Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

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Today's Prompt: True


If we listen to lies long enough, we start to believe they are true.  We think we are too small to make a difference, that one person cannot make a positive impact, and we go about our lives trying to fill up the void in our hearts with material possessions, elicit television and relationships which cause more harm than growth.

For a large portion of my life, this is how I lived.  I believed I had wasted my life, missed my opportunity to fulfill my calling, and that I would spend the rest of my time on earth regretting the decisions I'd made. 

But my God does not relish in suffering or have a heart of stone.  He restores and redeems.  He uses the debris of my past to recycle into a story that is new and beautiful.  He loves me in spite of the mess. 

When I saw garbage, he saw a life which has meaning and purpose.  When I was filled with shame, he saw the blood shed by his Son to make me clean.  When I told myself I was only one person, one life, he saw the bread he used to feed over five thousand people.  

In every action I take, every word I say I have an opportunity to reflect Christ.  All I have to do is decide to let his love be transparent through me.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When Your Patience is Tested

My inquisitive five-year-old. He has his Daddy's engineering brain.

We had family photos taken the other day.  The shoot was on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, and although the scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect, I found myself trying very hard not to get lost on the way there.  My husband works relatively close to the studio, so I drove separately with my five-year-old and twenty-two-month-old boys. After spending an hour getting them dressed and ready and trying to keep them from ruining their outfits, we climbed into the car.

 As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, the questions spilled out of the mouth of my oldest.  I also noticed the car was on E.

Where are we going? Why? Why are you slowing down? Why are you stopping here? What's the car in front of us doing? Where's Dadda? Did he take the blue car?

I wondered why I hadn't turned on the DVD player. Oh yes, because we created that rule. No DVD player for trips less than an hour. Why did we create that rule again?

The questions continued.  At the first twenty or so, I answer with calm.  Around question forty  I am losing my patience. 

Patience. It's a word I've thought a lot about lately. A characteristic I strongly desire to be present as I raise my children. Because not only is it vital if I'm not going to lose my ever-loving mind, but it goes hand in hand with love.

Cocking my head and yelling at him to be quiet, well, that's not love. Have I done it? Absolutely. Did I regret it? Yes.  Have I lost my temper? Yes, all to often.

I've heard several women in my life say that they never ask God to give them patience because they know the result will be a trial which tests this virtue. In other words, patience must be learned. And I agree that it is like a muscle which must be stretched and exercised in order to grow. Especially in circumstances when we are waiting on God. For an answer to prayer. For something in our life to change.

But in that moment, I didn't have time to learn a character building lesson.  I had time to mutter two words, "Jesus. Help."

I turned my head slightly and told my inquisitive boy, with as much serenity as I could muster, that I was trying to find my way to a place we'd never been and needed to concentrate. I told him to enjoy the drive and listen to the music.

To my complete amazement, he did what I asked. He was quiet for the remainder of the trip.

Now, will this always happen? I'm sure it won't. But can I call on the name of Jesus to give me the stillness I need? You bet I can.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  Another words, a supernatural ability.  One that goes contrary to my flesh.  When we receive Christ and are given the Holy Spirit, this seed is planted.  Others include joy, peace, kindness and gentleness. The more I abide in him, the more these traits will grow and become evident.

In raising kids, there are times when I need the power of the Spirit right them and there. Sometimes, He simply tells me to step away for a moment if I am able. I know that a minute in the next room will not give my boys time to kill each other.

Other times, stepping away is not an option.  And while I know my patience will be tested and grown as I continue my walk with Him, I'm so glad I can call on his name in those moments when my exasperation is at its peak.

"....But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

photo courtesy of

Today's prompt: She


She had never been the popular kid.  Quiet one.  Band chick.  Introvert.  These were words used to describe her.  Self-doubt was her constant companion.  Always afraid to speak out for fear of what people would say.  Fear of being teased or ridiculed.  Fear of rejection.  Always content with a small group of friends, she made little attempt to reach out.  Writing was her therapy, her catharsis, the words on the written page staring back at her in stark black and white.  Yes, this was all she needed.

Becoming a mom was like a bulldozer crashing through the thick wall of illusion she had built around herself.  The realization that she couldn't do this alone.  She needed community.  Women.  Encouragement and a pat on the back when she felt as though she was constantly failing.  In a new town with unfamiliar faces and surroundings, it was a stark reality, but she couldn't deny her yearning.

First one person reached out.  And then another and another.  She started feeling comfortable in her own skin and see herself for the woman she truly was.  There was something she could offer these women, and in turn they could walk the road of motherhood with her.  

Sometimes, it just takes one little push from someone who's been there before to get you to step outside of yourself.  Outside of your self-consciousness and doubt and into the light.  And once you do, you see the there's an entire world full of beautiful people waiting to greet you.


Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

No Longer a Slave

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Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending my first Beth Moore Living Proof Live simulcast.  After my experience, it definitely will not be the last.  There are people in this life whose anointing of the Spirit is so evident, so transparent, that it moves you to tears.  Beth Moore is one of them.  Although all of us who are in Christ have this anointing, the power in her speaking and the way she is able to illustrate things with conviction and humor is amazing.

This year's simulcast theme was called, "No Longer."  The subject was grace.  Many of us, including myself,  still live and think as though we are under the law even though we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior.  We confess our sin but do not believe we have been forgiven, or feel as though we have to confess it over and over.  We constantly think that God is disappointed with us.  We live with anxiety, fear, and jealousy.  We feel as though we must continue in close relationship with those who hurt, betray, and abuse us.  In other words, there are certain aspects in each of our lives which, once we belong to Christ, need to hear a loud "no longer."

As she was speaking, I found myself repeatedly saying, "Yep, that's me. Mmhmm." I struggle with many of these habits of carrying around my "old self." I compare myself too often to others and feel as though I don't measure up in some way, which leads to feelings of jealousy. I often become anxious when I am facing a major changes in my life or am preparing for a major project. I don't allow myself enough time, become overly stressed, and then lash out at those I love. This leaves me feeling remorseful, and I feel the need to repeatedly ask forgiveness. 

Did you know that in all of the translations of Scripture the word "disappoint" is only used a handful of times, and it is never used to describe God's feeling toward his children?  He is the beginning and the end.  He knows your story.  He cannot be let down or disillusioned.  In fact, in the few times it is used, the word "disappoint" depicts what we will not  feel once we belong to Him.  His hope will not disappoint.  His love will not fail.  He gives you everything you need to break old, damaging habits. 

I don't know about you, but all of this leaves we feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to put on my dancing shoes. But what is the next step? 

In order to live out a lasting "no longer" we must realize that we are not under the law, but  grace.  As Romans 6:6 states, "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might we done away with, that we should no longer be a slave to sin-because anyone who has died has been freed from sin."  Carrying around our old sin is like carrying around a corpse.  It stinks.  It weighs us down.  It keeps us from living a full, abundant life, which is what God desires for each of us.  As Beth stated, "Grace is not our permission to sin and stay in the same pattern; it is our permission to go."  God, through his grace, give us the ability to rid ourselves of habits of self destruction.  Anything in your life that becomes a stronghold is making you a slave to your old self.

Identify your what the strongholds in your life are. Some of mine are comparisons and jealousy, anxiety and guilt. When I begin feeling this things, I need to name it for what it is: sin, confess it to God and believe I have been forgiven. It's cast as far as the east is from the west.

 Another words, forgotten. Poof. Move on.

Also look for things in your life which trigger those feelings. If it's social media for example, take a break or turn it off when you feel your thoughts going in a harmful direction. If it's a person who constantly betraying or hurting you, you may want to distance yourself from that relationship. Forgiveness does not always mean maintaining close contact. (2 Thessalonians 3:14)

Sisters, we are no longer slaves, but heirs.  As Galatians 4:6 states, the Spirit God has given us cries out "Abba," Father. It is not a spirit of fear, anxiety, jealousy or self-condemnation.  It is one of peace, joy and comfort.  Earnestly seek God and he will fill you with what you lack.  Abide in his word.  Meditate on his promises.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  He is waiting for you to sit and talk with him, and tell him what's on your heart.

"We will see the face of Grace and need grace to bear the beauty." -Beth Moore

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

photo courtesy of

Today's prompt: Mercy


So often when I come before God, my basin is not just empty.  It is parched.  Dry and cracked from weathering the elements, the dry, hot sun.  Completely drained.  And still he has mercy on me.  He fills me up.  He gently reminds me, yet another time, that if I want to change the world around me and be a light in the dark I must start with Him.  I must start on my knees.

He tells me to make one move.  I look down at my pedometer and realize I have made twenty.  I have somehow wandered off course, have no idea where I am or how I got there.  I am empty and hurting, feeling as though I've failed yet again.

His grace is too much for me to comprehend.  And yet it is my reason for breathing and waking and rising and going forth into each day.  It is the reason I can watch the 6:00 news and not spend the rest of the night lying awake in fear.  It is everything, and yet its mystery is impenetrable.

He reveals little glimpses of it, day by day.  In my children's unexpected hug.  In the the coolness of the morning that gives me goosebumps as we walk to the bus stop.

When I wander outside of the mercy, the grace, instead of His thoughts becoming my thoughts, I resort to my own wandering ways.

God, help me to abide in you.  Each second of each day.  Humble me.  May your rain  penetrate me deep and produce glory to glory.


Five Minute Friday

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mess or Masterpiece?

A few months ago my friend Misty and I met for an impromptu play date at the park.  As we were chasing our kids around, she asked me a question that made me chuckle.  "So what do you do all day?"  It's a question we often ask ourselves as mothers, but not many are brave enough to put out in the open.  We soon discovered that I spent most of the day doing "damage control" with my eighteen-month old son, who enjoys rampaging through the trash and emptying  cabinets, and she was going through the separation anxiety phase with her 10-month-old daughter.  Activities that, in the grand trajectory of life, may not seem to matter.  Times when it's easy to question whether we are really making an impact, doing something valuable with our lives.

Then comes social media.  Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, you name it… everyone's seemingly neat little lives posted for the whole world to see, and endless opportunities for mothers to make comparisons which lead to feelings of inadequacy.  We talked about the perfectly made crafts we see mothers doing with their children on Pinterest, and I wondered if anyone posted advice for dealing with the consequential headache.

Our conversation reminded me of a parenting devotion I recently read by Jim Daly, who states that one of the pitfalls we often make when raising children, especially when we spend significant time looking at social media, is that we compare other people's "highlights" to our "blooper reels."  Although there are some exceptions, most moms aren't posting on Facebook about their son's decision to redecorate his room with poop or their daughter's spontaneous meltdown on aisle ten of the grocery store.  And when we compare these types of moments to someone else's "highlights," when the kids are behaving and playing nicely, not only do we set ourselves up for disappointment but we miss out on the blessings and gifts God has given each of us, uniquely shaped and made to reflect His glory.

Paul writes in Ephesians "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  (Ephesians 2:10, New Living Translation)  Not God's rough draft, scrap work, or mistake.  God's masterpiece.  Embrace this truth, fellow moms.  Although there will be moments, sometimes even days, when it feels like your life is simply one huge mess, each event tells a beautiful story.  When we step back and see the connectedness, how the way we handle the discouraging times  affects the course of our lives,  we can then catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.  Then we realize that even when covered in spit up and poop, if we love God and love our children even the "blooper reels" really do matter.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

It's Friday.  Where hundreds of writers come together every week over at the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to spend five minutes writing about one thing.  One word.  No hyper-editing.  No getting in your own way.  Just writing, flat out.  The most important rule: encourage the writer who linked up before you.  Won't you join us?

Today's prompt: Red


As I make my way with the clunky stroller around the farmer's market, I spot a stack of bright red gala apples.  My mind immediately goes to warm pies baking in the oven, the aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg permeating the house, fires burning in the wood stove and candles burning.  Fall is just around the corner, and I can taste it, thick in the crisp breeze that blows across my 21 month old's face and makes him giggle.

Humidity is lifting and in a few weeks, the bright colors of red, orange and yellow will makes their first appearance.  The maple across the street will burst to life, and towns across three neighboring states will have their annual autumn festivals, full of apple butters, canned goodness, endless jams and hayrides.

Afternoon comes in the blink of an eye and as I make my way to the bus stop and feel the warm sunlight on my face, I'm reminded of something one of my favorite authors wrote. How each season is a reminder of the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, and I'm so grateful for the coming display of all of all his glory before what is predicted to be a bitterly cold winter.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When You Feel Insulted

Last week my oldest started kindergarten.  It was a big transition for our family, so I dealt with it by keeping myself busy for the entire day, which wasn't hard to do since we were leaving for a five hundred mile trip to my brother-in-law's wedding the next day.  It was a rainy, dreary day so I drove to the bus stop with my youngest in tow to drop him off and pick him up and made small talk with some of my neighbors who were waiting at the stop with me.  

Then it happened.  One of the neighbor ladies, who I've never talked to much before, asked me a question ruined my entire afternoon.  She asked me if I was pregnant.  

Now, if I was pregnant, even a tiny bit, the question would not have stung.  But I'm not.  Not in the slightest.  Just, no.

I've never been the type of person who's been able to disguise how I'm feeling very well so I'm sure my face said it all.  I gave her a simple "no," after which there was much backtracking on her part.

I went home and scoured my closet for a dress to wear to the upcoming wedding only to find that of course nothing looked good enough anymore and every dress accentuated parts of my body that I wanted to hide.

At this point I had two choices.  I could internalize the comment, which is my natural reaction, or I could reach out to the beautiful women around me.  Beautiful on the inside and out.  I chose to do that latter, and I am so glad.

I found encouragement.  I found lots of "What the…."  I found empathy.  And I felt better.  So much better.

Having kids changes your body.  Having two c-sections changes it even more.  And even if you lose the baby weight, chances are you will never look like you did in high school.  And that's ok.  The blessing of having two little ones running around the house, laughing, playing, and sharing memories is worth so, so much more.

Having friends to walk the road with you and be with you through the ups and downs…well, that's priceless.