My mind raced excitedly. Thoughts pounded one way and then the next. New ideas rolled in like fog settling around a mountain village, so thick my chest reverberated the pressure. I flew through the motions, one thing and then another. Momentum pushed me along faster and faster until I found myself tumbling head over heels into an unforeseen chasm of apprehension. What do I do now? My head surrounded me with its screams. Can you really do this? When are you going to find the time? Who would listen to you? Why should they listen to you? You’re a nobody! See, you’ve overdone it again! You’re not ready for this! Your ideas are petti and worthless! Go hide and never show your face again. You’d be better off alone and away from the world! What can you offer that hasn’t already been done? You’re not as good as others. You don’t even come close to measuring up! Tears slipped through the corners of my eyes sliding down my burning face. Darkness raged up around me pulling and tugging at all sides begging me into its cold embrace. NO! I bellowed. I am not going down that road again! But with each step, the draw of the darkness became stronger and stronger waiting in desperation to swallow me whole.
Have you been there with me?
Those times when you wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
When you feel defeated and worthless and wonder what's the point.
When the critical voice within you threatens to defeat anything and everything good you may possibly do. When you let worry and anxiety sneak in and steal the joy right out from under you.
I struggle with this frequently!!
Here is what I think God’s been telling me about it lately.
Random proverbs have been plucking away in the background of my mind lately:
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.”
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Fools rush into things without thinking and suffer for it.
I, regretfully, play the part of the fool more often than I would like to admit. I am genuinely good at coming up with ideas. In fact, many times they are unquestionably good ideas. However, one of my weaknesses is slowing down enough to thoroughly think through all the different angles before bounding in and doing it. I’m the type of person who gets an idea and jumps in headfirst without spending a ton of time mulling it over and getting all my ducks in a row before proceeding to the next step. I would rather gather my ducks on the run, going for it while the excitement is building and dealing with all the problems as they come up, than wait until the idea has dissipated and having to regain the excitement for doing it.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to genuinely slow down and think everything through. Even when I try, sometimes it resembles more of how a toddler might say they’re done eating. You know what I mean, right?
“Sweetie, you need to eat all your food, before you can have dessert.”
“O.k. mom.” One bite later. “Did it mom!”
You look at their plate and raise an eyebrow, “No, you need to eat ALL of your food until it’s gone, not just one bite.”
So how do you force yourself to thoroughly SLOW DOWN?
Here’s some ways that have helped me:
Make a list of reasons and motivations: Why do you want to do this? What are you wanting to accomplish?
Without a doubt, this is the first step to get me to stop and "give thought to my way". Half the time it’s a fleeting concept that I know is good, but I haven’t actually nailed down. When I do take the time to cement the concept into words it becomes an anchor I can cling to and revisit when things get tough. It also helps me focus more on the time frame of when it should happen and who I am doing it for. Is it for myself, my children, my husband or to encourage others? This gives me more of a direction of how I proceed.
Pray about it! Truly slow down and take it before the Father.
Prayer has a way of aligning our thoughts with His. I can get so caught up in the excitement of something that I may still be praying about it, but I’m not slowing down to genuinely hear anything except what I want to hear. So apply the next part and wait. (This is BY FAR the hardest thing for me to do!) It may take a night, other times it may take a couple weeks or in one of my cases three years and counting. Sometimes, even when it's difficult to hear, the answer may be no, and that’s when it's extremely important to remember that God’s ways are best.
Seek godly advice and council.
If it is something important and life changing, bring it up to a couple of trustworthy friends and ask them to come alongside you in prayer. Listen to the advice they give and truly try and understand their point of view.
Finally, don’t get discouraged.
It’s easy, in our media connected world, to look around and see somebody who has already achieved what we are attempting and are possibly executing it way better. This is one thing I often have to remind myself of, especially with blogging, even if someone else is doing or has done what I am wanting to do, that shouldn’t hinder me from pursuing my dreams as well. There is only one me and these are the lessons I am learning, in a way that only I can. God has put different people in my life for a reason and even though I may see a whole vast world of other bloggers, maybe someone I am connected with only sees me and can be encouraged and grow because of something I have written. At the very least, this is how I learn best and that in and of itself is worth it.
Slowing down is important because it helps us see some of the lies we may have started believing and puts our focus back where it needs to be, back to the truth. Will you join me today by slowing down and remembering our purpose?
I want to lift my dear sisters up to you. If they are going through a rough season and struggling with discouragement and feeling overwhelmed by everything surrounding them, I pray you will surround them with your Truth. Help them slow down and know your love to a depth they have never known it before. Give them direction in what You want them to be doing. Give them wisdom and discernment with how they spend their time and who they may reach out to for encouragement and to encourage. Fill them with Your truth! Thank you for your strength and unending love for us. May we not follow our flesh and the lies thrown at us, but stand strong in who You are and who You say we are! Chosen, forgiven and unconditionally loved through Jesus!
-In Jesus’ name,
The sound of rain pitter patters into my ears turning into drums. I start dancing. Twirling around in the fields, in and out of a mystical world. Confusion burns in my mind as I try and recall what is going on around me.
My head pops up off my pillow, realizing it’s just my alarm clock. Instinctively, I swat at my phone, trying to turn it off. Squinting at the numbers, 5:00 beams back at me. I roll back over and gaze up at the black fuzzy outline of the ceiling. I’m so tired, I just want to lay here, I think. Then my voice of reason takes over, if you don’t get up now, it’s just going to make the day way more frustrating. You’ll be playing catch up all day and battling with the kids when they wake up early. You can do this, get up! I throw my legs out of bed, knowing the rest of me will catch up soon. Quietly, I put on my glasses, grab my water and phone from the side of the bed, pull on my robe and make my way to my chair in the dining room. Setting my water down next to the chair, I go turn on the stove light. Blinded, by the instant flood of light, I stagger my way back to my chair. With just enough light to read from, I get comfy in my chair and pull my Bible and journal onto my lap. Opening up my Bible to where I left off the day before, I begin reading.
Spending quality quite time in God’s Word can be challenging, no matter what season of life we are in. Important things always seem to take precedence and there never seems to be enough time in the day. Sometimes the “if only's” sneak in and paralyze the attempt. If only my kids would be quite…. If only I could wake up earlier…. If only I wasn’t so tired. If only I knew where to start….If only_____...you fill in the blank.”
I think, if we’re all honest, we will admit that we would like to have a quiet time in God’s Word and prayer. We know it’s a good thing to do and that we should do it, but it doesn’t actually fall into a super important, need to do this, category.
So today, let me share with you my experience.
I first started journaling and having my own quiet times in 2004, so around 13 years now. I was a seventh grader when I first started journaling. I had just got done reading 'Clotee and Patsy’s Diaries, A Picture of Freedom' and 'I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly'. In the book, Clotee made her own diary and I, thinking that was the coolest idea ever, decided I wanted to make my own diary too. So I did. I cut out a bunch of paper and glued it all together, with a fun piece of silver metallic paper as the cover. I labeled it, 'The Heart of Emotion'. Which, for a 13 year old girl, was quite fitting, as it started out all about my boy drama, or as my husband likes to tease, my “I love every boy” stage.
Now, you may be thinking, so what does this have to do with having a devotional, quiet time? Well, I bring all that up to say that’s what started me on the journey of a quiet time. For, that diary, started turning into more of a prayer journal about two months into writing in it. I didn’t write in it every day, in fact sometimes there’s a whole month missing from one entry to the next. Fast forward a couple years and I started getting more in depth and forming my own quiet time routine. I was doing a bible study in the morning and would journal in my prayer journal at night. I still was not super consistent and felt like every time I missed a day I had to make up for it double the next day. This, as you can imagine, was a huge burn out for me. After skipping a couple days, I felt like it was an enormous amount to read the next day, so I would skip it altogether.
Around this time, a friend and I decided that we both wanted to start reading our Bible more. So, we decided to become accountability partners. We would text each other in the morning or by the end of the day asking if we had done our reading. Truthfully, I think this only lasted maybe a week or two, but for me it was just the push I needed to start a routine and get some more consistency. From there, it has transformed deeper and deeper into my own unique time with my Heavenly Father. There has been some seasons when it has been more difficult to stay consistent than others. For example, right after giving birth when I have a newborn in the house, but it has always been so worth it!
Today, what it looks like, is more of the S.O.A.P method, or for me, the S.O.A.T.R.A.P. (If you would like a filled out version of what S.O.A.T.R.A.P. looks like and how to do it, sign up for my newsletter and I will send you a free pdf version, small enough you can cut out and stick in your Bible).
Speaking from my own experience, the best advice I would offer in trying to start one's own quite time is this:
1. Examine your motivation
It comes back to the heart. Why are you wanting to read your Bible? Is it because you feel all this pressure from other Christians or is it because you really want to learn and grow and have a good foundation in God’s Word and deepen your relationship with Him.
Why do I get up and read the Bible every morning, even when I’m tired and want that extra hour of sleep? Because I want to spend time with God. He is that important! I want answers to my questions and to grow so deeply in Him that others can actively see Him through my life. I need that gentle strength that comes from spending time each morning in the quiet stillness that surrounds me before anyone else is up, remembering what it really is to be alive. To have peace, seep deep, within my soul. To ponder the words in what I am reading that day, letting their truth start to take root within my mind. I will be brutally honest, not every morning is this earth shattering ‘ah-ha’ moment or even a peace filled wonder time, but the days that are like that make me long to keep going back and most days it is, at the very least, a refreshing start to my day.
2. Get an accountability partner or an encouragement sister
This can be a blessing in so many ways! Sure, it may be nerve wracking asking someone. It may even be hard to share a part of your heart with them, or humiliating that you don’t have it all together (such a lie that we think we should, but that’s for another blog). But, it also has a way of developing some deep friendships that tend to last a long time, if not a lifetime, and in encouraging you to be the best that you can be. So, be wise and pray about who you should ask, and make sure that they can be a safe-person for you, but also don’t let fear keep you from being bold and stepping out of your comfort zone, either.
3. Start a journal
This can be whatever you want it to be! You don’t even HAVE to have one. I, on the other hand, absolutely love mine. The thing I love most about it; I can change it up, add in my own little art work, keep it short, make it long--it’s my own little creative outlet in my own faith journey. It also, is fun being able to look back and see how much I have learned and some of the different life events/lessons I have went through.
4. Take small doable steps
How often do we have these ideals or dreams of what we would like, or think, our quite times should look like, but we psych ourselves out. We get discouraged easily when it doesn’t happen the way we think it should or it seems so unachievable that we don’t even attempt it. Instead, think if one small step you KNOW you can do. It could be waking up 5 minutes earlier and reading one verse for the day. Or maybe it’s thinking and praying about who you could ask to help encourage you. Whatever it may be, start small and start adding up from there. I didn’t get to where I am today in just one day, but from taking one day at a time.
5. Don’t Compare
As women, especially, we compare everything, it seems like. Comparison can easily suck the joy right out of something, and that is especially true about your quite times. This is suppose to be the time between you and your Creator--your Heavenly Father. That means, it may look completely different than somebody else and that is totally okay! It may be taking a walk while you pray or memorizing verses. It may be reading a few verses in your car and staring out the window while you ponder them.
I love hearing about how other people do their quite times, because it helps give me ideas of what I might do differently or implement to help where I am at, but it should never cross into the realm of feeling like I’m doing something wrong, because I don’t do it like so-and-so. Even the different ideas I’m sharing, should never be something that you think you have to do. My hope is, they may inspire you, encourage you or even offer up an idea you may not have thought of before. All to help strengthen your own walk.
So keep the joy alive and don’t get caught in the comparison trap.
6. Don’t give up!
When you skip a day, don’t feel discouraged and like a failure, just try again the next day. Pretty soon, if you keep trying, you’ll find you start to become more and more consistent and it will become almost second nature to you. It took me years to really get consistent, but it was so worth it!
So now it’s your turn. How do your quite times look? Was there something that stood out to you that you would like to implement? Let me know in the comments below.
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#mommyunvarnished #groggywakeupmadebeautiful #dailystandouts
If I were to sum up my entire year into one word or thought, it would have to be either healing, or finding confidence; as this year has had much of both.
My Grandpa asked me at the very beginning of the year if I knew what my verse of the year was going to be. Confession: I have never really done a yearly verse before. I’ve had a life verse and some verses that seem to stand out to me for different seasons of my life, but I had never really labeled them as my ‘verse for the year’ before. So I had to tell my Grandpa that I didn’t have one, but that we would see what the year would hold. Then along comes April. I was reading in Jeremiah at the time and one day, as I was reading chapter 17, I was hit really hard with verses 5-10. I had to read and reread them several times. It hit on exactly what I had been struggling with for years and I felt like it was put there just for me.
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him, He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.’”
The thought that pounded me most---I needed to put my confidence in God not man. For most of my life I have always done things for others to be proud of me, in particularly my dad. The past three years have been especially hard on me, because, I didn’t have that and to be honest, I may never again. Realizing, though, that his opinion of me or anyone else’s opinion of me, even my sweet husbands, should never matter to me more than God’s.
When I start doing things just to please them and make them happy, or avoid doing things so they don’t get mad at me, before considering what God would have me do, I have just put them in the place that God should be in. That is called idolatry. To which God says is cursed! My whole filter of life should not be through man’s opinions, but through God and His Word. My confidence needs to be in God!
To put it another way, if I care more about what people think of me and how to please everyone, I will end up dry and wasted. On the other hand, if I trust in God and put my confidence in Him, I can stand strong during the hardest times, I can even flourish and bear fruit!
So the next step. How do I do that? What does it look like to have my confidence in God and not man? To have my source of well being, security and hope in God and not in how people view me. To not let people determine who I am, what I am, and what I should or shouldn’t do, but to have that so deeply rooted in God that I can bear fruit even in the hardest times?
To tell you the truth I’m still working on it and I think it will be something I struggle with my entire life. For, and I’ll be the first to admit it, I am a people pleaser! I absolutely HATE conflict! I will try and avoid it AT. ALL. COSTS. even at great detriment to myself. I like making others happy. Though, that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, in fact it can be a great thing, as long as I’m not putting them before God or using that as my source of life, identity, confidence or security.
One of the first steps in putting my confidence in God was to set up good boundaries.
Which for me, was really hard, as one of my biggest fears is rejection. I had to learn that if I wasn’t free to say no to something than I really wasn’t free to say yes either, and vice versa. I have to constantly evaluate why I am doing what I am doing. Is it just to make someone happy? Am I doing it because I feel like I have to? Or am I doing it because I genuinely believe that it is what God wants me to do?
Second, I needed to surround myself with good influences and strong healthy believers.
“Like a tree planted by the water,” I needed to be by those who practice good boundaries and who show the fruit of God in their lives. For me that included meeting with some strong Christian women monthly, being honest with them about the areas I was struggling with. Digging in and serving alongside a few of the women in our church and getting involved with a life group.
Third, but really foremost, by renewing my mind, forgiveness and digging deep into the Word of God.
I constantly have to be speaking truth into my life over and over and over again. Recognizing what is a lie and what is the truth. What is just a feeling and what is real. Recognizing that feelings and emotions aren’t a bad thing, they are usually really good indicators that there is something going on that I need to look into, but to realize that they aren’t to govern my life either. I need to know and believe what God says about me, not what people say.
Wow! So many things that seem so overwhelming when they all get put together! But this has been a whole year's worth of learning packed into one blog. So stay with me in the upcoming weeks and months, subscribe to my email list (if you haven’t already) so you don’t miss any, as I do my best to unpack some of these concepts.
Two pink lines…
So many conflicting thoughts running through my mind making me want to throw up.
You’d think that the third time around wouldn’t catch me so off guard. You’d think I would know it was coming. That I’d know how to handle it, but the feelings all come swirling back, as if it was my first time being pregnant again.
How do I tell my husband?
When do I tell him?
Will he be happy? Sad? Upset?
Am I really ready for all of this...again?
I stared at the strip again, wondering if I could have made a mistake. Two lines beam unmistakably back at me then wash out of view as tears slip past my nose blurring my view.
Finding out you’re pregnant is a big deal, no matter how many times you’ve given birth. It’s another life forming inside of you. This means a lot of changes! Moodiness... Morning sickness… A growing body… restless nights… frequent bathroom trips… that never satisfied appetite…. Not to mention all the looks and comments from well-meaning, or purely ignorant, people that some days roll right off your shoulders and other days get stuck rolling around and around, unrelentingly, between your ears.
Being pregnant is hard, but it is also beautiful! You get to feel the swimming butterflies and the little hands and feet of the one forming inside of you, before anyone else in the world even knows their name or that they even exist.
Personally, pregnancy is not something I look forward to, but I LOVE babies! Snuggling that precious bundle, whom I had struggled to create for nine months, makes it all worth it in the end.
One of the hardest parts for me, is remembering all the challenges I went through with my first two pregnancies and wondering if I will have to go through them again.
Will morning sickness hit me as hard?
Will I have another miscarriage and have to deal with all the emotional and physical repercussions?
Will we be able to afford having another baby?
Will postpartum depression rear its ugly head again?
Will my relationship with my husband be as difficult?
So many questions, one after another float into my mind and overwhelm me. I have to remind myself to take a step back, breathe, and remember the One who is in control. I need to remember the snuggles and the smiles that come at the end of all of pregnancy, knowing that somehow it will all work out in the end.
Pregnancy may be hard and we may not have everything worked out, but it is still amazing. I should consider it an honor above all, as there are so many people who want nothing more than to be pregnant and yet it is an impossibility for them, for whom my heart breaks.
I do think that the more times I am pregnant, the more I learn to enjoy it, as it does go by so quickly (even when you swear it is taking FOREVER when you are in the moment—the last 2 weeks, especially). I have and am learning to see joy through the uncomfortable.
The heart learning to beat blood through the nauseating sickness.
The arms that are just learning to stretch through tossing and turning all night.
The feet that are gaining strength in kicking bruised ribs.
The life that is preparing to come out in constant potty breaks.
That life is a miracle growing within me, that God has blessed me with; to hold, grow and raise up in His ways.
So for the upcoming months, may I never forget to give thanks for the little life that is growing so determinedly within me. May the life that I don’t even know yet, see the light of day, and be a blessing to those who meet him/her. And may my baby grow up to know the King of the Universe and serve Him in whatever way they were created to. And may I have the discernment to pick up on their gifts and abilities, teaching and training them in the way they should go. –This, a mother’s prayer, all to the will and purpose of the Creator of Life itself. By
I think this is the last book your mom read thru and she told me it encouraged her greatly. Also, it is what you were all reading in at the end of her life here on earth and we want you to keep it to reread and be encouraged by in the future.
WOW! I read this in the front cover of the book “God at the Controls” the other day when I was recommending the book to a friend. It was written by one of my Aunts (who has since passed away) to our family. I had no idea it was even there. I remember reading this book sometime in high school and absolutely loving it (with no idea it had been read to me years earlier; though I always wondered why it seemed so familiar)!
When I was flipping through its torn out pages again, I came across this underlined section:
“If the outcome of our situation had not turned out as it did…if all four of us had been killed, God would still be God. He would still be holy, just, and righteous. He would still be the same loving and caring God that He is.”
Knocked down by the weight of what I had just read; the realization that this was the last book my mom may have read, or at least one we read with her before she died, completely seized my breath away. How fitting!
It is so easy after a tragedy happens, to shake our fists at heaven, screaming out in anguish at God, “Why would you let this happen?! I thought you were supposed to be a loving God! A loving God wouldn’t do this to me!! Where were you?!”
I have heard of many people who have lost a loved one and as a result have turned their back on God.
The age old question of Sovereignty, “Surely a loving God wouldn’t….”
Is it really our right to tell God what He should or shouldn’t do? Are we bigger than He is? More powerful than all of His might? Able to comprehend and know how everything works together?
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest, most painful, things in the world. I lost my mom when I was six years old and almost 20 years later, I still miss her. There are some nights, I still shed tears from the heartache locked up inside. Do I fully understand why she had to die? No. I may never find out, but that’s not the point.
The point isn’t about me and my own hurt and simple understanding. It’s about God and who He is.
The fact that my mom died, doesn’t change who God is. It doesn’t change the fact that He is holy. It doesn’t change the fact that He is just; that He is righteous and loving.
The only thing that changes is my own viewpoint of Him.
Let’s say, I do view my mom being ripped out of my life at such a young age as terribly unjust, what then?
I may start questioning who God is and if He really is who He claims to be. I may question if He does really exist. Sometimes, that can be a good thing, because it forces me to think about things on a deeper level. At the same time, though, I need to come back to the same place Job did.
So what if I view my mom dying as unjust. Who am I to tell God what is and isn’t just? Who created justice in the first place? Who created my mom to begin with? Is God not our Maker? Can’t He do what he wants with His own creation?
In Isaiah 45:5-7, 9 it says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands?'”
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “Well I couldn’t worship a God who … takes my mom away from me, lets thousands of people get slaughtered in such a horrific way, lets children go hungry; you fill in the blank.”
I think we all have to wrestle through this question at some point in our life.
One of the hardest things to come to a realization of, isn’t so much the fact that people die, but the fact that believing God—The Maker –is completely Holy and can do whatever He wants, means that we/I have no control…over anything! We could be snatched up or gone in the next instance and the world wouldn’t even know we were missing. Our children—that baby you’ve spent hours lovingly gazing at while they were peacefully sleeping—could be gone; never to be held or cared for again. That’s SCARY! Think about it. We put so much of our time, energy and finances into trying to control as much as we possibly can. We want our own house—so we can control what we do with it; to control where our money goes. We want the best insurance and security—so we can control who gets the right to our stuff. We want our own clothes and more of them—so we can control when we wear them and how we feel in them and be able to control how people view us.
In the end the truth is we aren’t in control, we never were and never will be. God is. We don’t always like God being the one in control. So, we try and turn our backs, saying "it’s not true" and pretending that we can control the things in our lives. The result is being worn out, drained, and worried with built up fear of the future or the “what if’s” haunting our ephemeral days.
The crazy thing is, once we let go of all the things we’re so desperately trying to control, letting God have them; instead of the world falling to pieces--there's this peace that filters in. We start believing that God is who He says He is. He is on the throne. He knows what is best. His ways are not our ways, nor His understanding our understanding. He is God and we are man. Believing that, despite our feelings, brings confidence and peace; maybe it doesn't happen all at once, but more and more each time we put our faith in God's hands.
That being said, if you are going through the loss of a loved one or know of someone who is, take what it says in Romans 12:15 to heart, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
It’s ok, good and completely healthy to grieve! But in the end remember:
God will still be God. He will still be holy, just, and righteous. He will still be the same loving and caring God that He is and has always been.
Lately I’ve been feeling insignificant.
Feeling like my opinion doesn’t matter.
What kind of wisdom do I hold that others would even want to read and consider?
Who am I to say or write anything?
I’m still learning. I’m just starting off in my journey as a mom and wife; four short years of being married and almost three years of being a mom. I don’t feel like I have anything really put together. How can I say, this is the way you should do it, when I haven’t truly even proven it myself? Sure, something may have worked once or for a week or even off and on occasionally, but does that give me the right to say, this is how it should be? The only absolute authority, wisdom and knowledge comes from God and His Word. But who am I to say I have even that figured out?
The more I read the Bible the more I feel like I know nothing. Sure, I read my Bible every day and do almost any Bible study going on, because I’m hungry to know more about God and to have fellowship with other believers. I go to church, every Sunday I possibly can, because it’s been so instilled in me and I love it! I’ve been through two years of Bible College, multiple camps, training programs and mission trips, but still I feel insignificant. When someone looks at me I feel like they see another face in the sea of so many, a young, 25 year old mother, who is just starting life.
Yet, I think God is using this in my life, to do as it says in John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” Teaching me humility and to surrender. It’s a hard thing to truly grasp and to practice on a day to day basis. It’s one thing to know something, but to make it ring true in my life time and time again, in every situation, is quite another. Pride and arrogance can slip in, almost unnoticed, blinding me to what I want to be and what is really going on.
I pray almost daily for the Lord to make me sensitive to His Spirit and His leading—for I am easily led astray.
I want to be a reflection of God and to shine for Him. To give Him all the glory and honor, but I also struggle with wanting to be important and wanting the praise of men.
Paul so accurately describes this struggle in Romans 7:15-25
I wish I could say I have found this magical formula that makes all my doubts disappear; that makes everything make sense, but I don’t.
The only thing I know to do is to keep on keeping on.
To continue to read my Bible every day.
To continue to pray and be open to God’s leading.
To continue to give myself up daily, asking God’s forgiveness for the times I’ve failed.
There are days though, when I don’t want to do even that. I want to just give up—completely and utterly, give up. I don’t want to fight anymore. I want to sink into this big, black hole of misery, cry buckets and buckets of tears and just wither away into oblivion. I let the truth-tinted-disgusting lies saturate my thoughts into their melancholy trap of defeat and worthlessness, abandoning all hope.
I think, this too, is part of the journey. Knowing that you’re going to have those days, sometimes seasons that are dark and you can’t seem to make sense of which way is up or down. Knowing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but not being able to fathom a glimmer of what it might look like.
Sometimes, when I’m going through such a hard time and just feel stuck, it helps to look at the ones who have gone before. Reading about the struggles that earlier Christians had to endure; how their faith was strengthened as they persevered through mind blowing circumstances, brings me hope. I am not alone and others have been through far worse than I could possibly imagine.
Need some encouragement through your battle or a list of where to start? Check out these wonderful books.
God at the Controls: A Night Escape and a Miracle Release from Colombian Guerrillas— Jean Dye Johnson
"...the guard came back and shone his light on him. Fear gripped him again.
The guard turned and walked away.
In that second, Paul sensed a gentle prodding from God..."Paul, as soon as you get your feet out of this mosquito net... I'll do my part...."
Carefully and oh, so quietly he walked away from his shelter toward the forbidden path.... A branch broke under his weight and made a loud Crack!
"Oh nooo!" Paul froze.
Bruchko – Bruce Olson
What happens when a nineteen-year-old boy leaves home and heads into the jungles to evangelize a murderous tribe of South American Indians? For Bruce Olson, it meant capture, disease, terror, loneliness, and torture. But what he discovered by trial and error has revolutionized the world of missions.
The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom
“I pray that God forgive them...”
Corrie Ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner. “Oh, the poor woman,” Corrie cried. “Yes. May God forgive her,” Betsie replied. And, once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed.
Both woman had been sent to the camp for helping the Jews. Christ’s Spirit and words were their guide; it was His persecuted people they tried to save—at the risk of their own lives; it was His strength that sustained them through times of profound horror.
Here is a book aglow with the glory of God and the courage of a quiet Christian spinster whose life was transformed by it. A story of Christ’s message and the courageous woman who listened and lived to pass it along—with joy and triumph!
50 People Every Christian Should Know – Warren W. Wiersbe
Does the pressure of the world feel overwhelming? Remembering the great men and women of the past---including Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, Amy Carmichael, and Fanny Crosby---will inspire you to renewed strength and purpose.
End of the Spear – Steve Saint
Steve Saint was five years old when his father, missionary pilot Nate Saint, was speared to death by a primitive Ecuadorian tribe. In adulthood, Steve, having left Ecuador for a successful business career in the United States, never imagined making the jungle his home again. But when that same tribe asks him to help them, Steve, his wife, and their teenage children move back to the jungle. There, Steve learns long-buried secrets about his father's murder, confronts difficult choices, and finds himself caught between two worlds.
Through Gates of Splendor – Elisabeth Elliot
The true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed.
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Charmichael – Elisabeth Elliot
A vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as "Amma," or "mother," as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy's life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ. She was a woman with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who gave her life unconditionally to serve her Master.
Standing up, I stare up at the screen flowing with beautiful scenery and words streaming across in big, bold, black letters. Looking around I see scattered people all standing, a few with their hands up, most singing along, some just staring at the screen along with everyone else. I hear my husband’s deep voice next to me and my own voice following along to the rhythm of the song. I stare at the words again, wondering how many of them we really mean or if we are all just caught up in the moment and the emotion out of habit like we do every Sunday?
Lost in a large crowd of people. Not recognizing a single person around me. Everyone staring at the huge screens looming above us or at the band jamming out up on stage, seeing how close we can get. The same thoughts come over me. Why are we really here? Is it just for a fun show? Is it for bragging rights, saying we saw this famous artist perform live? Is it just because it was free and something fun to do during the summer? Are we idolizing and worshiping these “famous” people more than we are the God they are singing about?
Back up in the crowd again after an almost-storm-encounter. Listening to the band that I was most excited about seeing for the entire weekend. I look around again at the people surrounding me. I see tears in the eyes of many as they struggle with their own inner hurts and wars. I see hands raised throughout the whole crowd as people are swept away with the song.
I smile as a memory of a conversation I had with my dad, so long ago, runs through my mind, about why some songs are so popular and how the cords put together in such a way seem to draw you in. What makes music so captivating? Why are some songs so good and others bad?
Music has the ability to send life and excitement flooding through our veins in such a way that we feel like we could dance forever. It has the ability to bring us to tears both from overwhelming grief and indescribable happiness. Music can strike a chord within the core of our being so we feel like we may explode inside with all the vivacious passion that is surging through.
One thing that I love about Casting Crowns is how they don’t just put on a dazzling “look at me” show, but they use their platform to turn your eyes towards heaven and towards Christ. It is so easy to turn our eyes inward and want all the glory for ourselves, but it takes humility to say it’s not about me, it’s all about Christ, and even more so to act it out. Though I wish Casting Crowns concert could have gone longer, instead of being cut short by the storm, I thought it was really neat how they ended by disappearing into the background letting the crowd continue to worship and sing their song, as if to say “You don’t need us, we’re just a vessel to help point you to Christ and now that we’ve done that, it’s your turn to keep the flame going and to carry on.”
Music, singing and worshiping God are woven strongly throughout the whole Bible. I think about the time after the wall was rebuilt around Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12:27-43. Ezra and Nehemiah, for the dedication “service,” had two big choirs walk in opposite directions singing joyfully and playing music. “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” Nehemiah 12:43 What it must have been like to be among the crowds that day! To feel your heart fluttering with joy at the sound of people worshiping and praising God for what He had done. To be swept away in the moment, remembering who God was and basking in the security that everything was going to be alright, as the music kept getting louder and louder as more and more people joined in.
Music can be such a dividing and conflicting area among people ( especially churches). And if you think about it, in the sense of music being a way to express emotions in a very vivid personal way, then of course there is going to be disagreements over it because we are each so unique and express ourselves in so many different ways. But music isn’t just about ourselves and expressing our own emotions. It’s an overflow of the heart and a call to worship the creator of the universe in a way that can also bring so many people together. It has the ability to wrap up hearts and turn a whole crowd of strangers into one gigantic family all moving the same way, preparing the heart to worship and acknowledge God—who is worthy of our praise.
So this week, like the psalmist says in Psalm 98:4-9, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity.”
May we, with a true heart, sing praises to our LORD and King. Praising Him for who He is and what He has done and will do!
“I’m fine!” I proclaimed, tears streaming down my face.
My husband busted out laughing and even with new emissions of tears, I couldn’t help but join in, realizing how insane I must look.
“I’m just tired and hot and grumpy,” I complained, “I wish you would have put the air-conditioners in yesterday, like I asked. It’s going to be super-hot today and you have to work all day and I have to watch the kids,” I continued to whine. “I don’t want to be grumpy and yelling at the kids all day and really I’m fine and you better get to work, but I just want to scream and take a whole bottle of Nyquil and sleep for 10 hours!”
“You know,” my husband teasingly laughed, while wrapping me in a big hug, “the number one substance abuse is over dosing or wrongly using over the counter drugs.”
“I don’t care!” I teased back, punching his arm “I’m just tired! —I know I’ll survive,” I sighed.
We continued to banter back and forth for a bit longer as I tried to get my emotions back under control and he tried to do everything he could to make sure I was going to be all right, before he had to go to work in three minutes.
He left and I hurried to get the kids ready and packed up in the car, knowing I needed to get out of the house for awhile. Through a few more wrestling matches with my two-year-old and my nine-month old, I finally secured everyone in the car and took off for the store. Two blocks from our house, as I started going back over everything that had just happened, I realized how awful my attitude was. I snapped the music off and pronounced to my two-year-old daughter, “we should pray and tell God everything we’re thankful for.”
“No!” She defiantly stated from the back seat.
“Fine, I will then,” I said, not wanting to give in to a losing battle.
“Ok,” she agreed, as I started praying out loud.
“Jesus, thank you for giving us sunshine, which gives us vitamin D, which helps boost our moods. Thank you, for making everything green. For the green trees and green grass. Thank you that we have each other. Thank you that we have a car to drive in. Thank you that it has an air-conditioner that actually works. Thank you that we have food to eat and a roof over our head and so many clothes to wear. Thank you that we can go to the store today.” Stopping, I asked my daughter, “what are you thankful for?”
“Daddy work for food.” She responded, after a bit of a pause.
“Ah yes, thank you Jesus that Daddy has a job. Thank you that he can provide food for us and a roof over our heads.”
“What else are you thankful for?”
I smiled, “Yes, thank you for giving us colors. For blue…” We went on to name off all the colors and continued to name off things we were thankful for.
My poor husband can put up with so much some days. Sometimes I wonder why he married me with all my emotional mood swings and destructive, negative attitudes.
If you have read any of my blogs so far, you will notice that one of the things I go back to time and time again is thankfulness. Why is thankfulness such a big deal?
Well first off, it is found in God’s Word over and over again, telling us to give thanks.
As I have said before, for me, it really does help swing my downcast, awful, whiny, selfish, entitled attitude away from myself and onto Christ. Putting my focus not on the things that I want, but on the things I’ve already been so blessed with. Thankfulness helps me remember who it is that is actually in control, when I feel like everything’s spinning crazily out of control.
When we thank God for what He has given us, we acknowledge that He was the one who gave it to us in the first place. We acknowledge that He is in control.
Though, I could go on and on about all the reasons we should give thanks and the benefits, I think it would be more important to conclude with a few challenges, should you choose to accept them.
1st Challenge: Think of 10 things you are thankful for every single morning before jumping out of bed. (Slithering your way off the bed to your feet won’t work to avoid the challenge either). If it doesn't work before you are able to get out of bed then try it when you are brushing your teeth.
2nd Challenge: Before ever stepping out of the car to go shopping, make sure you say out loud with your kids or to yourself, 5 things you are thankful for that God has already blessed you with.
3rd Challenge: When you hear yourself start to complain or grumble about something, immediately stop what you’re doing and come up with three things that you are thankful for right then and there. You could also tape up little "thank 3" notes in thought out places around the house and every time one catches your eye, stop what you're doing and think about three things you're thankful for.
If you’re a sticky-note type of “rememberer,” try taping a sticky-note that says “Thank 10” either on your ceiling or somewhere where you will see it when you first wake up. Then tape a “Thank 5” note to the middle of your steering wheel, and random other ones around your house if need be.
If you’re more of a phone person, you can try setting an alarm or a note that pops up first thing in the morning to help remind you.
With a world filled with selfish, entitled people crying out their own agendas we need thankful hearts rising up in this fight against ourselves. It’s not something that comes naturally in an instant but a learned practice that takes perseverance and determination.
So together this week, won’t you join with me, one day, one fight at a time? Remembering, it’s not just about ourselves but we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“MOMMY I UP!”
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"MOMMY I WANT OUT!”
My head exploded with noise as I fell out of bed. Glancing up at the clock, I fumbled to make my way out of the room. A blurry red 5:50 a.m. beamed back at me, haunting my muddled brain. You’ve got to be kidding me child! I hurriedly opened my daughter’s door hushing her, hoping she hadn’t already awoken her brother, who I had barely coaxed back to sleep 50 min before.
“Mommy I up!” My daughter exclaimed again, fearing I would put her back to bed.
“I know, but you don’t bang on your door,” I sternly whispered, ushering her to the living room where we could talk.
I instinctively reached for a banana on our way. My mind raced through everything I needed to do before church, all while trying desperately to wake up after a short six two-hour-increment, interrupted sleep. Getting my daughter set up with “Super Why” and her banana, I grabbed my Bible and journal and headed for the other room. I scarcely sat down and opened my Bible when I heard brother set up a wail from his room, exclaiming that I’d forgotten him. I let my tired head fall to the table, wishing I could go back to bed and sleep. Grudging myself up, willing my feet to move, I made my way towards the cries. Walking into his room I saw his little seven-month-old face break into relief as I reached to pick him up. Carrying him to his changing table I “quickly” fought to change his diaper, then kissed his adorable little face. Gathering him in my arms, I headed back out to the dining room.
Sitting him down on the floor, I tried to do my quite times. I had just finished reading when my son set up another wail from banging his head against a chair, getting stuck underneath. I stood up to move him to a different spot, but he immediately started crying again. Carrying him back to my chair I sat down to feed him. He curiously, kicked my journal and Bible onto the floor as I let out a moan. After he finished, I released him back to the floor while picking up my Bible and journal. I opened my prayer journal wondering how I was ever going to get through the day. Half way through journaling, my daughter walked in, without her diaper, announcing, “mommy I peed.” I merely stared at her for a minute-feeling-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-second before pointing her off to the bathroom telling her I’d take care of it and would come get her in a little bit. I stared back down at my prayer wondering what was even the point today. Picking up my pen, I decided to finish, before going to take care of the mess that was awaiting me.
Setting aside my Bible and journal I went and grabbed our spot cleaning carpet cleaner and headed back to the living room for my daughter to show me where she peed.
After putting away the cleaning supplies, I looked at the clock realizing it was already 7:30 and I hadn’t even started breakfast yet. Well I guess pancakes are out for this morning, I thought, as I stared at the kitchen, counters covered with forgotten dishes from the night before. Maybe I’ll just make shakes, toast and eggs. I opened the freezer to pull out our strawberries and chia seeds when my daughter bursted into kitchen crying out “I wanna help!”
“Just wait a second while I get everything set up and then you can help,” I responded, while putting the items on the counter.
“Ok!” My daughter happily replied while running to grab her stool from beside the washer. I went back to the freezer grabbing more things when I heard my daughter try and scoot the stool out on her own.
“Mommy I need help!”
“I said to wait a second!” I groaned, putting the items I had just grabbed down and helping my daughter with the stool, which was about ready to topple her.
Breakfast finally made, I told my daughter to go get her daddy up so we could eat. Putting the shakes on the table and going back to grab the toast, I realized I totally forgot about my eggs. I looked over at the stove to find hard pale eggs staring deadly back at me. I grumbled under my breath, wanting to let out a cry, but put the eggs on the table anyways. Grabbing my son off the floor, I buckled him into his chair. I looked over to see my daughter already sitting in her spot.
“I hungry mommy.” My daughter whined while trying to reach for the closest thing on the table.
“No, be patient! We have to wait for daddy and then we can eat.” I said, while irritably looking down the hallway for my husband.
After waiting a few more minutes, I walked down the hall to find my husband still sleeping. Short-tempered, I again told him that breakfast was ready, if he would like to join us. Marching back down the hall, I started getting the kid’s breakfast on their plates.
A couple minutes later, my tired husband staggered into the room and sat down. We prayed and started eating. By the end of breakfast, both my husband and I were grumpy and getting on each other’s tired nerves. I agreed to let him hop in the shower first to wake up, while I cleaned up breakfast and picked out the kids’ clothes.
With my husband out of the shower, I hopped in and both kids ended up charging in with me. Tripping my way over two extra obstacles, we finally get everyone clean and I banged on the wall signalling for daddy to come get the kids.
It didn’t take long for my son to set up a holler, bawling his eyes out, refusing to do anything for daddy as he gently tried to dress him, announcing he wanted mom and it was time for a nap.
I glared at the clock as it told me I only had 30 minutes before we had to be leaving and I still had to figure out what to wear, get ready, and now determine what to do with my tired son. I hurried to throw on some clothes and went to rescue my husband from my extremely distressed baby.
I decided to go ahead and dress my son for church before sitting down to feed him. After about five minutes of wrestling with him to get clothes on, I finally had my unhappy baby dressed and ready to eat. I sat down and tried to put him to sleep which almost worked, until my daughter burst into the room, exclaiming in her whiny voice, that “daddy said be quite!” I glared at her, snapping my fingers and sternly pointed for her to leave. It was too late though, as her brother had already popped his head up wide awake, wanting to see sissy. I groaned and set him, somewhat happier, on the floor. Ten minutes before we needed to be out the door, I hurried to go finish getting ready.
Halfway through putting on some sort of makeup, I heard my husband tell our daughter to “go to mommy, she does your hair better.” Wanting to explode inside, I decided that my makeup would just have to wait. I picked up my daughter and “quickly” brushed her hair into a ponytail. Finally conquering a lopsided victory, I called out to my husband that he could go ahead and get the kids in the car, I would be there in a minute. Looking in the mirror I realized that my outfit made me look like a bloated hippo and scanned my closet for something different. Three to four outfits later, my husband came in annoyed, saying he had the kids in the car, like I asked. Then, noticing I was throwing clothes everywhere commented that he thought I looked fine in what I had been wearing.
“Ok, ok. Thank you," I said, ignoring the mess that just blew up in our bedroom, "I’ll be there in just a second. Did you grab the diaper bag and bibles?” I threw back on the outfit I had started with, then ran to the car flicking off lights on my way out the door. “Ugh! We’re going to be late,” I complained, as I slammed the door.
"It's ok," my husband tried to reassure, "we'll still make it."
So what’s the point?
We’ve all been there. Sunday can seem like the hardest day to actually get up and go. Chaos and frustration always seem to pile up a mile high, more than any other day. So why, when everything seems to go wrong on Sunday, would we still try and go to church every week?
You may have a different list, but this is mine:
Occasionally, my introverted side likes to argue with this one. For the most part though, I love going to church for the people and friends. Catching up and sharing life with others can be such a wonderful thing. There’s nothing like being around a group of people who love Jesus and want to work together to share His love and truth.
I enjoy learning about God and His Word. A lot of times, something the pastor says, reaffirms what I have been reading in my own quite times, driving the point home a little harder. The sermon my make me think about a new area of my life that I need to work on, or will remind me of something that I haven’t thought about in a while. Some Sundays, it’s a song that hits on the exact struggles I’m going through that week and helps pull my eyes to Christ.
Freedom from Kids
I will be honest, some weeks, the reason I drag myself to church in the morning is just to stick my kids in nursery and have a break for an hour. As much as I love my kids to death, it’s amazing how fast their little winey, crying voices can wear me down. As a stay at home mom, that short, sometimes long, hour at church can be so refreshing just to be around and observe other adults without having my kids mauling me every second.
It’s a thrill helping out in the church. Yes, it can be tiring and overwhelming at times (ok, many times). Yes, some days, I would rather sit in the service rather than help out in children’s church. Yes, sometimes, I don’t want to be responsible for anything. In the end, though, I never feel as connected to a church than when I’m helping it function the way it should. It’s kind of like when you let your kids make their own lunch and they end up enjoying it and actually eating it. The more you serve in a church the more sense of belonging and “ownership” you have in the church. You get more excited about what’s going on and end up learning more than when you are just on the sidelines watching.
I have to be honest, I have been hurt and burned by “the church” before. It’s not a fun experience and can really keep you from wanting to go back. Let’s face it, though, the people who make up the church are human, selfish, rotten sinners, all in need of a savior. The beauty of a healthy church, that’s trying to live and breathe the love of Christ, is even amongst the hurts and frustrations, there is also a steady flow of encouragement. Being able to pray and talk with other people who have made some of the same mistakes you have and yet have lived to tell how God’s grace and power have overcome their weaknesses is amazing! Being surrounded by people who accept you for who you are and are willing to love you despite your obvious faults is a breath of fresh air. Although, that’s what the church is supposed to be, actually finding one like that can be a challenge. More often than not, one finds stiff-necked, arrogant, judgmental people who will stick their nose up at you for not acting or doing the things that they do. Those are some of the times when you go, not to be encouraged, but to be an encouragement to others.
Like what you read? Want others to be encouraged too? Please share.
“Watch out here it comes. Jump!” We all grab the rope and swing across the ravine that is quickly filling with lava, barely making it to the other side.
“Help! I’m falling!” I cry, as I lose my balance and start swinging away from our secure landing spot. The rope is caught and I get pulled back to safety.
“There’s a T-Rex coming!” Our scout exclaims, looking out from our look out spot.
“Oh no! Did it see us?”
“We have to get these doors closed!”
“Oomph! They won’t budge”
“We’re going to have to make a run for it!”
“To the tires!” All three of us jump down from the hay bales and run across the barn hiding behind a stack of tires.
We silently wait while the T-Rex tries to sniff us out and finally, not finding us, makes its way downstairs.
“Do you think it’s safe?”
“I don’t know. Let’s wait a little longer.”
“I hear it down below. I think, if we’re carefully, we can sneak out around it.”
We slowly start maneuvering our way across the floor and down the stairs. We just get to the bottom, when out of nowhere the T-Rex sticks its head out of a stall and we all scream.
“RUN!” We race as fast as we can out of the barn.
“This way!” Our leader exclaims, pointing the way to our hideout.
“Do you think we lost him?” We all look around determining where the beast could be.
“I think that’s him over there. Run!”
“No. We lost him. Let’s walk for a bit.” Our leader says, as we all try and catch our breath making our way to the log pile.
Once we arrive, the guys go and pick out the best looking guns they can find. I stay back and try and prepare our “home nest” for the night. As I rearrange sticks and bark, I hear our leader call out, “We’re going hunting. We’ll be back before nightfall, but don’t let anything in!”
After a while, the boys get back. Of course, our fearless leader, has a couple of rabbits with him, along with a deer, some pheasants and a few fish. We quickly put together a stew and sit down to eat. Once the food is devoured we lay down for the night.
A couple minutes later, our leader bolts upright. Looking out a window he exclaims, “There’s something coming!”
“What is it?”
“It’s a Pteranodon!” Our leader say’s pointing his gun through a hole in the sticks.
“There’s another one over there!” My brother shouts, pointing out another hole.
“Oh no! What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to have to move camps.” Our leader replies, still peering out through the logs.
“Over there,” he directs. “In that groove of trees right there. When I say go, you guys make a run for it and I’ll hold them off until you get there.”
We carefully make our way out of the hideout; crawling over one log and sliding under another until we’re almost in the clear and ready to run.
“Ready?! Go, go, go!” He yells.
We hear him start firing off shots, as we race as fast as our legs will carry us to the trees looming ahead. Making it safely, we turn around to see how our leader is doing. Stillness and silence emanates from the scene before us.
“We’d he go?”
“Did it get him?
Panic starts to set in as we scan the area looking for where he might have went.
“I’ll go look for him.” My brother volunteers as he sets out through the trees to get a better view.
I continue to scan the area, wondering if I should try and go too. About when I decide to take off as well, I hear a snap of a twig behind me. Spinning around I see our leader come back holding his arm, which must have been injured in the battle.
“Where’d your bother go?”
“He went looking for you.” I point in the opposite direction.
“Well come on, let’s go find him.” We head off together into the trees, soon to catch up with him and continue our adventure.
I always have to smile, every time I see a kid holding a stick up to the sky, shooting down imaginary beasts, who must be threatening their life, because it reminds me so much of my own childhood. All the time I spent with my younger brother and our “fearless leader in arms,” fighting off dinosaurs, escaping over raging streams of lava, exploring, building, swinging, racing… countless hours of fun just playing together with our imaginations.
Now, as I watch my daughter start to dive into her own world of imagining, I can’t help but take a step back and remember all the fun times I had growing up. I occasionally find myself wishing my daughter would just grow up, so I don’t have to explain a hundred “why?” or “what’s that?” questions, clean up all her messes, or walk as slowly to the park. I’m reminded, though, it’s my responsibility and privilege to teach and train up my children in the way that they should go. I need to let them be kids; make messes, explore the outdoors, occasionally challenge the laws of physics, have fun studying the world around them, because that is the best way for them to learn. Remembering, they’re only young once. I need to let them play, while keeping a safe eye and reasonable, but firm, guidelines in place, taking the opportunities to teach them about Christ and His ways. For really, how short life is! James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” How easy it is to get so caught up in all the blaring problems and responsibilities of being an adult! We forget what it was like to be a kid. We forget to enjoy and make the most of each day we’ve been given.
Job 14:1-2, 5 says, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” We only have a set number of days on this earth and we don’t know what that number is. It really makes me stop and think about how I’m spending the time that I have been given. I think about how I fill up each day and how I can get so frustrated when I don’t make it someplace “on time.” That extra red light, can throw my whole day into chaos and frustration. Accidental or purposefully spilled milk can swiftly send boiling lava coursing through my veins.
When I take a step back, I can’t help but ask, “why?” Why do I let the little things have such a big effect on me? Why, when one little thing goes wrong, do I jump into a series of panicked reactions instead of controlled responses? Why am I not able to enjoy life and replace worry with joy?
I’m not focusing on the right things. (Matthew 6:19-21)
I can get so focused and consumed with the immediate that I forget to take a step back and look at the big picture. It says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” There’s a song playing on the radio lately by Jonny Diaz called Breathe and my husband always jokes that it was written especially for me. So now, whenever I start getting frazzled and “freaking out” my husband will start singing, “Breathe, just breathe...” Surprisingly, it actually works sometimes. At least, it helps jolt start my mind, into the fact that I’m not thinking straight.
I’m letting worry consume me. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Worry can sneak in and take over my thinking before I even realize it is there. Matthew 6:25-27, 34 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” My biggest counter attack to worry is a thankful heart and a trusting spirit. It’s hard to worry about something when you’re thanking God for what He has already provided and realizing that the future is in His hands as well.
I’m going too fast (Psalm 46:10-11)
As a culture especially, we are so driven by time. We fill our days full from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. If it’s not with different activities, work or meetings then its tv, facebook, games or some other form of things we "have to do". I’m not saying that any one of those things in and of themselves are bad, but combined, when we get so busy that we push God out of the picture and push quiet time with him aside then it is.
In my Bible study this past week one of the things I put down that I wanted to work on was being still. There are so many verses in the bible about being still and knowing God. (Zechariah 2:13, Psalm 46:10-11, Exodus 14:14, Habakkuk 2:20 just to name a few). I know, as a mother with two young ones, being still can be an extremely hard thing to do. There’s a quote that says, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.” The same applies to being still, being quite, and reading God’s Word. It’s not an easy thing to do that just comes naturally. If we continually wait for a time to magically come up, it never will happen. We have to make and guard that time as if our life depends on it. It takes determination and perseverance, not to give up when it doesn’t work how we want it to. Mornings are the best time for me. I try and wake up at least 30 minutes before my kids. Though, some days that doesn’t always happen and I have to find something to distract them with, long enough so I can get a little bit of “Jesus and mommy time.”
Melody, a proud mother of three beautiful, adventurous children and the wife of one very loving and caring husband. Molded, daily, by the Maker of the Universe and longing to become more like Him.