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.
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.