Friday, March 28, 2014

Mighty in the Chaos

Today I'm joining hundreds of other writers to write for five minutes flat about one word. No hyper-editting. No backtracking. Loving and encouraging your fellow writers. Won't you join us over here?

Today's word: mighty

Nothing makes this mama of two boys feel more inadequate than when five o' clock rolls around, I'm trying to make dinner while the kids are fighting in the next room, and I'm wondering why on earth I didn't order a pizza for dinner. I think how calm and peaceful of a person I was less than an hour ago, and somehow all of that collectedness flew out the window as soon as my five-year-old jumped into the car at the bus stop and immediately began antagonizing his younger brother.

Why did I think I was qualified to raise these children who send me over the edge of my sanity faster than the blink of an eye? Where was this temper than rages within me when I was in my twenties? As I stand here and try to dodge grease splattering from the skillet while at the same time trying not to trip over my toddler who refuses to stay out of the kitchen for more than thirty seconds.

In those nano-moments between the yelling and the tattling and the tripping over small feet, I say the only name that can make me mighty when I am weak. When I am failing.


It's all I have time to say but it's all I need. He gives me the grace that I so desperately lack. He fills in the spaces when I wonder if I'll make it until bedtime. He is my mighty warrior in the battlefield of my life filled with calls of "mama" when all I want to do is lay my head down on the pillow. 

And even though order is not restored I somehow manage to get food on the plates while the kids are still alive.

He's my power in the midst of the chaos.

Monday, March 24, 2014

When the Answer Doesn't Come

As I lifted my dear family up in prayer one day in late September, my words seem to reverberate off the ceiling and back down to me. I couldn't remember how long I'd been praying for him. Days, months, years, decades? Was I crazy to continue petitioning God for an answer that may never come? Was I truly interceding on behalf of this person or was I simply wishing for an ending that was impossible?

As these questions and doubts circled through my brain I remembered the words of Pastor Cymbala in his study, "When God's People Pray." He jokingly said the hardest part of the wait during any test or trial is the last thirty minutes. We want to give up. We don't see a result and think persistence is futile, but sometimes the response is just one prayer away.

Our finite mind's wait for an answer may seem never-ending, but our infinite God's work has only begun. Tweet this!

So, with my limited understanding of God's thoughts and ways, I continue to look upward. I pray because there have been times when I had no doubt that He had reached down and touched His hand on my life. Sometimes the answer is almost immediate.

About a year after moving to the area where we currently live, I went through a period when I felt extremely alone. We weren't making new friends the way I thought we would. We were trying, but failing, to connect with our community, and I felt incredibly discouraged. I cried out to God one day and asked Him to show me he was there with me, to relieve this feeling of loneliness from my heart.

Within a half hour, I received an unexpected knock at my door. It was my neighbor and friend who I was beginning to know, and she stopping by to drop off some hand me down clothes for my boys. And to give me a hug. Although she'd never hugged me before, that day, when I needed an act of love so badly, she did. Coincidence? I don't think so. God used a neighbor to show me He was there, and all I had to do was ask. 

Since that day, we've found a church home, formed new friendships, and are volunteering in numerous ways in our church and in the community. He has answered me in ways I never imagined. So regardless of whether the answer to my intercessory prayer is minutes away, years away, or in another lifetime, I will continue to call out in the name of Jesus. 

If you're struggling through a difficult time right now and wondering whether God hears your cries for help, know that He does. Keep calling on Him. You could be a prayer away from an answer that will change your life.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Undiluted Joy

Today I'm joining hundreds of other writers to write for five minutes flat about one word. No hyper-editting. No backtracking. Loving and encouraging your fellow writers. Won't you join us over here?

Today's word: joy


When I was fifteen years old, I met a boy who challenged everything I ever knew about joy. I was on a mission trip to a town living in extreme poverty just south of the Mexico border. This kid who was no more than twelve years old was confined to a wheelchair. Living in a home that was no more than a shack. Dirt floors, no doors or windows, hardly enough shelter to protect his family from the elements.

And he was filled with pure, unadulterated joy. It was contagious. The Light of Christ shined through him so brightly, so potently that you were drawn to him. I wanted to taste this happiness he had that was not dependent on any material thing this earth had to offer.

Joy in it's most tangible, undiluted form has nothing to do with the car we drive, the size of the house we own, or the clothes in our closet and everything to do with a God who made himself flesh and turned our world upside down when he said, "The last shall be first."

And the beautiful thing about this God, my God…the CHRIST is that when we ask for more of Him, he will never disappoint. You want to know the best part? Once he fills us, our focus is not inward, but outward. He will pour until your heart is overflowing, and you will have no choice but to spread the love that is hurting within you to touch every person you meet. 

Just one person. And the ripple effect begins.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Bravo from One Mom to Another


Today I am using my blog to do something I've never done before: to promote another blogger's book. Lisa-Jo Baker is the creator of one of my favorite websites, and has just authored her first memoir, which will be released April 1. 

Although I've only read the first three chapters, I can already tell this is going to be an awesome piece. What I love about Lisa-Jo is that her writing is in no way pretentious or self-important. She has an uncanny way of cheering mothers on while at the same time being completely, inextricably real. While taking in first part of the book, I laughed, cried, and nodded my head in agreement, sometimes all within the same page.

If you are looking for a book about how to be the perfect parent, or a step-by-step guide to raising godly children who obey all the rules, then this book is not for you. But if you are looking for writing that is authentic and genuine, which will remind you of the glories of motherhood without trying to blanket the trials and tears, join me and the hundreds of others who have already pre-ordered their copy of this spring-summer read.

You can pre-order yours right here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When You Face Rejection

As I perused the publisher's rejection letter, I felt like I was in middle school gym class all over again, waiting for one of the team captains to call my name. The words "unable to place" and "good luck" stood out in crisp contrast to the white of the page. Although this wasn't the first time, nor would it be the last, I felt the need to crawl back into bed even though it was 3:30 in the afternoon.

One of my first writing teachers had prepared me for this. He once told me he'd considered using all of the rejection letters he'd received over the years as wallpaper for his office. His writing space. A twisted sort of motivation to keeping trying, and to submit only his best work.

As much as we try to prepare ourselves for rejection, it always stings. We make ourselves vulnerable, wrapping the essence of ourselves in words and then bravely put them on display for the entire world to see. And sometimes the world simply doesn't have the have the same connection with the words that we do.

We call out to God in prayer, asking him to bless our pursuits while telling ourselves that we really do desire his will and his timing, but when we receive the dreaded answer that we must wait, we hang our heads in despair. We don't like it. We tap our feet with restless uncertainty, trying our best to tame the fire that burns within us. Wondering how we can possibly handle another decline, another "no." But when He finally answers, we realize that his plan far exceeded anything our wildest dreams could've set in motion.

Our culture fervently screams "now is best," but God calls us to yield and rest.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mirror of An Inward State

As move through the Lent season, today I am partnering with my sisters over at She Reads Truth to take a look at a penitential Psalm from David, Psalm 38.  

She Shares Truth

Have you ever experienced a season in life when everything is going is wonderfully and you give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done? You think to yourself, "God must be really pleased with me right now. He is blessing me for all of my accomplishments."

Sisters, I have been there. But this is a very dangerous road. It leads, sometimes quite deceitfully, to legalism. Anything magnificent that we do in this life is because the Spirit reaches through us toward an aching world. It is not of ourselves.

David's Psalm-his petition to God to forgive him for his depraved, sinful state- is like holding up a mirror to the depths of our hearts. We are not worthy. Not a single one of us. None of us are entitled to the grace and mercy God freely gives to those who repent and believe on his name, but because of who He is, because of the very essence of his character and his being, he gives it to us.

David does not ask that he not be punished. He simply asks God to discipline with mercy and not anger. As a father reprimands a child, so God will often let us experience a season of difficulty or consequence to draw us closer to Him. To let us be painfully aware of our need for Him.

As we approach Him, let us be like David. He drowns out the mindless talk of everyone else who is around him saying, "But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth." (Psalm 38:13 NLT) Instead of trying to defend his reputation or plead his case, he leaves it in the Lord's hands. The safest place to rest.

When we acknowledge our sin and lay it down before God, not trying to hide or excuse it or manipulate Him into overlooking it, we find peace. We can find sweet respite in the assurance that our Savior is just, forgiving, and compassionate. 

There in his firm grasp is where our sin, our utter blackness, meets Hope. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

When Doubt Rears Its Shadow

photo courtesy of

What if self doubt didn't have the final say? I wondered as my fingers hovered over the mouse board, dancing with the idea of attending my first writer's conference. My husband and usual sounding board was away on a business trip, so I sat there for ten minutes having an inner monologue. Finally, I took the leap.

I clicked the register button. Phew! It's done. Feelings of excitement mixed with nervousness washed over me, and I rode on the high of that combination until the following weekend.

Immediately after opening my eyes and springing forward into Daylight Savings, the uncertainty seeped in. Did I honestly say that I want to meet with a publisher? I've never written a book proposal before. I have no list of accolades to add to a query or to present at this meeting. I don't have 20k + Twitter followers. Who am I to think these people would choose me out of the hundreds looking for a book deal?

At that moment, I felt like Gideon could have been my brother. God had given me confirmation before. I was brainstorming ideas for a book, had a "light bulb" moment, and prayed asking for validation of the road He wanted me to take. He provided. And here I was asking for further proof. Another push.

My devotion that afternoon led me to these verses from Job 42. "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." As the tears welled in my eyes, I thanked God yet again for his mercy. His patience with me, even when my faith is as tiny as a mustard seed.

I know my future meeting with a publisher may end with a rejection letter. And quite possibly another may follow. But I also know this: I would rather try and fail than spend my life wondering what could have been possible if I went for it. If I went after that dream.

God placed it deep within my heart so many years ago. It's been molded and etched and pressed upon until I finally realized.

It's all for Him.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are You Willing?

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?


The question was starkly clear. I tried to dilute it with conditions. Ifs, ands, buts. However hard I tried to evade giving an answer, I knew it was pointless. Are you willing? I kept hearing the question pulsating over and over in my head. Are you willing to put your trust in Me?

As I thought about all of the times in my past when He was faithful, my confidence grew. I remembered His promises. That it is impossible for Him to fail. Impossible for him to go against his word.

With my entire body trembling, I put one foot over the boat, then the other. Perhaps that was the easy part, because I realized once both feet were on the water that a thousand distractions were begging me to take my eyes off Him. The wind, the waves, the darkness. But the more focused my gaze became, the less my doubts threatened to overtake me. I continued to move forward.

Sometimes the water and the waves overtake me. I divert my eyes for a moment. That's all it takes. But he never lets me stay beneath the surface. With steady hands, he lifts me up. Time and time again.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Never Enough Time?

There is a phrase I often hear come out of the mouths of moms. "I wish there were more hours in the day." Or, "I wish I had more time…" I've muttered something similar more times than I can count, and often find myself looking at the clock wondering where the day has gone. Sometimes I am delighted at the fact that it is almost eight-o-clock, because I know that the kids will soon be in bed and I'll get a few minutes to unwind and talk to my husband before laying my exhausted head on the pillow. Other times I wonder how I'm going to get everything I need to get done before eventually passing out.

Time. It is a precious commodity. And yet so often we feel as though we waste it or wonder where it all went. As a stay-at-home mom, time is the resource I have the most difficult time managing. Or am I just being too hard on myself? Over the course of the past several years since having children, I've pondered this question and there are a few things I've learned.

Make a to-do list if it helps you, but don't let it define you. Often I get half way through my day and feel as though I've accomplished nothing, when in fact I've gotten a lot done. I've made my kids' breakfast, helped them get dressed, packed my oldest son's lunch, started a load of laundry, and so on, but somehow I think I should have done more. Having a list, even if simply for the sake of checking things off, can give me a visual picture of everything I've achieved. However, if I beat myself up because I haven't finished all the items listed at the end of the day, I need a reminder that raising kids requires grace, both for myself and my children. Spending a few extra minutes to help my child understand his homework is more important than the dirty dishes in the sink.

Making memories is more valuable than having a spotless house. I am a tad OCD when it comes to clutter. But having kids has loosened me up and made me realize that my kids need a space to have their toys strewn everywhere without me interfering with their fun. And when my son asks me to play Legos with him? That is more important than the clothes which need to be folded. These days are limited, and there will come a time when he's not asking me to play with him anymore. Legos may not be my favorite pastime, but I can do a pretty mean Lego Batman voice and make my son giggle until my heart swells.

There are moments in your day you don't want to rush. Time with God. Time with you kids. Time with people who matter. There was a recent quote from a blog I follow that really stuck with me. God doesn't ever say, "Hurry up and come to me." He doesn't speak to me when I'm rushed or constantly looking at the clock. He speaks to me when I'm quiet. When I'm still. In the same way, my son often needs a few minutes to collect his thoughts and tell me what he needs to say. If my attitude is rushed and anxious, I will not hear it. And if I don't listen to my son at five, he's less likely to talk to me at ten or twelve or sixteen.

I also relish the hours I spend with my husband, extended family, and friends as well, and never want them to feel as though the time I spend with them is unimportant. If needed, I schedule it. I am intentional about clearing a space when, even if my kids are with me, I can enjoy their company without worrying about the need to do something or be somewhere else.

A busy life does not equal a fulfilled life. The older my children get, the more packed our schedule becomes. Between church and school activities and sports and extra curricular interests, the calendar is often filled before the month even begins. However, I've learned that we need at least a day here and there to simply do nothing. Sometimes "nothing" may mean watching movies all day with my family. Or playing at the park. But the schedule is clear for whatever we decide to do on that given day. I've met families who barely have time to breathe before their next dinner or outing or event. And they are not happy. They are exhausted.

As I look back on the years I've spent on this earth, the glimpses that stand out the most are the ones where I was loving the people I've been blessed to have in my life, and loving them well. Responsibilities and deadlines will never cease in this lifetime, but I don't want to forget to make memories that pass beyond the present. God, help me to remember the things that last. To look ahead.

To embrace the eternal.