiritually to begin our day
Scout has begun to be mine and Autumn’s leader in our Bible quiet time
He reads to us every morning…he is being trained to lead his family one day Lord willing he find a woman to accept his stinky feet. lol
We cover our heads and in silence we listen and learn…she is being trained to be submissive to her husband and to learn from him and be lead by him as he follows Christ
He directs our minds in prayer to our Father for our day, our souls, our lives, our responsibilities, our examples, and forgiveness for our sins.

Does this mean we/they/he/she/I am/is perfect? or “holier than thou” (post soon about that concept I’ve heard ONE too many times)? Nope. It means WE KNOW HOW IMPERFECT we truly are and HOW MUCH WE NEED JESUS in order to survive the attempts of evil that will come our way today. And tomorrow. And the next. Lord willing those times come. So…we begin our day will a quiet time of reflection and study in His word and in prayer for His guidance, protection, help, and forgiveness. He is worthy.

“So has logic come any easier to them Tressa?” you ask. Yes and no. Yes in that there are plenty of moments that they take time to think about what they are asking or what has been said to them…no in that there are still several times I have to remind them “what does logic tell you?” This will continue to be a training process. I mean, they are JUST now to the ages they are SUPPOSED to be using logic right…TJ?!! hahaaaa. At least now, when the command to “use your logic” is stated in our home, nobody asks “what’s that?” Praises.

Spending time together. Quietly. Meditating on the Lord and His amazing grace. Praying. Studying as a family or as individuals. Making God and His word normal conversation in your home. All things I advise. Not because I know it all…but because I know THIS works. It’s been tested and proven. No time like the present to make a MASSIVE impact in the lives of your children by simply being quiet.

The link is to an article Jen Hatmaker (if you do not know her…I will pass on the advice of my dear Shelana, “look her up. Now.”) posted this morning on FB. I read it an THAT’s what led me to write this post on this day. It’s not so much directly related to what I’ve typed but it spurned the thinking. I just never desired the “go all the time” mentality to be instilled in my children. I had an uncle one time say “you mean to tell me Scout isn’t playing baseball? Well that is just awful…some of my best memories of my kids are right here at this baseball field (we were there to watch our nephew play) and you’ll regret not having those memories!” To which I replied “I would rather our best memories be made over supper at our dinner table. Just being us.” “To each their own.” (which should be ‘to each his/her own’ because each is singular which requires a singular pronoun and their is plural…types my “English 101 teacher” personality known as “OH would you shut up!” She’s happy to meet you.


“Oh, you’re paying for it…”

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Having a convo with one of your best friends is nothing out of the ordinary right? I do it all the time. Streams of text messages come in and go out…which consist mostly of spiritual ideas/thoughts/quotes/questions/etc….on a daily basis with a few of my closest sisters. Don’t get me wrong, I do send/receive one of the following types of messages every day to/from one of them:


So while having a normal spiritual conversation the other day, one of my friends says-as a rebuttal to an “it’s free” comment made- “nothing is free, oh, you’re paying for it!” Now, the situation in which she made this statement about is irrelevant. HOWEVER, when she made that statement “oh, you’re paying for it!” that was a “write this down because this makes for a good lesson for women” type comment so I -in my moment of “awwwww that’s good right there”– grab a napkin and jot down the brilliant rebuttal from my friend. It got me to thinking…
-Do I as a wife/mother realize in the critical moments of my life (as they are happening) “oh, you’re paying for it!”? Or am I blind to the choices I’m making, the issues I’m not handling with my children, the time I spend praising OR condemning my husband, the opportunities I am missing to encourage another wife/mother/young lady? Am I so wrapped in myself and my wants and my thoughts and my time and my decisions that I am going to be paying for that selfishness in the long run? Do I focus more on social things than spiritual things? Am I guilty of putting my job before my children? Do I put my children before my husband? Am I being the daughter I need to be for my parents? Is my life reflecting what God wants it to so that my nieces, sisters, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and DAUGHTER see my faith in Him? Do I know what God wants me to be doing? Does my husband benefit spiritually from my life? Do I live so that the world around me knows without a doubt that I am trying with all I have to be an obedient servant in His kingdom?

I think a lot. About spiritual things. Now MORE THAN EVER. It came with our children obeying the gospel. Literally…THE changing moment of our lives. I know that my -and TJ’s- obedience to the gospel was the starting point, but through such a devotion to prayer for our children’s souls to be humble and obedient, and a constant refocusing on our parenting motives, our lives were FOREVER changed — FOR. THE. BETTER. in that we began in that moment to truly seek The Lord. It began with a question. It began with seeking and asking HIM for the answer. “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
And…just as He promises…He answered. Through His word, the way He speaks to us, He answered by saying what He had been saying to me the entire time (ironically enough). I had just NEVER asked HIM before. Crazy huh? Serving The LORD of heaven and earth and not even knowing how – or why – only out of “well, this is what I have been told my whole life so it must be true!” mentality. I was so ashamed of myself when I realized this. I felt such a burden of guilt. I could not even lift my eyes up…at first. But through humility, through a honest desire to have a honest heart in seeking for His honest truth, I could. I could lift my eyes to heaven and say “Lord, I may not know right now what you want from me, but I promise I will seek it because I know You promise I will find it. And whatever it is…and however hard it may be…and whatever I have to give up…I will do it.” And with TJ as my spiritual head, leading me, praying with me/for me, humbling himself as well, our lives would forever be changed. And I couldn’t be any happier and more miserable at the same time! hahaaa. Let me explain briefly what I mean by that…
Happier in that I have never felt more at peace spiritually because I KNOW WHY I am serving Him, I know what He says for me to be doing, I know who He says for me to be, simply and only because I asked HIM. Have I perfected it…um CRAP NO! Do I know everything yet? Uh-huh, not claiming to. BUT do I know what is plainly commanded of me…yes. So I start there. Therefore, I am obedient to what I know as of today. And when (and believe me THIS will happen over and over again) I find more that He has commanded…I will get busy on that as well. Little by little, piece by piece, correcting mistakes along the way, I will serve Him with all I got. And when the time comes for me to see His beautiful and amazing face…I have confidence (now) that I will be able to say “I did what YOU told me to do…not perfectly, but I tried with a honest heart!” Sure beats “well, so and so told me that it was ok to be doing such and such based on what he/she understood of some part of most of Your word.” makes me think of Brian Fontana saying “60% of the time it works every time.” Bless. A big laugh.
We now worship as a church of 4. We live a life of worship. We read and talk and study more than ever. We sing to each other in the car, and while washing dishes, and while getting ready for school about Jesus and how Awesome He is. We are looking for ways to help those who need our help and then helping them in whatever way we can. We are sacrificing our “old” comfortable normal ways for the narrow path. We are giving up our “old” selves and our “wants” and “desires” in ways that go beyond just simply saying we are. We are still sinners. We are still weak. We are still selfish at times. We are emptying out more and more and more of self to make more and more and more room for Jesus. We pray. We cry. Well, that’s not entirely true…I cry. a lot. I lose sight sometimes of what “it’s really about.” We get angry. We.ARE.HUMAN. And yet in our humanity…we are becoming more spiritual to recognize that our humanity is weak. And sad. And has a whole big pretty population with it. We want Jesus. He is enough.
Miserable in that there have been physical changes in our lives which have broken our hearts. We have had people completely change their minds about us (from “wow you are so great and spiritual and wonderful to you are in sin and wrong and lost.”) We have had lies told about us. Closest of relationships have been severed. Selfishness has reared its head in my life and I have been humiliated by my own actions. The physical appearance of our worship has changed. And satan wants nothing more than for the physical to outweigh the spiritual. Absolutely nothing would satisfy him more than for us to miss the physical “stuff” and relationships so badly that we exchange our spiritual understanding to have them back. “Just accept what they’re doing.” “Everyone else is doing it so it must be what He wants.” “If you’re the only one seeing this then you know it has to be wrong.” I wonder what Jesus would say to those attempts. Oh wait…He already has hasn’t He? Yeah, and I’m paraphrasing here people but you are more than welcome to look it up for yourselves in Matthew 16:26, “so what IF you have the whole entire world and everyone loves you and accepts you and thinks you’re fabulous and you get along with everybody and you’re accepting the times and the changes that humans have made with what I have said…IF your soul belongs to satan because of it.” Just think about that. I sure did. “Stuff” and “friendships” wasn’t so hard to let go once I realized having it/them was costing me my soul. Shew, this life is hard enough people…pay more attention to Jesus than your checkbook and the number of people who “like” you.

So, “oh, you’re paying for it” made me realize that by asking The Lord for wisdom in training our children’s souls, He answered. He answered and they both, on the same night, obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. We in that moment became brothers and sisters in His kingdom and no longer just father/mother/daughter/son. We ask Him for His guidance in training them and now…oh, we are paying for it. But the price we are paying on this earth is in physical measures -stuff, relationships, buildings, reputations, respect, friendships, …CRAP. The spiritual price is only our obedience. We know how to read, we know how to comprehend, we know how to ask The Lord to give us eyes of understanding and a heart to accept and a will to obey. So obedience is easy really. The price Jesus paid so that our spiritual debt of sin wouldn’t be charged to us…HIS LIFE. To me, to us, He outweighs alllllllllllll the stuff satan can offer. he (satan) can have all the crap he wants.
We want Jesus.

Finally, in asking myself all the questions of “do I” and “am I” and “does my husband/children” -fill in the blanks with the rest-, what I realized is every THING I do or do not do in my life matters to someone, in some way, for some reason. I’m paying for the results of my marriage, my children, my work, my service, my friendships, my Christianity in good ways or bad ways. That is totally up to me. I desire for my reward to be spiritual. For my husband to praise me and my children rise up and called me blessed. I desire for my Lord to be pleased with my heart AND my service. I desire for what Jesus paid for me to be worth it for Him…that I will sacrifice everything to obey Him. After all, that’s what it cost Him to obey His Father…everything.

Click on this link to hear an amazing song…about how much it cost.

Eyes rolling

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“If you roll your eyes at me onnnnnnnnne more time…”
If you’re a mom, you’ve said it. If you’re a teenage girl, you’ve done it! So whether you’re the sayer or the doer, you’ll wanna read this!
I was never much of an eye roller, I chose the arguing route, my sister on the other hand was a professional. She could roll her eyes, get in trouble immediately, then I’d get in trouble for being entertained by her eye rolling Grammy award winning performance! I mean, she cracked me up..and she STILL (at a “mature” age haha) has THE BEST eye rolling ability in the entire world of people with eyes! If you haven’t seen it, you should ask her to perform the occipital roller coaster performance for you then have a piece of paper and a pen for her Grammy autograph!
Our mother on the other hand…never seemed to want a penned signature from my sister. Mother did not crack up when sis’s eyes would spin around like a slot machine trying to score 2 7’s or cherries. Mother’s reaction never failed to involve a switch to Grammy’s legs or a quick pinch on the legs (which SHE should’ve received some type of award for btw)! Mother never laughed or said “do it again do it again” (like a good sister would do) nor did she ever clap and say “bravo! Bravo!”
The reason for the very different reaction of our mother was she understood the true meaning behind the eye rolling fiasco…disrespect. The only time (I mean other when I would just want a BIG laugh of course) my sister would roll her eyes was when mother told her something she didn’t want to hear..”wash the dishes!” Or “you’ve been on the phone long enough it’s Tressas turn!” Or “clean your room!” It was a reactive display of disrespect and my mother knew it. Let me interject here that my sister is a phenomenally hearted woman, she loves with her whole heart and I by no means am trying to project her as a disrespectful person…this is just to make a point and I got tickled thinking about how to talk about eye rolling because I immediately thought of her!! Bahahahahaa
Anyway–focus Tressa!! Ok so, why would our mother get so upset at something I thought was so funny? Because mother’s understand the difference…7 year old little giggle box infested girls do not. Sooooo…Karma being a giggle box infested little punk thought it would be hilarious to inject that SAME Grammy award winning occipital roller coaster performance to MY daughter!!! And even better..my sister has only one child—a boy!!!! Oh, I’m holding my gut in pain of laughter Karma…well played, wellllllll played.
Autumn -my sisters niece- has even perfected the addition of a breath blowing. You know it…the “ugggghhhhhh I am NOT interested in what you just told me to do!!” Sound that projects forth from their precious little baby (grown into teenage) lips, AS she walks off! Surely..you’ve seen it and heard it if you have a daughter! And if by some chance you haven’t, put away your phone or close your laptop immediately-bow down on your knees and thank the Angels for voting for you to have the perfect daughter cause I’ve never met one who wasn’t guilty of this! And you can stop reading and go hang out with nobody because you have no friends. Nobody likes a perfect pants. Jus sayin
So back to the point for the millions of mothers with the imperfect daughters…what do you do in the moments of eye rolling?
How do you respond? What teaching is involved? Or is there any at all?
Autumn has been/is being trained to be respectful. She is being corrected when she isn’t. Those teachings and corrections come in MANY forms which are consistently changing as she does. She was spanked for the first time at 6 months old for crawling to the VCR (that was waaaaaay back when huh) and putting her hand in it AFTER she was strictly told “NO!” After doing it the first time. Let me stress this to you mothers…every single time a child is told to NOT do something and that child does it anyway…THAT is the definition of rebellion. The same for when he/she is told TO do something he/she does NOT do! Rebellion is the big older brother to disrespect. When a child is consistently allowed to make up his/her own mind about what he/she does/does not want to do (and I mean come on…how many children are going to naturally WANT to clean a room when they can go outside and roll in mud, I mean really) that child is learning how to rebel AND disrespect you. You are training your child to do so. A child is not born with this ability…he/she learns it. When a child is consistently held accountable for doing what he/she is told -WHEN he/she is told to do it- that child is learning obedience AND respect. You are training your child to do so.
And believe me…I KNOW how “hard” consistent training is…we get tired, we feel defeated, we think it’s no big deal, we look around and say “well they aren’t THAT bad,” we think they will outgrow it and be obedient and respectful adults one day…BUT do you know where that kind of thinking comes from??? All of those thoughts S.C.R.E.A.M “SATAN!” Doubt, defeat, quitting, fear, allllll his traits. So don’t fall for his way-his plan-his method for entrapping your children’s souls into a life of misery and THEN an eternity in the same!
“But hooooowwwwww do I train them Tressa?????” Is your next question of course, to which I simply reply “in the way they SHOULD go!” WHO is “The Way”??!!! JESUS. He has the way your children should go…He exemplifies obedience and respect. He knew His Father, loved Him, respected His ways, and ultimately obeyed His will.
He prayed for this “ability” a lot. He prayed a lot period. And mothers, that is my starting point of “advice” for you when dealing with your child(ren) and the desire for his/her/their respect and obedience…prayer. Lots and lots of and more and more prayer. Sincere, heartfelt, dedicated prayer for the desire for knowledge to know WHaT to do, for the wisdom to understand it, and for the courage to implement it. Start there. Start with a humble obedient heart yourself. See your child(ren) for the SOULs they are! Do NOT…I repeat DO NOT fall victim to satans trap of “you’ll never win” or “its normal” or “they’ll outgrow it” because he is the father of lies. Look around us, those snot nosed brats who climbed on our curtains and slapped their Mommas in the face as babies/toddlers turned into the kids who yelled and smart talked their parents who grew into the terrible and selfish husbands/wives, drug dealers, divorced/remarried/divorced/remarried, fired, lazy, DISRESPECTFUL AND DISOBEDIENT adults. IF we train them in the father of lies ways…they will follow the father of lies!!! And IF, IF we train them “in the way they SHOULD go” which is Jesus’ ways of respect and obedience…they WILL follow Him. It’s totally up to us to decide what we will do with our precious gifts from Him!

So, pray. Pray for your husband, the leader of you/your children, pray for yourself as you mother them, and pray for your children to have hearts of humility to revive and respect and obey your instructions … Which are the opening acts for their performance of HIS!
No eye rolling allowed. haha

Recipe for Millions

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1 size 8.5 brown Yellowbox flip-flop for a left foot. Must be new and never worn and solid brown. No other color accepted. From the 2015 collection only.
1 Fruit of the Loom men’s white tee-shirt. Round neck only. Must be new and never worn. Tagless. Size L.
2 Solid black pair of sunglasses. From the dollar tree only. “Ray ban” style. Must be new with tags and stickers.
4 coloring books. Sesame Street characters only. One character per sheet and must be new.
1 16.9 oz bottle of Lipton DIET Citrus Green Tea. Unopened. Cold.
3 tubes of original Chaptstick. Classic original. Yellow label. Unopened.

The first person to collect and deliver the above items to my house-@ XXXX Highway XXX XXXXXXXXXXX, XX 00000, placed on my kitchen table in the order listed above with a printed copy of this text- by XXXXXXX XX, XXXX at X:XX pm will win 1,000,000,000.00. No more information is necessary. No questions will be allowed. Only the first person at my front door on the given place, date, and time will be allowed in. If said person has each item, and can lie out one by one in the correct order, and place a copy of this text with it, will be granted the prize of 1,000,000,000.00. If first said person cannot achieve the task properly and correctly, the second person at the door will be allowed in. This will repeat until the task has been performed exactly as stated.

Raise your hand…and be honest in this please – cheaters, you need to especially pay attention here – if you would give this a shot. It’s a million dollars people. Like a bunch of money that will take care of everything people.
I would TOTALLY get in on this challenge. I would search high and low for every item on the list. I would type in the address in my “maps” on my phone…I’d create a reminder on my calendar for the date and time…I’d plan to be at the mailbox of the driveway an hour ahead of time. I would WANT that 1,000,000,000.00!! And if you haven’t noticed…that list is TOTALLY doable. It’s not hard to understand and I have all the info I need in order to get what is promised. It would definitely take some planning, researching, sacrificing, and would cost me a couple of pennies and hours but LOOK at the reward!!! I mean 1,000,000,000.00!!!! My fingers get tired typing all those 0’s!! lol

now…some of you have already made the spiritual application, but to make my point:

We have instructions.
We have the “list of ingredients”
All doable. All attainable. We will get no more information. Plain and simple.
If we do what He says…we receive His reward. Period.

ARE THERE SACRIFICES REQUIRED? you better believe it.
Is what we must “do” WORTH. THE. REWARD? Y.E.S.!!!

Why do you think a recipe for a million dollars would so greatly and strategically and methodically and perfectionately (tressa word) followed? Because the MILLION DOLLARS IS THE REWARD and that is something we can visualize would benefit us GREATLY right?!

Why don’t we follow God’s recipe for a Christian woman? Why do we stretch and argue and pull apart at the seams what His recipe is??! He states exactly what/who He formed us for, how we expects us to behave, who we are to be serving, and what our character should reflect! If you do not know what this recipe is, I would advise you to read. Read His word and pray for the clear understanding of what He says. If you ask Him for what He wants from you, you will quickly see with open eyes what that is…a humble heart is the MOsT important ingredient! It’s not difficult to see, it’s even easier to do!
Don’t get me wrong here…you will “look” different, you will “be” different, you will “lose” friends, you will be thought of differently blah blah blah…all that just seems petty to even tell you you will “suffer” because the amount of peace you will gain is unmeasurable…I’m pretty sure I’ve had the picture painted for me that obedience to God will result in hatred towards me, lies about me, and a lonely “friendship circle.”
I’m gonna go by His recipe anyway. :)
His “recipe for millions” is His plan for us. If you don’t currently have it in your “important stuff” file…Ya should stop reading this and go straight to Him!