devotional

I Just Want to Write . . .

The busyness of life has been weighing on me these last few months. It’s incredible to watch a large event come together, but I always underestimate the amount of work that will go into it. This year we decided to make the Homesteaders of America conference a two-day event, and I’m so happy that we did. Next weekend, October 12 and 13, I get to see all of this hard work that myself and my team have put into this event finally come to fruition. It will be grand. It will scream freedom from the rooftops. And it will bring together a community of people that believe in being good stewards of the land. We’re different to some people, and completely normal to ourselves. I can’t wait to celebrate this life with my fellow weirdos.

In the course of the last two years, I’ve planned two years of homesteading conferences, written two homesteading books, spent every hour of every day being a mom, a friend, and a teacher. During the course of the last hour of me trying to write this blog post, the phone has rang six-and-a-half times, a nine-year-old little boy with crystal blue eyes and dirty hands needed lunch, a basket full of laundry has been folded, and I’ve stared out the window for about forty-five seconds wondering where I put my wallet . . . and my mind.

. . . and all I can think about is, “I just want to write.”

And that’s exactly what I intend to do when the chaos is over, the lights go away, and everything becomes calm and quiet. I’ve never been the person who’s wanted to go completely reclusive, but honestly, I’ve said it more times than not that I’d love to go to a cabin in the woods this winter, sit by myself, watch snow fall, and just do nothing but write by a fire. Perfect world, right?

But even just a small, little break (this blog post) makes a creative’s soul happy. So today I’m writing . . . and it might not make a whole lot of sense . . . but it’s old school blogging at it’s finest. Welcome to the early 2000’s and the way we used to blog.

I want to document this life that is flying by me so fast, here we go….

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Mini Devotional | Making a Difference

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” ― Francis Chan; Crazy Love

More and more each and everyday I realize that I am simply a vessel used by God. I literally am nothing without Him, through Him. I learn that it doesn’t matter how many times I fail, how many times I give up, or how many times I have no earthly clue what I’m doing—He’s going to use me despite all of my mishaps and crazy, only for His purpose.

In fact, He’ll use me even when I’m feeling the most confused and “unusable”.

Sometimes I think that if we were to remind ourselves of this greater purpose on a regular basis, we might see life a bit differently.

I don’t understand why things happen in this world most days, but I can tell you this, God is still alive and well and moving. I know because I see it each and every day. People look at me like I’m crazy, but friends, the things I witness on a regular basis are nothing short of a miracle.

God. Is. Real.

God is alive and well.

I have phone conversations with people I wouldn’t have dreamed of speaking to in 1,000 years, and we talk about dreams and the “greater good”. Some of them pan out, some of them don’t.

But God used me . . . . somehow, in some way, I was used. Those conversations had a purpose. Growth happened inside.

Even something as simple as witnessing a chicken lay an egg, and sharing that with my friends or family—getting back to the land—God used me.

Even in the midst of a conversation with a hurting wife online who needs direction, even if I don’t have all the answers, God used me.

Do you know that no matter what you do or say in this life, nothing matters unless you’re doing it with a greater purpose in mind.

Someone said to me today, “I’m not in the business of entertainment anymore, I’m in the business of making a difference.”

And the flood gates open wide . . . and in that moment, when your heart is completely open to whatever may come your way . . . . God uses you too, friends. He uses us to make a difference.

A lot of the things in life that God asks you to do, or leads you to do, will be simple. But the reality is that we serve an incredibly big God, and sometimes, He’s going to ask us to do incredibly big things when we have no idea how to do them.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

So I challenge you right now to think of something that you know God is calling you or asking you to do. You know it. You’ve probably already thought of it in that split second of reading this.

And then, put it on your calendar. Open your heart. And see what God does. See how God uses you. Friend, it’s going to be crazy. But it’s going to be worth it.

Be in the business of doing, of making a difference, not just entertaining the thought of it anymore .

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” ― Francis Chan; Crazy Love

Living Intently Through Grace-Filled Motherhood

Grace-filled motherhood can be hard to live. But it's absolutely attainable. Learn how.

Grace-filled motherhood—it’s something I’ve struggled with over the last few years. I’m quick to give others grace, and to tell others to give themselves grace. But myself? Yeah, no. That’s hard.

When we’re young adults without kids, we think we know everything there is to know about raising children. It’s partially because we still very much remember being kids ourselves. I’d never be that type of parent, we tell ourselves. And then some days our mother flows right out of us and we get slapped upside the head with the wet noodle of reality. But if you’re anything like me, you think back to the times when your parents were right, and you were wrong. And to the times when you were right, and your parents were wrong.

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When God Pursues You

I woke up that morning with more heaviness on my heart. It’s not uncommon for me to have dreams, especially since I’m normally in and out of sleep constantly during the night. But this was just one more dream to add to the list over the last few weeks that had the same theme over and over again. What did all of this mean? 

I’m not one to dream about my family or myself. I often dream weird dreams that make no sense, and they remind me that I shouldn’t eat chocolate cake before bedtime. Yeah, those kind of dreams.

But these were different.

In the first dream, that I can remember, I was running away from something and taking my family with me (my husband and son). I was frantic, but they didn’t seem too bothered about it. They were calm and peaceful, and I was a frightened mess.

In the next dream, there was a new person. A person from my past. Someone I hadn’t seen in years. What on earth is this guy doing here, I thought to myself. But even he was pretty calm and collected.

Several dreams came and went, all of me and several people in my life (family or past friends) running and hiding somewhere. Trying to get away from someone or something.

But I can remember one of the final dreams vividly . . . because I was suddenly running all alone.

In this dream, all of these people were gone. I was the only one running. All by myself.

I woke up. And even though I knew it was just a dream, I sat there and wondered, why did everyone leave me? And even more so, what on earth am I running from?

I knew I was running from “someone”, but I could never figure out who or, maybe more importantly, why?

It upset me. This was torture. Never in my life have I ever had so many dreams one after the other after the other, with the same theme, different locations, random people, but very much all about me. I had come to the conclusion that I was either eating something totally wrong before I went to bed, or my mind was in a state of stress from all the things I’ve been doing. I mean, it’s not like writing two books in a year, planning a major homesteading/farming conference and fair, being a wife and mom and boss, weren’t overwhelming enough. Now, I had this weighing on me?

The next day was Sunday. Good. Time to go to church and start a brand new week all over again. Except recently I’d found myself thinking more about work and things I had to get done while listening to a sermon, rather than focusing on the sermon that my soul so desperately needed.

I shook my head a little bit, as if to wake myself out of the brain fog, and abruptly started paying attention to our amazing pastor and the sermon he’d prepared for us that day.

“…and sometimes we don’t think God is talking to us, but did you know that God can talk to us in dreams?”

Whoa hey, mister, get out of my head! I looked around, almost as if to see other people’s reactions. It always gets a little weird when we start talking about God talking to us. Our poor Vice President Pence was recently told that he had a mental illness because he believes the God of the universe speaks to him.

But it was just me. I was the only one looking around, as best I could tell. It was as if I was in a room and everyone else was standing still. It was as if God was talking directly to me, all of a sudden.

It wasn’t weird for me. I totally “got it”.

Call me crazy, but I’ve had plenty of dreams where I have gone to people I’ve dreamed about (and not the everyday average dream), told them about it, and had them fall apart and tell me how much they needed to hear about that dream right there in that moment. There have been other times where I’ve shared a dream and it didn’t make any sense at all, until years later.

But why, here, in this moment, was I so absent minded that these dreams could actually be for a reason? Dreams for a purpose? This torture of a dream that I’d been walking through, could it have been torture because I just wasn’t “getting it?” Because I wasn’t in-tune with what was happening?

You’d think, wouldn’t  you, that I’d go home and I’d “get it” and I’d pray before bed that night and everything would be grand. But no, I didn’t.

We went to lunch, we went home, and that evening I didn’t pray. In fact, I hadn’t been praying much at all in recent weeks. Instead, my thoughts were filled with things I needed to get done, things that didn’t get done, places I needed to be, things I needed to create and do and . . . and . . .

. . . and there seemed to be less and less time for God.

A week or so passed, and this trend continued. I’d find various quiet moments where I’d say a little prayer throughout the day. I’d even fit in talking with God like, “dear Jesus give me strength before I smack somebody,” type of talking to God. It was always on my time. It was always when it was convenient. And that was ok, right? I mean, God knows I love Him and cherish Him and, yeah, like, Jesus is my homeboy.

But no, no, it wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t connecting with God anymore. I had become, what the Bible calls, “a babbling prayer.” (Matthew 6:7)

Nighttime came, once again. Another dream came, once again. But this time, it wasn’t anything I was running from. This time, it was something I was running towards, and it wasn’t something I should’ve been running towards. Something I had seen in a previous dream. A hindrance. An idea or minuscule thought that was leading me into comparison, disconnection and yet, unnecessary connection, and ultimately, a vivid image of being lost. An imagery of choosing one thing over the other. The imagery of being alone and vulnerable. The imagery of not allowing myself to be pursued in the dreams before it—of being pursued by God.

I opened my eyes, sat up in bed, and that’s when it all made sense.

I was being pursued by a God who doesn’t force Himself into your life. Who doesn’t force you to connect with Him and share your life with Him. But who pursues you, constantly, until you simply choose not to be pursued any longer.

And even then, He still calls to us. He still wants to draw near to us.

…he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us… [James 4:5]

He was quietly calling for me the entire time. Ushering me into His presence. Begging for His child to call out to Him, to spend time with Him. And all this child did was keep running. Running to the next project, running to the next job, running to the next batch of laundry that needed folding, running to the next chapter of the book that needed writing.

And eventually, with each new run, He got further and further away. I was aimlessly running further and further away, and I had no idea just how far I’d gotten. Like a kid in a store that runs away from a parent . . . I was losing it.

Scripture tells us that when we draw near to God, God will draw near to us (James 4:8). But even more so, scriptures tell us exactly how God speaks to us, how he draws near to us…

In the sermon that morning, a few Sundays back, our Pastor focused on this passage from the book of Job, and to set it all in place, I want to share it with you now.

For God does speak—now one way, now another—
    though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword.
[Job 33:14-18]

One of the most beautiful scriptures of the way God pursues us is Psalm 139, where it says, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”  (Psalm 139:7-8) And the truth is exactly that—that no matter where we are, or where we go, God is right there pursuing us. He’s right there waiting for us to talk to Him; waiting for us to come unraveled into the hands of the Almighty Savior of the world, who never once asked us to do life all on our own. 

In fact, He knows we can’t do life all on our own . . . and He’s never wanted us to.

And so, I prayed. I prayed like I hadn’t prayed to Him in weeks . . . because, well, I hadn’t.

Imagine that—a woman who seemed so “put together” and on the right track in this Christian life, and even she was in the midst of focusing on so many things, other than God.

Friend, whoever you are, and for whatever reason you’re reading this, I want you to know that God is pursuing you. He has never stopped pursuing you.

He is pursuing your mind, and your heart, and quickening your spirit. Even when you are ever so close to God, even still, He pursues you. And even if you are so far removed from Him that you think, He could never take me back, I promise you, He’s already right there, pursuing you.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s us who need to stop running from the pursuit. Because this pursuit is one that you don’t want to run from.

Embrace it in all it’s glory, in all your mess. Because grace sure can be messy, but oh, how beautiful it is to finally be caught up by the God who relieves our burdens, gives us peace, and loves us no matter where we are.

And maybe, just maybe, He’s been speaking to you all along . . .

 

Want to listen to the sermon I talk about in this blog post?

Click here to go to the sermon page, and then click on the sermon titled 
“Struggling to Hear”

 

What Living A Simple Life Has Taught me

I get to wake up to a rooster crowing every single morning. How amazing is that? Not many people are rewarded that luxury in life. Some would argue that it’s even a luxury at all. But there are many areas and places that don’t even allow backyard chickens anymore. I’m thankful for my rooster, even when he’s crowing at 4 a.m.
I get to wake up and make lunch for my husband, even when I don’t feel like getting up early. I get to send him off to work knowing he’ll have food to eat if he gets stuck on a job site. I make breakfast for my son, get a little work done, clean my home (though I so lack at this), make a hearty farm fresh dinner in the Summertime, and say prayers at night.
I know how to crochet, bake bread, cook from scratch, start a fire in the woodstove, cook over wood heat, put up a chicken run, butcher livestock, plant and preserve a garden, make herbal remedies, and take time to enjoy the good Lord in the quiet moments…coffee not optional.
The simple life. It’s not always so simple, but my goodness, does it teach us things beyond skill-sets and how to cook. It teaches us lifetime character traits and to leave nonsense behind. Here’s what living a simple life has taught me, and is still teaching me.

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Devotional || Be Fearlessly and Recklessly You

 

It’s Monday. It’s the beginning of a brand new week. And this week, I want to encourage you as you begin.

Today, I encourage you to be fearlessly and recklessly YOU.

Throughout my life, I’ve watched people do things one way or another. I often thought, “well if they have been successful this way, then so can I.”

The reality, however, is that just because someone is successful in something, doesn’t mean you’ll be. The other reality, which we don’t often think about, is how much those people MESS UP.

Every single time I tried to mimic success, I failed. I didn’t succeed. I didn’t succeed until I started becoming fearlessly and recklessly “myself”.

When I started a photography business years ago, I tried to mimic other photographers’ styles. I struggled, until one day a client said, “you know, I just hate all those props and frills that people use, can we just do this session naturally?” I hated those props and frills too. And it was in that moment that I realized, my business didn’t have to look like everyone elses business.

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Weekly Devotion | Words & Passions

We are quick to use our words when we are annoyed, disappointed, and angered. We also use our words worse when we’ve lost our passion or lack goals. In today’s devotional, we’re going to talk about all of that! From homemaking, work, and friendships…finding your passion in Christ is the best answer!

Watch today’s devotional …

And Then, He Put Mud on My Eyes

Have I told you the time He put mud on my eyes? No? Let me tell you.

For the past four weeks we’ve been dealing with sickness in our household. The first week it was a vicious stomach bug. Actually, the rest of the family got it two weeks before, but I came down with it the week before last. Last week, Junior had a 24 hour stomach bug, probably from my issues the week before. The following day, I came down with what I thought was the same thing, but I was absolutely wrong. It was the most miserable 3 days of my life in the past few years. I think it’s especially worse when you rarely get sick. But because I already had a low immune system, and I failed at boosting it, I caught the crud. The tonsillitis crud. Well, at least according to the way I felt, medical books, and WebMD. And then this week, Jr has pink eye and an ear infection. Joy.

We finally went to the doctor to get “the good stuff”.

At one point, while laying on my back during my sickness, staring at the ceiling, my mind took me back to the last church service we attended. I couldn’t remember if it was the week before or more than two weeks. Time escaped me among the sickness. But in my head, something our Pastor said kept rolling around. He had mentioned briefly in his sermon about the man who was healed of blindness (John 9), and how weird it was that Jesus put mud on his eyes to heal him. He mentioned how awkward we would think it would be these days, if a man, especially Jesus, walked up to us and slapped mud on our eyes and told us to go bathe in a pool.

Why? What’s so special about this mud and that pool that could heal me? I’ve gotten mud in my eyes before. I’ve bathed in that pool my entire life. What now makes it worthy enough, or makes me worthy enough, to heal?

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Herbal Remedies Aren’t God

I laid in bed with my palm pushing on the side of my head. This pain that would shoot down the side of my head, down my face, into my back and neck—it was absolutely, and definitely, one of the worst pains I had ever experienced in my entire life. I tried everything to make it go away. I tried my essential oils, I tried herbs, I tried herbal massage rubs, I tried over the counter pain killers—nothing was touching it. Absolutely nothing.

I was dizzy, nauseous, and an emotional basket-case because I couldn’t fix myself. Of course, you wouldn’t have known it unless you were my husband, because I try my hardest to keep it together as much as possible.

Two days I went through this. Two days. Until finally Mark looked at me and said, “let’s go, we’re going to the ER.”

And I agreed with him…

We drove up the road that afternoon in silence. I know he hates hospitals. He absolutely hates them. They make him twitchy, anxious, and overwhelmed. He becomes moody, nervous, and angry when we step foot into a hospital, but he was going for me. I don’t know why he gets that way, he just does. It’s hard for him, and I respect things that I don’t understand. I especially respect him. But he was beside me and that’s what mattered most. That’s what team work looks like. That’s what marriage looks like.
We got to the ER, at which point I was placed in a very drafty night gown and hooked up to IVs. I was feeling a little better at this point, but it was just the body’s defense going into ramp it up mode. The adrenaline rush was pumping extra blood to the brain, which was expanding the arteries, which was in return, taking some of the pain away.
I had convinced myself that I had had a brain aneurysm or something. Tumor? Cancer? Brain eating bacteria? Had to be something like that, right? It had to be something complicated since I couldn’t fix it myself.
I was kicking myself that I couldn’t heal this on my own at home. Here I am, constantly talking about herbalism and essential oils, and taking control of your healthcare, and yet here I was sitting in an emergency room bed without any control over what my body was doing, or even how to start the healing process.
Five hours and one CT Scan later, I was fine. Everything was ok upstairs. Well, that’s still debatable, but there were no brain eating bacteria that they could see, at least. The craziness? Well, that’s still there.
They shoved some high-tech pain meds in my hand (I asked for the extra strength tylenol, not the loopy stuff!), told me I was having some type of muscular or nerve reacting migraine, and sent me on my way. They also told me to follow up with a neurologist. Oops, that was a long time ago. But I’ve been ok since then.
I got home that night and laid quietly in bed.
 
I cried.
I cried because I couldn’t sleep. I cried because I couldn’t fix myself. I cried because I hated having to go to the hospital and subject my body to even more yucky germs. I cried because my husband, bless his heart, was tired and still had to go to work the next day. I cried because I was mad. I was so mad. I was so mad that nothing I tried at home helped me. Nothing. What a failure I thought I was.
I prayed and cried some more.
I had a pretty big heart to heart with God, not just about my health, but about life in general. I was broken in so many ways other than this pain in my head. I had been dealing with so much on my plate. Why was I just now coming to Him? Why didn’t I come to Him sooner? Now I felt guilty about that too…
I often tell our son that God isn’t some big man up in the sky who is constantly looking at the bad things you’ve done. In fact, we are often times harder on ourselves than He is on us. But it’s easier to say that to someone else than it is to yourself.
The next morning I was feeling much better. Still in a little pain, but bearable. I went about my daily routine, and as I walked into the bathroom to start scrubbing the toilet, I looked up to where my herbal remedies were setting at the time, and I was faced with a very real and emotional reality.
 

Herbal remedies aren’t God.

And it was a hard and raw reality that slapped me in the face. It was convicting, it was numbing.
So often we get into herbal remedies because we want a healthier lifestyle for our family. We’ve taken control of our food source with chickens, dairy animals, and gardens. The next step is taking control of your healthcare and adding herbal remedies and essential oils to your family’s life. But what happens when they don’t work? Or worse yet, what happens when we turn them into idols above our very own Creator and Ultimate Healer?
 
Ouch…
Ouch to the idolater that I’d become. Ouch to the Christian that I had become, leaning more on herbal remedies than on my very own Savior. Ouch to the person I had become who had missed opportunities to talk about Christ with people who were looking for a more holistic lifestyle.
That was almost one-year ago.
And while I fully believe that God gave us plants to use for health and healing (Ez. 47:12), I also know that we can very quickly turn even a good thing into a bad thing if the motive behind it isn’t pure, or if we’re trying to take the easy way out. We can become so quick to want to control our own circumstances, that we forget we have a God who wants to connect with us on a regular basis—a God who created us all. A God who wants to help us, heal us, and love on us. The Creator gave us herbs to help us, but in His goodness and mercy, He reminds us that we are nothing without Him.
In the same respect, I was hosting a live chat on my YouTube channel recently, and someone mentioned to me all of the health issues they encounter on a regular basis. They wanted to know which essential oils to use, and questioned if there were herbs or diet changes that would help as well. I sat there and probably looked dumbfounded. The entire time I was running different oils and herbs through my head—on a live show, mind you—but I was thinking, you don’t need herbal remedies, you need modern medicine and the good Lord.
It’s ok to depend on modern medicine for your needs, in case you didn’t know. Just like it’s ok to depend on herbal remedies for your needs. But it is not ok to idolize either of the two, because ultimately, God is our healer. All things are given by Him and through Him. Both are equally valuable, but too much of either is equally dangerous.
Don’t believe me that modern medicine is from God? Consider this; penicillin was discovered by accident in one of the greatest times of need for it in the history of medicine. It was literally discovered because Dr. Alexander Fleming returned back from vacation in 1928 to an extremely dirty laboratory that he had left behind. While cleaning up, he discovered mold growing on his petri dishes. Bam! Penicillin was discovered to kill bacteria, and the rest of the story is history…literally.
That, my friends, is what we call a miracle.
Yes, a miracle.
What are the odds of a doctor randomly going on vacation, coming back to find a messy laboratory, finding mold growing on the very petri dishes that had infectious bacteria growing on it, and saying, “hey I’ll take a look at this under the microscope.” Only to find the mold was eating away the bacteria.
Even Mr. Fleming tells you it was a complete and total freak accident. But I tell you, it was God.
We know now, in the 21st century, that antibiotics are overly used, which causes antibiotic resistant bacteria. See, even a good thing can become a bad thing when used more than it should be. But it stems from the mindset that we can control it all. My goodness, look where that control is leading us. We’ve become a generation that is reaping the consequences of antibiotic resistance and overuse, and it’s not pretty. It’s why so many people are trying to get back to herbalism.
I don’t know what your life looks like. I don’t know if you believe in herbal remedies, modern medicine, both, or neither. But I will tell you that without the grace and mercy of the Creator of the Universe, there would be none of it. And when we feel ourselves idolizing one or the other, or anything other than Him, it may be time to step back and reevaluate ourselves. Sometimes, I believe God allows us to walk through difficulties in order to bring us closer to Him. Other times, we walk through difficulties because of our own personal consequences. But through it all, He is still good and holy and righteous. God is still God. And none of this is possible without Him….ever.
When herbal remedies don’t work, it’s ok to go to the doctor. When modern medicine doesn’t work, it’s ok to try herbal remedies. But through it all, I hope you’ll remember, just as I had to, to connect with the greatest Healer ever. Even when nothing else works, even when the results are bad and the outcome is grim, there is still God. And God is still good. And in your greatest time of desperation and need, the joy, strength, love, and goodness of the Lord is far better than any doctors orders, roller bottle of essential oil, or herbal tincture.
I promise…

 

 

Homestead Homemaking Series

Homemaking isn’t something I often found joy in. In fact, you could say that I have lost my joy in homemaking. But there is greatness and beauty within it. On my journey to re-learning old skills and rekindling the joy of raising a family and loving my husband, I want to take you along for the journey.
There are so many women who are struggling with joyful homemaking, because they find it oppressive. I am often faced with the question, “why am I the only one who has to clean up after everyone?” and that’s something I used to ask myself as well.

In this series, we take a look at biblical homemaking, and it may just blow your mind.
Watch the first video in the series here (or below). And then follow through each week with us. You can even join our private Facebook group to help you along the way and for deeper discussions.

Choosing to Be Thankful

Every year my social media outlets are flooded with statuses and photos each day of November, expressing why someone is thankful and what they are thankful for. It’s fun to scroll through and see happiness and gratitude—more so than normal. Some people talk about their spouse and children. Some people are thankful for their farm and animals. Other’s are thankful for political figures or awards. And there is joy and happiness, and there is thankfulness and blessing.
During the holiday seasons, you have two different types of people. The happy and joyful, and the angry and depressed. I would venture to say that I see just as many statuses expressing the stress of the holidays as I do gratifying them. And that’s ok too. Why? Because it proves that we are still human living in a fallen world. I would venture to say that the people in the second group are even more real than some of the ones in the first. They are raw, they are broken, they are hurting. Does it mean they have to be Debbie Downers? Not at all. But with a listening ear, and a compassionate heart, you might just react differently than scrolling past in annoyance.

We have this ultimate decision though, every single day of our lives. We see gratitude and thankfulness during the end of the year holidays, but what about the other ten months out of the year?

What does your life look like after the holiday rush?

What attitude do you choose to live with in the Springtime when your child brings home a bad report card? What attitude do you choose to have when your plans don’t go the way you imagined them to go? Do you have a grateful heart when your spouse doesn’t meet your expectations? Do you have a compassionate heart when your child is in the middle of the biggest temper tantrum of his life?

Are you in a state of gratefulness when the bills aren’t paid, when the floors aren’t mopped, or when someone just rubs you the wrong way?

I’d love to sit here and say that I live in a state of thankfulness every day—but I don’t.

Let’s just be honest here. I choose not to be grateful every day. And that’s what it truly boils down to.

I’ve gotten better over the years, but I’m not perfect. That’s the beauty of blogging—you get to share your life, but you don’t always share the parts that you’re not willing to put on display just yet. We all have those moments, it’s not just bloggers. Except, people in a leadership role or who have influence (such as bloggers) are always held to such high regard, that when they let people down, they are seen as having sinned worse than the one reading or following, or are seen to have lied in some way about their life. When in reality, the people who follow them are simply placing them on a pedestal of idolatry—choosing to follow their lives more closely than the life of Christ, or the commandments He’s given to us.

It is the root of all disappointment—expectations.

One of my favorite quotes is this—

You aren’t called to follow Christians, you are called to follow Christ, because most certainly, you’ll be disappointed if you follow Christians.

Have you ever heard the saying, love is a choice?

It’s true.

It’s especially true in marriage.

After you’ve been married for some time, you’ll realize that there are a whole lot of things you don’t “like” about your spouse. It happens in every marriage. Maybe it’s the way they laugh, the way they eat, the way they spray toothpaste on the bathroom mirror when they brush their teeth (c’mon ladies, you get this one!).

Ultimately, you wake up every morning and you choose to look past those annoyances—you choose to love your spouse every single day.
It’s the same with being thankful. During the month of November, many people choose to force themselves to think about the things they are thankful for. In fact, some people even struggle with finding 30 things to be thankful for in one month, while others could go another 30 days. But the rest of the year, they could quite honestly care less about carving out a time to experience gratitude for much of anything.
When we really sit down and think about it, living in a state of thankfulness is a lot like living in a state of love. In fact, I would even say that the two go hand in hand, as they are both commandments in the Bible. It’s also similar to living in a state of joy. Joy doesn’t mean you are always happy,—living in joy is a choice. Love, joy, and thankfulness are all three choices that we must make in our own lives. How do I know this? This is how….

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances. Wow, God, you’re really insane, you know that? I’ve said that before. How can you give thanks in a trial or tribulation? How can you give thanks when a child is sick or dying? How can you give thanks when the world is crumbling at the feet of idolatry and wickedness from poor leadership? How can you give thanks when you’re hurt or angry? How can you give thanks when there are starving families and children during the holidays? How can you give thanks when there are churches that are more concerned with their income than the people within their walls? How can you give thanks when a family member dies? How…..

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:15-17

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 12:20, where it says that deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. Joy doesn’t just come. It doesn’t just come and stay. There is an action that requires joy, and that action is to promote peace, to promote love, to promote thankfulness, even when you don’t feel like it. And then, there is joy. The action is to choose joyYou must choose joy, even in the midst of it all. You must choose gratitude and love, even in the midst of it all.

There is no one scripture that fixes it all or tells you how to live life. This I promise you.

That is why we’re encouraged to let the message of Christ dwell among us and within us. Throughout the Bible we constantly see these things together—love, joy, peace, and finally, gratefulness. And there are tidbits of wisdom that tell us how to live in a state of gratefulness and peace. In fact, in 1 Peter we are encouraged to pursue peace at all times. Pursue it! What a strong word—pursue. Do you know what that means? It means you must take an action to seek out peace, because in our natural state of humanity, we are not peacekeepers or peace makers. You are in charge of making your own peace at times. And in James 2, we’re very clearly told that faith without deeds (or works) is dead. There is action, there is always action and movement on our part. Christianity isn’t simply saying “God I’m sad, give me peace”. There is an action on our part at all times….pursing peace, choosing joy, choosing love…..

…and then thankfulness comes.
….and then joy comes.
….and while life still might not make sense, there is a grateful heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6

I encourage you, this holiday season, to choose to be thankful. But I also encourage you to choose thankfulness through out the entire new year that is coming. Because we aren’t told that we’ll live a life of joy by only living in a state of thanksgiving during the holidays. We’re told that we’ll live a life of joy when we pursue peace, and when we give thanks in every single circumstance.
It doesn’t mean we won’t hurt. It doesn’t mean we won’t cry. It doesn’t mean we won’t mess up. But it does make life a lot easier, a lot more bearable, and ultimately, brings us a lot closer to God than ever before. And maybe, just maybe, we can understand this world a little better. Just maybe.
Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re reading this during the holidays, or in the middle of Summer. Happy Thanksgiving, today, and every day.

A Study of Job | When God Doesn’t Answer Prayers

It is the biggest lie in Christianity today. It’s the lie that if we’re good enough, humble enough, and kind enough, that good things will come our way all the days of our life. It’s the lie that if we live our lives completely devoted to God through religious law, we will never have to feel heartache, we will never have to go through trials, and we will never have to worry about anything.
First of all, worry is a choice. Certainly, you make that decision on your own.
But what about the rest? The trials, the heartache, the loss of a loved one, a miscarriage, losing your job, not having good health, financial struggles….the list goes on…
And so the question is,
 
Why does God answer some prayers, and not others?


There are two major things we need to consider when answering this question. Believe it or not, it’s a pretty cut and dry answer. Most people would like to believe that there’s some mysterious meaning behind God answering or not answering prayer. But the reality is that He clearly lays it out for us in the Bible. Unfortunately, sometimes, we tend to only cling to scriptures like Psalm 37:4, where God gives us the desires of our heart. Or Mark 11:24, where it says “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
 
I could ask for a million dollars right now in prayer, and believe the heck out of it, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to get it.
While those are both very true and honest scriptures, we can’t just take those scriptures and only cling to the good parts. We must be logical and know the Bible as a whole. Otherwise, we throw out major role players in scripture, such as Paul, who was one of the greatest disciples of Christ, and yet was thrown in prison, and had huge health issues. We disregard people like King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, but still struggled in his own sin. And then we find men like Job. And that’s where we will begin.
Job. Poor Job. He was a righteous man who did everything right. He believed that God dictated the life of a person by how good or bad they were. But that’s not God’s character at all. Not completely. Because we have a God who loves us no matter what our flaws and sins may be, if He were to dictate people’s lives by the way they act, most of us would be dead by now.

And so we’ll begin with this passage in Job. Now, remember, Job was a righteous, God fearing man who had devoted his life to the Lord and was extremely blessed by Him.

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”  [Job 1:8-12]

First thing’s first. We are reading from the old testament, where God was still very much audibly involved in His people’s lives. Now that we are living under the new covenant, He has given us the Holy Spirit and Christ within us. There’s a big difference now than there was then.

Second, let’s look at Satan for a moment. This story always intrigues me, because in this instance, Satan was required to come into the presence of the Lord to ask Him for permission to try Job. Of course, we all know that God is all knowing and powerful, so I imagine He had a hint of sarcasm in His voice when he said “have you considered my servant Job?”.
And third, this verse debunks every single theory of “if you do good, you’ll be treated good” and that “God wants all of His people to rich and prosperous at all times”. God is no respecter of man. In fact, in everything He does, it is to edify the person, the body of Christ, or to bring glory to His own name. Let us never forget that when praying for things we want. In fact, scripture even says, He will supply all of our needs, not wants.
For the sake of not dragging on, most of us know the story. Satan comes and puts Job through many trials. Job loses his wife, his children and all of his animals and land. Everything that he owns is taken away from him. Everything.
He seeks comfort and consultation in his friends, who are seemingly ignorant in their own knowledge of God. They go through scenarios of why God is allowing these things to happen to Job. They convince each other that it must be because Job has sinned terribly against God, and Job drives himself crazy trying to figure out what he has or hasn’t done. In Job’s own righteousness, he goes through examples of how good he is. Through the next 30 chapters, it is a non-stop dialogue between Job and his friends. Rambling, useless information. But an important reminder that sometimes, we are just as Job and his friends.
 
We over think it.
We ramble on to ourselves and our friends, looking for validation of why our prayers aren’t being answered, or why some people’s are answered and not ours.
 
Something must be wrong, we say to ourselves. There must be a reason why this is happening.
 
All the while, missing the major point of our lives as Christians…
to bring glory to His name.
to bring testimony and salvation into other’s lives through our own trials and struggles.
and to remember that no matter what, He will use us for His glory and honor, not our own.
In chapter 41 of Job, God finally speaks to him through a great storm. And in all of scripture, it is the one passage that shakes me to the core. A reminder of just how great and mighty the King of Kings truly is. We often get stuck on the gentleness of God, but sometimes, we need to be reminded that He is in charge of all things.
“Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me. [Job 41:10-11]

 

Job—as do so many of us—had the false assumption that because these things in his life were given to him, that they were his. But yet, even his own life was not his own. The scripture goes on as God questions Job. Corrects Job. And reminds Job of who He is. I encourage you to read it.
But even more so, I am in love with Job’s response. It is not one of “but why, Lord”. He does not question God. He does not fight with God. He does not cry out his plea of why he should have a better life. He simply says,

 

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
 
 
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
[Job 42:1-6]

And yet, even in the mist of Job’s ashes, God blessed him abundantly, trading ashes for beauty. He was given a double portion of what he lost. What he gained was even better than what had been lost. Surely, he spoke of things he did not understand when questioning his trials, because he was unaware of the wonderful things God had prepared for him in the end.

Job went on to have an incredibly blessed life—a double portion of what he had before. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. [Job 42]

Job is a wonderful example of how God works in ways that are not our own. And that His ways cannot be thwarted. The greatest lie you will ever hear, is that God is not in control of everything. Because yet, in scripture it clearly states that God uses everything for His good, and the good of His people.
There is no key. There is no trick. There is no way to manipulate God into answering your prayer—to give you financial blessing, good health, and the things you’ve been praying for. But consider this…
We Were Given the Gift of Free Will
…and God will not take back a gift He has given. He loves us so much, that He allows us to decide how we want to live our lives. But this also means that we suffer our own consequences. There are so many things that we choose to do or not do in our lives that can cause us pain, bad health, financial stress and debt. Many times, we cause our own self-destruction. Listen, God isn’t going to force Himself on anyone. He is a complete and total gentleman. If He did, it would completely contradict everything He stands for when He gave us the gift of life.
If you’re eating 6 cheeseburgers a day and you weigh 400 lbs, but you’ve been praying for good health, then you are the issue…not God.
If your child has health issues and you consistently allow them a less than nutritional diet, God isn’t going to step in and just automatically heal them because of your selfish ambition. This child was entrusted to you, never forget that. You have freedom of choice, don’t allow it to ruin someone elses life. 
 
If you’re continuously spending frivolously, and you keep asking for financial blessing and not receiving it, then you are the issue…not God.
If you’re in and out of relationships and can’t find “love”, then you might consider your own choices and mistakes. And if you are fervently praying for a spouse, then trust that God will bring that spouse instead of trying to make it happen all on your own. Because within that, heartache surely lies.
Whether it’s health, relationships, money, love, anger, hurt, or despair. Remember that your free will can cause your own issues. And if that’s the issue, that could be a reason your “prayer” isn’t being answered. You are, to some degree, in charge of your own life.
We Are Not Our Own, And God’s Plan is Greater
Just as with Job, he knew not of the beauty that God had prepared for him. Had he not of gone through what he did, the greatness of his life would not have been recorded for us to learn from, and he would never have received the bounty he did. Even if it wasn’t what he “wanted”, he wanted it once he received it. Sometimes, we don’t even know our own desires, until God shows them to us. We need to realize that the desires of our hearts are the desires of God’s heart. The desires of God’s heart is NOT the desire of our heart. Because out of all things, the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). We forget that, when reading that particular scripture.
But we must also realize that our desires change like the wind, God’s desires do not. Ultimately, the desire of God’s heart is for us to bring more people into His kingdom, while being happy. Believe it or not, God wants us to be happy. But that doesn’t mean we’ll live a happy life. Did you get that?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]

Do you realize that no matter what life brings you, you are instructed to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. This is the will of God concerning you. Never once did God promise that we would not have trials. How so, you ask? Just look at His greatest followers in the Bible. Each and every one of them had trials they went through. Some worse than others.

Our unanswered prayers are sometimes unanswered because they are not God’s plan for our lives. In fact, sometimes, unanswered prayers are a blessing, because He has something far greater in store for us. While it may not be your desire now, it could be your desire once you see it.

God had a plan for Job. Job prayed continuously that God would save him from the depths of despair, but had God have intervened when asked to, Job would not have received a double portion of reward in the end. While it would have brought Job temporary satisfaction and joy, it would not have brought him the ultimate joy. In fact, Job’s joy didn’t come from the things he received from God in the end. It came from knowing that God, in His almighty power and mercy,  was still in control, was still almighty and powerful, and was still in love with his child Job and his life.

Life sucks sometimes. Good things happen to bad people. And bad things happen to good people. But when we can look at our lives as “use this for your glory, Lord” or “use ME for Your glory, Lord”, instead of, “why is this happening (or not happening) to me, Lord”. Our outlook on life completely changes.

When we can rejoice and be joyful, no matter what our circumstance, then we are in the will of God. And the will of God will never once fail you. Never once.

It doesn’t mean we can’t grieve.

It doesn’t mean we can’t be sad, upset, angry, or heart broken.

Jesus came to earth and felt every single emotion that we feel. And because of that, He provided us with a comforter—the Holy Spirit. Lean on Him. Love on Him. Cherish Him. Have a relationship with Him. But never forget that, while your life may be temporarily not going the way you had hoped, it doesn’t mean God isn’t creating beauty from ashes. It might take days, weeks, even years. You may not get what you want. But if you’re not having prayers answered, and you’ve weeded out the option of “is it a self consequence”, then I encourage you to stand strong in the Lord. To lean on Him for guidance. And ultimately, seek Him and allow Him to use your trial for His glory. And remember that God might not be giving you the desire of your heart, because the desire of His heart for your life is so much greater than you could ever imagine.

Job was tested time and time again, the worst trials a person could seemingly go through. And yet, in the end, the one thing God wanted Job to understand and realize is that just because Job had been “blessed” for so many years, it was from nothing of his own doing. Everything came from the Lord. Everything under the heavens belongs to Him. No matter what life brings, you are still His. And He is still the King of all the earth. The fact that we are sons and daughters of the most high God is comfort in and of itself.

Semi Wordless Wednesday | Words are a Choice

We have had a trying homeschooling week. You know how it is if you’re a homeschooling parent. There have been lots of tears, attitudes and distraction from a certain little boy in our house. I was on the verge of giving up yesterday. Completely giving up. So much so that I pulled up my internet to look at more information on a local Christian school.

And then I stopped and thought, what on earth am I doing. I turned to my chalk board and said, “let’s try something we’ve never tried before”.

At the top I wrote “School Rules” and made 5 points for each rule.

I turned to look at him and said, “we know what the first one will be, to worship God in all we do.”

And so I wrote it down.

The list was then comprised of things he and I both have issues with, be it with each other, or with others.

2. Be kind. (Eph 4:32)
3. Do work without complaining or arguing. (Philpp 2:24)
4. No name calling.
5. No crying. (unless he’s bleeding or extremely sad etc. It’s ok to cry, but not whine.)

…and today I’m adding a new one.

“You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” [Winnie the Pooh]

Our kids act what they learn. Be it from us or TV. Someone has taught them to do what they do at some point. If we, ourselves, aren’t confident, then they aren’t confident. If someone has made them feel like they are inadequate, they’ll believe that over “you’re really smart” any day.

It’s true, what they say, words really do make a difference. Just think, God SPOKE, and life was born. Be careful what you say to your kids, to your spouse, to your friends and family. Because words can’t be taken back once you speak them.

Uplift your kids and spouse today. Make a CHOICE to use your words wisely. And if you have to, set some rules. It’s OK to set BOUNDARIES. In fact, it’s healthy. Because believe it or not, we could all use some rules in our household, and not those cutesy kinds you decorate the wall with.

Bible Study | The Story of Nehemiah

One of my New Year goals has been to Bible journal more often. I started bible journaling last year when I came across Darlene Schacht’s  (Time-Warp Wife) Bible Journaling facebook group. It seemed silly to draw in my bible at first, but then it quickly became therapeutic. It caused me to really connect with the words and understand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a “journaling” bible. However, I found a cute little mini journal on Amazon and prefer journaling and doodling in there. Since I’m a note taker and researcher, this was the best option for me. However, you can find amazing journaling bibles online as well.

Getting back on track—at the beginning of the year I consistently kept seeing or hearing the name Nehemiah. I thought to myself, you know, that’s not a book of the Bible I’ve really dived into yet. There are a lot of books in the Bible I haven’t dived into yet. So, last Friday night, I read through the entire book of Nehemiah.

I’ll admit, it was quite boring at first. I began to doubt that this was something timely for my life right now. But boy, was I wrong.

I flipped through the pages, painstakingly reading through about a hundred names of written genealogy. I reminded myself that genealogy can be important, we had just learned about it in church a few weeks before. But honestly, I wasn’t “getting” anything out of this family tree.

I continued to press on. It had already been quite a trying day and evening. There were things happening in our life that had simply gotten to the point of just giving up. I was angry at a man on the other end of a telephone because he couldn’t give me answers I needed. I was mad at his co-worker for lying to me. I was angry because I just spent $500 on a doctor visit that afternoon that got me absolutely no where. I was almost on the verge of screaming at someone I had never even met face to face. It just hadn’t been my week. And still, I pressed into Nehemiah.

To give you some background, God set a desire and promise into Nehemiah’s heart—a direct instruction from God. Nehemiah was to rebuild Jerusalem. If you know anything about those times, anyone who hated the Jews didn’t want Jerusalem rebuilt. But Nehemiah knew it was God’s will, and so he set out to rebuild Jerusalem. To set things into perspective for you, Nehemiah wasn’t a warrior or amazingly talented architect. He was a cup bearer. A cup bearer.

When people caught word of Nehemiah’s plan, the Jews rejoiced, but were scared as well. And of course, there were some nay-sayers—threats, people lying about Nehemiah, people making stories up, and people wishing to kill him.

But Nehemiah pressed on.

In fact, a certain group of people constantly begged him to come and meet with them, but he knew their motives were not pure. Those people then accused Nehemiah of being “out to get them”, and Nehemiah’s response was absolutely incredible. He replied, “Nothing like what you’re saying is true. You’re just making it all up in your head.” In fact, the KJV says, “you’re making it all up in your heart.”

Distractions came at Nehemiah every which way. Distractions that would have discouraged and caused any other man to forget the path laid before him.

Nehemiah pressed on.

Nehemiah completed the job he had set out to do.

And Nehemiah could have given a crap less what everyone else had to say about it, or him. I thoroughly enjoyed Nehemiah’s attitude through out the entire book. He was so sure of himself, because he was so sure of who he was in God.

We could all learn a few things from Nehemiah.

Press on through the distractions.
Set your mind on things above at all times.
And pay no attention to the people who are determined to think what they want to think about you.

There are some people who live their lives in manipulation, and if you allow it, you’ll become exactly like them. Do the work God has called you to do. Because when you know who you are in Christ, you become incredibly unshakable.

I wanted to hug the guy on the other side of the phone this morning, but I got his voicemail. A virtual hug may not have been the best way to start our conversation anyhow.

The things happening in our lives right now are just a distraction from the greater work that God has called us to do.

And then on Sunday…our Pastor said something like this…

And it all set itself into place.

Don’t chase after the blessings of God. Let the blessings of God chase after you. Because when you are diligent, and kind, and kingdom minded, and faithful, His blessings follow you. That’s not to say his blessings don’t follow people who are struggling—we all struggle. Some of us simply don’t broadcast it as much as others. But don’t seek them (blessings) out. Seek HIM first, and all these things will be added unto you.

I’m pretty sure Nehemiah became one of my favorite books in the Bible this past week. The simplicity is exactly what this soul needed. I hope you can learn a thing or two from Nehemiah and apply them into your life this week! I encourage you to read it as part of your personal study time.

 

{Semi Wordless Wednesday} | Never Speak Badly

We’ve all had it happen at some point or another. Someone says something about us that isn’t true, or exaggerates something that you’ve said. There are people who assume what and who you are as a person, but they are completely wrong. There are others who simply base their opinion off of other peoples opinions without ever getting to know you
We go through it. We deal with it. We move on. Sure, it hurts at first. But time heals all things. 
There are those people in your life that you know to keep your distance from, because no matter what you say, it’s going to be taken the wrong way. Whether it’s jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, or simply pride — sometimes it’s not your character, but their heart. 
I challenge you today, and everyday — when you find yourself starting to speak badly about someone, stop and ask yourself, am I speaking truth? am I speaking from emotion instead of logic? am I speaking from bitterness instead of a humble and loving heart?

For one day, you may realize, that it was your own heart that was wrong, not their character. And my goodness, what a wonderful friendship you may have missed out on.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

The Smallest of Salvations is the Biggest in the Kingdom

When I was growing up, salvation and “getting saved” to me always meant believing in Jesus so that you wouldn’t end up in hell. What kid wants to end up going to hell, away from his/her parents for all eternity? I surely didn’t.

Salvation was never really explained to me the way it should have been, and it was often just assumed that I understood since I had been submerged into Christianity my entire little life. I was baptised when I was young (5 years old, if I remember correctly). And I can remember being terrified of the water…that’s about it. There was no huge inside change or glorious feeling. I was just happy to be out of the water once it was over. I had a sense of pride for myself — I had just gotten baptised and that was awesome. But nothing changed. I finally rededicated my life to Christ as a teenager and again in early adulthood. I was great at talking the talk before that, and I loved Jesus with all my heart, but to honestly say I knew Him? Probably not.


My goal in life is to make sure my child understands salvation a lot differently than I did (or didn’t). He has always been very curious and loving when it comes to having a relationship with God, and I’ve never pushed it. Christ is part of our daily routine here, it is second nature at all times. Sure, as parents, we mess up, but we are quick to ask forgiveness and when it boils down to it, he understands grace….because he receives it as well.

So we’ve been dancing this dance of give and take and mistakes and grace for the past (almost) 6 years of his life. He believes in Jesus, he loves God, and he earnestly tries to do right when he thinks about it. But he’s also a 5 year old little rambunctious boy. And we can’t expect him to do “right” all the time.

I knew the salvation conversation would come eventually, but I didn’t want to have it too soon. Building blocks and stepping stones have been my base with him from the beginning, but in the past 3 weeks, he’s been building and stepping all by himself.

I have purposefully never once mentioned the second coming of Christ to him, for fear that it would sway his “salvation” decision at such a young age. Let me just say, I understand my little one is only 5, but he is not treated like a “little one” most days. He’s intelligent, he asks questions and demands answers, this kid it going places…

We were laying in the hammock like any other day — it’s the place where him and I have deep conversation one minute and play “I Spy” the next. I think we’ve “spied” everything there is to be seen from that hammock. The question finally came, “mama, what happens to Satan…how does Jesus win in the end?”

If you’re a Christian parent, you understand how crucial this information is. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the rapture or not. It doesn’t matter if you are pre- mid- or post trib believing. You have to get it right the first time without fear mongering or using large terms that may confuse or upset a child. You want your child to understand the whole story, not just bits and pieces.

He took it like a champ. He had about 50 questions….questions that most adults don’t even ask. I answered on his terms and in ways he could relate to. And then I thought, now that he knows the entire story, why not talk about salvation? But before I knew it, once again, he was one step ahead of me. “Mama what does that mean, saved?”

Some parents would brush it off and give a short run down of it. They’re much too busy to worry with it, their kid is already saved….right?

Other parents would feel as though it wouldn’t make a difference, he’s only 5.

But scripture says…

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said:’Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” Matthew 18:2-5

And so we talked about salvation, and he told me the story of Jesus, and it all clicked. I could see it in his face and his eyes, he understood it. And then he said, “well, Jesus is already in my heart, but maybe I should officially ask Him, huh?”

….and so he did. He prayed, while placing his hand on his heart and with his eyes closed as tightly as possible.

…and there was peace…

…and there was laughter…

…and there was joy…

…there was understanding and love….

He wanted to scream it to the rooftop what he’d just done, because he thought it was one of the most important decisions he had ever made. He wanted to tell his friends and his cousins. He wanted to tell people he didn’t even know….because “what if they don’t know Jesus”.

But the most amazing change happened, not just in him, but in my own heart.

I’ve had more grace in my parenting.

I’ve had more love.

I’ve been more patient.

I’ve been more gentle.

I’ve always known that my job is to train him, but to really sit down and realize just how young in Christ he really is….he needs a lot more training than I ever imagined. But with gentleness and love. And lots and lots of grace. It doesn’t mean he’ll never be disciplined or that I won’t make a mistake in motherhood. But it does mean that it just got real. It just got real because I realized that not only am I training and raising my child, but I’m now training and raising a child of God. What an incredible gift it is to be handed this responsibility. And I want to make sure that he’s getting the best of me, not just the rest of me. Because he’s definitely going to need it from this point on.

I want to pour into his life without ever expecting anything in return from him, because after all is said and done, he wasn’t put on this earth for me….I was put on this earth for him. One day he’ll walk out my front door and go home to a family of his own (if that’s what he wants). One day he’ll teach his own children the same grace and love that we have taught him. One day that hammock will be empty, and we won’t get to have those conversations or “I Spy” games…..and I’ll miss them….but I’ll know to Whom he belongs, and I will have no fear of the life and journey set before him.

The smallest of salvations can have the biggest impact in the kingdom of God. We are kingdom minded people living in a world that needs Jesus more and more everyday. I don’t want him to be frightened by it. I don’t want him to live in fear because of his beliefs. I want it to be second nature to him and I want him to be so close to the Lord that he is unwavering, even as a little child. I want him to impact the people around him in a positive way. I want him to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit (which has already started, it’s incredible to see) and become more aware of the presence of God all around him. I want him to feel free to talk about Jesus and ask questions….even if he might think they seem silly.

And I want my life to be a living reflection of Jesus to him, because after all, I am the very first “Jesus” that he’s ever met. If his view of me is tainted, then so also will his view of Christ be.

 

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed {and a free printable}

There are those moments in life when you’re just overwhelmed. We go through these moments — work is busy, home life is busy, motherhood and homemaking are busy, there are chores that need to be completed and projects that need to be started. There are places to go — needs and wants. And through it all there are flaws and imperfect people living in an imperfect world with less than perfect actions and reactions…and their hearts are just as overwhelmed as ours.

I have found that it is far easier in my heart to stuff it down and deal with it on my own. But the heart is deceitful…

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” 
Jeremiah 17:8

King David has always captivated me. His story is one of strength and courage, but my, what a flaw drenched man he was. He was a warrior and a king, a man after Gods heart — but he strayed off that straight and narrow at times.

I cannot imagine the things that weighed down David’s heart. And yet even in his greatest times of despair, he cried out to God. Not only did he cry out to God, he believed that God would hear his cry and save him.

My busyness, my heartaches, my embarrassments, my angers and my weighed down heart cannot compare to Davids. And yet, He cares for me. God hears my cry, even when it is radiating from my heart rather than my mouth. If He cares enough and does not forget the sparrows that fall from the sky — and I am worth far more than sparrows to Him — then what makes me think He wouldn’t care about my heart as well?

The heart tells us those things — your troubles aren’t bad enough to care about, you’re acting silly and emotional, try having a real struggle in life to be overwhelmed with.

But scripture tells us the complete opposite.

And I see my hands cupping an ocean of doubts, fears, worries, emotions and struggles. Don’t move too quickly, or they will all spill over. Round and round we go, on a merry go round of daily life. How do I not spill a little here and a little there?
Then His hands appear….outstretched, rough and peaceful. They are more than capable of holding it. Give it to me, I’ll hold it…..
 
And my hands open up like flood gates to pass over an overwhelming ocean into the hands of my Creator, making a conscious choice to never take it back. My hands are still soaking wet with the remnants of stinging salt water, but there is freedom.
You see, as your hands fill with the overwhelming thoughts and emotions, the struggles and messes, they pile one on top of the other…..on top of the other. Letting go of them as they come to you is the only way to ensure freedom.
We could all learn a little lesson from King David — when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Because come wind or storm or rain or flood…..He’s still there….He’s still higher….He is still God, and I am still man. And whether we like it or not, He wants all of it, every single bit of it. Our hearts were not created to “do it all”. But our Creator was….
FREE PRINTABLE BELOW
 
 
 
 
— Click on the “when my heart is overwhelmed” graphic above to save and print. 
Please do not copy or sell! —

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