Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How Fixing Our Eyes Brings Balance



If you're at all like me, you have often found yourself failing at your balancing act. You give a little to a lot, but a lot to nothing. With too many balls in the air, your tension tightens and your exhaustion deepens. There are people who depend on you and people you crave to prove wrong. You wonder if you're making a difference in the world. Is it enough? Will it ever be?

I have found a direct connection between my focus and the level of balance that I rest in. 

Please do not underestimate the cruciality of consistently aligning your steps with what the Father has mapped out for you. The moment of realization that you have missed part of your ministry is heartbreaking. 

There was a season for me in which the Lord immersed me in training on the idea of fixing my eyes on him. Throughout that training, which I found magnetic, I noted and read and meditated on the scripture and biblical teaching on fixing my eyes with the presumptuous misconception that this would be great stuff for a later season in life. 

I imagine the Lord saying, Bless your heart.

He peeled the scales off of my eyes one particularly anxious day to my realization that this teaching was for the life I had at hand. This magnetism was for now.

My focus had shifted to another awesome opportunity. One that promised freedom and purpose. And it was good. But I had given it too much of my gaze, and I had been too stubborn and prideful to admit it at first.

As I came to acceptance that my focus had shifted away from my calling, and ultimately his purpose for me, I also realized that I had missed some crucial pockets of growth and blessing along the way. 

Enter the sinking feeling. 

The scary part is that I didn't totally stray away from my calling, or shy away from the church. I was just on the outside of my zone. One foot in and one foot out. Attempting to balance one good thing too many. 

"...a time to keep and a time to cast away;"
Ecclesiastes 3:6

Not everything that draws our eyes is evil. But not everything that draws our eyes deserves our attention. 

Fix your eyes, dear precious child of God. Discern where your track is for this season of life. Run with the ministry that God has set before you. Fight for your focus.

A life out of focus is vulnerable to sidesteps and drop-offs. It is easily susceptible to becoming unbalanced. And isn't that what most of us as wives and mothers covet? Balance.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27

Jesus came to give us rest and peace. So when we are dropping all of the balls and drowning in exhaustion, we may be out of alignment. I encourage you to pray with me today.


Lord, help me to set my priorities in line with your will right now. To move forward boldly with your purposes for me. Open my eyes to the bigger picture. Grant me the grace of discernment and direction. Let now be a turning point for me!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Three Tips To Finding Your Calling



Every one of us has a knockout calling on our lives.

Us.

The ones who can't get their kids to school on time. The ones who couldn't find time to do their bible study homework this week. The ones who are floundering in their third marriage. Us.

Sweet girl, what is it? What is that precious frontier in which God smiles upon and says, "This is for you. This is where you will shine my glory all over this dry and thirsty land."

When we feel inadequate, dry, or clueless, how do we discern our calling?


1. Observe the darkest, most stretching season of your life.


You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

During the toughest valley of my life to date, I encountered God in a way that left me forever changed. I spent a couple of years in the hot thick of struggle, and I knew mid-way through that God was going to use my pain for His glory. I didn't appreciate it then, but I am loving it today.

When have you experienced a season of diligent growth? Meditate on the faith that became a part of your very bones by living through that battle. Ponder how God prepared you for a season such as this. What was added to your character, knowledge, or faith that can spill out of you and onto other brothers and sisters in Christ?



2. Tap into your passion.

But if I say, "I will not mention his word, or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV)

What kind of fire has the Father created you with? There's a clue there.

Is hiking your love language? The feel of the earth and the freshness of the air may be what spurs you on to an outdoor ministry.

Do you thrive on the conversation shared while you paint nails at work? Maybe you're called to love on battered women who just need a little TLC after a tough week of therapy and healing.

Are you happiest while you're baking? God could shower little girls with grace as you give free baking classes to girls who have lost their moms.

The things that light you up will naturally draw in those who have need of what you have.


3. Get your face in the Word.

This is only listed last for emphasis. Not for order of importance. As the last item on our list, let it sit hot on your mind as we close out.

When you're processing through a discernment for what your calling is, every word from the mouth of God is where you begin. 

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 
Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)

Are you feeling hungry, friends? Are your insides bubbling for usefulness in The Kingdom without direction for satisfaction? Get your face in the Word.

Never do I experience God more, than when I am consistently and thirstily digging deeper into His Word.

What is He saying?

Who does it apply to?

What characteristics is He displaying here?

Just who is He, really?

I become more and more aware of His thoughts becoming my thoughts. His presence thickens. His Spirit begins doing a work in me that I can only describe as a stirring that morphs into a tidal wave.

Discernment follows. As we draw closer to Him, He draws closer to us. And relationship naturally leads to partnership in the Kingdom of God!

Glory! Pursue your calling with fiery diligence, girl! It's what you're here for.


Monday, February 15, 2016

I Can't Be A Stay-At-Home Mom Any Longer




(Photo credit to: Missy Loves Jerry Photography)


I can't be a Stay-At-Home mom any longer. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever been one.

Let me explain.

During a typical week, I chauffeur my Kindergartner to and from his elementary school. My three-year-old twins keep me company while I...

Plan a weeks worth of meals for a circus
Hunt, snag, and pay for groceries
Dodge the judgement when I pay my water bill late...again...
Manage the mountains (Laundry, dishes, junk mail)
Mop hog poop off our mudroom floor
Dry the thousand tears of two drama queens
Organize closets that remind me of Narnia
And,
Well the list never actually ends...

There is an emotional charge attached to the question we all know and love as a Stay-At-Home mom.

So, but really, what do you do all day?

Been there.

Addressed that.

Not the point.

There is something else that absolutely consumes me. It gets me up early and keeps me up late. It causes me to hit my knees in tears and literally dance for pure joy.

It's my ministry. And it consumes so much of me I can no longer look at it as a side-thing I'm into.

It is me. And yet, it has no name. It has no pay. And it is very little known.

Sometimes, I fall into my pillow at 2 AM because someone has called with hopelessness in his or her voice. The craving for prayer knows not the hour and Amen does not have a bedtime.

Sometimes, while I make my kids lunch, I text with an introvert who can't call, but also can't reconcile why God would allow her family to crumble.

Sometimes, I spend weeks wrestling with the Lord in order to spend twenty minutes in front of a congregation, sharing what the Lord wants them to know.

Sometimes...okay many times...I spend an entire afternoon bleeding my heart out onto the keyboard as I write a book that comes from the most excruciating and rewarding season of my life. Because God said so.

And one time I had to start over. Because...God.

I draw from my ridiculously limited knowledge of scripture to teach it to others and I point others to Christ with a bruised and scarred hand. And I do it all as the most broken tool the Creator must have at his disposal.

And because of all this, I crave more and more and more time with my God. In order to overflow, I must be filled from the source. So sometimes, I will need a lamp as I study because it is still dark outside and I only have minutes until three little sets of feet come charging down the hall.

Asking for cheerios and gummy vitamins and socks and their favorite show and help finding the barbie's shoes and...and...and...

I'm just a young mom...kind of a hot, unorganized mess, trying to balance two wonderful callings.

And most days I feel completely inadequate for both. But the start for me, is to recognize that when I'm asked, what do you do, I can no longer simplify the answer to Stay-At-Home mom.

How do I answer?

You tell me. I think it will take a little more thought and maybe a whole other blog post.

How about...

I raise children and take care of my husband and home while assisting the Lord in bringing his kingdom here to earth.

Yeah...maybe some more thought...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

When God Stirs So Much It Aches

2016 will look vastly different
, He whispers to my heart. And I smile involuntarily although there is a dusting of fear behind it. It is so HIM.

Since we vowed to love each other always and serve the Lord relentlessly for the rest of our days, the Lord has never left us comfortable. Every year has brought unfamiliar challenges, stretching, and growth. Our eyes have been opened wider and they've cried more tears of both sorrow and joy. Our hearts have broken and mended and grown so large we thought we may be able to see them from the outside.

We have encountered our God in ways that are scarcely describable. And when you have an encounter with God, you are never the same. Each New Year we are never the same.

2016 will look vastly different, He whispers to my heart. So HIM.

I see what is coming for me and my family in part as if I'm looking through a lightly frosted window. But I know there is a greater depth coming for me. Something hard and beautiful. Something that will boast of Him.

Jesus, have mercy.

I treasure up all these things and ponder them in my heart like Mary after she birthed the Savior of the world (Luke 2:19). Did her heart ache as mine does today, I wonder? The excitement, uncertainty, and readiness to be about the Father's business churns. I can barely take it.

When God stirs our hearts so much that it aches, we are spurred to action. We are set to love.

Jesus, let 2016 be about action, about love, but mostly about your business.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Want My Girls to Know About My Marriage




It is a sobering fact to know that my children, these spunky little independent things, will take their cues from me as they grow.  Whether intentional or not, many of their attitudes and actions will imitate mine as they learn to love, get married, and start their own families. God have mercy on me.

There are a lot of characteristics of my wifehood and love that I would rather them not see.  There are a lot of traits that I'd rather not be ingrained in them. Grace, Jesus...please Grace.

Quite humbly, I admit there are some things I want them to grab hold of and take to newer heights. Here's the gist of it...

1.  The Strong-willed Fight.  They tell you marriage will be hard. There will be ups and downs they say.  But you won't know the struggle until you feel the sting of the tears on your face. You won't really know until your heart pounds so hard with the unknown that you physically hurt.  In that moment, I want you to know that you have been righteously injected with the strength of Christ. You are far more powerful than Satan's intent to destroy your marriage. Dig those pretty pink nails in, my dear. The value of that tie, that holy covenant is beyond worth the fight. Don't give Satan the satisfaction.


2.  Spiritual warfare is real.  Prepare yourself for it.  Satan is stunned with a mixture of fear and rage at the discovery of a woman after God's own heart.  He will use every snide and low trick he has to knock you down and make sure you stay there.  Do not leave yourself vulnerable.  Get your beautiful blue eyes in the word of God.  I pray that God gives you an unquenchable thirst for it, always needing more.  Cultivate your intimacy with our heavenly Father through His word and communication with Him.  This two-fold tool not only gives you the intimacy you ultimately crave with God, but also defends you when the enemy comes slithering around.


3.  Treasure the little gifts.  He put your coffee mug and sugar near the coffee maker this morning before he left for work.  Take a moment to notice the grooves, the design, the color of that mug.  Think about how his hard-working hands gripped that mug out of the cabinet and placed it intentionally just for you, even though he was probably running late to work.  In the quick departures, stop for an extra second to smell his hair, kiss his neck, and squeeze him tight.  Thank God for him.  Days come and days go.  Tuesdays and Thursdays drip mundane.  The rush can stretch you thin.  Never, ever stop taking note of the grace-filled favor of God in your marriage.


4.  Master the art of the sincere apology.  The temptation to push blame or justify can be as strong as ammonia.  Giving the silent treatment is more comfortable than saying I'm sorry sometimes.  Do not settle.  Please do not settle, my love.  Your husband deserves it.  Your Heavenly Father deserves your utmost.  His faithfulness and humility resides within you.  He deserves all you have to give.  Push and give your heartfelt, I'm sorry.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Prayer For His Wife



Father,

You have intricately fashioned this little being.  This small firecracker that is in constant motion with arms flailing and mouth shouting.  Dirt becomes him.  There is so much strength in him, and yet a tenderness that melts me when it appears.  As a five year old, he drives me in circles, but I know that soon he will break cycle and be off.  He will be a man, and my arms will grieve.

There is so much I want for him, Lord.  Will much of it be realized?  His wife, Lord....his wife.

Let her be a woman after your own heart.  Marriage is hard, Father, and I know it is not something I will be able to do for him.  Somewhere in the world, right now, she is a little girl.  Maybe not even born yet.  Surround her with those that point her to you.  Instill a quiet and gentle spirit in her.

Show her the inestimable value in a mommy and daddy who press in to you and never give up.  Give her all the love of parents who cling to Christ and make their marriage a priority.

Give her the grace of a security that is found in you and you alone.  Give her a thirst for you and your word.  As potent as the world is, as she grows, be the most intoxicating influence in her life.  Fill her senses with a Godly love that absolutely cannot be duplicated by anything this world has to offer: sex, materials, or earthly success.

Let her cravings be for you.  Give her a driving appreciation for the body you have created her to reside in.  Confidence, integrity, and purity.

Let her faith be so much more than mine.  And on their wedding day, let the same smile spread across her face that graced his today when I told him, we've prayed for your future wife.

"But, I don't even know who I'm going to marry!" he said.  Precious.  Neither do we.  But pray we will.

I love you too, Lord.

Love,
Your Daughter


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Grasping Grace, A Letter To The Spirit



Oh, sweet Jesus. My good, great almighty God. Was it six months ago that I chose my one word as Grace? For a time, the feat of grasping and understanding this heavenly virtue felt insurmountable. Change felt slow. I doubted whether or not I had chosen correctly.

But you, Lord. You chose this word for me. Now I know.

I know because you have jerked me to a life touched by grace. The eyes of my heart have been ripped open. 2015 will be a life-changing year.

This will be the year that I truly see the grace in my life.
This will be the year that I learn to extend it to others.
This will be the year that I extend it to her, Lord.
This will be the year of perspective shift.

Oh, Jesus this is big. So much bigger than me.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God 
and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

I'm fighting back the tears as I sit in this coffee shop. Fighting so that the elderly gentleman across from me does not feel uncomfortable. Fighting so the barista doesn't ask if I'm okay.

Because I'm not okay.

This truth of yours has slammed me hard this morning, Father. I'm so much better than okay.

An undeserved, uncontrollable grace that reaches down after me as one who has been adopted into your family.  It drenches and sweeps me off my feet.  There is no stopping it. I can't deny it or talk my way out of it. I can't be so modest that you slip it back in your pocket. This grace.

What I have deserved, I did not suffer.  That which I could never earn by merit has been delivered.  I can hardly wait to get to the end of this year. Your love is so wild, I can't even dream of what you have yet to do in me.

To think that I will look a little more like you. To think that grace will change my face...