A Work of Heart | A simple life….

My months have been running together recently. Not just the days, the weeks….but the months.

It seems like just a month ago we were celebrating Christmas, singing in the New Year, and kissing Valentine’s Day goodbye.

But here it is, another month, another day, and more on my plate than I can handle.

These past few months have been trying for me in my spiritual walk with Christ.

Nothing bad has happened. Nothing tragic. Life is all-in-all perfect and blessed and I’m extremely grateful for it. But sometimes there are spiritual battles going on within us that take our focus off God, and place them on frivolous things or emotions.

It’s the fact that sometimes, we see our lives as meaningless. When we don’t have these amazing things that we’re doing, right here…right now…
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I’ve come through that time this past week. God has tediously been working on my heart over the past 6 months, but even more so these past 3 months. God has a lot in store for my little family over the next couple of years, and the overwhelming feeling of “doing it all” has gotten to me.

And I’m so excited about it, because I know that it’s just one step closer to His will, to His beauty, to Him restoring us to glory.

My walk isn’t going to look like your walk. But I do struggle, just like you.

My calling may not look like your calling, and some days, many of us aren’t ok with that.

But when it comes to the heart….

How do you function? How do you allow God to continue His work in you when you just can’t deal with the emotions, the frustration, and the business of life? Life is far more busy than I ever expected it to be.

What we don’t realize is that sometimes, God will use the most simple everyday moments to help you grow, to help you “deal”, and to help change your heart. He has certainly been teaching me this more and more every day.

The key is, you have to allow it.

You have to accept that we do have emotions and stupid moments, that things can annoy us easily and that we aren’t flawless. You have to trust that you’re weak, and He is strong.

You have to realize that you cannot function without leaning on Him every.single.day.

You have to realize that while you’re reading this, I’m talking directly to your soul, not someone else’s.

We often accept the good things people say about us, but what about the bad things…the criticism?

You see, in order to have growth, you must change. But why would you change the good things? Wouldn’t you change the bad things? And if you can’t accept the bad things in your life…the criticism…then how will you ever know what is bad, so that you can grow?

But how do we get to that point, where we’re fully leaning on God in every circumstance, in every little detail of our lives?

We pray.

We spend time with Him, daily.

We realize that we are weak, and that without whispering that little prayer every morning, we are trying to do everything on our own. Without it, it doesn’t work….

…it never works…

This week I’ve decided to schedule my day around God. Every single day.

Chores will be done in the mornings so that my afternoon’s are mostly free.

Homeschool will be done in the mornings or after “rest” time.

Dishes will be washed, laundry will be washed and drying before lunch, vacuuming will be completed.

And when rest time comes, mama’s soul will find rest as well.

Spending at least an hour with my beautiful Savior, every single day.

In order for my day to revolve around Him, my work must get done. The job that He has “called” me to do….being a mother, a wife, a homemaker. Doing it joyfully, and doing it well.

But all after I whisper that silent prayer in the morning…

Jesus.

Sometimes, the sweetest name of all is all that needs mentioned before you begin your day.

You see, I have a lot running around in my mind right now — goals that He has placed on my heart. But I feel that strong compelling feeling that, before I can take on what He wants to give me, I must first be good at the task’s that He’s already set before me.

And then I remember…

First and foremost, I’m a wife. Am I tending to all of my husband’s needs? Is the house clean when he gets home? Am I organized?

I’m a mother. Is my child getting the best of me — the quality and the quantity?
Am I spending enough time with my child each day — am I training him? Not just having fun with him — am.I.training.him?

Is his training one of my highest priorities? Or am I believing the lie that God has something more for me and I should spend more time doing that thing?

It’s one of those lie’s where we get so caught up in believing that God has called us to do something spectacular, that we forget about the biggest calling that’s been placed on our lives….motherhood.

Or am I wasting too much time, neglecting my responsibilities because of distractions? Facebook, email, phone calls….

Where’s God in my daily tasks?

I think the question should be, “why isn’t God in my daily tasks?”

or more so…

“Why am I not allowing God in my daily tasks?”

I got Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, in the mail yesterday. I started reading it as soon as I opened the package…and I haven’t been able to put it down since. It’s good for my soul, it’s what I needed, right here…right now…

Sometimes God uses the simple moments….

And sometimes, God uses the most simple people….mightily.

I have a lot of simple projects on my to-do list this week. And I’m ok with that…

Praying Without Ceasing, even when it’s hard

Prayer is one of those things that I’m extremely good at sometimes, and is extremely non-existent at other times.

In those amazing times and spans where I’m fully focused on God with prayer in my life, life becomes so amazing, light and care free. I feel like I’m dancing on air most days, and even those hard moments that come along with being a mother, aren’t so hard to get through.

But in those moments….days or weeks, even….when I simply forget to pray — when I find my days are becoming extra long and stressful…when I don’t pray because something becomes a bigger priority than God — my life changes. It’s heavy. It lacks self-control. And ultimately, my life is prayerless, and becomes more so the longer I go without prayer in my life.

I’ve been going through one of those dry spells these past two weeks. Some days have been great, but more days have been full of heaviness and stress. I get this way every few months, when quarterly work deadlines arise and I’m sitting at a computer as the TV babysits my child. One thing that I hate more than anything during this time of the quarter.

I try my hardest to do the homeschool. To do mothering. To do homemaking. But work takes priority when the paycheck is your source of life.

And then I stop and think….“did I really just say that?”Click here to

Pinpointing that exact point of change in heart is hard for me to figure out, but it happens once every quarter when I get to my deadlines. But that’s been an excuse for far too long. What’s my excuse the remaining 10 weeks in the quarter?

And then I realize….

Prayer isn’t a daily priority in my life. Which means, in so many cases, God isn’t the top priority in my life.

So what then? What do I do with this? You would think that it would be easy. You’ve realized your issue and now you just strive to pray more, right?

Wrong…

See, prayer isn’t just this 10 line paragraph that you recite to the King of the Universe. Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep….

Sure, it’s great for the kids. It allows them to learn a prayer that they will remember their entire lives. It builds their foundation of their prayer life. But prayer is so much more, as you grow in Christ.

Prayer is your love language to your Savior. It’s an expression of love, of praise, of sovereignty, and of worship. You don’t just pray when you have something to pray about — you pray without ceasing.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJ
When you realize that, no matter what, you are required…you are commanded…by the King of Kings to pray without ceasing — to always be in prayer, every.single.day. — it changes. We don’t get to just pray when times are tough. We don’t just get to pray when we have something to pray about. That’s not prayer — that’s the lie of manipulation.

So how, then, do you pray without ceasing, especially during those days when you’re crazy busy or when you just “don’t want to”?

That part is easy.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” 
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ
 
He just asks us to trust in Him. To lean on Him even through those hard times. Trusting in who He is and what He is. And when we can acknowledge that He is the only thing that is our source of life — not the paycheck, not the food on the table, not the quiet alone time, and not the everyday happiness that we think we need in order to function through out the day — then, and only then, can He direct our paths, when we allow Him to in our personal lives.

When we trust. When we believe that the purpose of praying without ceasing is because of things yet seen or experienced, it becomes easy. When we come to Him simply because we have nothing to ask of Him, but just to love on Him and thank Him for what He’s done and what is yet to come — to bless Him, instead of Him blessing us. That’s what prayer is. Though yet I have nothing, and on my own I am nothing more — I am everything when I’m with Him and in Him. I am His, and He is mine.

Yes, pray for healing, pray for deliverance, pray for salvation, pray for protection, pray for health and finances and life, pray for new birth and revival….but don’t just pray for those thing.

pray.without.ceasing.


And when He answers you….

pray again.

Seeking God During Those Simple Everyday Moments

I’ve been talking to God in my head alot this past week, especially about my prayer list for 2014. One of my worst character traits is becoming easily overwhelmed, even with simple things. So one of the things I’ve been praying a lot about recently is strength and direction on how to overcome that.

But this week has been different, because God has been dealing with my heart on so many other things.

You see, I’m one to always have a quick answer when it comes to biblical questions or when someone is looking for advice. I love giving Godly advice, I always have. You can ask my mother, she’ll tell you that I’ve always been one to speak my mind and give good advice….even to her 😉

But with that said, my biggest obstacle is being “quick” to answer. When in fact we’re called to be slow to speak.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” [James 1:19]

I realized this week that while I have bible knowledge and try my hardest to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me, I rarely pray before giving an answer. And that’s extremely dangerous….

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There’s a heartache behind every door

I can’t stand fake people.

Those people who come up to you and tell you that you look wonderful in that outfit — you know, the one you only wear in public during “that time of the month” because you’re too bloated to fit into your already way too tight regular jeans?  Yeah, you know…

Those people who tell you your children are just precious when you know they are thinking “my kids would never act this way”…those people who also aren’t even close to having children in their lives yet.

Those people who you just cringe at when you read the things they say on facebook, you know, you go through that whole, “if only you realllly knew who you are!!” when they’ve cornered someone with their sweet innocent death grip.

If I really listed all of my annoyances, I wouldn’t be much of a graceful person, would I?

And yet, somehow, I still listed three of them, and not even the three that get under my skin the most….

But then, tonight, I read a post by a friend of mine. She’s said it to me before, but it never clicked. She’s a new friend, but she’s a sweetheart. And with just one phrase, she’s taught me more than friends that I’ve had for a lifetime. Click here to

There’s a heartache behind every single door.

When I stop and think about that, whenever I’m feeling annoyed or angry with those “fake people”, it’s different…

…and I think…

What if they act this way because they don’t know any better?

What if they act this way because they’re dealing with a belittling spouse?

What if they act this way because their child is having a rough time, or giving them a hard time during those teenage years?

What if they act this way because they feel like they have to overcompensate for something they think they lack?

What if they act this way because no one has truly ever shown them the unfailing, unconditional love of Christ? 

Not the fake “I’ll pray for you” love of Christ, but truly loved them selflessly?

I learned the hard way once, never to judge someone else’s attitude, and tonight I’m reminded of it. I remember, getting into an argument with a “friend” on, where else, facebook! The sad thing is, I really didn’t know him well enough to say the things I said or “set him straight” with scriptures. He knew the word of God, and even though he twisted it often to suit his lifestyle, he knew what it said.

My husband said to me, “you don’t know, maybe he’s going through something”, soon after this “friend” lashed out at me. I brushed my husband to the side and said “whatever”. Unbeknownst to me, he really was going through something, something horrible in his marriage, and I didn’t even know it at the time. What a fool I felt like. How horrible of a witness I was to him. I filled my heart with guilt and shame for how I spoke to him when in reality all he was looking for was someone to say GOD LOVES YOU and “you’re not alone!!”.. Without actually saying it….

I don’t know what your annoyances are, but if they are anything like mine, I certainly do feel for you.

But…the next time you feel that way, the next time that person or that co worker or that “nobody” gets under your skin so badly that you just want to scream in their face, think of this….

there’s a heartache behind their door, what are you going to do about it?

Will you be mean and hateful? Judgmental and unkind? Will  you fight for your case just to be ‘right’? Or will you listen with the intent to hear, instead of answer?

Mark Twain said it best when he said,

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

And sometimes, you might be the only Bible that someone reads. Choose wisely….

The Book of Job and a Surprising Lesson

I started getting back into the word several weeks ago. I had been slacking, big time. I have had a lot on my mind in the past 2 months, especially this past month.

When I asked where I should begin, I was lead to the book of Job. When I say “lead”, I mean, I really don’t know how that works. It’s like a soft whisper to the heart, and you just “know”.

Everyone knows the story of Job, I thought to myself. Job complains for about 30 chapters and then God speaks and Job lives happily ever after.

But I, reluctantly, began to read

Verse one…

This is already boring, can we please stop now?

Chapter 10…25….34….

At this point it had taken me a month to get this far. I was procrastinating, but I knew that God lead me to Job for a reason, and I would just have to stick it out to the very end to find out.

And if I didn’t find out, I’d read it all over again.

“And then, the Lord spoke…”

 

Finally, we’ve gotten to the point where Job stops his complaining and God finally speaks to him….in riddles, albeit.

But then, something amazing happened. I’m almost to the very end of the book of Job and I read this section of verses. This section of verses that immediately sends me into an emotional state of guilt, pain, and heartache. It was one of those moments where, should my husband have been home at the time and my child have been awake, they would have thought I was a big giant mess of a baby.

But as the tears streamed down my face, guilt faded and peace entered into my heart.

I’ve been having a lot of emotional and one on one talks with God lately. Sometimes I think I could solve all the mysteries of the world when I talk to Him. But, quite honestly, they are one sided.

He sits and listens while I complain to Him, or about Him — and when I’m done complaining, I move onto the next household chore or email response and forget to listen to His response to the case I’ve presented to Him.

But these verses, it was like a universal salve. The answer to a million questions. And while I don’t expect you to understand what I’m saying, I know that another mama might be going through the same things I’m going through right now — asking the same questions and needing the same comfort from our Savior. Someone who might be wondering what the reasoning is behind direction or discipline from the Lord.

What did the verses say, you ask? They are not what you might expect. There’s really no amazing revelation within these verses, unless, at the proper moment, God opens your heart and mind to read it when you need it the most.

“She [the ostrich] lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand,      unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;    she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or         give her a share of good sense.Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.” [Job 39:14-18]

I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but it makes sense to me.

In that moment, when I read these verses, I knew.

I knew that I didn’t want to be this type of woman. I don’t want to be this type of mom.

I knew that the easy way out (laying her eggs in the warm sand so that she didn’t have to sit on them) isn’t always the best way. I knew that in the end, the easy way was the one with the most risks — risks that weren’t necessary. I knew that if I didn’t properly train my child, then I’m leaving him wide open to being trampled on by the world.

I knew that I didn’t want to be a harsh mom. And not that I am a harsh mom, or that I am a harsh mom because I want to be — but because I don’t deal with being overwhelmed very kindly.

I’m not compassionate enough.
I’m not kind enough.
I’m not humble enough.
I’m not loving enough.

I don’t want to be the mom who makes her children feel like she doesn’t have enough time for them simply because she has so many other things to do.

I’m not that mom….

I’m not that mom…

I knew that I didn’t want to be the wife who cleans the house because her husband says she has to (laboring in vain). I knew that I didn’t want to take care of my household simply because I’m told to. I want to do it because I get to, because I take joy in it.

I don’t want to labor in vain. I don’t want my work as a wife and mom to be done out of bitterness, anger, or with an unappreciative attitude. I don’t want my calling as a wife and mom to be watered down, simply because I’m too worried with other things that don’t really matter.

I don’t want to be the woman of God who thinks her way is best — because the sad fact is that just because I have feathers, it doesn’t mean I can fly. Sure, they serve a purpose — I have a purpose. But it’s not always what I think it is. While I’m created in His image, I’m not the same, and other people aren’t like me either — whether I wish they were, or are happy they aren’t.

In just five verses, I learned more and repented more than I have in a long time. A verse about an ostrich changed my entire outlook on motherhood and about being a wife…a woman of God.

I had to be patient and obedient to read through the entire book of Job — and yet, my Bible Study about Job had nothing to do with Job at all.

I don’t know why God couldn’t just say “go to the 39th chapter”. I don’t understand His ways.

But I do understand, now more than ever, that His ways are so much better than mine. I know that my Creator has a plan for me, even if what I’m seeing is what I think I’m getting — it can all change in an instance….for the better…whether we believe it or not.

I was beginning to wonder why God even chose to record the story of Job — and now I know. Not just for the five verses that struck a chord with my heart, but because of all the wisdom and knowledge that God imparts to us through the story and scriptures of Job.

Maybe it’s time to start listening to that little whisper to your heart. Maybe, just maybe….

Yesterday evening, after finishing the book of Job, I asked God where I should start reading next. I kept thinking of the name Jedidiah. In fact, auto correct tells me that Jedidiah isn’t even a name.

I knew Jedidiah was in the Bible, but where? Who is he? When did he live? It took me a few minutes, but after realizing that Jedidiah was really the name that God called King Solomon, I was intrigued. Another strange fact: Jedidiah is only mentioned once in the Bible. Hmm…

I’m starting with the book of 2 Samuel, the story of King David (Solomon’s father) and will continue into Solomon’s story from there.

However, I have a feeling that this has nothing to do with Solomon….or Jedidiah….

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
Isaiah 55:8

 

Ladies Only! | The Diva Cup {Review}

UPDATED 7/7/14: I LOVEEEE my Diva Cup!! I could not function monthly without this thing. I have not had to purchase any other “monthly” items since ordering the Diva Cup. Highly recommend!!

First of all, if you’re a fella, I suggest you stop reading this blog post right now.

No, seriously, right now.

Now.

If you’re a lady who would prefer not to read about your monthly visit from Aunt Flo, then I also suggest you stop reading.

However, if you’re interested, like me, in all things “women” and how to make my “time of the month” easier, then this post is for you!

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Dear Mama Who’s Struggling to Conceive;

I understand. I’ve been there. I’m there right now.

I understand the guilt you feel. Like there’s something wrong with you. Why can’t you conceive a little one as quickly as others? After all, it seems like everyone around you is pregnant or getting pregnant. But then you remind yourself that the only reason that seems to be is because you, yourself, are trying so hard to conceive.

Dear Mama who’s struggling to conceive. I understand. But I also understand grace, mercy, love and compassion. God is so quick to show us these things, so please be quick to show them to yourself. Be easy on yourself, mama. It’s easy to get caught up in depression, exasperation and sadness when you can’t control the situation that you’re in. It’s easy to forget who the maker of all things is. It’s easy to forget who’s hands control the universe. And yet, somehow, it is so easy to doubt Him and ask Him, why?
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The worst part about conceiving, and not knowingly having anything wrong with you, is the waiting game. Just this morning I took a pregnancy test. The first one in several months. I waited until I was a week late — I wasn’t going to cave too soon. You see, on top of the waiting game, I never show a “positive” on a pregnancy test until past the 6 week mark anyway. But I thought, this morning might be different. I always think that.

But ugly guilt reared its head again this morning. The doubt and frustration came, on top of all of my other chores and issues that I was dealing with. Not only was I already having a bad morning, but I decided to take a pregnancy test, a negative pregnancy test, on top of it all. Just five minutes before, I would have bet my last dollar that I was pregnant. And as I threw my test into the trash can, I wondered what my husband would think if he knew I took a test. If he would think I’m a failure. If he would think I was silly for taking a test, because you know….it hasn’t been positive for the past 12 months…why should it be any different now? Then the words start swirling around in your head….and here comes the anger again.

Dear mama; I know how you feel. I know that it’s hard — harder than anyone can imagine. And I know that nothing anyone says can make you feel  better. But please, please don’t forget just how special and needed you are. Whether you’re trying for your second (like me) or trying for your 10th, the struggle is the same for each of us who are having a hard time on this journey, no matter what our case may be. We think the same thoughts, do the same things. But just remember this, not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Lord knowing. So don’t be afraid, for you are worth far more than many sparrows (Matt 10:29-31).

He knows your pain….

He knows your hurt and He knows your frustration. And while we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do, it’s still going to be ok. It’s ok to be frustrated, it’s ok to be upset….it’s completely understandable. But it’s not ok to place blame. It’s not ok to feel guilty. It’s not ok to get depressed. And it’s not ok to allow your emotions to be taken out on the other people in your home.

Mama, you. are. beautiful. And whether you conceive this time, next time, or never at all; God’s plan for your life far exceeds the plans that you have for yourself. God’s word does not promise us everything we want, but it does promise us everything we need. He never said our journey would be easy, but He did promise that He would be there holding onto our hand the entire way. And just when we think we’ve let go of Him, He whispers, “…but I’ve never let go of you.”

So, cry your cries today, mama. Take time for yourself. Pray. Lean on Jesus. Sob, weep, mourn. But then pick yourself back up, and allow Christ to be your strength. You have a family who needs you more than they need a sweet little miracle baby right now. You have a child who wants the best of you now, not later. You have friends who need your love and compassion in this time…in this moment, in their own struggles and tears. And you have a husband who adores you, no matter how much of a failure you think you might be.

And then, at the end of the day, if nothing else happens, let go. Lean not on your own understanding, because while we are so busy trying to make another precious little life, we forget that God is still trying to mold us and make something amazingly beautiful out of us. And if in the end we’re blessed with another precious child, we will certainly be quick to praise Him through it all. And most likely, we’ll come out of this as much better mama’s. We don’t have to understand. We don’t have to know why. And we don’t have to give up — please, don’t give up. All we have to do is trust that no matter what the outcome, God will be glorified.

Dear mama; tomorrow is a new day and a new chance. And while you’re waiting for God to open the door to the next journey in your life, praise Him in the hallway.

Review | The Child Training Bible

Several months ago I purchased a Child Training Bible kit. I had seen the kits over the past year all over facebook and the internet, and I kept saying “I want this kit!!”. I knew it would be the perfect addition to our family. I kept putting it off and putting it off, and finally, I remembered to purchase it one evening, and to my delight it was a “buy one get one free” day!! Yay!! So, I decided to share the love and give the extra one away on my blog the following week 😉 That was my very first giveaway!
If you’ve never heard of the Child Training Bible (CTB), it is a wonderful tool that every household (in my opinion) should think about having! The charts fit perfectly in your Bible and the visual index is color coded to tabs and highlighted scriptures in your Bible. The charts include over 200 scripture references, heart and gospel questions, and sample prayers.

 

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