Waiting is Hard

Waiting is Hard

“JUICE!” cried my tiny boss, when asked if she would like her purple butterfly cup refilled. Her little feet stamped and stomped, rambunctious with anticipation.

“BOD#%ZTX!”*

*(Translation: ‘bottle’.)

The volume of her demands was rising, as if controlled by an internal radio knob. She was almost in full meltdown when at last- the bottle of juice was in plain sight. Her whining turned to giggles when she realized that I had not made her any false promises and the object of her desire was just moments away. Suddenly the waiting for her became bearable, and she became content knowing that she would receive what she’d asked for.

(Photo credit: Brooke Lark)

– • – • – • – • –

Man, I can be a toddler. Waiting is hard, right? Whatever my proverbial juice bottle, I tend to want it when I want it, especially when it’s something big. I bow my head to pray about it, and then open my eyes half expecting it to already be before me. Even when I pray for God’s perfect timing, I still hold out hope that His timing might fit my schedule.

Our wish lists aren’t always fulfilled on the “Christmas Day” that we have imprinted on our minds when we ask for them. Sometimes the wait even dampens our faith or enthusiasm for our prayer life. It’s so much easier to hold onto that prayer of perfect timing when we see the juice being poured into our bottle right before our eyes because patience is just easier when a reward is promised and visible.

(Photo credit: Annie Spratt)

The comfort in waiting is that regardless of your request, God does promise a reward:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT

  1. Give your worries to God
  2. Pray- tell God what you need
  3. Express your gratitude

God’s peace- His perfect peace- is our promised reward when we do these simple things.

I myself am in a season of waiting. I stumbled into a closed door recently, mostly because I had a mask of expectation obstructing my vision. It made me realize that sometimes the blessings sneak in through the window, or the back door, or heck- parachute down from the sky. We don’t always see where God’s answer is going to come from or what it’s going to be. We can’t always expect to see someone filling our order and handing it to us. When we wait, sometimes the answer is an easy ‘yes’, sometimes the answer is ‘not yet’, and sometimes the answer is something even better, though we may not fully understand the entirety of that in this lifetime.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God is planning something big for your life. His plans are above yours or mine and so we have to keep an open mind for what our answer may look like.

(Photo credit: Annie Snow)

If you are in a season of waiting, I’m praying that this time develops your vision for blessings, and that you may see God’s goodness and answers all around you. I hope that your wait is made as short or long as is necessary for God to develop patience and perspective in you.

Guard Your Chocolate

Guard Your Chocolate

In my house, I have a secret, hidden stash. The chocolate kind. I cannot even speak its coordinates to you all because there are blog readers in this house who may or may not be trusted. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Photo credit: Jennifer Pallian

Let’s just say I have my reasons for keeping my stash undercover. You know- there are a million things I have and share in a day: my time, my resources, the food off my plate. And even though I would probably share my chocolate too if my kids gave me the puppy dog eyes, it’s better if I don’t. Those little pieces of Heaven create a moment in my day. It means more to me than it does to my kids and it’s something that keeps me going on long days (not to mention I’m avoiding sugared up kiddos.) I keep the location protected so my supply doesn’t dwindle, or get stolen away. Yes, it’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference for me, and so I do what I can to guard it.

But my chocolate stash isn’t the only thing in my life that is small and needs protecting. There is something else worth defending- (and it’s oddly synonymous with chocolate, if you ask me)- my heart.

We give so much from our hearts, and it’s easy at some point to find ourselves in a position where we’re giving too much, or giving to the wrong people or situations.

Proverbs cautions against wrongly depleting this precious resource:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I have been guilty of an unguarded heart. I have at times felt that if God is leading me somewhere I need to sacrifice all of my energy and resources into that one place. Sometimes that is what’s asked of us, but sometimes we’re not being asked to tend and harvest the whole field- only to plant a seed. While it’s imperative that we act when God calls us to, the way we approach the situation is also very important and needs to be accomplished with wisdom and tact.

As it’s said, “everything you do” flows from your heart. What would that look like if you’ve poured out the last drop of that resource because you’d been trying to replenish what God never asked you to repair? An unbeliever who isn’t ready to hear the truth, a casual listener who refutes your every point, or a relationship not based on good moral ground could all be examples of heart-draining situations if God has not personally called you to those people for a purpose. Of course we will be led to encourage those who are distant from Him, but ‘who’, ‘when’, and ‘where’ are all details best left to the Lord. When we try to make up the details on our own without first seeking His will and guidance, we’re always left feeling drained.

I’ll put it like this: Have you ever left the lid open on the diaper wipes container? It doesn’t seem like a big deal. There’s a whole container of them so what does it matter if you get distracted and leave that top wipe free to dry out? If you leave them for a few minutes, no big deal. You pitch the top wipe. But if you keep leaving them unattended in that compromising situation, then before you know it the whole pack has gone bad.

Not guarding your heart dries you out.Little by little, when we devote our time and attention to the wrong things- or even when we are investing too much in the “right” things when we haven’t been led to do so- we end up feeling empty.

I can’t say I’m always an expert on the art of balance, but I can certainly admit I’ve left my heart unguarded and been drained a time or ten. In my experience, these are some things I’ve found to be helpful in that self-protection I believe Proverbs talks about:

Helpful Hints To Guarding Your Heart

1. Protect your time with the Lord. The task lists, the dirty dishes, the stack of paperwork- it will all still be there when you’re done. Don’t let those things steal you away from this time.

2. Make time for the Lord. Let’s backtrack a little. If you’re going to protect something, it has to be in existence first. One on one time with God in prayer is imperative to a God-filled, God-led life. Set apart time to be still and seek Him, and use this time to ask God for wisdom on all matters- big and small.

3. Take a step back and ask yourself- “Is this leading me closer to or farther away from relationship with God?” And act accordingly.

4. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Listen to Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis added):

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

While we can expect hard work ahead in our mission to be a light to others, I hope it encourages you to know that we are all equipped with God’s peace to guard our hearts along the way. I hope if you are feeling depleted today that your spirit will be renewed through Him and you will stay steadfast on the path He’s set before you.

Happy Monday, friends!

Ice Cream Sundaes… For the Soul

Ice Cream Sundaes… For the Soul

“Mom, my dinner belly is full,” my son used to say. His dessert belly, on the other hand, he always expressed as being quite hungry. In its sheer cuteness, this argument likely worked on his first attempt when my little boy was just a couple years old.

Over time however, it became a worn out excuse and he was reminded time and again how important his healthy dinner foods really were. (Though as his mother whose dessert belly is ALSO always hungry, I’d have to say you can’t blame the boy for trying.)

On one occasion, my husband took our son to a local restaurant. In my absence he decided to order an ice cream sundae for him to enjoy. Since our favorite waitress was working she made sure his was extra, EXTRA large. According to my husband, he ate and ate but eventually turned to him and spoke the unimaginable: “Dad, I can’t eat any more ice cream.” For perhaps the first time in my son’s life, his “dessert belly” was declared full. There was absolutely no room for anything else.

Photo credit: Flavio Shibata

Have you ever had that satisfied feeling after eating something you love? That fullness we experience deters us from searching for anything else. But whether we’re full on something healthy, or full on junk food, full is full.

The things we’ll settle for when we’re just starving can really get interesting. Have you ever went scavenging through the grocery store when you’re hungry? Anytime I stroll the grocery isles on an empty stomach I start making some baffling decisions. Nine different kinds of juice? Sure! Three different breads? Sounds like a good idea! Olives (even though I have no recipes for the week ahead that call for them)? YES. But eating before shopping keeps me guarded against straying from my shopping list. Otherwise I’ll grab at anything to fill my stomach and quiet my hunger pangs.

Don’t we do the same thing though when our souls are hungry for something more? Every person is born with that ‘something more’ need; a “God shaped hole” that only He can fill. But in our misguided searching we try to fill it with our own personal version of the next best thing. Shopping, eating, gossiping, gambling, drinking, working, relationships, social media scrolling- insert your “next best thing” here, whatever it is.

There is a Proverb that perfectly describes this search and cycle:

“A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When we’re hungry at the grocery store we’ll buy 27 donuts, pickle flavored potato chips, or 9 kinds of juice. But when we’re hungry for God, we will fill up with anything we can get our hands on that our hearts think might help- even bitter, destructive, or unproductive things.

On the contrary, “a person who is full refuses honey”. When we see our very personal need for God and fill it with Him and Him alone, we become full– of light, of life, of peace, grace, and love- and there is no room for anything else, however deceptively sweet it may seem. There’s no room for relationships that stunt our spiritual growth, for pursuits that leave us feeling empty, or for material things that we’ll grow tired of by this time next year (or even next week.)

God fills the need. He replaces our want for things He knows will tear us down. Being full of that relationship with Him protects us, and gives us unimaginable freedom from the “bitter foods” in our lives that taste deceptively sweet.

What’s your “next best thing” that you try to satisfy your soul with? How would your life change if you replaced it with seeking a relationship with God?

Things My Kids Say Thursday

Things My Kids Say Thursday

Me: What did you do at school today?

7.5-year-old: I got bored and Googled my name.

Me: Oh yeah, what did you find?

7.5 Y.O.: Just a picture of an old man with my name, so, I know what my future is going to look like now.

– • – • – • –

…………………….Seems legitimate.

What have your kids said or done this week that made you laugh?

What You Do Is Not Small

What You Do Is Not Small

An open letter to stay-at-home (and all) moms:

I know there are times you feel like your skills could be better used elsewhere, but What You Do Is Not Small.

I know you may feel invisible some days, lost in piles of laundry and mountains of dishes, in the stacks of homework and bills, and in the bedtime routines that flow seamlessly into early morning wake up calls. But your efforts are seen by the One who created you.

YOU are seen by the One who created you.

I know you sometimes see the success of others and feel fear that you’re missing out- that what you’re doing is unimpressive and falling short of your capabilities. But your impact within your own four walls Is Not Small.

I know there are a thousand unnoticed tasks a day that are accomplished when no one else is looking. I know that no one you are serving really knows the extent of what you do in your many, many waking hours. I know that you often give more than you get.

I know there won’t be any awards won in this life for getting your kids to school on time, or wrapping your arms around your crying child. But the reward waiting for you at the end of this life is anything

But Small.

– • – • – • –

As some of you may or may not know, aside from being a stay-at-home mom and blogger, I am also a nurse.

When deciding what life was to be like after Baby #2’s arrival, I was informed that part-time wasn’t an option within my company. In my particular position I was no stranger to 40 to 50+ hour work weeks at times with a great deal of travel during my days. The relationships I was able to build with my patients were rewarding but I knew the relationships I could be building with my children were where my purpose lied. With much prayer and the support of my (really awesome) husband, I made the leap into SAHM-hood.

In many ways it’s been one of the most rewarding years of my life. I’ve seen my children grow and had so many great experiences with them that we wouldn’t have shared if I were spending my long days away from our home. There are so many benefits to being in my position for which I’m deeply grateful, but in my quiet moments there have been times I’ve wondered if my other skills were being wasted.

If you have ever wondered the same, know this: life is made up of seasons.

There was a season of my life I struggled to put myself through nursing school as a single mom. During that time I learned that I am capable of more than I ever dreamed. (As are you.)

There was a season I worked as a nurse when I learned I’m tougher (and softer) than I ever seemed.

And now I am living in a season when I am able to focus fully on my family and I am learning that being a strong woman is not one dimensional. Strength comes in so many different forms for different people.

If you are feeling frustrated or run down on this Monday, Mama, know this- you are not alone! You are part of a sisterhood of women who are living this experience right along with you, and we see you. Your hard work may be lost on some, but it isn’t lost to others like you. So “let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:2 NLT)

You got this.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Minivan Rebel

Minivan Rebel

“Well, I can add changing a diaper in a princess castle to my list of things I never thought I’d do,” I thought.

I looked around at the flower-clad walls and down the purple tunnel. I looked behind me at the demolished bag of chips my toddler had stolen from the pantry, with its thin plastic folded and wrinkled every which way. I mentally accepted all these things as normal and thought briefly about scanning the classifieds for a nice used minivan. “I will not do the stick figure family stickers on the back though….. or maybe. Whatever, I won’t rule it out,” I thought.

There are a lot of normal things in my life these days I never thought I’d find myself doing.

I never thought I’d go from listening to angry hard rock bands to having K-Love as my go-to commute music (all whilst transporting sticky-fingered, Hot Wheel throwing sleep stealers from A to B.)

I couldn’t have imagined laying in bed on Saturday night (at a reasonable hour no less) looking forward to church service the next morning (and even driving almost 40 minutes to get there.)

And I certainly never thought I would be writing a faith based blog.

But here I am. And in some remote corner of the world I imagine pigs are probably coming in for a landing.

So today, know this: God changes things. He changes the hearts of His people.

I fully admire people who were raised in the faith and never strayed from it but I openly admit that I am not one of those people. Although I was raised with a strong religious background, I’ve always had a restless and rebellious spirit. I believed in God but didn’t feel like I could relate to the life of Jesus. That is, until I came across this one single verse:

“He was counted among the rebels.” -Isaiah 53:12

We always think of Jesus as being perfect- and he was– but have you ever stopped to realize that he was so radically different from the norm of his day that he was actually considered a “rebel”?

Needless to say, the first time I came across this line, I connected. If Jesus was a rebel, he could know and understand my own rebellious heart. If he could navigate life as an outsider, he could teach me how to walk the less traveled path I’m meant to walk.

And if Jesus was a rebel, he could show me how to be rebellious in a different way.

These days my idea of rebellion comes largely in the form of saying no to friends, situations, and world views that are widely accepted but are misaligned with God’s truth. Rebellion doesn’t always have to be loud and intrusive. Sometimes rebellion looks like teaching Sunday school, or packing your husband’s lunch. Sometimes it’s zipping the lip instead of sharing the details of someone else’s personal business, or offering to help even when it doesn’t fit into your schedule. Sometimes rebellion looks like scattered Lego’s, purple princess castles, and a quiet life- lived well in the light of God’s grace.

Be rebels, my friends. ❤️

Changed

Changed

My prayer for today:

Lord, I want to be changed! I don’t want to live like this world lives, but I want to live like Jesus did. I invite your Holy Spirit to dwell and work within me, and change me from the inside out.

Please don’t let me cave into the pressure to be a woman of this world. Don’t allow me to think it’s OK to listen to certain music, watch certain movies, use inappropriate language, or develop habits that do not align with the principles you call us to live out just because that’s what others are doing.

Help me to be encouraged by the friends I trust who are also seeking to live a life led by you, but ultimately, let your words be the words I live by, and not the words of others.

I don’t want to look, walk, talk, or act like the norm in this world. I want my words and actions to set me apart and point the world to You.

I love you and thank you for this beautiful life! Amen.

Inspired by the song Different by Micah Tyler

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

Keep Your Eye On The Couch Pillows

“DON’T EAT THE CARPET!” I yelled, as I dove over the kitchen chair barrier I’d created to keep my now-crawling daughter within the confines of the living room.

I pried her mouth open as she flailed her extremities in every direction. In one fluid swipe my glasses were removed from my face and landed just out of reach. “Blind your opponent- impressive strategy for a 10-month-old,” I thought. Nevertheless I was able to reach into her tiny little chipmunk-like cheeks between blows and retrieve the stray strand of carpet.

Our living room is currently its own special work of art. With an open concept floorplan there is little to keep my curious baby herded within the pasture of our living space. So, from necessity, I’ve designed a very chic arrangement consisting of a side-lying kitchen chair, furniture pressed up against each other, a laundry basket filled with hopeless, matchless socks, and a portable playpen.

I’m not sure why I haven’t been contacted by Better Homes and Gardens yet, really. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Now while much of our home boasts newer flooring thanks to the previous owner, our living room carpet has certainly seen its better days in the decades since our house was built. Charlie, our lazy yellow lab, must agree. Wherever he decides to lay, he paws at the carpet to make for a softer napping spot, and occasionally strands from the carpet are pulled loose. My eagle-eyed munchkin sometimes finds these small pieces before I do.

Feeling the frustration, I thought, “I’ll get ahead of this.” I grabbed a pair of scissors and went around extracting any little strand that looked as if it may come loose at Charlie’s pawing. Then, feeling accomplished, I returned my daughter to her designer play area.

A short time later I made a quick trip to the next room, only to return to find her squirreling away couch pillow stuffings in her tiny baby cheeks.

(Friends. Remember me in your prayers.)

As moms we know that we can’t take our eyes off of these sweet little sneaks for a second. The moment we start patting ourselves on the back for conquering the trials of one milestone, they’re already onto the next. In the midst of trying to keep up with my daughter this week, I came across a verse that pointedly reminded me that we can’t take our eyes off of our enemy either:

“When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.” -Luke 4:13 NLT

That’s right- He. Never. Stops.

Even as we celebrate the moments when we find the strength to walk away from a carefully crafted temptation, or choose differently rather than going back to a bad habit, he is already scouting out the next opportunity to knock us down. He is constantly working- so that means that we need to be, too.

In light of this, I’ve got to ask you what I’ve been asking myself this week: How can you be more persistent? 

Is it waking up earlier to get into the Word before your day sets your priorities for you? Grabbing your Bible or devotional as soon as the kids go to sleep instead of the remote? Deleting an app off your phone that- let’s be real here- the enemy is using to distract you from devoting more time to God?

The bottom line is this: our purpose in life is to love God and love people. It’s so simple, but the enemy is persistent and effective in making it complicated. We have to hold onto the truths of the Word in order to be prepared for every opportunity to love, so that there is less opportunity for the enemy to take the lead.

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation (& Keeping the Faith)

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation (& Keeping the Faith)

It recently occurred to me in the late hours of the night that sleep deprivation is very closely related to the 5 Stages of Grief.

I know. It sounds pretty dramatic. But have you ever tried to wrestle an alligator at 4 A.M.?

Well it goes like this:

  1. DENIAL. There’s a screech coming from the room where your baby sleeps. Your eyes pop open. It’s been approximately 27 minutes since you laid down your head on that fancy memory foam pillow you were sure would help you sleep. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You think to yourself. “She can’t seriously be awake right now. Maybe she’ll fall back asleep on her own…” But alas! She does not, in fact, (ever) fall back asleep on her own.
  2. ANGER. I can’t function on 27 minutes of sleep!” You lament to your helpless baby. “Are you a robot?! Who replaced my tiny precious baby with a battery operated robot?!” You begin to furiously unwind government baby swapping conspiracy theories in your head.
  3. BARGAINING. “If you just go to sleep I will make Daddy buy you a pony,” you coo in your sweetest mommy voice. “Yes I will, you tiny princess, you can have WHATEVER you want- we will have chocolate cake for breakfast!” You rock and cuddle and negotiate, but nevertheless your tactics prove futile.
  4. DEPRESSION. Now here’s where things really take a turn. It’s around that 2-3:00 A.M. hour and you start getting philosophical. You begin to ask yourself… “What is sleep? On what plane of existence can it really even be found, and how does one get there? Why was I made a mother, and how can I ever reach my full child rearing potential if I am devoid of any source of energy?” All hope seems lost. And then, finally…….
  5. ACCEPTANCE.“Okay,” you declare to yourself, mustering what little strength you’ve gathered from your second wind. “I can do this. I’ll just bump up my caffeine intake tomorrow, it’s fine. I’ll be done with coffee by 3 P.M. so it won’t affect bedtime milk. I don’t need sleep. Sleep is for the weak! It’s 4:00am let’s just start the day!”

We’ve all been there. I certainly cycle through these stages in my mom life during seasons when my 10-month-old decides she’s got no need for a full night of sleep. But if I’m being honest, there are times I cycle through these stages in my Christian life as well.

Sometimes DENIAL comes in the form of a pursuit for control over my circumstances, convincing myself that I can take on a situation by myself without needing to seek counsel with my Father first.

Sometimes ANGER comes when the illusion of control slips away and I realize things aren’t going the way I’d planned.

Sometimes I experience the temptation to BARGAIN– to say “God if you get me through this I’m going to do it differently next time- I promise I’ve learned..”

Sometimes DEPRESSION strikes when I lose my focus on things above and get too fixated with the priorities of this world.

But after it all, when God picks me up to dust me off and make me better than he found me, I step into ACCEPTANCE and realize that I need him. I desperately, honestly, truly need him.

I don’t know where you are in the stages of your walk with God, (or the stages of sleep deprivation thanks to those little energy-depleting miracles we love so much.) But rest assured- you’re certainly not the only one there. Just as we enter into a sisterhood when we become mothers, we do the same when we accept God into our lives. We become a part of a whole big family of people who are living the same triumphs and trials that we are.

So in case you need to hear it from a sister today, it’s okay to be in that cycle.

But wherever you are, whether you’re pouring that second cup of coffee and happily declaring your need for your Father, or you’re bargaining with a toddler over mismatching socks at 3 o’clock in the morning, know that you can find your strength in the One who has already overcome the world! Don’t be afraid to share your struggle with your Father in Heaven and with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to seek encouragement through it all. In all circumstances, you have an awesome support system!

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Writers Unite!

Writers Unite!

Hey all! Just wanted to quickly share with you an opportunity that Proverbs 31 Ministries has made available to aspiring writers.

As the website says, “COMPEL is a membership site for writers who want to write words that move people.”

This program is packed full of great resources and was started by Proverbs 31 Ministries president Lysa TerKeurst.

If this speaks to you, see the link below!

>>COMPEL<<