Seasons

Behold, children are a gift from the Lord…

This past year has been an adjustment. Three children. One of them being a two year old, and all of them being girls. Then there’s me, another girl, with crazy “42 year old mama who just gave birth” hormones who doesn’t sleep…it’s been an adjustment. It has been super fun seeing my oldest flourish in school, conquer fears left over from the tornado, and work hard to learn baton twirling. My two year old has found her voice with an ever increasing cute vocabulary and finally lets us comfort her when she has a boo boo. (all the feels!) Our newest addition is full of smiles and nose scrunches and learning to play with her sisters has just been the BEST. Yet it has taken me a year to accept the adjustment in my day. The shifting of priorities and time and tasks that I used to do but now take three times as long or don’t happen at all.

This past year I just kept thinking “When are you going to get it together??!! When are you going to get a good routine down and have a day that runs smoothly? When are you going to consistently…do anything?” I have been beating myself up thinking about the season in my life about 3 years ago when I was in God’s Word for hours a day. Where I had a beautifully highlighted prayer journal that I kept up with and prayed through regularly. I wrote almost daily and had wonderful study time cross-referencing, looking up commentaries, and loving all I was learning about God. That time, back three years ago, I call it my sweet spot. I vividly remember being able to spend an hour outside on my deck in the beautiful weather and pray, journal, read God’s Word, and just really enjoy the fruits of all of those spiritual disciplines in place for long amounts of time. My writing flourished, my time with friends was rich in conversation and not interrupted very much. Since my third child, I found myself thinking back to those few years and shaming myself for not having those hours of study now. Longing for that space where my mind was fresh and I was able to complete thoughts, where my pen or keyboard was vigorously writing about all I was learning, and where my time with friends included pretty brunches in my home or coffee dates at an actual restaurant or play dates where minimal supervision was needed. But it was just a season.

Even though our weather seasons repeat themselves, spring, summer, fall, winter; our seasons of life don’t. They are a progression. That season three years ago is not coming back. And it shouldn’t! I am in a new season now. This is not only a season in my life here on earth, it is a season of my eternity. There is no death ahead of me! Physically maybe, but Christ conquered death for me!

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of the righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwell in you. Romans 8:10-11

Each day of this life is just a tiny, minute season of the eternity that is ahead. Even that isn’t what humbles me the most. The most humbling aspect is that this is just a season of my life but God existed before my time on earth even began. Not only that, He existed before Earth began. And to really blow my mind,  He existed before even time began. (Psalm 90:2). Yet He has designed us to experience life in seasons as Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, so I need to honor that and not wish for what was in the past or pine away for what may be in the future. He has something to teach me and grow me in each season.

This week the Lord woke me up from that dream of three years ago and reminded me that He doesn’t advise us to long for what is behind us but He tells us to press on to what lies ahead. There was a sweet spot back then but there was also sin that needed to be dealt with that He has brought me to repentance about. I don’t want to go back there if I have already come through it. I have been looking back in a rear view mirror at a piece of land I wanted to get back to. But it seemed to be getting further and further away. That is because it needs to! That land I was longing for is a land without two of my other children. It is not a place for me anymore. That destination I thought was the ideal I should be attaining (one hour of disciplined study and prayer) was what He had for me back then. It is not what He has for me now. During that season He honed in me a love of digging in, studying, writing, and communing with Him in a way that was the grace I needed for THAT season. In this season He is training me in dependence on Him. He is training me to not only love what I am learning about Him but to love HIM more. A training that wouldn’t happen if I was still back in that beautiful spot on my deck. I am learning dependence on Him in the trenches of a messy living room with loud, precious, growing girls. He is teaching me that He is giving me the grace I need in this season of fighting my flesh that manifests in an angry mouth. I will never get back to that place in my rear view mirror and I am glad! It was an amazing time of spiritual growth and learning what intimacy with the Lord means, but so is this one. My sanctification is a progression, moving forward, moving towards something that is ahead of me, not behind me (Philippians 3:12-14).

I am learning about rest, the kind that has nothing to do with sleep. I am learning to be diligent to seek Him, commune with Him, read His Word, pray to Him, without it being striving for an amount of time or the place I once was. If I strive for what was it will only result in spinning my wheels, not rest. I also am very mindful to NEVER view my children as something that has interrupted one my spiritual disciplines or any other plan I have for the day. They are my plan, they are what God has called me to do, they are part of my sanctification and I want my day to be weaved with prayer and talking to Jesus and speaking His Word with and in front of my children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). I am learning this y’all. He shows me daily. I am so thankful for the women in my life He has given me that are in this season with me. I am also thankful for those that are a little ahead of me and remind me of how quickly it passes. I am also thankful for the young women not quite there yet who I can encourage and remind when their time comes.

The other lesson the Lord pressed on my mind was that He never leaves me. He wasn’t only present in my “sweet spot” on the deck. The Holy Spirit is in me (John 14:16-17). God’s Word is alive and active in my mind as I have ingested it (Hebrews 4:12). What a sweet gift God did give me back then to help me be prepared now for when I wouldn’t have as much time. I can pray anywhere and at anytime. I can pray right when someone asks me to instead of writing it down in my journal which inevitably in this season I will forget to do. I can read the Bible with my children and if that is all that I do in a day and don’t get the “alone” time then that is enough and okay. I can respond to the prompting of the Lord when He does give me time to write. I have also been convicted lately to get back to those first gifts He called me to, sending words of encouragement through a blog or email or card. I waste time on my phone because it is more accessible than a pen and paper. But if it is something the Lord has called me to do, putting down my phone if it’s not used for encouragement is worth it.

I don’t get to see my friends as much, as the logistics of that are just more difficult now. My home is a safe space for my two year old. Anywhere else is not. And by “safe space” I mean she will tear yo house up. So I just try to keep her in mine, not yours. So that has made me so thankful for being able to stay in touch with others through phone calls and texts and this nifty little thing called Voxer, because let’s face it, phone conversation aren’t happening with the “sweet” noises in the background when mom is on the phone. All this is to say, I SEE YOU FRIENDS! I’m in it with you mama. I haven’t forgotten you even if I haven’t been over in awhile.

My point. This season. I am told to cherish it. I do. I am told it will go by so fast. I know.  I am told to not fret or worry or do all the things we do in the middle of all the things we are in. I am learning. God is so good to give me these amazing children. He is so good to use them to show me ALL the ways I need Jesus everyday because I fail and mess up. He is so good to give me a chance EVERY day to grow in my trust. I say that I trust, and then a new season comes to test me and refine me to an even deeper level of trust. I am looking at this season now as THE very best season ever. Because it is. It is the one I am in. It is my sweet spot. Tomorrow will be too.

My bible study looks like this now. Little eyes peeping at me and little toes resting beside me. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

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Lamp

My favorite part about the Olympic games is the running of the torch. From person to person, from country to country, from hand to hand passing off the torch until the last runner climbs the stairs and lights the infamous lamp for all to see. As I was reading a story in 2 Kings around the time of the Winter Olympics I was struck by that imagery. The story is unfolding of Athaliah, who was basically trying to kill all the royal bloodline, her own family, so that she could rule. It seems unfathomable and savage, yet  looks like she is getting close to destroying the line that was promised to David to always be in place.

But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.” 1 Kings 11:36.

The lamp looked like it was going to go out. But God doesn’t fail on His promises. And even when it looks like the end, or that an impossible task is ahead, He accomplishes all He sets out to do. In this case, to provide a Messiah from the line of David. God used Jehosheba, in her obedience, to accomplish His promise. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So they hid him from Athaliah, and he was not put to death. So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land. Now in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of hundreds of the Carites and of the guard, and brought them to him in the house of the LORD. Then he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king’s son.

Then he brought the king’s son out and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, ” Long live the king!” When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people in the house of the LORD. She looked and behold, the king was standing by the pillar, according to the custom, with the captains and the trumpeters beside the king; and all the people of the land rejoiced and blew trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of hundreds who were appointed over the army and said to them, “Bring her out between the ranks, and whoever follows her put to death with the sword.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” So they seized her, and when she arrived at the horses’ entrance of the king’s house, she was put to death there. Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they would be the LORD’S people, also between the king and the people. All the people of the land went to the house of Baal, and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces thoroughly, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD. He took the captains of hundreds and the Carites and the guards and all the people of the land; and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, and came by the way of the gate of the guards to the king’s house. And he sat on the throne of the kings. So all the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet. For they had put Athaliah to death with the sword at the king’s house. Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.”2 Kings‬ 11:1-4, 12-21‬ ‬‬‬‬

Wow. What a piece of history!! Because Jehosheba, the captains, guards, and priests were all obedient, the king was preserved, the promise was fulfilled, and the plans of an evil force were thwarted. This attempt to completely destroy the house of David was an attack on “God’s redemptive plan – a plan that centered in the Messiah, which the Davidic covenant promised.” (McArthur Study Bible) The attack was planned and calculated but no attack on God can ever stop His plans and fulfilment of His promies. 

This is such an encouragement to me. Not only that God’s plans are always played out in full but that WE get to be a part of it. Like those Olympic runners passing the torch from person to person with the same goal in sight, we too can be used to carry the light of Christ from generation to generation, no matter what obstacles or plans seem to want to derail us. But it is not by our power or control. The pressure is off. The burden does not fall on us! “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’, says the Lord of host.” Zechariah 4:6. I think so many times in the Bible God physcially saves His people from desparate situations and places they are in (Daniel, Joseph, Rahab, Lot,  and on an on and on) to remind us of His power to spiritually save people. Are you in an unequally yoked marriage? It’s not beyond God’s power. There is no level of darkness or unbelief that is too strong for the God who saves. Do you have a child living in blatent sin who is blinded by the lies of the world?  There is no lie or path of destruction that is too strong to stop the God who saves. Are you stuck in a sin pattern that you desperately want to be free from? There is no part of your flesh or disobedience that is too powerful for God’s cleansing and correcting. Are you stuck in a place of despair, depression, or lost all hope? There is no feeling or emotion too strong to repel the God who saves!!

The Davidic covenant was not stopped by the wicked plans of an evil force.  I am a mama who desperately wants my children to have a saving faith relationship with their Father. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John‬ 1:4‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ This story in 2 Kings encourages me. The enemy wants to come after them, he wants to annihilate them, he wants to tear them out of my hands, but I believe that they are God’s children and He has a firmer grip and a stronger promise than any evil can overcome.

We are planted in jobs, neighborhoods, homes, communities, churches, that have people surrounding us that can be the next person to pick up the torch of the gospel after we have faithfully shared. We can’t control the outcome, we can’t change their hearts or open their eyes, we can’t MAKE them saved but we can be obedient and let God work and fulfill His kingdom promises just as He saved Jehoash. And He tells us to! “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “’how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:14-15.  We may never know in such a dramatic way as Jehoash’s story when and how someone is saved. But that is not the point. The growing and saving is the Lord’s work. The sharing and walking is ours. “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” Ephesians 5:8.

The Olympic flame is a beautiful symbol of unity and humanity. Oh but isn’t the light of Christ carried through the gospel message from generation to generation, from nation to nation, a much BIGGER symbol of unity because it is for everyone!!  God loves you, no matter your race, your economic statues, your physical appearance, your gender, your IQ, or any other qualifying factor that would make you a chosen candidate, You don’t have to come to Him clean. You don’t have to come to Him pretending to have it all together. You are chosen simply because there is a love greater than any other. You are chosen simply because you have a Father who set in to motion a gospel message that saved us from ourselves.  “O Lord God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.” Psalm 80:19

I am so thankful for those that came before me, the very first Christians, and the ones saved right before me; those saved today and those saved tomorrow. I am thankful that Jesus Christ promised us a Helper as He was spurring on the disciples for their life of service and evangelism. I am thankful that the Light of Jesus Christ can NEVER be put out! It will shine in the darkest places and it will shine for eternity.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Seven Days

Seven is a special number in the Bible and it is a special number for me now as well. Seven is the number of days from the time I shared my abortion story here, until the time God created a new life in my womb. I didn’t initially realize the timing. We were kind of in shock from the surprise at first, not thinking we COULD get pregnant naturally again. It wasn’t on my radar at all. After the shock wore off and I had to start figuring out with the nurses when I conceived, I realized it was seven days after sharing Christ’s story of redemption in my life. Wow. Do you doubt His love? Do you doubt His power? Do you doubt He forgives it all when He says “It is finished”. Please don’t doubt. Please listen and see that the Lord is good. Look around you, believe that He carried His cross and bore your sins so you don’t have to carry yours. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬. ‭

My story isn’t about gifts and rewards though. It’s not about if you do “this” He’ll bless you with “that”. It’s about believing and having faith in your Savior and letting your eyes be open to the abundant joy that can be yours no matter your circumstances. It’s about praying and asking God to give you the perspective to see His restoration and handiwork in your life and trusting it even if you can’t see it. It’s about opening your heart and mind to His Word and let it change you as you get to know your Savior and King.

Some say this is a blessing, a reward for obedience in sharing my abortion story. This child is not a reward for ME to receive, it’s for GOD to receive glory. This child is His, for His purposes and already she is shining His bright light of grace and mercy! She is showing His power to overcome what doctors say, she is showing His power of redemption. She is in the same wound that was filled with scars, now that womb is filled with his sovereign grace. Oh praise His name!

We didn’t think we could have children after our first born six year ago. It took years to conceive with our first child. Due to my reproductive organs being a bit of a mess, only one ovary after a cyst removal, endometriosis and scar tissue, we were told it probably wouldn’t happen again. And we were fine with that because adoption had been placed on our hearts. We were able to adopt our sweet MK 18 months ago and were on the path to grow our family that way again. But God…

I was on a form of birth control I thought I was only on to relieve painful monthly symptoms that affected me and my ability to function well at work (back then) and home. I didn’t think it was actually for birth control since I didn’t think I could get pregnant. It was recommended by my midwife after my first born. Then last year a friend of mine told me to research what I was on and once I did I came to the conviction I should stop. Also my husband realized his moral beliefs were changing in some areas and he agreed I should no longer be on that form of birth control. “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs‬ ‭21:1‬. I was off the birth control for months and dealing with the issues it was preventing but I was settled and okay with the inconvenience and not working now made it easier. I was moved in a very strong way to finally post my story publically. The first time I had written about the “A” word. Once it was public God did amazing things through those words and I was experiencing another layer of freedom from shame and I was seeing those words were for so many others to see His love and power! Do you see??? Do you see how God was lining this all up. Preparing the way for Him to blow me away with His plan.  “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬. Seven days later the two lines that mean “pregnant” showed up again. After being nauseas and exhausted for a while I thought I would take a test just to set my mind at ease. Three tests later we decided to finally believe I was pregnant. And shock set in. For about a month. Once the shock and nausea wore off I was able to clearly experience and praise what God had done. Seventeen years ago I was in shock too but this time I saw it as a way to magnify the name of Jesus, to praise His name and give him Glory. This time I see this precious baby as a gift, a fearfully and wonderfully made creation, perfected by her Creator. This time I see the task given to me as being her mom as a privilege, a serious commitment, a joy, and something I know God will use to grow me and sanctify me. This time I see her as a sweet addition to our family. Our oldest is beside herself with excitement. She loves talking to my belly and wants to know all things maternity and baby. She was gifted uniquely to be an amazing big sister as she already is so loving and helpful and nurturing and kind with MK. Now she will be a big sis to two girls and she takes her role very seriously.

The number seven is associated with completion, fulfilment and perfection in the Scriptires. As I see this special number of days, resulting in the conception of my daughter, after sharing the healing Christ did in my life after a history with abortion, I do see the completion of letting go of my shame, the fulfillment of His promise of healing and cleansing from my past sin, and the perfection of His creation in my womb.

Will you celebrate this life with me?! Will you celebrate the glory of God and the magnitude of His love as He has displayed it in my life and yours? Will you celebrate with me and praise His name for what He is showing others through the story of redemption He continues to write? Will you trust Him with your life, and turn over those worries and anxieties to Him? Not everyone’s story will turn out like mine as far as circumstances. Not every post-abortive woman will bear children again. Not every mom who has been told she can’t have children will conceive again. But if you put your faith and trust in Christ you will have the same promise fulfilled as me, and that is the promise of eternal life and salvation with Christ, the promise of a redeemed life, of abundant joy that only comes through putting ALL of your hope in your anchor and rock, Jesus Christ. He is our joy and as long as you have Him your joy may be made full! “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John‬ ‭15:11‬

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” Hebrews‬ ‭6:17-19‬ 

 

My Arrow

Too many times I have written or spoken about those “hard” moments of parenting my 5 year old. They truly are few and far between. It’s just in those moments though it feels so heavy and all consuming. But the majority of the time she is kind, compassionate, sensitive, hilarious, witty, and fun to be around. She is a gift and a precious soul and child of God. It is a privilege to be her mama. I wanted to share some things that happened this week with my sweet Sophie that have bolstered my spirit and encouraged me greatly.

Sophie and I were sitting outside while MK was napping. I was doing my bible study and she was coloring. We weren’t talking about anything and then she just started this conversation….

Sophie- I know some people don’t believe in God. I believe in God.

Me- Why do you believe in God?

Sophie- Because I WANT to believe and obey

Sophie-But daddy doesn’t believe. Why?

Me- Some people are blind, they just can’t see

Sophie- They just can’t see the Light of Jesus, but I see the Light of Jesus.
It’s the most important thing to believe mommy.

Sophie- Daddy isn’t doing the right thing because he doesn’t believe.

Me- A lot of people don’t believe. But instead of saying daddy is wrong and we are right, what should we do?

Sophie- Pray. I’m going to pray and it is going to happen just like that (she makes a snapping motion). God will make the people stop not believing mommy. One day He will.

Me- God loves us and one day yes, all people will know He is who He says He is. God sees your faith and belief in your daddy believing and it is a precious thing to Him. And to me.

I love these conversations with her. I don’t know what all she understands and what all her little heart is experiencing but Jesus knows and this little girl shows me what the “faith of a child” looks like.

“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. ” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” Mark‬ ‭10:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Later that day we prayed for a friend who had a minor surgery and had some complications from it that had her in horrible pain. This women just lost her husband and is a widow caring for 4 young children. We were praying for her foot and her healing. Sophie knows she lost her husband and when we finished praying she asked if her husband was in heaven. I said yes. She said she was glad he was there with God. She then asked if people who don’t believe in God will go to heaven. (She has asked this before). I told her God is a loving and good Father, and we don’t know how His plan always works out but we know until a person’s final breath, they can still choose to turn to Him and repent and believe in Jesus Christ and then they will go to heaven. She said she hopes her daddy chooses to believe and she will pray until his last breath. She still loves him unconditionally and looks up to him and knows she has a wonderful daddy. His unbelief doesn’t change her love for him. And she also doesn’t shy away from speaking about God and asking her daddy questions. What a sweet picture of evangelism.

I never expected my greatest encourager in my unequally yoked marriage, besides the Lord, would be my 5 year old daughter. Her simplicity and faith and hope is so beautiful and encouraging and an amazing gift from my Abba Father. This little girl has a heart that is opening wide for Jesus I believe, and I can’t wait to see all that He will do in and through her. He is already ministering to ME through her. I pray she comes to know Jesus with a saving faith and continues to believe. Her middle name is Grace and He is certainly pouring it all over this family through her.

After we prayed she started singing “I’m in the Lords army, yes sir…”

She has started singing her own songs as well, just free flow making up words and singing them out. I video taped her doing it this week without her knowing while she was drawing on her big easel dry erase board. She was sitting there drawing and singing, I transcribed what she sang…

“Whoever don’t believe I want them to know that God is with them always
He’s here to protect us and to be with us everyday
He’s here to help us, he’s here to love us
He knows that He made everything
He know that humans are nice
But some of the person do not believe, do not believe
And that’s not fine with me
They have to know that God is around
They have to know that God is around

He wants us to be His sheep
He wants us to be a glory to God
He wants us to be a love for others
And if you do believe Oh Oh if you do believe
If you know that God is here
He knows that we’re with Him
And we know that He’s with us
And if you do know that you get it
He is the most powerfulest in the world

You got to believe that He is possible
If you don’t believe that’s not fine with me
Whenever He’s coming to help one another
He’s gonna come and help us everyday
He wants to know how much we love Him
He wants to love us so much today”

I do not “push” what I believe on her. I tell her what the Bible says and what Jesus did and I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict her and she will have faith in Him and a personal relationship with Him that backs up all that she sings and prays about now. I’m thankful God let’s her heart be open to the gospel and she is able to speak and sing about Him AND love her daddy and come to understand there are believers and non believers. Just as I am sensitive to how others speak about “them” (non believers) I pray she also will be able to shed light and love into the world, with compassion and grace, not condemnation and judgment. And pray. Oh let her be a prayer warrior for the lost!

It’s been a sweet week with this little arrow of mine. Thank you for letting me share how she is a daily encouragement and gift as she lives with compassion, sensitivity, and boldness.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.” Psalms‬ ‭127:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

 

Garland of Grace

“Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬

During my HOUR of uninterrupted quiet time at a retreat I went to recently, (what a gift to a mom of two littles!),  I found myself in front of the verse above. I couldn’t get away from it and continued to search it more and more. As a mom, as a wife, as a human being, doesn’t that sound enticing?? This garland of grace.

God gives us a garland of grace which is His wisdom. Wisdom found when we fill our hearts with His Word.

He gives grace to answer the hard questions. He gives grace to get up when we fail. He gives us grace to teach, instruct, and encourage our children and those around us we influence.

His garland of grace gives me wisdom in those moments when I’m not sure what to do when navigating parenting with my husband who is not a believer. Our world views are different. That can make it tricky BUT not impossible when parenting. So how does that work? It works by God’s grace. It works by seeking God’s wisdom. It works by being convicted from His Word and repenting when I totally let my pride and selfishness take over. It works by filling my head and heart with the Word of God, which became flesh, and revealed to us the magnificence and glory of our Creator. I can breath in the breath of life with each verse I read, with each truth I believe, and with each step forward in my faith as I trust Him and act on it. The “what would Jesus do” bracelets don’t quite get to the heart of what I need in those moment. Instead of what would Jesus do I need to remind myself who Jesus is. The way. The truth. The life. My redeemer who made a way for me to go to God and beg Him for understanding. His crown of thorns enabled, produced, secured, and guaranteed my garland of grace.

What ever it is you are struggling with, and can we admit, we are ALL struggling with something. Whatever it is… are you a single mom, do you not have a spiritual leader in your home, do you have a child who has turned away, do you have a difficult relationship to navigate, are you not sure how to disciple another women? Whatever it is, hold on to the garland of grace we are given as we look to His Word for our answer. Our answer isn’t a 3 step process, it isn’t a checklist, it isn’t bullet points on a page, it isn’t a detailed outline of how to exactly handle every situation. Our answer is searching the active and alive Word of God to seek His wisdom, His person, His nature, His characteristics, His grace, His mercy, His truths, so that the Holy Spirit can move in our hearts to CHANGE US in those moments when it’s hard. To GROW US in those moments when we hit a wall. To ENCOURAGE US when we feel we don’t have the strength to do this. This garland of grace is walking with God, washing our hearts and our minds in His Word, in such a way that our decisions we make are aligned with His will of humble service. This wisdom we are to be searching for like gold, we will find those nuggets and they’ll stay with us so in those moments when we don’t know what to do this garland of grace will help us. What we have discovered in His Word, what we have meditated on in our hearts, what we have let change us and shape us and mold us, that is what is going to help. Not just an article on “10 ways to be a better Mom…”. Not a checklist of do’s and don’ts. It’s knowing what to do because it is the Lord’s will.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:18‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Just as we are continually being sanctified, this wisdom grows in us until we will be FULLY glorified, in the presence of and worshipping our Savior. As He leads us on this path of righteousness and we search and live out His Word, it becomes more and more of who we are and how our heart responds to those around us.

That’s the kind of wisdom I want and that’s the kind of wisdom I need. Proverbs tells us that when we treat her like a treasure, when we treat her like a precision gift, we will receive her. The death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins is what enables us to go anywhere near this. We are able to be in God’s presence, we are able to hold His Word, to read it and to understand it and to see His love for us and have our love for him grow. That crown of thorns allowed for this to happen and that crown of thorns has led to us to be able to wear this sweet beautiful, powerful, helpful, needed, life changing, garland of grace given by His wisdom.

Christ gives His bride this crown of beauty to wear, as our lives bear fruit of the gospel, and as we live out His story through our testimonies and our sanctification.

“My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-6‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Proverbs 2 tells us to receive it, treasure it, be attentive, cry for it, seek it, search for it, and we WILL discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God for the Lord gives wisdom.

Father we are crying out to you asking us to open up your Word in a mighty way. Help us to see in each moment of our day how we can be your humble servant, how we can pursue wisdom and righteousness by dying to ourselves and letting your wisdom and love take hold of each situation we face. Let us never take for granted how the cross enabled us to receive this garland of grace so that we can follow you, lay our lives down at your feet, and live out our salvation in such a way that is worthy of the calling you have set before us. Your grace is the only way we can do that. Help us to recall your Word, to receive and believe your love and mercy, and to walk in obedience throughout our day. Lord help us to keep our perspective and our gaze on you, not on us, not on our inconveniences, not on our story but on YOUR story and YOUR work and YOUR plan and YOUR sovereignty that we can trust. Help us to receive it, treasure it, be attentive to it, cry for it, seek it and search for it. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. “Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Perspective

I have been struggling with SG. Big time. It has been ugly. I have been ugly, she has dug in her heels. I have grown weary, overwhelmed, and have sobbed heavily two nights this past week. Crying to my husband, crying out to God, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Well as I was seeing my sin in this and asking God to change me, to show me how to love her like He does, being honest that I CANNOT love her like Christ without having the strength of Christ in me. All of this led to some amazing answers from God. I was reading Psalms 105 last night and wrote down some things I CAN do when I feel like I don’t know what to do. I CAN…

Give thanks
Call upon Him
Make known His deeds
Sing praises
Speak of His wonders
Seek His face
Remember His wonders and His words

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭

I realized I was getting caught into the trap of speaking about it a lot (to my husband and a friend on the phone, and at a play date) instead of trusting God in the middle of this. I was presenting a defeated attitude. I was wanting concrete examples of exactly what to do in the middle of a tantrum or testing or battle of wills. I realized every child is different, what one parent says may not work for mine and every parent has their own sin issues in the middle of their parenting. So a specific example from another parent may not take into account my sin in the situation. Psalms 73 is a good example of what God says I can do. He has been bringing me back to this word so often this year; PERSPECTIVE.

“If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”Psalms‬ ‭73:15-17‬.

This speaks of how the wicked seem to be winning and prospering, until the godly man goes into the temple and remembers the end God has for wicked ways. The flaming arrows of doubt thrown at me, the hopeless feeling the enemy wants me to have, the idea that this will NEVER end, the thought that I will always be losing this battle of parenting are all rooted in the wrong perspective; it seemed to me a wearisome task, UNTIL I went to God, THEN I discerned. I was “speaking thus” more than I was going “into the sanctuary”. I can focus too much on the evil and wicked of the situation which produces worry and fear. He has already overcome evil, it is finished! By renewing my faith, by going into the temple, praying, seeking God and repenting of my sin in the situation, then my perspective is changed and corrected by God’s promises. PERSPECTIVE.

I realized also when I was speaking to her, instructing her, disciplining her, I was preaching back to myself. Every time I would say “it’s not obedience if you don’t do it the first time.” “Your heart is being selfish right now, let’s pray for God to change that.” “My job is to keep you safe and teach you what the best choice is”. Those things were haunting my head and I was feeling the weight of them, as God wants those things for me as well. I was not being obedient in two areas.I kept making excuses and going back to them.

The main one being Facebook. It is so silly but it was causing me to sin. Staying off of Facebook always resulted in an abundance of positive things but then I would get sucked back in, being deceived that is was good and I had good reasons for being on it. Since the word obedience comes out of my mouth daily to my daughter I felt the weight of my disobedience and decided the next right thing to do was to hear what God was showing me, over and over and over again. Ah so stubborn (ME not her). So this morning I deactivated my account. Can I just tell you when that thought first entered my mind I was fearful. Anxious. No, not that! What about all my pictures and memories? What about my blog, how will I share it? What about people on there that I only communicate with through Facebook? What about information I will miss out on? Quickly, God replaced those fears with the truth. What about your obedience to Me? What about your children and your role as mom? What about getting back to sending people cards and calling them and really connecting? What about you trusting me with your writing and how I want to use it? What about your sanctification?

So this morning I am free.

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”Mark‬ ‭9:43

I‬ ‭cut off that hand that consumed me. It feels good. God is connecting some dots for me. Yesterday was an amazing day with SG. We only had one little incident when leaving a play date where she ran away and disobeyed. That’s okay. I don’t want her to feel pressured to be perfect. I want her to be His! I don’t want her have all the answers about her behavior, I want her to know the One who does. I don’t want her to get “better and better” at doing and being good, I want her to know that apart from Christ she can do nothing. I don’t want her to hear the word obedience more than she sees the word love in action.   HIS love. That is my job, to show her and tell her about Christ’s love for us. Today I know will be another great day. Not because it will be perfect, but because God is in control, He always has been and He always will be and He has lifted my eyes to where my help comes from! He has reminded me of His grace and that SG will learn that as well through her mistakes, not through her perfection. I have written about this before, and I will probably write about it again, as God continues to confront me and HELP me as He is glorified in it all.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58‬ ‭

The next mom you come across that has kids still in the home, give her a big hug and a sweet whisper that her labor is not in vain, she needs it.

(Feel free to share. My name isn’t on FB anymore but I am fine with the blog being shared there).

My Delight

I’ve had some parenting challenges this week. Also known as, sanctification. Anybody else with me on that??!! I love the struggles though, (in the moment, maybe not so much) because God uses it all for growth, for sanctification, for cleaning out the yucky mucky stuff in me. In general, I pray often for my parenting skills, for my patience to increase, for my anger and frustration to decrease. My lesson this week in all of it…the praying in general isn’t enough. I am consistent with praying for God to help me in parenting.. What isn’t consistent is the praying in the moment. Stopping myself when I feel that stomach churning, heat rising, “I’ve had enough” feeling, gurgling and bubbling as I am fighting not to erupt. As one of SG’s book says, My mouth is a volcano! So in those moments, before the erupting, before I even let that feeling have movement and power inside of me, what should I do???

I received many, many, confirming lessons of what to do. Again, I LOVE it, God pouring truth all around me so that I can’t miss it, at every angle, every book, every scripture, every sermon, there was a teaching point for me from God about this subject. It is so AWESOME when that happens. I want to honor and obey what He showed me. He loves me and so perfectly ministered to me in my sin, so that I could learn and turn from it. Learn and turn!

I am reading the Old Testament and have come to 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 23 is a section where Saul is coming after David and David is also dealing with the Philistines who are fighting Keilah, a city in Judah. In these situations, what does David do? What was my big lesson God delivered through these verses? David ASKED, over and over, specifically, about EACH situation. A brief account of verses 1-15 and the questions and answers…

David – Should I go?
God – Go and attack

David – inquired again
God – Arise and go

David-Will Saul come down
God – He will come down

David – will they surrender me into his hands
God – yes

God answered David and guided him because HE ASKED. I need to seek God’s wisdom and believe and trust He will give it to me in each situation. Just as God did for David, He will tell me when to fight the giants and when to flee the evil pursuing me. He will tell me when to lay low in the shadows in humility and when to speak up. He will tell me when to stand up and when to back down. He will tell me when to give grace and when to stand firm. I need to ask for wisdom in each particular situation not just in general. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”James‬ ‭1:5. And even more importantly I need to just go to God in that moment so I can remember who He is. I always remember who He is when I am on my knees, when I am low to the ground, the ME is taken out of the situation and HE is injected into it. ‬‬‬‬

I have stopped and prayed before in the middle of a “moment” as I call them with SG but I haven’t been consistent in this and I think I was waiting too long into the escalation of the situation to pray. So I quickly began practicing this. Twice I was able to stop myself as I felt a battle brewing with the 4 year old. The first time I went to a separate room to pray. After praying I knew I needed to show grace in that instance. I had taken her blanky away (it was her least favorite one as she had already lost her favorite and her “back up” favorite). While praying I was reminded that God gives me the very best, even thought my actions and works are like filthy rags, He cloaks me and showers me with white pristine garments of righteousness. “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation‬ ‭19:8‬. I went into SG’s room, with her favorite blanket, and covered her up with it. She asked why I was giving it to her since she had lost it as a consequence. So I explained that I was giving her grace, just as God does. Instead of taking away her third blanket, I was going to give her the very best blanket as God did for us when He gave us His Son Jesus. She did soften and smile. The “moment” was over and we were able to hug and pray. God kept that theme running in my head even after this particular time because this past Sunday we studied this verse; He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.””Zechariah‬ ‭3:4‬. Wow, such affirmation that I was able to hear and understand what God wanted me to do with that blanket last week. “”The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:7‬.‬‬‬

The second time I stopped and prayed right there in her room. I did not know what to do with her disobedience. She was refusing to do something that I couldn’t physically make her do. Her tantrum increased and got louder when she was sent to her room and had her consequence of losing something. So I just knelt down and prayed, asking God for wisdom and patience. I left the room knowing I needed to stand firm on this one. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬. She did calm down, came to me on her own, and apologized with a humble heart. She still had her consequence but again we were able to get to a place of understanding and calm so that she could be taught.‬

Some of the words used to describe David’s actions in the 1 Saumel 23 passages are “inquire, asked, inquired once more, prayed…”. Those are words God breathed into the Bible for us to learn from. I MUST inquire, I MUST ask, I MUST pray. Not only in the moment but I must prepare BEFOREHAND by soaking up His Word. I wouldn’t have received this wisdom from God if I hadn’t read those words. Even in the sermon and books that conveyed the messages to me as well it was the scripture in the sermon and the books that God used to help me. It’s God’s Word that has never failed me. It’s God Word that shows me Christ’s example and preaches the gospel to me daily. It’s God’s Word that gives me wisdom when I don’t understand. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”Psalms‬ ‭19:7-8‬

I pray that Psalm 119:24 is a deep rooted truth in all of our lives and if not, that by God’s grace He will open up His Word to you with mighty understanding and conviction so that you will thirst for it daily!

Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. Psalm 119:24.

It is Finished

Lighten Darkness Light Clouds Sky Cross Dark Nature Wallpaper Ios 7Today is the day before Christ was crucified 1,982 years ago. Circumstances played out today that remind me of how much I need that saving day. Today has been a meltdown of epic proportions in parenting. Today I have felt confused, at a loss, not confident. I have felt broken, vulnerable and overwhelmed. I have felt guilt and fear. I have let myself sink into a spot of deep muddy water, a mire of doubt. I have been greatly humbled today and at more than one time was brought to my knees in tears, crying out to God for direction and help. I think you are clear on how my day has gone.

I came upon this scripture after I wrote this and LOVE the words God led me to that delivered so perfectly His love and understanding to me and I prayed the same idea behind this prayer before I read it. Amazing.

I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God…But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, Answer me with your saving truth. Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters. May the flood of water not overflow me nor the pit shut its mouth on me. Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly. Psalm 69:2-3.13-17.

The key words to me in this are “your saving truth”. His truths are ALWAYS the answers I need.

Tomorrow marks the day that Christ took care of all that I experienced today. Tomorrow marks the day that enables me to even go to God for help, that I am even allowed the privilege of being in His presence. We celebrate the remembrance, tomorrow at 8 a.m., of the three words that changed the world, and me, forever; “It is finished.” He took all my doubt, guilt, fear, confusion, self-consciousness, anxiety, all of my sin, and he carried it for me. He took it up on the cross; he nailed it to the cross and said it is no longer yours to carry. Tomorrow reminds me there is no self-righteous judgment on me from man or law but perfect righteousness cleansing me. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. Tomorrow reminds me there is no mistake that can condemn me for life, there is only forgiveness.

Today was a “dark” day for me. But what is the good news? There is light!! Three days following his death Christ rose from the dead. He took my sin, he died for it, but he conquered it. He now lives in me, the Holy Spirit guiding me, and this day of darkness in my life will be conquered, the sun will rise again. Now the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever, Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21. I will not be defeated because I have the fountain of living water in me, it is not muddy, it is not a mire, it is clean and pure and full of knowledge and wisdom and love. The scriptures God has taken me to, the power of going to Him in prayer, and the words I am writing out now, have already brought light to my day. Oh that I would remember immediately, so that there is no amount of time I languish.

I praise God that He ministered to me so quickly and answered my prayer. At first I was praying for my daughter to be changed, “change her heart”, but then quickly saw I needed to pray “change ME Lord”, and He did! This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 1 John 5:14-15 What I really needed was perspective and to be gently nudged to loosen my grip on the control I thought I had and see that only His strength and His ways and His guidance are what controls my life and His sovereign plan is what I must yield to and rest in when raising a 3 and a half year old. I also must remember only HE knows her fully and only HE created her so I MUST go to Him for help BEFORE I get to the point of my muddy mire.

I also realized, after all the battles today, that today is the one year anniversary of when I was held up at gunpoint. Read about that here. Maybe I have emotions tied into that today, only God knows, but it is another beautiful reminder to look back and see ALL he has carried me through and to know and believe He will continue to carry me through every single day ahead. When I stop myself, when I take every thought captive, I do thrive in the great joy of knowing God and receiving His love. It has been a while since I have had a day like today where I let myself dig a deep hole of self-pity. It is NOT all about me; it is ALL about Him, my King, My Lord. I am thankful God used that to humble me, to draw me close to Him, and it couldn’t have come at a better time; the day before the anniversary of the wonderful words, It is finished John 19:30.

I was able to speak to my husband about the importance of tomorrow morning for me. I spoke to him about the sermon from last week and the history my pastor shared with us and told him Friday at 8 a.m. was the 1,982 anniversary of Christ saying “it is finished”. His replied,  “Where would you like to be tomorrow at that time, I know it is important to you and I’ll watch SG if you want some alone time”. I am amazed at the way God softens my husband’s heart to support me in the things that are not important to him. What a blessing from the Lord that he would allow my husband to honor me and honor HIM in that way. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23. Thank you Lord for every provision and for every blessing and for every testing you put in my path. You are true and faithful and good!

My day started off dark but nothing compared to what Christ went through. Because he went through that, for me, my Savior, I am filled once again with hope and joy and my head is up worshiping my Lord instead of gazing down at my “problems”. Oh and they seem so silly and small now compared to what so many others are going through. They are my battles to overcome and they are in God’s hands, the hands He uses to mold me for His glory!

 

Indescribable

I have been struggling with patience, mainly with SG. I have confessed this sin, pleaded for help with it. I have seen progress. I have felt God working in this area, but NOTHING like today. Wow, today WAS indescribable! So here goes my story, in hopes to encourage and exalt our mighty God for the riches He is bringing into my family and His Kingdom!

A friend gave me a series of DVDs by Louie Giglio (thank you Angela!). Today, I told SG we were going to watch a discussion about God’s creation. The first DVD called, Indescribable, basically explained and showed what Psalm 19:1 says – The heavens are telling the glory of God, and their expanse declares the work of His hands. It was a beautiful presentation of His galaxies, and universe, and His power and majesty. Also how grace and Christ are written all over it.

As you can imagine, since it wasn’t a cartoon, SG’s interest and attention weren’t long lasting. She started off good but became preoccupied with other things and I was okay with that until she got loud. I asked her to please play a little bit quieter because I wanted to finish the DVD. She looked at me and continued banging the bowl on the table loudly. I asked her to please listen to mommy and play quieter and after the movie we could be loud. Can you guess which choice she made? Still loud. Until….. on the DVD the images changed. Instead of him showing pictures from the Hubble and other space photos, a picture of Christ on the cross was displayed and filled up the screen. It was up there for a while as Louie Giglio read scripture. SG looked at the screen, stared at it for a while, and stopped. She looked at me and said, “Mommy I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you, I’ll be quiet, I love you.”

Tears formed, my heart skipped a beat, I was pierced. My girl SAW Christ. My girl was affected by Christ. In that moment, the literal image of Him, stopped her from her sin. What a profound example God gave me in that moment. I am to show her Christ daily by my actions, my words, my worship, my bible study. I am to put God’s words in her. I am to tell her of His great love for her. I try to do all of that, but I fail at it. With her especially, I lose my patience, I show frustration, I give her orders and want her to do what I say without always teaching her why. But God….but God! In that moment God showed my child Christ, and she was stopped, her heart turned to obedience. It was clear she was sincere.

Can you imagine how the rest of my day has gone?? Right after that I told her the verse I had memorized this week, Galations 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who lived me and gave Himself up for me. I know I was supposed to memorize that scripture for that moment with my girl, it was a perfect way to show her what that image was she saw on the screen and what it means to turn away from sin and have Christ live in us. We spent an hour in her room singing, dancing, and praising God as we played the Vertical Church Band CD. Do you know what an encouragement it is to me to hear my girl singing at the top of her lungs “open up the heavens, we want to see you open up the floodgates, a mighty river flowing from our heart, filling every part of our praise!” God has been the center of our EVERYTHING today and we are filled up because of it!

She reminds me of the sweetness and love God pours on me. She reminds me of my weakness, but HIS strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.He used her today to show me how to be the mother He has called me to be. SHOW.HER.CHRIST. Everyday, every part of the day, show her Christ. He also reminded me that she is HIS. Psalm 139:16- All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. He knows her, He reaches her, He is working on her. Just as He is working on me, He is planting seeds that are drawing her near to Him. I pray that she will grow to love God, to follow hard after Him, to accept Christ as her Savior. Today gave me a glimpse of that, and was a powerful work in me and an answered prayer to my parenting and patience struggles. Victory! Our work in our children is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 – but thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

INDESCRIBABLE!