First, let me allay your fears, I don't know all your deep, dark secrets. The things you tell my husband in confidence remain in confidence. I have people assume that I know all about their situation and that simply isn't the case. I will smile and nod, but I probably am being enlightened by you! Truthfully, my husband's profession is too heavy for my heart, and he knows that. He is the counselor, not me. If you would like me to know something, so I can pray, please share with me. I will pray and cry or cheer alongside, but my empathy will not give you helpful counsel.
Second, am I proud of my husband? Yes. I get this question A LOT! Yes, I love his heart for helping people on their journey. The Spirit gives him the wisdom to cut through to the heart of situations. He is highly relational and I love the way God works through him. The kids and I pray for his protection and discernment to help the people God brings to his office. We are also thankful that his career keeps him attentive to the needs of his family as well. He has to practice what he advises!
Third, Yes, I also get resentful! Hurting people are rarely respectful of boundaries. When clients fail to show, it is hard not to be resentful. I see that as a time we could have spent together as a family. Weighing other's needs, which are always an emergency to them, and determining what your response to them should be, is exhausting. I face a similar battle when fielding my children's constant questions, shrieks, and requests during the day. Sometimes, it is hard to have energy left over for each other at the end of the day or week. No one likes to struggle with guilt about giving leftovers to your loved ones no matter what your profession may be. -mom or counselor
Fourthly, we need prayer and I ask you for it. We are constantly needing God's help to define our borders and safeguard our family time. Some of the topics of discussion in the office, as you may imagine, are heavy. It is hard to watch Josh care more about someone's struggle than they do. I do my best to bolster, but a covering of prayer is always welcome.
Be careful what you pray for! I expressed my desire to do more ministry together with my husband and he said to put it in our prayer circles. (See Mark Batterson's Prayer Circle Book) Not too long after writing this desire down I got what I thought was the answer to my prayer. Now I know it was only part of the answer...
The Celebrate Recovery program we started 6 years ago was finally big enough to afford childcare. I am now able to bring our kids and be a part of the program once again. The women loving on my and other's children are beautiful inside and out. They do crafts and my kids love going every Friday! The vulnerability and transparency of Celebrate Recovery is beautiful and addicting (a healthy addiction). I love that our whole family goes together.
A few months later, our church pastor asked my husband if we might be interested in co-sharing on a Sunday. Our pastor was putting together a series on the Song of Solomon and he wanted several couples to each take a section. Our young adult group was studying the Song of Solomon teaching when Josh and I met. Any other topic and I probably would have said no, but the Spirit nudged me. I agreed before I could chicken out.
I am an introvert. My husband speaks all the time, but it's not really my cup of tea. Over the next few weeks I struggled to capture every fearful thought and replace it with faith or worship. Then I found out our Sunday commitment also included a follow up talk during the week where we could go into more depth in a small group. So, not one opportunity to share together, but two!
God is so cool, because He knows what we can handle better than we do. He also knows exactly how to present things - baby steps. He also places people strategically in our life to encourage us. A sweet friend gave me a mug with these verses.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
They became my mantra the week before we were to speak!
As I tried to sleep God kept speaking to my heart - downloading tidbits. I have to keep a pen and paper near my bed because my mind always gets active late at night. My body is trying to sleep but my spirit is raring to contemplate truth.
As the day grew closer, my mother encouraged me to pray specifically for a big boost of confidence. I didn't want to be overconfident; I just didn't want to puke on stage. Flashbacks from speech class about picturing the audience naked didn't seem right for a church setting. I also thought about walking out without my glasses so everyone was a big blur, but a show and tell lighted candle prop made me decide against that. I did my part by reading through what my husband and I felt God wanted us to say. I told God the rest was up to Him. Help us convey your heart God!
I have been called a crier. I've cried when I am happy, sad, frustrated or angry. Empathy and emotion often overwhelm my throat and I feel frustrated and embarrassed. God has been taking me on a journey of EMBRACE this year. It was the word he gave me in January and I am still learning all that it entails. I felt God saying that I needed to embrace how He has wired me and stop feeling embarrassed about it. Feeling emotion isn't a weakness; it is my super power! If God wants to overwhelm me with His goodness, faithfulness, forgiveness, and love - so be it! And thank you!
The day before we spoke - I prayed that God would speak through me as only he could. I felt very much like Moses -no eloquent tongue here- but I promised to speak through any tears and keep going anyway. I asked everyone for prayer and I knew my husband would rescue me if I got too emotional to speak. He did promise not to rescue me too quickly.
On Sunday morning I felt excited - Like you're strapped into a roller coaster going up to the very first drop kind of excited. What the heck was I thinking! Despite a bug creeping across my foot, I spoke! Probably a little too fast, but I didn't puke AND I DIDN'T CRY!!! This was a first for me. I see now that God was preparing me for this opportunity by speaking in open share each week and facilitating a step study group.
One baby step led to another. I am grateful for the opportunity to stretch my faith. I don't really feel called to a public speaking career, but it is wonderful to know that WITH HIM ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for me <3
Josh and one of his best friends, Luke, opened the supplies for their new joint venture last weekend. Look at those smiles! It was exciting to be a part of their celebration.
One of the things that got Josh through ten years in the lawn service was listening to hours and hours of podcasts. He listened to everyone from hunters to pastors. In fact, he and Luke talked over a year ago about starting their own podcast. Late night conversations they had while biking together around town will be coming soon in their very own podcast series.
Dream are gifts from the dream giver. A generous donation came in specifically for the purpose of making their dream a reality. Wow!
Many hours of research have gone into this idea. As the equipment arrived, we wives were delighted to get a front row seat to the unwrapping. Laura grabbed her phone and captured those first smiles. Those smiles led to laughter. As the first microphone went live the first question popped, "What do you think we will be doing in ten years?" Eyes lit with joy as an easy conversation started.
As Josh and Luke move forward from the research-and-prayer stage to the production-and-prayer one, we ask for your partnership. Pray for clear direction, lots of Holy-Spirit-moments, and faithful listeners. They hope to have links up soon.
My new venture is actually a repeat venture, but I am very excited about it anyway. Five years ago I went through my first step study. God revealed some suppressed hurts in my life and some unhealthy tendencies toward perfectionism and food.
This is the first time I have been able to facilitate other ladies through the steps and I am very excited to journey through the steps again. It is an incredible privilege to journey with others! Not only does God knit hearts together, but you get to be a front seat witness of their freedom journey.
The beatitudes of Jesus are so key to restoring our relationship with Christ and accepting Him as your higher power unlocks incredible freedom and power. Our faith journey continues on as He continues to shape us in the image of His Son. I am looking forward to seeing what areas in addition to healthy boundaries God will have me working on.
So, as the guys and I start our new ventures we invite those around to join in on the journey: be praying for us, be looking for NAM - the podcast and join us at Celebrate Recovery on Friday nights.
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.
Why is it so much easier to help others find their boundary line than it is to find your own? When I talk on the phone with a friend, it is often clear as day where they should draw a line in the sand. Things sneak up on you and creep in without always asking for permission or consent. In my own life I can feel the line, but not necessarily always see it. I string along countless excuses why I allow my boundaries to be crossed, stretched or moved altogether. More often than not, it is guilt or people-pleasing that account for my loss of decisiveness and muddled thinking. The older I get the less it is people-pleasing. See, I am getting wiser. ;) I might even throw worry in there too as a factor for crossing boundaries, but that isn't as high up on the list as the others.
I am a lot bolder on behalf of other people than I ever am on my own behalf. I love being able to encourage others to rest and feel peaceful. I abhor watching family or friends pushed into exhaustion by other demanding people or life's crazy pressures. I am quick to remind others to take time for themselves and set healthy boundaries in place to allow for recharge. It seems the moment I make space in my own life to breath that something comes out of the woodwork to steal back that room or time. It is such a battle! I know this life is a journey, but I don't think it is meant to be an all-out sprint to the finish. To make it the end, I know the tortoise approach is wiser and healthier. Stop and smell the roses; take time to enjoy the life you have been given. Intellectually, spiritually and emotionally I know what is best, but I allow the roar of life to drown out common sense and what I know to be right for me.
Life shows us pretty quickly that there are seasons for everything. There are seasons when we need to keep our obligations low and our boundaries high for our sanity and/or health. We also need to take into account the health and care of those we share life with. There are rhythms that we need to adhere to if we are to make it without hurting ourselves or others. Doing for others at the expense of yourself and your loved ones is not called servanthood, but codependency. Getting the details is an important step before agreeing to take on anything new. Indefinite service will cause harm if not balance with rest. Don't give an answer! You don't have to make excuses or give an answer right in the moment. I heard someone say that they wanted to "fall exhausted into the arms of Jesus" and every part of my being cringed! God, the maker of heaven and earth, rested on the 7th Day, so I am a firm believer in following His example. I think we have forgotten what true rest looks like, however. If you have kids and a spouse it is harder to find true rest. Someone is always pulling at you. Keep in mind what season you are in!
We can't just wish our boundaries into place any more than a general can get his troops from point A to B without sending out the order. We can't reduce our obligations without saying the word - No. We can not rest without allowing space and time for it. Staying balanced is a constant ebb and flow of decisions and planning. It isn't a one-time deal and opportunities come and go, so it will never be flawless, but having some steps in place helps me retain my sanity.
My go to's:
1. Call a WISE friend - In this season of my life, I am blessed to have many friends who are also balancing the wife and mother roles. I am grateful for the telegram app that allows me to share a photo or a laugh, seek advice, empathy or sanity at the push of a button with my group of mom friends. It is good to have people who remind me of my limits and priorities. I am also blessed with a wise mother who walks a few seasons of life ahead of me and is gentle in her wisdom and nearly always available to encourage and/or listen when I call.
2. Just say NO - don't add excuses - So many times I have people approach with requests or opportunities that seem to need immediate answers. I love to help others and disappointing people is hard for me. I am still learning the art of saying NO! If it is at all feasible, I want to say yes, but that has bitten me one too many times! I tried to put things off by saying I would pray about it. Better, but not best! When I know in the moment that my answer should be no, but I feel like I need a "good excuse" I need to remember - no - is good enough.
3. WAIT & Pray & WAIT - When in doubt - Wait! Then pray specifically and give yourself time to wait for His answer. Not the answer that you feel guilted into or pressured into! A thing can be really good, but if it is not in it's proper time then it can turn bad and quick. I will make mistakes, but slowing down and waiting gives me the chance to make well thought out decisions about my boundaries and obligations. Time also allows me to ask wise people to weigh in on the examination process.
Tell me what are your some safeguards for balancing boundaries and obligations? I can use all the help I can get. ;)
The time has finally come to slow down, turn inward, and find me again. But, as with everything, there is a pendulum swing and I can take it too far. I start focusing on what I want, need, am entitled to and end up being unhappy, whiny and no one I want to be around. Focusing on what I don't have instead of counting my blessings slowly turns me sour - every time! Instead of balancing life with God's perspective I swing from not caring for myself enough to demanding too much for myself. I am learning (oh so slowly) that I need the Spirit's help to stop the swing from going too far one way or the other on any given day in every area of life.
Dynamic tension takes focus and intention!
It is a struggle to retain some healthy boundaries and a sense of identity in this rat race. Keeping who I am with God is vital because when I start to let my kids, husband, role, passions or job define me I am in trouble. One-on-one my kids can be amazing or moody tyrants and together, mostly they are a cute and noisy circus. My husband is sweet and seemingly perfect one moment and the next I think about hopping on a plane and traveling the world solo. Being a wife can be absolutely maddening, but thank God for those sweet happily ever after moments that keep you hoping to grow old together.
Motherhood is fulfilling sometimes and draining others. My passions can seem fulfilling but can place my priorities in jeopardy. One day work is fulfilling and the next I want to quit. My identity needs to be firmly in Christ so I quit returning to life in my own power. When will I learn that I need Him every hour - every moment to get the fullness that I am craving and the sustenance I need?!
Nothing and no one is important enough to allow crowding Him out!
Yes, He created me with strength and ability, but I have yet to learn which battle hill is worth dying on and which ones I should let Him conquer.
Just because I can, doesn't mean I should!
I am afraid I have been a poor example in strategic warfare to those around me. I have heard His voice in some matters and have been so blessed through obeying His call to drop certain balls so I can do what He is calling me to do better. I took my sweet time getting the message though, and it makes me wonder what I may have missed out on in my delay. I have battled so hard in one area and totally lost sight of others that were way more important! My days always have adequate time when He is in charge. On days I take control I scramble. He is sovereign and that I can rest in. My journey, though bumpy, will be a part of refining me through His grace and for His glory.
Why I am still amazed that on those days when I take my time to invite Him to lead, that things go not perfectly, but way more smoothly? I get, for those type-A peeps like me, way more accomplished! My eyes are opened to those special God appointments with my kids, the neighbor or my spouse. How great to feel that high of being a part of God's work! Let's make that happen more! I get peace even in the busyness and confidence in the turbulence. I know it is because I was fortified against the devil and remembering to be in tune with the Spirit that I can do all things through Him.
It is not more important to be right, fair, or honest than it is to love.
And to love right, you need Him! Simple morning devotions are good by keeping me connected, but now I know there are ways to turn up the juice! So here are a few of my go-to Jesus Strategies:
Anyone one of these is great but when I regularly do them all I can understand why Peter got out of that boat. Want to feel the power? Share with me some ways you connect in with the source of all power!
All that other stuff has a season but it will fade and then what will I be left with?
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.
There are days when I can't even have a sane thought. I seem to flit back and forth between sanity and insanity so many times a day that I get so tired of even trying to distinguish between the two. I have moments of clarity where life feels balanced and that I am managing all my responsibilities well and moments where I really just want to crawl under the covers and hide from all the things and people pulling at me.
In my saner moments, I recognize that the hormones and emotions that overwhelm me, that ruin my perspective and that distort everything, are due to the increasing blueberry growing inside me. I should allow myself more grace, but I really want to quit allowing emotions to dictate my actions. Somehow, I keep moving and get done what I need to get done. The constant emotional war for reality and the perspective of Christ to remain in control rather than emotion and frustration is wearing me down.
My devotion this morning was on the Sabbath and how it is one of the 10 commandments we break most often without blinking an eye. God made it a commandment because He knew we needed it! My mind says, duh, of course! But guilt, society and even my own inability to nap are at war with this concept of rest. It seems lazy and wrong even when I can consciously acknowledge that a nap would restore my energy, my joy, and proper perspective...I balk at the idea because I know my mind. I have attempted naps, but my mind goes into immediate overdrive with lists upon lists of things I could/should be doing as soon as I lay down. These lists contain everything from housework, to work work, to ministry, web design, schooling my children, writing this.... you can name a few more to-do's I'm sure.
So, what do I need? I need the biggest chill pill in history! I keep seeing how God is trying to remove a thing from my plate and I gratefully pile it back up with different things....and pile it high! I listen to society and see what others are doing and my own lists aren't long enough. I feel unproductive, ungodly and guilty.... guilty of being lazy, of being a poor mom and a poor wife, daughter, niece, employee, person period. I'm sure there are a couple more blanks you can add to my list.
How do I take a Sabbath and make it Holy? I don't even know what that looks like! Satan is such a stealer of peace and joy. Even if you manage to find some peace and rest, satan will give you a nice dose of self-guilt to try and prevent you from enjoying it. This constant striving/perfectionism/ pride is going to be the death of me....if...I don't stop and cry for HELP!!!
Jesus, please help me to grasp the concept of a Holy Sabbath! Help remove the guilt I have associated with rest and impress on me the need for your peace and rest regularly in my life. Let me seek after you more than I seek to complete my to-do lists! Help keep your perspective in the forefront and not my emotions. I want to abide in your Spirit and know true relationship/unity with you!
HELP ME PLEASE BECAUSE I CANNOT DO LIFE WITHOUT YOU!!
Our Core Team has graduated the Celebrate Recovery Step Study! We have launched and more and more people are coming each Friday night. We have different worship groups leading each week from many different churches! We are praying the Lord provides financially as we grow. Josh is seeing clients as well as working full-time as a lawn technician. We are praying for wisdom to know when to take a step of faith and leave behind the lawn work. Praying for more clients, but already reaching that point of how to take on more in a healthy way when the spare time isn't spare. God is good and we are trusting Him to move us as He sees fit.
The women's group finished our step study. Such sweet things the Lord lead me through this past year. Setting me free from things I didn't even realize I was captive by! So grateful that He is never done with us.
I am working on balance as I stay at home with the girls, work from home for TOH and minister with Josh in the CR ministry. I am allowing God to remove my perfectionism and replace it with the need only to please Him. This time is hectic so my daily prayer is that God would be guiding us!
Lifeline Celebrate Recovery had a great first fundraiser and we were super pleased/relieved at the support that came in!
Had every hole at the tournament sponsored and had at least 50 golfers. We launched CR last Friday and had an incredible turnout.
We are feeling so amazed and blessed that God is providing all the needs and bringing people.
The phone is ringing, emails are coming in both from the hurting and for volunteers that want to get involved. Awesome!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....