Category Archives: Encouragment

Changed in the Closet

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2 Kings 4:33- He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord.

Are you hot or cold? I’ve been following the Lord for 20 years now. It seems like just yesterday I was being water baptized by my dad in a swimming pool, yet it also feels like it’s a million miles away in my memory. And through the years my relationship with the Lord has gone through many seasons and many valleys. I often found myself frustrated that I could be so on fire for the Lord in one season and grow icicles the next. Why do I sometimes feel so fickle in my faith? Is this normal? Do many of us experience a similar struggle and feel shame in admitting it?

It’s like when you’re a teenager and you go to youth camp. You come back with such a fire and fervency for the Lord. You just spent four days hearing message after message, singing song after song, praying and being prayed for. It’s a spiritual high. But then you come back- down from that mountain. And weeks turn into months and you find yourself yet again wandering in the wilderness. What happened? I’ve heard it called the roller coaster of faith. We go up and we go down. Can we ever just stay up? Or perhaps somewhere near the middle? I am going to admit something to you today…

the struggle is real.

I admittedly have my mountain top moments where I feel incredibly close to Jesus. These moments where every time I sing a worship song at church I feel as if I might explode, or where every time I read the scripture I am just in awe. But then there’s the quiet meadows of my faith, where I am wrestling, sometimes struggling. It’s in these meadows that I ask myself, “God, are you still there?” “God, do you still hear my prayers?” “Lord, I need to know you’re with me.” And it’s in the meadows of my faith that I find Him. We need the mountain top experiences just as much as we need the meadows.

Think about a strong marriage. Some of the strongest marriages I’ve admired will tell you this secret- they’ve had to fight for their marriage. It didn’t come easy and it only got harder when they stopped working on it and hit cruise control. These couples have fought, wrestled, and struggled together- but as they worked through their marriage they found a deeper intimacy; a new level of trust. That’s how it is in our walk with the Lord. On the other side of our struggle we find out He really is faithful. As we wrestle with our faith our intimacy in Him grows and we learn to trust Him even more.

My Secret. I could tell you my top five quiet time ideas, I could give you a list of Bible reading plans, or I could even give you a quiet time formula that might work for you. But honestly, there’s one thing, one place that I keep going back to after all of these years. And that is my closet. I know, you were hoping for something a little deeper, right? But my closet is where He reveals the deep things to me. My closet is where I sit in the quiet and in the dark and wrestle with God. When I come out, I’m changed. Literally. But doesn’t God hear us no matter where we pray? Of course. But there’s something about going in and closing the door behind you, where it’s just you and God. A place where there are no distractions and you line yourself up to listen once again to that still small voice.

He continues to draw me in. Through my 20-year journey of walking with God, I have lived in many different places and I’ve had many different prayer spots. And lately, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had the whole house to myself in the mornings. But I keep going back to my closet. He draws me in. Sometimes I read my Bible in there. Sometimes I listen to worship music on my IPhone. Most times I pray and cry out to Him. Sometimes I ask the Lord to speak to my heart and then just sit and wait. I’ve done the ugly cry where I confess that I am just desperate for more of Him and I don’t want to leave until He shows up. The closet is a place of changing more than your clothes. It’s not only a place where my outer man gets changed, but it’s also a place where my inner man is transformed and renewed.

The Secret Place. Matthew 6:6- But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Most of your most intimate moments will be done in secret. We tend to think that the most important parts of our lives are the parts that everyone sees- meetings, church events, social media stuff, sporting events, conferences, public ministry stuff, etc. But truly, the most important stuff happens when it’s just you and God. Everything in our life will flow from that.

Distractions are real. Now just entering your secret place isn’t going to be without a fight in itself. We all struggle with the distractions going on in our thoughts, things going on in our lives, or perhaps even our to-do lists. Sometimes I feel like I’m the queen of distractions! It takes discipline and not being so hard on yourself when you loose focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my prayer closet and my mind starts to wander, and I’m like, “Lord, I am so sorry… where were we?” “Help me to re-focus on you.” Here’s the thing- He already knows us and knows we are easily distracted. He understands us. Isn’t that cool? He gets us. He knows our hearts. He loves us, and even more than we want to spend time with Him, He wants to spend time with us. We are His and He loves us so much! We were created for intimacy with Him.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Truly, our reward for seeking Him in that secret place is intimacy with Him. (CLICK TO TWEET) There’s nothing better. That’s the reward for the struggle. He says in His Word that He will reward us. Our secret life is so important to God- He sees everything. Everything. And He loves us so much that it pleases Him to reward us. He knows it takes faith in Him to come to Him. Hebrews 11:6- And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Matthew 6:4 (NLT) Give your gifts in private (secret), and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 

Matthew 6:5 (NLT)- When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Matthew 6:18 (NLT)- Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private (secret). And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says this about being rewarded for what we do in secret, “When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.”

So today, I encourage you in your faith. Get away with Him and get changed!

Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not where you want to be in your walk with Him.

We all go through rivers and valleys. If it’s been a while since you’ve snuck away just to talk to God, today is good day. He loves you with an everlasting love. He is waiting with opens arms.

Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #livefreethursday

Be Your Best Brave- Mommy Edition

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Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. -C.S. Lewis

Last year I started speaking and writing about being brave. I can’t tell you how many women have come up to me and said, “I don’t feel brave.” And if that’s you, I want you to know you’re in good company. If I waited to feel brave before I did anything, can I just tell you, I wouldn’t do much! Brave isn’t a feeling, its just something you do.

I think of my beautiful sister in law who found out a year and a half ago that her husband had cancer- and she’s had to be brave ever since. It wasn’t anything she felt, it was just something she did and continues to do every day. Every time she had to leave her 2 year old for a week at a time, everyday when she’s had to dispense multiple pills and medicines and take her husband to doctor appointment after doctor appointment and therapy and Houston, all the while trying to be a mommy to a 2 year old (now 3 year old). That ladies is Brave.

Before I ever even knew about the Mops theme last year, the Lord began speaking to me on this topic of being brave, starting in Jan. 2014. He began birthing the theme brave into my own heart. The Lord started to change my view on what brave really is. I use to think brave was hiking across the country, mountain climbing, running a marathon, or perhaps fighting world hunger. All of these people in the magazines and on the news looked so brave (and they are). But as I prayed about this new season and the theme He was putting on my heart, I realized I was running into brave people everyday. And if they wore capes, they were invisible. And if they jumped out of tall mountains, they were mountains of laundry. And if they traveled, it was to the grocery store with toddlers. And if they were earning money to feed the hungry children, it was by clipping coupons to feed their hungry children.

I have some friends that are single moms, and let me just tell you- they don’t feel brave, they just know they have to be brave for their kids.

What does it look like for you, as moms of preschoolers to be brave in your everyday lives? Here are 6 characteristics of a brave mom-

1) Brave moms embrace their season. I used to hear all the time, “Enjoy them, this season of them being little only lasts a short time” and I remember thinking, “Then why does it feel so long?!” But now I look back and think about all the times I said, “I can’t wait until…they talk… they walk… they stop whining…” You get the picture. I had so many expectations and worried when things didn’t look like I thought they should look. So I say to you today, embrace your season- the messy, the crazy, the exhausting, and the tender. Because it’s all part of the plan!

2) Brave moms don’t compare. I am so tired of all the comparing that goes on. I look back on the years and realize I have wasted too much of my life comparing what I am doing compared to what someone else is doing. See, the Lord has called us to run our own race and run it well. But I fear we’ve gotten so caught up in what others are doing, we forget who we are and what’s best for our family. And we are critical of other women when they don’t do things like we do. “Oh, you give them formula… oh…” says the die hard breast feeder. “Oh, your child is in public school…. oh…” says the homeschool mamma. Seriously, I could go on all day here. The comparison game is never ending- Spanking vs non-spankers, working moms vs stay at home moms, Homeschool moms vs public school moms vs private school moms. All organic gluten free vegan mom vs… well, the rest of us. I wonder what it would do in our relationships and with our family members if we asked the Lord to help us in this area? To show us areas where we’re comparing ourselves and the way we raise our kids to what everyone else is doing and then ask the Lord to help us to stop comparing. God has a specific way He wants you to raise your kids that may be different from other families- and that’s okay. We gather wisdom, seek advice, read books, pray- and then lead and guide our family with what we feel is best. But just remember- don’t criticize other mamas. We’re all in this together.

3)  Brave moms realize their most important ministry is their family. When all of my kids were littles, at times I felt like the ‘adult’ world was passing me by and my brain was turning into mush. Friends were furthering their education, climbing the ladder at work, and doing things that looked so important. All the while my days all ran together, getting dressed up was a nice top with yoga pants, and fancy dinners were at Chick-fil-A. At times I felt like all those things I had dreamed about or wanted to work on were just not going to happen. As I look back I realize I was doing the greatest ministry ever known to woman- motherhood. I was home- nurturing, encouraging, training, teaching, disciplining, and refereeing…lol. The day in-day out stuff, the movie nights and the game nights, and the zoo days- that’s where it’s all at. These little things are the big things. When I look back I’m so thankful I had that time with them. And guess what? They are older now and still need me but in a different way, and now I can invest more time into some of those dreams. I think I thought I was going to be so old with no energy by the time we got here. So silly. Ladies, we create the temperature in our homes. We keep things together. Don’t resent your husband if they’re not organized enough or maybe they don’t do enough. I wasted so much time focused on what my husband didn’t do, that I couldn’t see all of the wonderful things he can do! We’ve been given the gift of doing these things around our home, staying on top of our activities, finding things. And our husbands need us to encourage them. Sometimes, if they feel like they can never do anything right, they stop trying. Don’t resent or despise your most important ministry, your family.

4) Brave moms get their strength from Him. Let’s face it, in this world you will have trouble. True story. And in our days, we have more than our share of meltdowns, breakdowns, and tantrums. And then there’s the kids… lol. As a mom, everyday has unexpected twists and turns. It can get so exhausting, feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the world. Brave moms find time, even if it’s only 3 minutes. While you’re changing that first early morning diaper, “Lord bless this day, I surrender to You. Give me strength and patience today.” Or perhaps when you are going pee, have some 4×6 index cards with your favorite scriptures on them right by the toilet. Gods Word is powerful and even just a few scriptures in the morning can give you strength and peace. Some great ones- 1 Chron. 16:11, Is. 41:10, Phil. 4:13, Ps. 18:32-34, Ex. 15:2, Duet. 31:6, Ps. 23:4. We need to pray for patience, peace and joy. Brave moms know we can’t do this thing on our own and in our own strength.

5) Brave moms say no. Brave moms say no so that we can say our best yes! Have you read Lysa TerKeurst’s book ‘The Best Yes‘? This book goes into more detail on this topic, but here are a few of my favorite quotes from her book. “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an overwhelmed soul.” She also says, “I know I’m caught in the rip current of people pleasing when I dread saying yes but I feel powerless to say no.” And finally, she says, “Saying yes all the time won’t make me wonder woman, it will make me a worn out woman.” Every single time you say yes to someone else, you’re saying no to your family. So make sure that your yeses are your best yeses! See, I might be good at a lot of things, but I can’t be doing everything. If I did everything I could do, I would be directing kids choir, working in kids church, volunteering in the nursery, speaking, writing, acting…. Do you see what I mean? There is a season for everything and we have to pray about every potential opportunity, because it will be a commitment. We need to pray for wisdom. Right now I have to do what I feel like Gods calling me to do. Don’t get me wrong- we need volunteers- in our churches, in our kids schools, at Mops. But if you’ve been doing it for years and you’re feeling burnt out and you stress out every time you have to get ready for that thing, and you stress your family out because of it, but you feel guilty asking to step down or for a break, well, maybe it’s time to take a break. We can’t do everything. We can all do our part, but we should never feel guilty for using the no word. We are the keepers of our family’s schedules and we must protect that time. They need us to. We went through a season about 2 years ago where we basically laid everything in our lives down. I began homeschooling and my husband stepped down from being the Children’s Pastor at our church. There were no school activities, no fundraisers, no sports, and no church requirements. It was quiet and weird. At first I wanted to immediately fill our schedule back up with things to do. We had been serving in Children’s Ministry for 15 years and for the first time in our marriage we had no ministry responsibilities. Like I said, it was just weird. And over the years, as we have slowly added back things into our lives, I’ve had many opportunity to say yes, but I make sure that they’re things that fall into line with what I feel like we’re supposed to be doing. And with each new opportunity I pray and I count the cost. And I’m okay with saying, “Thank you for thinking of me but I won’t be able to at this time.”

6) Brave moms trust that God will get them through. There are so many things out there that could really stress a mamma out. Amen?! Ebola, Isis, our kid’s schools, wars, diseases. And we all have our own mommy fears- Will my kid make friends, will my kids go to a good school, what if my kid gets bullied, what if my kid ever walked away from following God, what if my kid is the bully? You get the picture here. With all of our fears and all the depressing news out there, it’s enough to make you want to lock your kids in doors and throw out the TV! But brave moms look up. Brave moms realize that no matter what we might go through that God is in control and that God has the final say. Brave moms know that God loves our kids even more than we do. Let me just encourage you today- He sees everything. When our heart breaks, His heart breaks. He hears our prayers and I believe that He’s working everything out for the good for those who love him. Brave moms trust that even on our worst day with Him, it’s better than our best day without Him.

I encourage each of you to your own best brave. Whatever that looks like for you in this next season. Buy a Brave journal– Journal it; document it; and let God guide and direct you to being your best brave mommy. Amen!

 

What I Learned from Fear

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“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

I met a liar last year. Well, let me go back. I’ve known him for a while now. I used to let him have so much say in my life. He told me when I should and shouldn’t do something. If God was calling me to step out in faith, he usually told me all the risks and all the reasons why I shouldn’t. He made me think that I probably shouldn’t do that thing if it scared me. He let me know right away all the ‘what ifs’ to consider. He gave me a list- What if I failed? What if I messed up? What if I wasn’t good enough? What if people didn’t like what I said or wrote or did? The list he gave me made me second-guess myself and wonder if he was right. You might know this guy.

His name is fear.

Fear has issues. He has been robbing people of their dreams for as long as I can remember. He’s sneaky, subtle, and unfortunately, always popping his head in with his two cents. In the past, fear has said way too many things to me and unfortunately, he’s very convincing. He’s said things like:

  • You’re not good enough
  • There’s no way you can do that
  • You’re not smart enough
  • You’re not good looking enough
  • You are insecure
  • You will not have any money when you’re older to live on
  • You are not connected to your kids enough
  • You are not good at friendships
  • You are not good at hosting people
  • You’re not a strong enough writer

And usually, when I heard his voice, I retreated back into my shell and into doing what I’ve always done, because doing what I’ve always done is safer. Or is it?

About a month ago we went to an incredible getaway in Austin, Texas called Camp Tejas. All of Jon’s siblings and their families went and it was a very special time. Several of us had talked about doing the zip line. I didn’t think too much about it, but in my mind there was a struggle going on. I want to do it, but I’m afraid. I have this ridiculous fear of heights. Ridiculous. And standing in line was my husband, my brother and sister in law, my daughter, and my 12-year-old son. They wouldn’t have thought any less of me if I didn’t do it. But all year, the Lord had challenged me to be my best brave. I even published a Brave Journal! And I knew my kids were watching. I bought a ticket and got in line with them. They were all excited that I was going to do it. The line felt like forever, as I imagined the torture I was about to endure. “Be brave,” I continued to whisper to myself. And then we had to climb up a rickety, spiral wooden ladder, all the way up. By the time I made it to the top I was literally shaking. The four of us could all go at the same time- my husband, my son, my daughter, and me. They strapped us in our harness as I asked about 20 questions. “Has anyone ever thrown up?” “Has anyone ever fallen off?” “Have you had any injuries?” It was pitch dark, freezing cold, and the view from up top looked much higher than the view from below. I felt ill. Fear told me I couldn’t do it. He said, “What if you get hurt.” And then the countdown. One… two… and three! Hope and Jon went, no problem. Noah hesitated a moment and then just did it! And there I was, atop a massive wooden tower completely gripped by fear. I froze. I felt paralyzed. It almost felt like there was someone physically holding me back. Fear said, “This is way too scary, you can’t do this.” I kept telling the girl, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am so afraid. Why can’t I just jump?” “It’s the fear isn’t it?” To which she calmly but matter of factly said, “Yes, it’s the fear itself that’s holding you back.” On the ground my family was swinging around, still strapped in, just waiting for them to send me down. They kept doing these countdowns. I sat on the ledge because I couldn’t stand anymore. The girl sat right down next to me. She was sweet and encouraging and tried to talk me through it. She said if I wanted to, I could scoot off the ledge instead of jumping and the seat would just catch me. Finally I heard on their radios, “If she doesn’t go right now, you just need to have her walk back down.” I knew I had to do it- not just for my kids, but for me. I honestly felt like this was symbolic of things to come and I was going to need to learn how to kick fear in the face in the coming year. So finally the last countdown… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and… 1. And I did it! I scooted off the ledge as I screamed and shouted and screamed some more. Everyone was cheering for me and I think the men working below were just glad I stopped holding up the line. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

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I finally had to realize that FEAR IS A LIAR. (click to tweet)

He speaks lies and there is no truth in him. The more I realize this to be true, the more I have been able to KICK FEAR IN THE FACE.

How can you kick fear in the face? Every time you are afraid and do it anyway, you just kicked fear in the face. Every time you feel unqualified but know God is calling you to do something and so you do it anyway, you kick fear in the face. Every time you quote scripture over that thing that has a hold on you, you kick fear in the face.

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Every time I say yes to a speaking engagement, I kick fear in the face. Every time I do something that scares me a little, I kick fear in the face. Every time I’m compelled to run because that thing is so out of my comfort zone, but instead of running from it, I run to it, I kick fear in the face. Every time I stop thinking about it and just do it, I kick fear in the face.

I hope you learned this lesson too in 2014- that fear is a liar. Fear will paralyze us and stop us dead in our tracks. Fear will always tell us of the worst-case scenarios. But no matter what happens in 2015, just like when I jumped off that ledge and the seat caught me, Jesus is right here to catch you. Our walk with Him is a freefall into His arms of love and mercy and grace. He’ll catch you, I promise. May we live out 2015 with boldness, with bravery, and with courage. Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.

Do me a favor, get out there and kick fear in the face!!

 

 

 

What I Learned from My Running Group

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 1 Cor. 9:24 (NLT)- Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

I used to run when I was in High School. For me it was my therapy. When my parents would be fighting at home, I would take off, and run as fast as I could. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was fast. If you’ve ever seen the movie 4 Minute Mile (its on Netflix), I was that boy. He had a very rough home life and he would just run to clear his mind and push through the pain. In the movie his mentor, who was like a dad to him, told him, “You have to face that thing that scares you the most.” This is a must watch video clip from the movie! (Click here)  4 Minute Mile

For the first time in his life, this young man finally had someone who believed in him and called it out of him. I will never forget when I was in 9th grade and I had basically given up on pretty much everyone and everything. I was failing all of my classes, I would regularly cut school, and I didn’t feel like I was good at anything. I was in my PE class and they had us running. The Running Team was out there practicing. I remember as I was running by, overhearing the coach say to one of the runners, “she’s pretty fast, go run with her.” And this guy from the team ran with me and pushed me to push myself. The coach approached me afterwards and asked me to join their team. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but I will tell you what I do remember. I remember for the first time someone seeing something in me and calling that thing out.

I have been pretty consistent at one thing in my life, and that is running. There have been times in my life when my kids were little that I stopped all together running, but it’s in me, and I always find my way back to running. This past year I joined a running club, M2M. I will be quite honest with you, because, well, that’s all I know how to be is honest. When I moved here from Colorado I wanted to join a cycling group or a running group but I never felt good enough or fast enough. I was always worried I would slow the group down, because I ‘thought’ if you’re in a running group or club, well then, you must be really good and really fast. I always just felt like I was just regular and had to wait until I was really good to join. I have since discovered that this just wasn’t true at all! There are several really great running groups in the Valley and they are all for all levels! Over the year I have thought about this group and how we, as Christians and the church, could learn so much from a running group.

Why I love my running group:

1)  They motivate and encourage me to be my best. I love all the smiles and high fives and words of encouragement I get on a run.

2)  When I feel like giving up (stopping), others are there to push me to keep going.

3)  I am not alone.

4)  I am a part of a team.

5)  I didn’t have to look any certain way or be any certain shape or size to join the runners group. They seriously just love everyone. And everyone is invited!

6)  I am always being invited to events and activities to keep me plugged in.

7)  I can go to as many or as few running activities as I am able. But they never give me the cold shoulder or act awkward towards me if I haven’t been in a while. If I haven’t been in a while, they’re just happy to see me back.

8)  When I’m on a run and it gets hard, I’ve learned to push through it.

9)  We are like one big happy family.

10)  You don’t have to wait to join until you are super fast or super buff! We all are at different levels and we all learn from each other and grow together.

I’m not saying everyone is born to be a runner or you aren’t living unless you’re a runner. I’m simply taking the lessons I’ve learned from my own experience and running with it (you see what I did here?!).

Here’s my top 10 of what I learned from my running group:

The lessons (taken from above) that I learned from my running group make want to grow and become a better person.

(1) We should continue to motivate others to be their best and be all that God has called them to be. We should be giving high fives and celebrating others.

(2) We should be somebody’s cheerleader and when they feel like giving up, may we be the ones to encourage them to keep going.

(3) We should remind those around us that they are not alone.

(4) As Christians, we should spend less time this year focused on those things that separate us, and may we spend more time focused on what we do have in common! We are all on the same team here!

(5) We should love people just as they are! We shouldn’t care so much about if someone is like us or not, or their age, or how they dress, or their size. God loves all people and so should we!

(6) We should continue to go to events, bible studies, conferences, and retreats to stay not only plugged in to our church, but to grow in our walk with Jesus.

(7) We should welcome people if we haven’t seen them in a while instead of making them feel like they’ve been backsliding. We don’t know their circumstances. We don’t know if their kids have been sick, or they’ve been sick, or they’ve been out of town. They definitely aren’t going to want to come back if they’re feeling judged.

(8) One of the biggest life lessons through running and being in this running group is that my body can actually do way more than I ever give it credit for! Being a part of this group has shown me that. I’ve done so much more than I would ever do on my own. And it’s the same way in life- when life gets hard, you remember that you can do hard things and you learn to push through. You can actually do so much more than you give yourself credit for.

(9) I have a friend who doesn’t have any family here and their running group is their family here. It’s the same with the church. I’ve heard others refer to the people in their church as their church family. And we should resemble a family. We won’t always agree. But at the end of the day, we’re family and we’ll agree to respect each others opinions whether we agree or not. That’s what family does. And most importantly, that we’re there for each other. If anyone is hurting or has a need in our group, may we be the first to step up and see how we can help carry the burden.

(10) Some people feel like they have to be spiritual enough first before they can go to church. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! That’s what church is for- to grow together and to learn from each other. None of us have arrived and we won’t arrive until our life is done and we meet Jesus face to face! We are all on a spiritual journey and we’re all in a different place in our walk. This is how it should be. Don’t wait to come to church… just come!

Whether you are a runner or a jumper or a dancer or a Zumba master, or a cyclist, or a jujitsu person, or a speaker or a writer or a mamma or _____________ (you fill in the blank here)- may we all take these lessons, and figuratively speaking, run our race to be all that God has called us to be!

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Digging in & Dreaming in 2015

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Goals and Dreams

Lamentations 3:23- Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I’m all about having a fresh start. I like re-do’s, 2nd chances, and do-overs. I, like many of you, had a list (whether a mental list or perhaps something more concrete, like a written list). And at the end of 2013 we began to rev up our engines with anticipation of what 2014 might look like. We imagined more weight loss, less distractions, more living with intention, perhaps people before projects. And it came. And it went. Like a flash in the night, 2014 is all but about done. And many of us reached those goals and took steps closer to our dreams. And there was beauty in the discipline. And some of us look in the mirror and aren’t comfortable with what’s reflected back. We’re hard on ourselves as to where we should be by now. And some of us look into the reflection of our hearts and realize that many (most or all) of our spiritual goals never got met. We look at our blank journal, our pile of books we wanted to read, and the guilt of unfinished business haunts us. “I should’ve done more,” we say. “I should’ve worked harder” or done this or done that or said this or said that. And we actually are repulsed by the three words ‘New Years Resolution.” We hear the critical voice creeping in saying ‘I don’t care.’

I had some goals and dreams this year. And I had some come to pass and it felt incredible. And then I had some other things I had hoped to accomplish that I was just not able to do in 2014.

Guess what happens on January 1st, 2015? We get a re-do. We get a do-over; a fresh start. Instead of the carrying the regrets over from 2014 into 2015, let’s make peace with that fact that we are human and not perfect! I love goals and dreams because they give us something to look forward to and to work towards. Some people are afraid to dream because when you step out and dream you risk the chance of getting hurt. It’s true, you might have unmet expectations or something that happens on the way to your dream that might be hurtful. And I assure you, there will be many great things that happen on your way too. We have become a society that is so focused on self-preservation and protecting ourselves and not getting hurt that at the same time we think we’ve protected ourselves from pain, we’ve also protected ourselves from the feeling of intense joy and satisfaction through hard work and perseverance. It is my hope that we can leave 2014 with not only some good memories in our heart, but that we can echo the song from Frozen and let it go. We can’t change the things we wished we had said or done. We have held ourselves captive long enough on our guilt trip. And it is a long and lonely road. Like Taylor Swift says, it’s time to shake it off.  Forgive others and forgive yourself and begin to dream again for 2015.

My Word(s)

So as I was praying almost 2 weeks ago the Lord gave me this and has since confirmed it. My words are ‘Digging In and Dreaming in 2015’. Digging in- I used to study (dig) the Word all the time. I have my concordance, my Bible study tools, systematic theology, and a few other study favorites. I could sit for hours and chew on just a few scriptures at a time. And as I reflect on this past year, I realize that I haven’t made that a habit. And the Lord is calling me back to that place of not just reading His word, but making time each week to study for myself the Bible (digging in). Dreaming- I have dreams, I do. And I use to shy away from saying that because I thought it sounded boastful or proud. It almost felt selfish. But I am convinced more than ever that these things in my heart are not from me, they’re from Him. And that these gifts are not just for me, but God will use them to bless the body of Christ. We each have a part to play. He has given each of us gifts, talents, and abilities to bless and further the kingdom of God. And who gets the glory when we commit something to Him and it comes to pass? To God be all the glory. I know that all that is good within me is from Him and without Him I can do nothing. The enemy would love for you to remain stagnant and comfortable, remember that. I spoke at a retreat in October and talked about dreams. It’s amazing to me how many women are just waiting to hear that it’s okay to dream. YES, it’s okay to dream and have goals and take baby steps towards that thing that God has placed in your heart. And we will fall, we will misstep, and we will make mistakes. He can handle our mistakes, dust us off and help us get back up. And we are never too lost for Him to help us find our way back.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. I am so blessed by everyone who reads and follows my blog. I surrender it all to Him- to God be all the glory!! He’s doing a new thing in 2015. Make time to quiet your heart before Him. See what He’s stirring in you or preparing you for. (And please, from one journal gal to another, write it down!!)

My New Years prayer for you:

Lord, I pray for each person reading this. Praying that they would forgive quickly and often. That You would give them a fresh start, a re-do and a do-over. I ask Lord that as they take some time to seek You, that you would give them a word (or words) for the New Year. Release the heavy burdens that they’ve been carrying from 2014 and remind them that whatever happens in 2015, that You are with them and that they are never alone. Above all, may their time with you be sweet. Refresh and renew in 2015. We surrender 2014 to you. Not our will but Your will be done.

Isaiah 43:19- For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

 Here’s to digging and dreaming in 2015!!

Your Words Matter

Mother talking to teenaged girl

 “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

 It was a warm fall day. My boys and I participated in a run at the local college. We waited until the end to hear the awards given. My boys, especially my oldest wanted to win 3rd place in his age bracket. He’s in cross-country and he’s been training. He sprinted hard at the end and passed up two other people. I let him know that trophy or no trophy, I was so proud of him for running his own best race. I told both of my boys that. Is it fun to win a trophy? Sure! Why not?! But we don’t run to just win a trophy- we run to push our bodies, to prove we can do more than we give ourselves credit for, and to better ourselves. We make our own personal goals and try to achieve them. And always be proud that you’ve tried! So, no trophies on this morning for my boys, but they had their finisher medal and I reminded them of how proud I was of them for doing their best.

As we crossed the street, what I heard next from a mom to her son broke my heart. “Mom, where’s my trophy?” The young boy was maybe ten. She looked upset. She said, “You didn’t run fast enough. You have to run faster.” With bitterness in her every word and disappointment in her voice, I watched this young man put his head down, completely deflated. I could almost imagine the record going on in his little brain… “You’re not enough… you’re not good enough… you’re not fast enough… if only you were fast enough, then your mom would be proud of you.” And a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach arose. I felt like I was going to explode. As calmly as I was able, I said to the boy, “Hey, you should be proud of yourself, you woke up and ran a race when a lot of the boys your age are still sleeping, so way to go!” And the mom just tried to smile, while probably feeling slightly embarrassed, realizing I overheard her conversation with her son.

I got in the van and wanted to cry. If only she had seen his face and realized the power in her words. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this because of my own memory of words that hurt and discouraged. I was in 9th grade. I was never in any sport, never encouraged to try any sport, and didn’t really have the support at home (financially or physically) to join a sport. I was a troubled teen with a very dysfunctional home life. I don’t remember having a desire to even try a sport. Because of never trying any type of sport, I never got to see my potential. I never got to see what I could really do.

It was just another day in 9th grade, and they made us run for P.E. The running team was also out that day practicing on the field. As I ran by I overheard the coach of the team say to one of the runners, “Go run with her.” Honestly, I don’t remember his exact words, only the runner from the team running beside me, pushing me and encouraging me to go faster. And I did. The coach recognized something in me no one had ever noticed. I could run and I had potential. He asked me to join the running team. No one had ever asked me to join a team before. I remember feeling so proud and excited. “Wow, me, a part of a team?” “He thinks I’m fast.” I remember training with the team. I did long distance. I remember the joy I felt running and how good it felt to be a part of something; to be wanted. It was getting close to competition time. I had some old tennis shoes. I never had to buy anything for a team or a sport. The coach wanted us to all have a pair of good running shoes. I went home that evening and let my mom know we would need to buy a good pair of running shoes. “Why do you need that?” “You’ll probably never finish.” And deflated I walked away, the record played in my head, “You’re right mom, I’ll probably never finish.” The next day was picture day for the team. I didn’t go, so the coach sent someone to look for me. I told him my mom said my grades weren’t good enough, so I couldn’t be on the team. (In truth my grades were terrible, practically failing everything, but this wasn’t the reason I stopped running with the team). And that was it. The quickest sport I ever played growing up, in the matter of a few minutes and a few words… over.

I share this story because I have seen words destroy families, I have seen words crush dreams, I have seen words break hearts, and I have seen words completely shatter self-esteem. It’s taken a lifetime of God’s Word over me to counteract the sharp words spoken over me as a child. And I wonder if we realize the power we have with our words? I wonder if we realize the power we have to lift up or tear down? In Proverbs 3:27 the Bible says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” When is it in our power to help & encourage someone? How about every time we open our mouth?

Proverbs 18:21- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Ephesians 4:21– Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Proverbs 12:18– There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Matthew 12:36- I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.

As parents, we have the power to bring life or death in the hearts of our children by the words we say. I want my kids to know that no matter what, I am proud of them and that I will support them in trying new things. We are the little voice in their head. When they are older, they’ll hear a record playing from their years of growing up. First and foremost, I pray they’ll have God’s Word in their head (and hearts). And secondly, they’ll have ours. I pray that the words they hear are positive, encouraging, uplifting, truth in love, and that they’ll know that no matter what, we love them, even if they mess up, and that there’s room for failure here. And that when times get tough, they hear the record playing in their head, “You’ve got this… you were made for this… you can do this…we believe in you…greater is He that is in you… you are loved no matter what….”

Lord, help us to never be stingy with words that can build someone up. Help us to freely hand out encouragement to others whenever it is within our power. As we read Your Words, help our words to others flow freely, bringing life- with our spouse, with our kids, with our friends and family members. Help us to take any opportunity to celebrate others and speak into their lives. Lord, forgive for times when we’ve withheld our encouraging words for others because of our own insecurities. Today is a new day. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Here’s a great video to bring home my point by Toby Mac, Speak Life

When the World Goes Crazy

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When the world goes crazy
There is still beauty all around
When the world goes crazy
There is still love to be found
When the world goes crazy
Through the dark I see the light
When the world goes crazy
I can always find You in my night
When the world goes crazy
It’s my raging heart you calm
When the world goes crazy
You sing to me Your Psalms
When the world goes crazy
My hand you hold and won’t let go
When the world goes crazy
I know You’re near to crush every foe

When the world goes crazy
And it all just breaks your heart
Pain and sickness, sorrow too
Every taste is tart
When the world goes crazy
And exhaustion fills your soul
Look to the One who made you
Who is still in control

Look up He says- your heart is safe
The safest place to be
When the world goes crazy
His heart is always home to me

 

Mommy Fears

mommy fears

Always do what you are afraid to do ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mommy Fears. We all have them. I wish I could put on some mommy armor that would render these fears ineffective. But they’re real- and they affect me. Most people I meet have something that scares them or there’s something holding them back from being all that God has created them to be. The older I get, the more I realize how much these fears affect everything I do. Fears paralyze you from moving or taking action. Fears make you think you are safe by not acting on what you, deep down, know you should do. One of the enemy’s greatest lies is to make us believe that these fears are truths in our lives. One of my biggest mommy fears was talking to my kids about sex and everything else that goes along with that topic. I’ve had a few victories in this area. I read my daughter a book once (Gods Design for Sex by Stan & Brenna Jones). I bought her the Body Book by Nancy Rue and we went over that when she was around 11. Now she’s 14- I just knew we needed to have a much bigger talk so that we could be comfortable and keep the dialogue open of dating, purity, waiting, etc. Years. It’s been a fear for years. The enemy had me believing I couldn’t go there. I didn’t have any of these talks with my mom growing up and so the enemy told me that somehow I was ill equipped and not enough…What happens when you have a fear and instead of stepping out and doing it anyways, you think about it and think about it and then think about it some more? Our fears become much bigger than the item at hand really is. In our minds, it becomes overwhelming.

Lie– I just don’t know how, so I won’t. I am not equipped and not enough.

 Truth– With every victory, the enemy’s voice grows weaker and weaker.

 My friend let me borrow her Passport2Purity CDs from Focus on the Family. I had them for a few months and put it off like the plague. My friend let me know that she would be moving soon to another state and I knew I needed to return her CDs to her.

So I took the first step. I found an inexpensive room close by (South Padre Island, TX.). Once the wheels were in motion, I knew I had to follow through. Before reading anything or listening to the CDs, I let my daughter know about my fun plans I had for us. Unfortunately, because of my own awkwardness around the topic, my words failed me. “We’re going to have a night away at the Island and I have some curriculum we’re going to go over.” (Don’t ever say that to your teenager). Insert crickets chirping here. “Um…okay… curriculum?” If there were ever a rewind button in life, this is about where I would have pushed it! As I sat there driving with my daughter in the back seat, I tried to redeem my social awkwardness. And the next week we went. I was prayed up and had friends praying for me- that I would be able to relax and not make it too awkward. And what a wonderful couple of days it was! We ate out, swam, drove go-carts, played all of the CD’s and talked after each one while she filled out her journal. I honestly could feel God’s peace over that time together. I know He was with me and blessed our time immensely.

And guess what? It wasn’t as big of a deal as I had set it up to be in my mind for… years. A huge burden was lifted because I silenced the enemy by doing it afraid. As his voice got weaker and weaker, God’s voice got louder and louder.

Do what you fear and fear disappears. ~ David Joseph Schwartz

Recently I read something, and realize it to be true more than ever….

celestepost

Do you believe that?

I’ll let you in on a little secret about my relationship with the phone. I do not like talking on the phone. I have to tell you- for someone who has friends across the US and family far off, this probably makes them think I’m pretty self-absorbed. I’m usually not the one who calls. And I’m not proud of this. In the past, I’ve been so consumed by this that I would rehearse in my mind why I don’t talk on the phone. It would go something like this: I’ve got however many family members to catch up with. Which ones to call first? And mentally I’m preparing because it’s been so long since we’ve last talked, I know I’ll need to update my life from the beginning. It’s the same thing with my friends. Which one to call first? And I will have to update everything I have been up to since the last time we talked. And by this time I’m so emotionally exhausted, guess what? I don’t even make the call. Sad. I know. I realize I am running from something and every single time I choose to just pick up the phone and make the call, I am a little freer. Marilyn Ferguson says, “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side if every fear is freedom.” It really wasn’t as hard as I thought. And I am actually refreshed by talking to someone I care about! And I realize once again…

Everything I’m running away from is in my head.

I have self-preservation issues too. Sometimes I under commit because I don’t want to wear myself out and be too tired. I want to preserve myself… but for what? It’s like a fear of being worn out or tired. So I try to stay in my safe little bubble and in my controlled little world. And I miss out on so many opportunities to be a part of something bigger than myself. I know that truly living and honest, authentic community is found in the deep and sometimes craziness of life.

Everything I’m running away from is in my head.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we looked our fears in the face and did it anyway? The talk, helping out, reaching out, inviting others over, being the first to call, changing things up with our kids when we get in a rut, sharing a struggle with a close friend, inviting that neighbor over for coffee, teaching that Bible Study, mentoring that young girl, asking your kids the hard questions, running that 5k, letting go of trying to control everything, or whatever else has a hold on you and gives you anxiety just thinking about it!

About two years ago we were going through transition and my husband asked me to pray about homeschooling our three kids and I laughed. “You’re a funny man,” I said. It was on a list I made to God called my “I Will Never” list. And for all of my children’s lives I said, “I will never homeschool.” (I can be stubborn at times when I’m afraid of something.) I was terrified to homeschool. This brought my mommy fears to a whole new level! Not only do I not remember much about school but what I do remember was not all that great! And I am supposed to teach my kids? But as I prayed, I felt Gods peace. And even though I had certain fears, like, what if I mess them up, what if I don’t teach them what they need to know, what if I’m not disciplined enough, etc., I can tell you right now that in those areas where anxiety was high, God was faithful and He was and is more than enough. Was it the right move for our family? Absolutely. God was asking me to trust Him and do it in spite of my fears. My part in it was to be obedient. Here it is, the end of another school year, and guess what?

Everything I’m running away from is in my head.

This post is not about health issues, or difficulties, or things or events that have happened or are happening that you’re struggling to walk through. I’m specifically speaking about things that we know we should do, but because of our fears or anxieties, we run from those things.

I believe it was Joyce Meyer that coined the phrase, “Do it afraid.” Well I have come up with my own that fits my season perfectly… Do it awkward! I need stop trying to figure everything out and just do it awkward! Every time I wait until it’s perfectly figured out in my head, I usually wait too long and never actually do what I should have done! Don’t just do it afraid, but if you have to, do it awkward. The key here is to just do it. That is what makes you brave. Listen to the Urban Dictionary’s definition of brave: To be able to look at your biggest fear and face it in the eye.

To fight fear, act. To increase fear- wait, put off, postpone. ~ David Joseph Schwartz

So what about you? Have I touched on anything that you can relate to? Think about some fears/anxieties that hold you back from fully living. Write them down and ask God to give you the strength and courage to do them anyways… He will.

Romans 8:31 (NIV) ~ What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

1 John 4:4 (NLT) ~ But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

 (This post originally appeared on The Mom Initiative)

He Will Lead You Through

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Are there moments when you feel like the waves are going to come crushing in against you? Like your angst filled heart just might burst? And you feel like your enemies are getting closer and closer… and this just might do you in… but God.

My two favorite words in the Bible… but God.

Need a story of hope in the midst of despair? Read Exodus 14:15-31. This is the story of Moses leading the Israelites through the wilderness. The word through means they won’t be there forever. Some of you are going through your own wilderness. And it feels like it’s taking so long to get to the other side. See what the Lord did then and just watch what He’ll do now.

The Lord will open up a path for you (v.21), He’ll confuse your enemies (v. 24), and everyone will know exactly what is happening- the Lord is fighting for you (v.25). And you will escape your enemies and make it safely to the other side (v.22). But know that your story is not just for you. It’s so that the people will see the mighty hand of the Lord and put their faith in Him (v.31).

Lord, we come before You, asking You to make a way when there seems to be no way. Thank You for Your Word, which is life and brings hope and healing. I know You are fighting for me, even when it’s quiet. Thank You that You’re bringing me through safely to the other side. Help me to walk through this, knowing that there’s not only something in it for me, but that you will use my story to ultimately bring You glory. Others will look and see Your mighty hand. I trust You. In Jesus name, amen.

Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)- When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

Authentic Faith 2014

2014-2

Happy New Year!! Okay, so I know most people post their new years blog on the 1st, but I like to be different! I had been praying at the end of the year for my ‘word’ for the coming year. I know surrender is one of my words, but I knew there was something else. Then as my husband and I were driving on New Years Eve to my brother/sister in laws house I got it. Authentic Faith.

A life following after Jesus is not perfect. It’s actually quite messy. We mess up, we make mistakes, we loose our temper, and we can become easily distracted. But His mercies are new for us every morning! We have financial stresses just like everybody else. The difference between us and those who don’t know Jesus yet is that we have a Savior who walks beside us and gives us wisdom and teaches us self-control. Our families go through sickness just like other families, we just happen to serve a powerful God who can heal us if He so chooses- but He is also ever present, walking with us during our sickness. He is always with us.

In the past, women, especially those in ministry, have worked hard to maintain an image that if you follow Jesus, well, then everything is perfect. Perfect home, perfect image, perfect kids, perfect life- problem is, that image couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see, that image not only leaves us frustrated and disappointed, but also feeling like we can’t measure up. We can’t live up to the image of the perfect Christian that we’ve tried so hard to maintain. And for others watching our lives, they feel like they must be doing something wrong and they feel like failures as a Christian. They see our Facebook life and ‘think’ we have it all together. Truth is, most of the time, we just really enjoy sharing our victories with others or our favorite photos. That doesn’t mean life doesn’t carry its share of trials.

Make no mistake about it, we do not have it all together, for I fear if we did we would not need Jesus so desperately. We all have our issues. We have messes all around us- kids that throw tantrums, kids that have entitlement issues, days when our marriages are less than perfect, fears about if we’re even doing this parenting thing right, hoping we’re not messing up our kids. Some of you reading this have even cried yourself to sleep recently because, as I said before, life is messy.

We are entering a new year. I believe this is a year of authentic faith. What is authentic faith? It’s a faith that is real, transparent, lived out in front of believers and non-believers alike. Many of us have had disappointments from the previous year. If you’re breathing and you have a pulse (and I hope you do), I am sure there have been a few. And when I say authentic faith, I’m not saying to go around telling anyone available all of your deepest life problems. As Christians, we are to pray for wisdom. And God will guide and direct us to other solid Christians we can share our struggles with. But authentic is real. Its ‘welcome to my beautiful messy life’.

Living a life of authentic faith points us, all of us, to something that the world is desperately trying to find- hope. The opposite of despair is hope. And as a follower and friend of Jesus, we can have hope. Hope in God that He will restore and make all things new. We have hope in a Savior that has promised to walk with us no matter what we go through. He is near to the brokenhearted. No matter what the enemy tries to throw at us, my God has the final say and the last Word! And on the other side of this mountain He will take us to a place where there’s no more tears, no more pain, and no more suffering. I pray that by living a life of authentic faith, I just might be able to take a few people with me. Not fake, but real. Real is refreshing. There is freedom in our stories, and our stories make up who we are. People can relate to that much more than us having it all together.

The number one enemy of authentic faith is fear of man. What will people think? What if I write something that people criticize? What if I share my struggles and people don’t think I have enough faith? What if… what if… what if. There will always be more than enough ‘what-ifs”. Here’s a couple of scriptures to help you with being worried about what people think (fear of man)-

Acts 5:29 I am a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. I obey God before man.

1 Cor. 4:3-4 I am not controlled by what people think of me. As long as God is satisfied with me I am satisfied.

Gal. 1:10- I don’t try to be popular with people. All I want to do is the will of God.

I don’t want to tip-toe around, always worried about what others think. I want to use my gifts, talents, and abilities to live for the Lord. If that means writing something that doesn’t get very many comments, then I will write for the sake of the gift and craft God has given me. Life isn’t a popularity contest, although I will admit, it feels like it at times. Being authentic is truly honoring the person that God has made you to be. The good , the bad, and the ugly. It means that we stop comparing ourselves with how everyone else is doing it, and we do things the way we feel like God has called us to do things- for us, for our families, for our friends, and for our lives. Authentic; real; transparent; refreshing.

So who’s with me in this New Year of 2014?! Together we truly can be a light to a dark place. Let’s show others that though we don’t have it all together, we know Someone who does!

Lord, Help me to walk out my faith in this coming year. Messy houses, messy kids, messy cars, messy lives- but You Lord can turn a mess into a masterpiece! It is my hearts desire to put You first in this new year and I know that everything else in my life will flow from that. I am so over trying to act like I have it all together, because that’s not real. But what’s real is that You’ve promised to carry me through all that I go through. And You can even surprise me with joy when I least expect it. I pray that as I encounter obstacles, challenges, and even heartaches in this new year, that I would face those obstacles standing on Your Word, spending time in Your presence, and just seeking You. Let Your Word be a light to my path in the coming new year.

In Jesus name, amen!

 John 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

Don’t Loose Heart

Don't loose HeartJohn 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Todays Additional Scripture Reading- 2 Cor. 4:6-12 and 2 Cor. 4:16-18

Life is messy. Life is sticky. Life can be painful. As Glennon Doyle Melton says it in her book ‘Carry on Warrior’ life is brutal and beautiful. It’s brutiful! In John 16:33 the Bible tells us that in this world we will have trouble, but it also commands us to take heart (don’t loose hope) for God has overcome the world!

Sometimes, when we face trials and hard things, it’s easy to loose hope. We get tired and weary from this race called life. As women, it feels like there is so much expected of us. We will face trials, that’s just a given. But it’s important for us to remember that God controls trials and uses them to strengthen His people. His glory is manifested through broken vessels, through people who endure hard times by relying on His power.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed. There’s so much we go through and we get to breaking points- but God doesn’t break us. And it’s during those hard times that we can cry out to Him and feel His presence and know that He’s with us. It’s during these hard times and trials that we realize how much we really are fragile jars of clay. We aren’t perfect and in this life our bodies will never be perfect, but He’s there every step of the way, making sure we’re not abandoned, not struck down, and not destroyed. He chooses to use us to bring Him glory here on the earth to show that it’s His power shining through us and nothing we can do in our own strength.

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 always carrying in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also might be manifested in our mortal flesh. These hard times that we go through in life feel like part of us is dying yet God is using it to reveal His life. For His glory, He’s using it to produce good in you.

As we come through these tough times were able to understand and appreciate all that God has done for us and share with others all that He’s done. His life and His power are revealed in our humanity.

Reflect~

What is something you feel like God is asking you to die to so that He can prepare you for the next thing He has for you?

Do you trust that God has good plans for you?

All of our trials can bring Him glory if we allow them to. How does that perspective help us to change our approach to our problems and difficulties in this life? (We can pray things like “Have Your way Lord”, “Change me Lord”, “Let my life bring you glory”, etc.)

Lord, as we navigate through this life, there is so much uncertainty. But there is one thing that we can be sure of, and that is that no matter what we go through, You are here with us. You have promised in Your Word to never leave us and to never forsake us. Thank You that Your plans for us are good, to give us hope and a future (Jer. 2911). Thank You that these trials are temporary and they are nothing compared to the eternal glory that is beyond anything we can imagine. Help us to die self and to live for You. You are preparing us for the next thing. Have your way Lord. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that shines through these earthly vessels to bring You all the glory. In Jesus name, amen.

 

 

 

 

Lessons at the Potter’s House

Pooter's Wheel

Isaiah 64:8- Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Todays Additional Reading- Jeremiah 18:1-6

2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us that we are fragile clay jars that contain great treasure. God is the Great Potter who has made and formed us. The great treasure in us is Him. We can learn a lot about God as the Potter and His purposes for us as fragile jars.

The Bible says in Romans 9:19b-21, “For who resists Gods will? But who are you O man to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”
The clay is still made today the way it was back in the days of old. There is still the potter, the clay, and the wheel. The potter uses the foot pedal (treadle) to make the wheel turn and control its speeds. He fashions the clay by his own hands. In Jeremiah 18 the Lord tells Jeremiah to go down to the Potters house and he will speak to him there. So he went to the potter’s house and he saw the potter working at his wheel. Jeremiah saw the clay being shaped and molded into a vessel. As Jeremiah observed, he learned some valuable lessons that day.

Lesson #1– God is the Potter and we are the clay, being made into a vessel for His purposes.
Lesson #2- If there were any imperfections in the clay, the potter would crush the clay down into a lump and begin again making it into a vessel. How many times has the Lord seen things in me that were not so pretty and had to crush me down and start over again? But what I love about this is that the Potter doesn’t just throw out the clay and get some new clay. He just starts all over again with the same clay! When you feel the pressure of the Potters hand (and trust me, in this world you will feel pressure) do not resist it, but accept it. Then we can be a vessel shinning for His honor and His purposes.
Lesson #3- Jeremiah realized it was love behind the potter’s pressures. When the vessel was marred (blemished by injury; rough) the potter was capable of crushing it down, bringing it to nothing but a lump, and then molding it, shaping it again, and perhaps again and again and again- until at last, it fulfilled what God wanted.

Look at the Potter very closely, as He is at work in your life. You will see His hands and His feet that bear the nail prints, and that it is through His blood, of the Potter Himself, that the vessel is being shaped into what He wants it to be.

What amazing lessons Jeremiah learned that day at the potter’s house. Remember, He has a purpose for you, and He will give you what you need to fulfill that purpose- No matter how many times He may have to start over again. It is His love for you that makes Him spend so much time working on you, His vessel.

Reflect~

What are some pressures you’ve been feeling lately?

Does having this perspective of the potter making you into a beautiful vessel help you to realize that sometimes it’s Him at work in your life molding you to be a vessel of honor for Him?

Lord, I ask that you would continue to mold me and shape me and make me into who You’ve called me to be. Thank you for reminding me that you’re always at work in my life, even when I don’t feel it. Thank You that your motives towards me are guided by love. You have called me to be a jar of clay for you, letting my light shine so that others would see my life and give you glory! Amen

 

 

The Most High Is Thinking About Me Right Now

dreaming and happy

Psalms 40:17~ As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.

I was feeling left out. I know they didn’t mean to hurt my feelings by not inviting me, but nonetheless, I was hurt. I saw the pictures of the fun night appear online. Maybe they just forgot. I can’t stay hurt about something that was unintentional. So I did what I always do, I took my disappointments to the Lord.

As I poured out my heart, and searched His Word for answers, peace began to pour over me. I read this scripture from Psalms 40:17- As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. I cannot even begin to tell you how powerful a word is in due season. I realized that no matter what disappointments I faced, that He is always, continuously thinking about me. I am always on His mind- always. And that to me is more important than what I am (or am not) invited to. Others might not always be thinking of me, but the God of this world is. And because of this revelation, I am able to let go of offenses and know that I am more than enough. He has made me exactly who He has called me to be- regardless of what others think.

Oh, how humbled I am to know that You, Lord are always thinking of me. I am always on your mind. Help me to let go of offenses, to not be easily offended, and to not put such high expectations on others. Help me to be free in knowing how loved I am by you, at all times.  Thank you that I am always on your mind. Amen.

Will You Show Up Today?

Photo with permission by CNunezIMAGES

Photo with permission by CNunezIMAGES

God can do more with a life that shows up than one that gives all the reasons why we can’t.

This life- this crazy adventure of ups and downs and highs and lows. But don’t ever give up. It’s worth the fight. Like Author Glennon Melton says, “show up.” Don’t allow apathy to win, you mustn’t. I have seen people who have allowed themselves to become numb. They threw in the towel a long time ago. Maybe you know someone like this?  They stopped fighting and unfortunately have become only a shell of what they were meant to be. Yes, they gave their hearts to Jesus and will live forever in eternity. But what about today? Tomorrow? And the next? What about those around us that we were called to infect?

I’m actually thankful for this friction, this tension. It means I’m alive and life is worth fighting for. It means I’m still in the ring. And I’m not going to run or hide, because I care. And to quote Glennon Melton, “This life is brutal at times and beautiful at times, which makes it a brutiful life.” I want to show up today & surrender today to God.
Maybe you’re like me, and you feel like at times you’ve lived on the couch/sidelines for too long. But we’re still here. Some are standing, some are sitting, some are crawling, and yes, some have fallen asleep. But there’s something in us that makes us uncomfortable (thank you Holy Spirit). It makes us want to be intentional with our kids instead of days of video games and cartoons- even if we’re not sure how. It makes us want to use our words to edify our husbands- even if our default has been to point out weaknesses. This turning inside of us makes us want to grow closer to God- even if we’re not sure exactly where to start.
You always hear that life is short, but when your young it feels as if we have forever. Then when you’re like me and about to turn 40, you realize you’re pretty close to your half-way mark in the race.
Warriors for the kingdom- newsflash: we’re still here. And we’re not going out without a fight. Because we care. Because we know that God has more. We realize a life fully surrendered to Him, even though it’s messy, is better any day than a life of always trying to control all our junk ourselves and numbing ourselves thinking this is just the way it is. We quietly and unknowingly go through the motions of life- because its easy to do.
I challenge you today, show up. Whatever it looks like. We might accidentally offend someone, or say something we didn’t mean to say. Others might hurt our feelings by something they say. I know. But what if we just showed up anyways? We don’t have to say what we think we should say, or act the way we think others want us to act. We’ve got to show up to today, in all its imperfections, in all its messiness, and when God takes roll call today and calls your name, you can say, “Here, I’m here God.”

Just
Show
Up.

Here’s a great Ted Talk by Glennon Melton

Be encouraged and Enjoy the Journey!

If You Want To

jesus reaching out 2

Luke 5:12-13

In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he fell to the ground, face down in the dust, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you want to, you can make me well again.” Jesus reached out and touched the man. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

I believe Jesus looks at us today with those same eyes of compassion, when we’ve fallen to the ground, face in dirt, and beg, “Lord, if you want to, you can…”

 

Make this your prayer today.

Lord, if you want to, you can restore that relationship.

Lord, if you want to, you can completely heal my broken heart.

Lord, if you want to, you can restore my marriage.

Lord, if you want to, you can heal my child.

Lord, if you want to, you can make me whole again.

Lord, if you want to, you can deliver me from this addiction.

Lord, if you want to, you can ____________________.

 

And the Lord looks down on you today, eyes brimming over with compassion for his bride, he reaches out to touch you (because he is an intimate God and well acquainted with you) and He says, I want to, be healed.

 

And instantly it disappeared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are a Gift!

 

gift

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

 

You are a gift; a treasure really. Have you ever thought of yourself in those terms? Most would quickly dismiss calling themselves this in thoughts of seeming prideful or haughty. Me, a gift? Surely not. Oh, but others, they are gifts; gifts to this world with their time and presence. But me? Truth is, others might look at you and see you as a gift and you would have to either reject their theory in order to stay humble or you could accept this as fact and as God given.

This subject has been floating around in my brain all month and at last, it must come out. When I missed going to church or missed some event, and someone approached me later to let me know that they had missed seeing me, I would secretly think they were saying. “oh, what happened to you?” Translate- Are you backsliding? Everybody else came, why couldn’t you? My glasses had more of a self-conscious filter on them.

But I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany on this. I had to put it in the context of other people, before I put it on myself. If there was a church or family event, and I let someone know (that didn’t make it) that they were missed, what am I really saying to them? For me, I’m really saying that they are special and when they’re not around, that it is noticed, and that truly, they are missed. No judgment on why they had to miss, but just the simple truth that their missing presence was known.

Here’s the deal- you, yes, you reading this, ARE A GIFT. And when you are not around, there is something about you that someone will miss. People might not always say it, so don’t keep a journal to find out how many people have said they missed you in the past month. The very being of who you are is so completely different than anyone else, God fashioned and formed, that no one will ever be able to replace you.

When I first moved here I went through a funk. Has anyone ever experienced that? The feeling where you can’t even really explain it, but you’re just not in a good place and the only way to describe it is that you’re in a funk. That was me. And the more isolated I became, the deeper the funk. I actually said these things in my head. “It doesn’t matter if I go or not, it’s not like I know anyone.” “It’s just one event, no one will notice if I go.” How many of you know that the enemy loves to isolate people? Because when he can isolate you, he has you captive to speak lies and deceive you. What else happens when you’re isolated? You don’t give yourself a chance to meet people, to get lifted up and encouraged, and you allow your own fears to rule and run your life. And again, the enemy has exactly what he wants. He will feed you with things like, “What if I go to the new members class and there’s no one like me?” Can I stop you right here, and tell you that there’s no one like you, and that that is a good thing? “What if there’s that awkward silence?” “What if everybody is just doing that fake ‘nice’ thing?”  And the enemy wins again. You, and your gifts, stay home.

I think we all need to take a realistic look of how the Lord views us. You and I are unique. We are a gift from God. He does not make mistakes, I assure you. If you are an introvert, rejoice. This means that you are probably very good at sitting down and talking with people and getting to know them, while people like me (uhm..) have a tendency to get fidgety and want to work the room in hopes of making sure I’ve had a chance to say hi to everyone. This is good. The extroverts and introverts must work together as a team, not competition! We all need each other.

 

Look in the mirror before you leave your house today and say these words: I am a gift. There is only one of me. God made me unique. When I am away, I am missed, and that is good.

I no longer filter those words of someone noticing I wasn’t there as them being religious and noticing every time I’m missing (and if they are, well, that’s between them and God, isn’t it?). I’m accountable to Him for what I do with my time, not man.

Just remember today if you catch yourself asking if it really matters when you’re not there- you matter. You make a difference. Some of you have a strong presence of joy on you when you enter a room- don’t keep that all to yourself! Share it, it is a gift to others. Some of you carry Gods peace wherever you go. Don’t keep it at home, there just might be someone at that event or gathering that needs to feel a little of that peace. Someone needed to be reminded of this today. Without you, Gods piece of the puzzle is missing and its just not complete! Go out today giving away the gifts He has given you and watch them multiply. Share your joy, share your gift of conversation, share your wisdom, spread your peace, and rejoice in the fact that there is no one exactly like you! How boring would it be if we were all the same? Thankfully we have creative Father who has made us to celebrate our differences instead of criticize them! So what are you waiting for? You are a gift! Go give yourself away!

Lord, anoint me to be used by you today. Thank you for these gifts you have given me- help me to not hide them, but to use them freely, as you would please. And thank you, that you have made me a gift to bring you glory. Amen

You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)

And Hope Crept In

hope

It was early morning. I walked out of my car and heard the seagulls and felt the sun warm. As I walked in I saw it. Everything was alive and waking up. I could smell the warm bread and see the grocers chatting with their regulars. The music was playing and people were about their business. The butcher was putting out the fresh cuts of beef. The ladies in the bakery beginning their cake orders- sugary colored icing in abundance. And as I checked out I realized I forgot something. The young man bagging my groceries offered to get them for me. And it continued to creep in. Then I was walking off and again realized I forgot something- water, and we couldn’t go without water. This time I was already fully checked out. The lady, possibly the manager, said she would go and get a case of water for me. It continued to fill my heart. Then another cashier opened up her register just to ring up my water for me and I was sure of it- it was hope and it was quickly showing itself. Hope- hope in today, hope in humanity, hope that no matter what tragedy strikes, that life will go on, and that we are a resilient people and that there are still good people out there. And there is always a good God who wants us to not loose hope, to not give up. Listen today as you hear the children laughing, as the sun pops its head out, as you catch something making you laugh, smell it in a batch of fresh baked bread, hear the sound and feel the touch of Hope.
Proverbs 23:18- There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Trust God Not Man

Trust God

When I have been disappointed in a person or an establishment because of my own expectations I have shown God that I was putting my trust in a man rather than Him to provide my every need. He wants to meet your needs today and it will probably not come from where you thought. He meets our needs sometimes in the most unexpected places or through people we least expected. Put your trust in man and you will surely be disappointed, but put your trust in Him and watch Him show Himself faithful… every… single… time. 🙂

Isaiah 2:22 Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?

The Power of Encouragement

MP900178801

“We all have different gifts, based on the grace given us … If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others.”

Romans 12:6-8

A few weeks back my husband was having a really hard day. I couldn’t remember the last time he was quite this discouraged. I prayed with him over the phone and then he went back to work. When he came home that night, he told me about a man who accidentally called him (which we obviously know it was no accident). He said the man hadn’t meant to call him but instead of hanging up, this man left him a message thanking him for his ministry to his family while we lived in Colorado. The Lord used that man to speak powerfully to my husband that day, to let him know, “Hey, you’re making a difference, and what you do really matters.” It was water to a weary soul. No accident- the Lord knew exactly what my husband needed.

Also recently, I received an email from someone I had met two years ago at a writer’s conference. She read one of my articles in which I had shared about my past. She said she remembered the joy I had at that writer’s conference, and said that after reading about my past, it made the joy that I had even more powerful. She didn’t have to encourage me with her words, but she did. My heart overflowed with gratitude for this sweet woman who blessed and encouraged me with her words.

There is something powerful in the act of encouraging someone. The Hebrew word for encourage is chazaq, which means, “to make strong or firm.” Encouragement has power. This is the scripture I try to live my life by: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act”  Proverbs 3:27. I love this. It’s not about when it’s convenient, or when it will serve my motives, but when it is in my power to act.

When I wake up each day, I ask God to show me at least one person I can encourage. Whether it is a smile to the check-out lady, an encouraging word to a frazzled mom, a compliment to the woman at church. There are many ways to serve up a scooping of encouragement!  You can send a quick email telling someone they did a good job at something, you can text them letting them know you are thinking of them & praying for them, you can bake cookies for someone who is feeling down, you can Facebook an encouraging word or scripture to someone. You will never know the impact this can have in someone’s life!

Encouragement through the spoken word is powerful. Speak life to someone today. Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” This power of encouragement isn’t just for our girlfriends or strangers- it’s also for our families too! Whenever you speak encouragement to your child, just watch their face light up. Our husbands also really need our encouragement. We need to realize the power we hold as their wives to literally build them up or tear them down. Remember, do not withhold good when it is in your power to act.

I read the following story and was deeply moved. Dale Galloway tells this story of a young boy named Teddy Stollard. He was not the kind of kid who got invited to parties. He slouched in his chair and looked bored most of the time; he only spoke when called upon, and then in monosyllables. He never dressed right, and he had smelly clothes; he was a rather unattractive boy.

Whenever his teacher would mark Teddy’s papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of marking all the wrong answers. She would put the “F” on top with a little flair. She might have known better, because his history was on record:

First grade: Teddy is a good boy and shows promise, but has a poor home situation.

Second grade: Teddy is quiet and withdrawn. His mother is terminally ill.

Third grade: Teddy is falling behind. His mother died this year; his father is uninvolved.

Fourth grade: Teddy is hopelessly backward. His father has moved away; Teddy’s living with an aunt. He is deeply troubled.

Christmas came, and all the children brought presents to school. They were carefully wrapped, except for Teddy’s, which was packaged in brown paper and held together with tape and marked, “For Miss Thompson. From Teddy.”

The teacher would open the gifts one by one for the class to admire. When she opened Teddy’s, it was a rhinestone bracelet with most of the stones missing, and a bottle of perfume that was mostly gone. The other children started to laugh, but Miss Thompson caught herself. Snapping on the bracelet, she said: “Isn’t it lovely, class? And doesn’t the perfume smell good?”

At the end of the class, Teddy approached her shyly. “I’m glad you liked my gifts, Miss Thompson,” he whispered. “All day long you smelled like my mother. And her bracelet looked nice on you, too.”

After he left, Miss Thompson put her head down on the desk and cried. She asked God to forgive her. She prayed that God would help her to see what He sees when she looks at a motherless boy.

When the children came back to school the next day, Miss Thompson was a new teacher. She tutored the children who needed extra help, Teddy most of all. By the end of the year he had caught up with most of his classmates and was ahead of some. After that, she didn’t hear from him for quite a while. Then one day she received a note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating from high school, and I am second in my class.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later came another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating first in my class. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later, another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted to you be the first to know that as of today I am Theodore J. Stollard, M.D. How about that? I want you to come sit where my mother would have sat, because you’re the nearest thing to family that I’ve had.

Love, Teddy Stollard

This is a beautiful story about a teacher who realized she had the power to encourage someone. As you can see, his life was forever changed because someone took the time; someone went out of their way to actually care. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11(Please note that this is a fictional story, yet strongly portrays the influence any one of us can have on someone’s life).

There have been many times I have received encouragement at just the right time. I can only pray that I might do the same for others. You really don’t have to look too far to find someone that is feeling discouraged or carrying a heavy heart. As God’s people, I pray that we would seek out opportunities to let our light shine. Would you agree with me that this world could use a little more Son shine?

Lord, thank you that every time I read your Word, I receive encouragement from You. Now, would You help me to carry that into the lives of others? Help me to shine my light that others would see these good works and glorify You in Heaven. Use me Lord to bring encouragement to your people. Give me a servant’s heart. Open my eyes to those who are discouraged around me and give me the words to speak into their lives. Give me creative ways to encourage someone today! I will be quick to give You all the glory! Amen.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:10

Linking up at (in)courage today!

Caution- Fasten Seat Belt- Turbulence Up Ahead

turbulence ahead

This journey may be bumpy at times but keep your eye on the destination

When your on an airplane and it starts to get bumpy, you can’t jump off or scream to stop the ride- so why do we try to do that in life? Just think of all the destinations we would have missed!

The Bible represents your seat belt. When life get’s bumpy and you don’t know what to do or who to turn to, may I suggest reading God’s Word? This book is full of life saving devices!

Keep traveling to that sweet place regardless of the turbulence; your destinations are always different: to get a baby to sleep through the night, that promotion, peace in your heart, disciplining your kids, working through marriage issues. You will get there- just hold on. Don’t  try to jump off. Fasten your ‘seat-belt’. And endure the rough patches to get to your sweet spot.

Lord, I will be the first to admit that sometimes when things get tough, I’m quick to look for the exit sign. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t jump or take the next stop at Easy Street. Help me when times get tough to fasten myself to Your Word. And I know that as I remain faithful and endure the bumpy spots, that there is a destination that will be much sweeter than anything I could have ever dreamed or imagined.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

Anger Management 101

Family Fighting

As a young Christian in my early 20’s I was saturated, super soaked, if you will, in Jesus. As a direct result of my new found faith and many hours each day in His Word, I was absolutely filled to the max with joy! I was pretty much happy no matter what. Happy to go to work, happy in my apartment, just plain happy!

If you had known me then, it would have never crossed your mind to wonder if I had any issues with anger because at the time I didn’t. Or so I thought. During my early beginnings as a Christian I was pretty much on a newlywed high in love with Jesus and anger was just not in the picture.

Then my husband and I started having children. It wasn’t immediate, that I had anger problems. It wasn’t even with my first-born. But by the time I had my second child, Noah, I started noticing changes. With two toddlers, my time with Jesus went from hours each day to smaller, more condensed prayers, like: “Oh, Lord, just let me make it through the day,” or “Oh, Lord, just help me to not completely loose it today.” Not only was I ‘Jesus deprived’, but I was also sleep deprived.

Since we were on the two-year plan it was time we had our third child (insert sarcasm here). Emotionally, I was at my lowest and most drained when we had a newborn, a two-year old and a four-year old. We had no family to come over and give me a break. It was just us, me and my husband. He was in full-time ministry and worked six days a week with one day left over to run all his errands and rest.

I found myself losing my temper more and more frequently. My emotions were raw and I actually scared myself at how angry I could become. Why didn’t anyone intervene you ask? I was, after all, in full-time ministry alongside my husband.  Surely we had a large support group, right? I was in leadership at MOPS. Surely I said something to one of those women, right?  Well, unfortunately, I was a great actress, and having it all together was by far my best performance. Look at me, I’m a pastor’s wife, with three lovely kids, running Kids’ Choir and pulling off two performances a year, and we just bought our second home. I couldn’t let anyone see that inside I was a mess. Looking back, I don’t think I knew how to let anyone in. I was ashamed.

I will never forget one of my many wake up calls one night when Hope was in the bathtub. She was about three and a half. Noah was maybe 16 months. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember Noah was supposed to get in the bathtub and wasn’t cooperating. I lost my temper and yelled at him. There was my little Noah standing naked next to the bathtub, and he peed on the floor because he was so scared. Please understand, I’m not proud of that moment. It’s one that pains my heart every time I think about it.

When we moved from Irving, Texas to Bedford, Texas I continued to try and keep it all together.  I was very independent and would never think of telling anyone my struggles, let alone reaching out for help. I remember getting upset at Hope, who was about 4 at the time, because she wouldn’t stay in bed and go to sleep. As I went back to put her in her bed, she said to me in her sweetest, saddest little voice, “Mommy, I wish we could move back to our other house.” Since our house was much bigger, I was so surprised. “Why?” I asked.  She said, “Because I think this house makes you really mad.” I will never forget her words as they haunt me to this day. I knew I needed help.

It has not been an easy process. It has actually been quite the journey. First and foremost I had to give back control to Jesus. I had been holding on so tightly that my knuckles were turning white. I had to throw religion out the door. I had enough of that, and all ‘religion’ did was make me feel bad for not being good enough.  I had to get on my knees and finally surrender all my control issues to Jesus. And I had to admit that I couldn’t do it anymore on my own, and that I needed help. I did have some sessions with a Christian counselor who really helped me to dig into my past. My entire upbringing until I moved out at the age of sixteen was filled with pain and anger.  My mom was an alcoholic and was sad and angry at different points throughout my whole life. She was known to break things, hit things, and throw things.

I was just surprised that it took having three kids for my own anger to surface its ugly little head. I remember after a session with my Christian counselor, she said to me, “Wow, it’s a miracle you’re not totally messed up right now!” I said, “It’s only by the grace of God.” We then moved to Colorado, where God continued my healing journey through such a healthy church family.

I’ve come to realize that we are all kind of messed up in our own way–that’s why we need a Savior.  What I have discovered through this journey is that though I will never be perfect, I can be whole. But it’s not in my own strength. For in my own strength I can only do and try so much and end up falling flat on my face. I am dependent on Jesus, on His Word, and rely deeply on His grace. His mercies are new every morning and He gives me the peace and strength I need to get through each day. The more I allow Him to love on me, then in turn, the more I am able to freely pour out my love for my kids, my husband, my friends and my family. You see, without Him, I am nothing. I would probably go crazy without my Jesus (true story). He is all that is good within me.

I share this story because moms having issues with anger is one of those taboo topics we like to sweep under the rug.  We are ashamed. And heaven forbid that anyone ever knew of all the times we’ve lost it and screamed at our children out of anger. The only problem is, the more we hide it, the worse it gets. And the more we try to control it on our own, the more out of control our anger seems to get.

The first step to your freedom is to confess it to Jesus and ask Him to bring safe people into your life. Have accountability with a safe friend and allow her to ask you the hard questions. It would be great if you guys could pray together maybe once a week. Also, keep a journal around and every time you lose control, write it down. Write down how it made you feel. If you’re noticing that it’s frequent/daily, please don’t hesitate to get help from a Christian counselor either at your church, or have your church recommend one. Don’t say, “I just can’t afford it.” Some Christian counselors offer a discount based on your family’s income. You can’t afford not to.

And always, always, if you know you’ve disciplined your child out of anger, not out of love and normal discipline, but in anger, ask for your child’s forgiveness. This is powerful! What a lesson for them to see that we can humble ourselves and ask for their forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong.

And when you’re about to break the silence about this and you feel ashamed, remember that Satan is the accuser. Jesus does not condemn. He offers love, acceptance, forgiveness, and grace. Which voice is in your head? Choose to receive His unconditional love for you today. Step out and take a chance to make a change. It’s never too late.

Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Verses 31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Forgive yourself. You’re not alone. And His mercies are new every morning!

Additional Resources:

Be Angry [But Don’t Blow it]: Maintaining your passion without losing your cool by Lisa Bevere

She’s Gonna blow!: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

The Anger Workbook by Les Carter and Frank Minirth M. D

Linking up with: Bad Mom Mondays    Bad Mom Mondays