My 2018 word has been confirmed as EMBRACE. This is an addition or a morph of the last two years' themes, Smart Not Harder and Simplify.
Life is made up of seasons. There are periods of planting, growth, pruning and rest. And yes the cycles repeat, but do we Embrace the one we are in?
Our faith is like onion layers, learning who God is and who He created us to be. This overlaps with the seasons, because the urge to do different things at different times may seem completely opposite from the last season.
My current season has my heart filled with whispers of the Spirit reaffirming my identity in Him. I sense something coming, but not sure what it is. It is almost like He is trying to explain a painting to me so I can trust and appreciate the depth and beauty of His work in an even greater way before I lose focus. Cause let's be honest, I lose focus quickly.
I love the tapestry analogy of how God sees the completed side and we only view the mess underneath. His sovereignty allows me some peace despite the unknowns, maybe not always complete peace. I know He holds me because over the years He has been faithful. He hasn't always done as I wished, but He has walked me through.
The world spins faster and faster! Doesn't it make you lose focus? I feel the need to drop what I am doing and either start running or throw out an anchor and dig in my heels to stop completely in defiance of this mass brainwashing. Who can keep up this kind of pace?! Have you ever felt the need to just check out for a day? I have! When everyone seems to be doing and trying everything, I feel like I'm being passed on all sides.
I NEED to embrace the process rather than rush to completion. There is such satisfaction in accomplishment or checking a box complete though! I feel like my mantra to walk humbly with God needs to be tattooed on my forehead so I don't feel like I'm being left behind. I know life is a marathon and that means moving at a snail's pace is still moving. I don't need to exhaust myself or feel ashamed for pacing myself, especially when I would be dragging my kids behind me. The more I see the trend word HUSTLE the more I want to scream PACE!
How much joy people are missing out on in their hustle? How many small miracles are overlooked because we are in such a hurry to get to the big ones? We tell kids to enjoy childhood because life passes in a flash. Maybe we should listen to our own advice; do as I do not as I say. You don't want to get to the end and realize you missed seeing the best parts in your hurry.
My season may look different than yours and thank goodness! We need variety in this world. Not everyone can rest or prune at the same time. I need to be glad that there are ambitious people out there even if I'm not called to be one of them right now. There is no new, best thing that works for everyone, so I just need to be okay with what works for me right now. I want to encourage you to be okay with what God is calling you to, in this season. So, if He is saying hustle, then by all means hustle!
The quieting of my own life has allowed room for God to show Himself to me. Awe is natural when we see huge miracles, but God is doing so much more than we are aware of. I want to embrace these everyday miracles and dwell in gratitude. The fact that the God of the universe TAKES TIME to orchestrate every detail of my life is - WOW! So, I want to be sure to TAKE TIME to thank Him!
God will meet every need and a lot of our wants too; He is a good father! Recently, I prayed for a bag of clothes because I hate to shop. He has done this for me in the past so I had faith that He could do it again. Spending money makes me uncomfortable and I prefer trying things on in the comfort of my own home. I don't like to return things either so online shopping isn't the best place for me. Less than a week later, I had BAGS of clothes from two different people! (Greater than we expect or imagine.) I got a whole new wardrobe 4 FREE! When I was done I had an even bigger bag of clothes I was able to pass on from my own closet to bless another person. I love recycling - Awesome!
He is a God of specifics. He hears those little prayers for a close parking spot because I need to be in and out quick with three kids. He knows my secret wishes for microscopes and globes for our homeschooling adventures which show up on my doorstep. Through friends and family, He sends new bikes for my children, theater tickets, zoo passes and so much more. Today, He even planned a spontaneous opportunity at the beach where we enjoyed learning hands-on physics and aerodynamics from one of the top kite flyers in the world! How cool is that?!
I don't know where you are in life, but I hope you will join me in taking time to embrace whatever season you are in. Need something? Ask. Want something? Ask. God has things to teach us, about Him, and about ourselves, so take time to connect with Him in this moment.
Recently, when I was on a flight I heard that the lady seated beside me had an accent. She opened the window to reveal the de-icing process we were waiting on. She started explaining (very scientifically) what they were de-icing the plane with. She had recognized the smell coming in through the air conditioning vents. Through small talk, she confirmed that she was, in fact, a scientist from Russia. I shared how I had lived in Moscow when I was a child and we swapped a phrase or two in Russian when she asked if I spoke the language. Upon hearing that my parents were missionaries, she asked me bluntly whether I had ever thought about becoming a missionary myself.
This made me pause.
Surprisingly, I can't recall being asked this. I have been asked whether I enjoyed my childhood, whether I liked languages and travel etc, but I can't recall ever being asked if I would want the same vocation as my parents. I answered by explaining that my husband was a Christian counselor and that we loved to travel but we had our mission field right here in our hometown.
Her question started an inner dialogue with God that continues on.
My parents have modeled the ebb and flow of seasons. We did have a season of GOing as missionaries throughout my childhood. They still go on short-term trips here and there as the Spirit leads them. They continue to take us children and now our spouses too because they believe in widening your culture and viewpoint. I am very grateful for this! Now they have a season of being missionaries right here in their own country and community. All throughout their deputation, they shared how everyone is a missionary and how whether your mission field is across the street or the world mattered little. They believe in being a friend before sharing their friend Jesus.
My Bible reading keeps bringing me back to the book of Acts. The community there in the first group of believers was one of doing life together. I feel strongly that we are slowly losing the sense of community that we are meant to live in. Your circle may overlap mine, but maybe for only a season. God has been good in allowing me to reconnect with a person every now and again who was in my circle for a while, but then He called away.
Friends are friends forever if the Lord is the Lord of them! (Michael W. Smith)
To be honest, the idea of going with some organization that has control or requirements gives me pause. I am more comfortable with the concept of tent-making missionaries. I like the freedom to follow the Spirit without feeling the need to explain or get approval before moving. I understand those mission organizations are there to protect how funds are used, so they aren't mismanaged, but I don't want the Spirit of God to be stifled or slowed by dogmatic protocol. Satan loves to use red tape and I would rather remove that option. If I can do God's work with my own funds, then I am free to do it as He requests.
The faith of George Muller is still the most uncomfortable, but attractive to me. I want to watch God move through his people. I love the verse in Matthew - But when you do merciful deeds, don't let. your left hand know what your right hand does, I don't want the vocation of missionary. I just want to watch God move! That is rewarding enough.
So, the answer is...
I am a missionary, just a secret one -
♫ cue the James Bond music ♫
right where God has planted me for this season and so are you!
There is such a negative connotation with the words losing, failing and giving up. When I woke this morning my mind was filled with these three concepts not because I’m depressed and wanting to give up on life, but because I want to retrain my mind.
When I think of the word ‘lose’ I picture a race being lost or searching for a misplaced item. When I think of failing my mind goes to tests and trying new things. Giving up is the phrase often used for defeat, but this isn’t always the case.
If we look at the context, it can all change. Are we focusing on the negative or what comes with it?
Losing your mind is a bad thing, but losing excess weight is a good thing. What about losing ourselves in a good book or another activity we love?
I know God is trying to change the way I view failure and success.
Failure is not the opposite of success. I actually hate the word success because I feel its pursuit can steal the joy of the journey. One person’s view of success can be very different from another’s. Failing forward is progress. Failing shows attempt. And where does contentment fall in the process? Dream big, but don't forget to be thankful for here and now because it is all you have.
Giving up is another one that I laugh at. Giving up sounds so bad until you tack on what you are giving up. Giving up sugar? Wow! Giving up worry? Yes! Giving up control? By surrendering you may actually gain freedom and peace.
Maybe I am just a die-hard optimist, but once again my perspective is my choice. It doesn’t matter how someone else views it. How I choose to perceive and think on a topic can make or break my day, joy and ultimately my life. My responsibility is to keep my heart attentive to the Lord’s direction and enjoy life’s ups and downs.
The wise thing is to get counsel. Preferably godly counsel. The problem with that is in discerning who is giving godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom. The journey of faith is a deeply personal one since God states very clearly that only He can judge correctly the heart of man. It is easy for people we love and trust to speak in love and worldly wisdom. It is up to the Spirit to help us discern which advice is for us and which was well-intentioned but not for us.
AKA - Chew up the meat and spit out the bones...
We are embarking on a risky adventure of trusting God in a deeper way. I laugh even writing that because I know He is Sovereign and promises to walk with us.
So really, where is the risk?
My husband has handed in his resignation to a job which has provided for over a decade for the needs and wants of our family. We will be letting go of good health insurance and a weekly salary paycheck. Gulp!*
To many, this will appear foolhardy and unwise. At times, even to us, this seems like a crazy idea. Being able to offer Christian Counseling and run the Lifeline Celebrate Recovery program without working a 40+ hour job has been something my husband and I have been working toward for years!
It has been the dream placed into heart and soul. We want to walk a life of faith and this is our next step. It has come to a pinnacle... make a choice! We are strapped in and ready for the ride. We have felt the peace fill our spirits, that this is the right move. Our minds are still a war zone of what-ifs when we are not in prayer. Every time we lift up our choice to God He rewards us with excitement, reconfirmation, joy, hope and most importantly peace. We will not let the giant of doubt shake our inner peace. Doubts can rattle our minds, but we know we don't walk alone. God will bring his people who are hurting and we will journey with them to healing in Jesus name and we will watch in awe as God shows up and shows off!
We will gratefully accept all the prayers we can get.
January always gets me thinking...
We are at the start of a new year, which is full of promise and potential dreams. We may make resolutions or goals. There is a sense of hopeful expectation of what might come to pass. We can choose to look into the future with hope or fear. We can look at anything or anyone with hope or disappointment. I always seem to have increased optimism and patience in January because it feels like a new beginning. I think hope is easier when you are younger. The older I get and the more knocked around I've become, fear and doubt often sneak in to try and ride shotgun.
Will this bring me more joy or sadness?
Will I gain new friends or lose someone?
Will I experience new freedom or become more enslaved by life?
This is the year for...
February hits and my focus switches to romance....
My healthy resolutions get pushed aside by chocolates, fudge, and other various sweets. I find myself starting to examine my relationships. Am I the best mom, wife, daughter, employee I can be? Or dangerously, are they the best husband, father, parent, or boss they can be? The marketing ads remind of the promise of happily ever after and falling in love. These reminders to follow your bliss, find your calling or restore passion seem to surround. Love seems to permeate the masses and its hard not to be swept up in an ideal, slogan or feeling. The message to love your neighbor, but more importantly to love yourself comes across loud an clear.
Will he remember Valentine's day?
Will she remember to buy me... , razors, or that a watch?
Will he buy me flowers, chocolates or jewlery?
Will she make me my favorite dinner/dessert?
Will he/she ever learn to speak my love language?
Will he romance me at all?
Goals and plans turn to questions and longings...
March fades into April and the somehow the rest of the year speeds by in a blur, but no matter what the season or the time of year, we all reach points of personal decision. Our emotions can bring us to our breaking point, or a loss can help put things into perspective or knock us out of perspective. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. No matter how good they are, they could be better. Striving can exhaust you, but giving up isn't necessarily a good option either. We each reach moments when we choose to reset or change aspects of our life. We are ever changing, growing, evaluating...
I'm reminded almost daily that life isn't the fairytale, no matter how hard social media may try to convince us it should be. We may have fairytale moments, but life, in general, is hard. Yes, it can be filled with incredible beauty if we remember to look for it. The beauty of redemption can definitely be found if we reach for it. Marriage isn't the picture of perfect love, but redeeming love. Any relationship worth having is hard work, that is why there are countless books on communication, dating, and marriage. The perfect person, career, hobby, passion, body, etc will not fulfill us and make life perfect. We create our own happiness! Choice! It all came down to where I found my source for joy. Anytime I allow anyone or anything to try to fulfill me I am sorely disappointed. Relationships change because we change. Careers come and go. Hobbies morph as time or interests change. Passions may fade but time continues on...
The only constant, that hasn't changed or let me down is Jesus. He enables me to see the beauty around me and to restore that beauty when it has faded. He has shown me people in a new light, enabled me to forgive when I couldn't on my own. He has filled me with new dreams, passions, and goals in new seasons. The source of my joy, happiness, contentment, peace and all beauty I see, is the faithful Jesus Christ. He can empower us to see beauty when he redeems our perspective. Keeping him in the forefront is key for me! What are some ways you keep your joy?
He gives us the power to choose love and to see beauty!
I wish I could say that I was one of those moms who prayed constantly for their children, or at least nightly. I like to think that I at least pray regularly. Sometimes I feel my prayers for them have become rote and repetitive. You have all kinds of plans and ideals with the first child, but somehow after the third things start to slip. After a long day, I'll admit, I tuck them into bed and then go fall in mine often without more than a "Night Lord."
Years ago, I found a sheet listing ways to pray specifically for your children which even included scripture to back up each point. I have held onto this for years, but rarely got past the first few sections. It was too wordy and it seemed I was always interrupted. Good intentions are all well and good, but carrying around a nice but essentially useless (for me) paper had to come to an end.
Above, I have recreated the heart of it combined and shortened into prayer topics. I have successfully been able to pray my way through this one. Yay! I am a busy mom so it probably will still not happen daily, but God knows my heart and He will grow my prayer warrior skills yet. I have this on the front of my homeschooling binder in hopes of furthering my skills. I will also put the plain pdf below if it would be of use to anyone else.
It really is a choice... or a state of mind... how you see your current situation.
In most cases, I think it is decided by physical factors. How tired you are... the last time you ate... how you recharge... just to name a few variables. But despite all the things that can drag you down it still remains a choice.
Personality is a big factor. Are you an extrovert and crave people to rejuvenate you, aka a piranha as you steal energy from others? only joking...partly. ;) Or are you an introvert and need time alone to recharge. Do you crave just 5 minutes to yourself and feel yourself flinching from too much social interaction? Can you tell which one I am?
No matter what season of life or situation you are in, you can change your inner outlook by changing your thought pattern. After all, even the crazy people can retreat into their own minds to a better place. So...
Capture those inner voices and make them work for you instead of against you!
"This person is really annoying and if he doesn't just shut up in a minute I am going to do something we are all going to regret!" can turn into - "He is probably oversharing because not too many things are going well in his life and he is hanging onto any trace of hope he can find."
"These kids are driving me nuts and never pick up after themselves - I might as well be their slave!" can become - " I am so grateful my kids have so many toys and imaginations that keep them running all day long, but it is time to call them back to earth and ask for help picking up."
"My boss doesn't appreciate all I do, and this company would fall apart if it wasn't for me!" may be replaced with, for the sake of your job - "I am so thankful that I have a job I can really shine in and make a difference."
So to enjoy the insanity of life we need to learn to put a positive spin on things.
Here are some tangible ways to help -
Sometimes this is hard to do on your own, so find a friend or family member who can help you. When you start to "vent" they can help (with your permission so they don't get slapped) help you see another perspective.
When I can feel my day going down the tubes, I like to turn on some upbeat music and watch it magically put everyone in the vicinity into a better mood.
The big guy is pretty good at gut checking you and helping you see things in a new light as well. A quick prayer can set the day right too.
Yes, I have even plastered sticky notes or signs around my home with catchy positive sayings around my house to help lift my thought to a better place.
Schedule a Reminder:
With these handy-dandy smartphones, you can send yourself reminders throughout your day, week, month, year to uplift or remind you about your goals to see the cup half full instead of being a scrooge.
(Scrooge Reminders during the holidays may be just what will save your holidays!)
You are not alone in your fight to see all of life's little moments in a truly appreciative light. I have three little blessings in my life that are growing me in new ways every day. And I am thankful for the supporters in my life that keep me going or pick me up when I trip.
Special thanks to you...you know who you are!
Swept and ready....the words jumped off the page in a new way though I had read the passage many times in my life. Mark 14:12-15
The next passage about the Passover is normally where people focus, the big reveal of Judas being a traitor or the symbolic remembrance of Jesus' death and resurrection. I almost missed these few verses again, but for the still small screech of tires that made my mind reverse and reread.
...swept and ready...
Perhaps it is because Spring cleaning has been on my mind, or because the body and mind are weird when you are fasting, regardless, my mind screeched to a halt at the words "swept and ready". What is the deal here? Should I go sweep Lord? I feel ready...I think.
So for context....
The disciples are sent on a task by Jesus into the city to find a place to hold the Passover, to follow an unknown man carrying a water jug and boldly ask the homeowner, "The Teacher wants to know, where is my guest room?" Jesus knew (can you say omni-everything) this homeowner would have a room READY AND SWEPT! So what was this homeowners story?
I found myself wondering (thanks to my husband's tendency to wonder about the deeper story; I find myself wondering more too) what the homeowner was thinking?
I mean, why was this room even available this last minute? If not that, then why was it ready and not stacked up with stored belongings- I mean who wants to climb stairs anyhow? Not sure how your "extra space" looks but its easy to collect things.
What would have happened if the guy's upper room was in shambles? Is your guest room always ready for guests? What if he was so put off by such forward people assuming he had room for them? I mean does everyone even have a guest room? Or what if he decided he wanted to talk pennies and dimes and time slots? After all, Jesus waited until the last minute, so he could probably get a few more Caesar coins right?! There are so many missing facts in scripture, but I guess God likes us to dig deeper and think of all the variables and how we might react if places were switched.
But the unknown made me think... The disciples had a task, the guy with the water jug had a task, and the homeowner had a task. All these little tasks added together make an intriguing story and set the scene for something important Jesus was about to do next.
Right now our little family has tasks....but we have felt a sense of something coming. It is taking a long time to come and it is tempting to get lazy, angry or doubtful it is indeed coming. There are seasons for everything, but what had my heart thumping as I read this passage? Were my talents, my time, my belongings and my attitude one of being swept and ready for God's use? If He comes with this something we have been waiting for, are we really ready for it? I know we think we are but have we done all we can do? Are we keeping the cobwebs at bay? Are we swept and ready?
Lord, may you shine the light on our cobwebs.
May we be faithful with the tasks at hand.
Help us to trust your timing.
May our little family be found swept and ready for your use always!
So, lying in bed last night I heard such noise in my head. God kept replaying my thoughts of late in my head. And in the silence of the night, I noticed the negativity that has replaced the joy I could/should have. I found myself trapped in a place I don't want to be...and sadly it is one of my own makings.
I love mantras and my main one that I try to live by "Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands" has slowly been replaced with some deep negative ones...really without my conscious consent.
Honestly, I have been struggling with a bit of depression lately. I have allowed half-truths to steal my joy and rule my mind. I have three children and the youngest is only a few months old, so I can blame it on lack of sleep or being too busy to process life, but truthfully its lack of mental discipline. Perspective is powerful! Instead of seeing things through the happy/blessed filter fresh with God's new mercies every morning, I have allowed a moldy filter full of self-pity/fatigue to brew out nasty leftovers. (Can you tell I drink coffee?)
So, like a play reel, God rolled my thoughts through my mind and challenged me to CAPTURE THE THOUGHT AND MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO HIM.
Thought #1 - I have to stay home with 3 kids all day long; staying home is hard.
Thought #2 - I have to homeschool because I want to see all my kids firsts, protect and shape them.
Thought #3 - I get no little to no "me time".
Thought #4 - I miss my freedom from when it was just my husband and me.
Thought #5 - Being a mom is harder than being a dad.
Now, don't get me wrong. Parenting is hard and there is an element of truth in all the above statements.
Perspective is everything! And we can choose to see things positively (the above thoughts all have negative emotions behind them) or we can allow "truth" to be colored by half-truths.
So....the challenge... NOTICE - CAPTURE - RETRAIN
Truth #1 - I am lucky to be able to be home with my children. Hard could be leaving them! And who says HARD is BAD?! Hard things can produce perseverance and discipline.
Truth #2 - I don't have to homeschool. I can try it and pray if it is best for my children each year as they grow and mature. I will never see ALL my kids firsts but I should treasure the ones I get to be a part of. And God is the only one who can protect them and shape them through whatever they face, good or bad, in life.
Truth #3 - I get to get out once or twice a week by myself for a few hours which is more than some moms. I have a husband who encourages me to make time for myself and watches the kids to make that happen. I have family who watches my kids so I can attend work functions and have the occasional date night. Plus who says "me-time" is a right?! Choosing to be a married and/or be a parent means sacrificing some "me-time"....well if you want to be a good parent or spouse anyway.
Truth #4 - Yes missing the past is normal, but just think how much you would miss your children if they were to not be a part of your present!!! And for some parents that becomes a reality so try to remember that your kids are a blessing to treasure for as long as you have them - tomorrow is not guaranteed!
Truth #5 - Being a dad has difference stresses, like providing for the family (growing expense each year that your kids are alive...rent/mortgage...the lights on...food...diapers...shoes...college...weddings...etc). Dads have to try and balance being there for their wife and kids after working 40 hours or more to provide, while trying to stay healthy and workout (because no wife wants a husband on the verge of a heart attack), and trying to have some "me-time" of his own so he has something interesting to talk to his wife about after being married for 10 years. There are always two perspectives and it is easy to lose your spouse's!!! (TRUST ME I WILL NEED TO COME BACK AND READ THIS PARAGRAPH MANY TIMES!)
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If you notice he lies are short little mantra like statements easily repeated in your head, so no wonder they drown out the truth.
It takes work, aka discipline, to:
notice the lie...
and retrain your mind with TRUTH
Lord, thank you for keeping me up last night and showing me the hard truth about my thought life lately. Thank you for restoring perspective . Please give me the extra energy it takes to discipline my thought life, see truth and choose joy...
Ladies, put your face here and claim superhero status!
I have my days where I feel like I am a great mom. I take the time to read books aloud, snuggle, affirm my kid's strengths and hand out healthy snacks. I don't raise my voice but take the time to calmly explain consequences and encourage the proper choice. I answer deep theological questions and make play-dates and library trips while teaching math or delivering explanations on why there are blue skies some days while clouds on others. I do this cheerfully with the utmost patience seemingly up to the 500th why question.
There are even days that I can add taking care of the house and greeting my husband with a kiss and a "How was your day dear?" If I got the proper eight hours, you might even see me strollerblading or jump on the treadmill to take care of myself as well. These are the days I want to post on Facebook because I seemingly have my crap together...that day. It's natural to want to appear as the Supermom, but when I recently got called a Supermom, I wondered if it was a good thing or bad....?
Life is all about balance, right?! Some days you got it and some days you don't. It is important to capture our thoughts and dwell on the positive. We want to be an encouragement to others, maybe being human and transparent would be more helpful. Sure, we want to know there is a silver lining, or an end to the storm(toddler-hood, teenage years), but hearing about the storm itself can be encouraging! Because to ignore the storm and only talk about sunshine seems like a lie!
I feel less alone when I watch another minivan pull through the Dunkin Donuts driveway for that mom to receive her sanity-caffeine jolt. I feel better when I hear a mom threaten to spank her child when the kid is acting rebellious. I feel incredible when I overhear another mother's talk about laundry piling up and dirty dishes in the sink when they are out at the park allowing the kids to play. Why?! Not because I am glad they are having it rough too. Not because I want an excuse to slack off because, by comparison, I am doing pretty good. I am glad to hear it, because I'm tired of feeling guilty and alone!!
There is an awful amount of guilt going around and it seems to start compiling the moment you become pregnant. Guilt over what you eat, or how you exercise (or don't exercise) while pregnant. Where you choose to deliver...with drugs or not. Whether you choose to (or are able to)breastfeed or not. If you choose to vaccinate fully, partially or not at all. When your child becomes sick you blame yourself for their exposure to germs and then debate when/if you should take them to the doctor. Should you use traditional medicines or herbal remedies? Should you allow them processed foods and chicken nuggets? Should you allow dairy, or soda, or candy or pizza? Do you send them to school or homeschool or hire a tutor? Do you allow them to date or lock them in a tower?! The list goes on and on and on...
So, here is my truth: There are days where I get the majority right and feel awesome about my calling to be a mom; I aced the test type days! But this past week I was stormy. Being trapped inside allowed me little respite and therefore my cape got very dirty and at times came completely off! A gentle nudge reminded me on more than one occasion that I didn't have to wait until tomorrow for the sun to come out. I have an inner source I can tap into. The Son is good at restoring capes, tempers, and sunshine. I am learning to stop in the midst of my storm (anger, depression, fatigue) and praise Him for each moment a ray of sunshine pokes through!
I can pray my way from a tropical depression to at least a partly cloudy day. ;)
We can wallow in our imperfections or we can choose to praise God for the moments we got right today and trust Him that tomorrow will be even sunnier with His help. Our capes may not be spotless, but with His help, we can still be a Supermom in their eyes!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....