faith

Verse of the Day: More than You Can Imagine

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What’s the craziest thing you can imagine for your life? What is the most unattainable thing that you desire with all your heart, but that you don’t speak out loud because you believe it’s impossible for you to actually grasp?

You don’t need to tell me what it is for you. It’s different for everyone, and the goal or dream in and of itself doesn’t even matter. Because whatever it is, God can make it happen. In fact, He even wants to make it happen. Going even further, God wants to do more than whatever impossible thing that you are imagining.

The Bible gives us pretty clear instructions on this:

“Ask and it will be given to you,

Seek and you will find,

Knock, and the door will be opened.”

-Matthew 7:7

Being human, we tend to over complicate matters and can’t wrap our minds around simply asking for something and then getting it. You have to work hard for what you want, right? Well, trust me–asking for your biggest, wildest dream from God is going to be work. You’ll have to be like the persistent widow in Luke 18 and keep on asking, every day. You’ll have to summon hope in most likely a hopeless situation and hold on to your faith that God will finish the work He has started, even when that prowling lion is whispering every kind of doubt into your ear. You will have to wrestle with God like Jacob, refusing to let go until He blesses you. You will have to keep coming back to God with your request, feeling like a fool for even asking.

But here’s a thought–what if that impossible dream that’s been hiding in your heart was put there by God Himself?

God is waiting to open up the floodgates of heaven and bless you so much that you don’t even know what to do with it all.

So start asking!

 

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Quiet Time: Giving Yourself to God

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Giving yourself to God is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a lot like riding a roller coaster: it’s positively thrilling, yet your stomach feels as if it’s going to drop out of you and you can’t shake the “DANGER” alarm that your body is sending. But you know that you’re safe; there is a very heavy harness strapping you in, making it impossible to wiggle in your seat, much less fall out. Yet every time you go through a loop, you brace yourself for the potential danger and hold your breath, because you know that it’s going to feel like the world just collapsed underneath you. But when you are at the very top of the loop, you see the world from a view that you have never experienced before and you feel like you are flying as free as a bird and you are exuberant with every kind of feeling all at once. Even after you survive the ride, you will still have that strange mix of emotions of sheer panic and thrilling joy. Your stomach will still drop to the deepest pit and the question of, “Why am I doing this?” will still cross your mind at the exact spot of the ride. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter how many times you go on the roller coaster. You will panic every time.

God asks us to do crazy things. Things that make absolutely no sense. Things that push us way out of our comfort zone, and cause us to panic. Sometimes He asks us to do things that will hurt. In the moment, we can’t understand why He is asking us to do whatever it is that He is asking. We want to know the why so that we can talk ourselves into going through that ginormous loop on the roller coaster, because from where we’re standing it’s absolutely terrifying and seems like a horrible idea. But He doesn’t tell us the why. He wants us to trust in the knowledge that His harness will keep us safe and will never let us go. Once we say “yes” to whatever journey He is calling us to and allow Him to wrap us in His arms, He will never let go. So even when we’re in the middle of the biggest loop and we’re screaming, “WHY AM I DOING THIS?!!!”, we feel the strong hold of God’s harness not allowing us to even wiggle. Even though our world is completely upside down, we know that, somehow, we are still safe.

I don’t know what journey God has called you to. I don’t know what part of the roller coaster you’re on, if you’re sailing happily with the breeze in your hair, or if you’re hanging upside down where nothing makes sense. But if you’re on one of the scarier bits, I want to encourage you to trust in that harness. Everything else might be spinning out of control around you, but you can still feel God’s arms holding you.

He will never let you go, my friends.

You will feel scared every time you come up to a new loop. It doesn’t matter how many you have already safely gone through. Every time God comes to you with the next crazy thing for you to do, your stomach will drop and your heartbeat will quicken and you will doubt if you will be able to do it. That’s just being human. Just take a deep breath, grab the handlebars on your harness, and go for it again. Trust in Him, for He will get you through it. And you won’t believe all the goodness He has in store for you! Just hold on and follow His lead.

I Call You Blessed

Today was seemingly insignificant. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about; laundry, a few dishes, dance class, dinner. It was a very typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

It’s really easy to feel insignificant and unimportant in the role of motherhood. On the surface, it doesn’t look like you do very much at all. At the end of days where I literally only accomplish keeping the kids fed and alive, I sometimes feel stressed because I wasn’t even able to keep up on housework. This feeling is compounded when my 4 year old actually complains about not going to day care like all of her friends and says things like, “Auntie works all the time, but you never work Mom.”

When you work a 9 to 5 job, it’s easy to find satisfaction. You keep busy all day doing important things and at the end of the day, have finished one or many projects. So you give yourself a mental gold star for doing something of value with your life for that day and are happy about it.

I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is looked down on in our culture. Since the feminist movement to allow women into the work force, it seems that if you are a woman who chooses to stay home instead of work, you are then wasting all the efforts of the women who fought so hard for that right. I feel our culture teaching us that if you don’t work, that you aren’t doing enough with your life.

So even though I don’t believe that anymore, I still allow that thinking to make me insecure.

Am I doing enough?

Am I wasting my life?

I put unrealistic expectations on myself, believing that I have to have the house spic and span all the time, homemade dinners ready at the same time every night, and laundry clean/folded/put away. So when I am unable to keep up on the house or when I can’t manage to get dinner out any earlier than 8 pm or when only half of the laundry is clean and is in an unfolded pile, I feel like I am just not cutting it. I feel like I am not enough.

And I know that some people will look at my life and say, ‘I feel sorry for her. I mean, she raised great kids, but she didn’t really do anything with her life.’

But if at the end, I’ve done my job right (because motherhood is a JOB), my children will rise up and call me blessed. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so:

 

Image via pixshark

Image via pixshark

I can’t stop thinking about the deliberate language in this verse: her children rise. Why ‘rise’? Why doesn’t the verse just say, ‘her children call her blessed’? That would send the same message. But it says that they rise. Rise against whom?

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that her children are rising against those who would dare call their mother’s life insignificant. I think that now that they are grown, her children are able to see how much she has done for them. They couldn’t see it when they were young, but they see it now. They know now that they would not have become the people that they are without her. They also see that there are people who do not understand everything that this woman, their mother, is worth.

Another thought–why doesn’t the mother defend herself? If you read the previous verses that describe her, you will see that she is a strong woman. Why does she stay silent?

Maybe because for a moment, she doesn’t fully see the significance in her life either. Perhaps she is just like me, wondering if she did enough.

But her children say she was more than enough. And they rise up for her, at a time when she cannot do it for herself, and call her BLESSED.

It’s so very easy to sweep all the extraordinary that we do as mothers under the rug of mundane. But we mustn’t forget how very important our job is. We are shaping lives. It is the most important job in the world, and yet is the most undervalued one. Personally, I feel that true feminism should embrace all that a woman can be, including a mother. Motherhood is not something to demean; I truly believe it is the highest honor and calling in life. Think about it– God is trusting us to raise tiny humans into extraordinary beings. What an honor!

So if you are reading this on a day where you are thinking, “Seriously, what did I do with my life today?”, I want to say:

I will rise up and call you blessed.

And one day, your children will too.

 

The Furnace of Motherhood

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”

-Philippians 2:17 NLT

There’s this debate in parenting circles of where the fine line is of giving yourself to your family without losing yourself in the process. Many blog posts have been written on ‘making time for you’ and ‘putting yourself first sometimes’, because it’s so easy to get burnt out as a parent. This is good advice; after all, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before helping another with their’s, right?

But–the Bible tells us to give all of ourselves to God and His calling for our lives. If His calling is motherhood, then I have to believe that we should give all of ourselves to our families.

I am not the same person I was before I had kids.

But, I don’t lament that.

Ever since I said ‘yes’ to God and leaped off the cliff, He’s been transforming me into the woman He created me to be. The Bible likens this process to refining silver. The metal is put into a burning furnace for a very precise amount of time, for it can easily be ruined if the silversmith leaves it in even a moment too long.

God takes us and burns up all the bad that has tainted us, and it hurts. There are moments when you feel the furnace is too hot, that it’s going to swallow you whole. But your Silversmith knows when to take you out, and He never takes His eyes off of you.

I never wanted to get married and was never entirely sure about having kids. I looked down at stay-at-home moms, thinking they were wasting their lives.

The old me was bitter and selfish; condescending and cruel.

I do not miss her.

I do not wish to go back, even though I am tempted to think I do.

Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever had. It has broken me many times. But it has also made me stronger.

God has been refining me in the furnace of motherhood.

I will happily lay down my life for my family. I will let the old me die, and choose to rejoice about it.

Honestly, I think that’s the secret: rejoicing in losing yourself in your family. Not seeing it as a failure or waste, but as something miraculous and beautiful. Because it’s hard to put others first all the time. But that’s the calling, isn’t it?

And because God is who He is, I now understand that the only way to find myself is to lose myself.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

-Matthew 10:39 NLT

I will no longer mourn the woman I lost, but celebrate the woman I am becoming.

I know God won’t stop until I am the masterpiece He destined in the beginning (because we are all His masterpieces). So I will look into the foggy future with joyful anticipation. Because I can’t wait to meet that woman.

Quiet Time: Mom Burnout

I have been so tired lately. Like bone weary exhausted. Every day.

I read a 3 day devotional series on burnout, and the last entry really struck a cord with me. It talked about how people tend to deal with burnout in 2 ways: lashing out at others in anger, or withdrawing from others. I’m an introvert, so before kids, I tended toward withdrawing unless someone tried to invade the space that I needed, in which case I would lash out. But you don’t get the luxury of being alone once you’re a mother. Especially when your children are all preschool and under. They puppy dog you all. day. long. So now, my reaction to being burnt-out is to lash out in anger. And who is around me all the time, getting the brunt of my wrath? My kids.

I hate when I lose my temper with them. Yet it happens every day.

Psalms 37:8 NLT

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.”

The last thing I would ever want to do is harm my kids. They are my entire world.

But how can I conquer burnout?

It’s not like I can ask my boss for fewer hours.

The kids need to be taken care of. The dishes need to be done. Lord knows the laundry never ends.

I know what you’re all going to tell me–take time for myself; ask for help.

My husband and I just had a day date 3 days ago. It was so wonderful and we needed it so badly. But yet, here I am 3 days later feeling burnt out again.

Contrary to popular belief, I do ask for help from time to time. But if you ask for help every day, then you’ll burn out your support system.

I can’t help but feel that this issue runs deeper than simply taking time for myself and asking for help. I feel like this is an issue of the heart. My heart.

Here’s what I know: God did not put this spirit of anger inside of me. God entrusted me with the honorable and enormous task of raising tiny humans. I can not do this from my own strength. God wants me to succeed and has a plan that is already in motion to help me succeed.

I may not yet have the answer for how to conquer burnout, and I doubt that it will be found in 3 easy steps. But for now, I will take life a day at a time. I will refuse to worry. I will let go of what I can not control. I will accept the fact that I can not do everything all the time; sometimes the dishes will not get done and the laundry may be clean but unfolded. I will breathe through my days, releasing the nasty poison of anger that I allowed to seep into my heart. I will pray throughout each and every day that God will help me tame my wild tongue and temper, so that I will not harm my precious children.

And most importantly, I will extend grace to myself when I fail, so that I don’t add guilt to my burdens.

Quiet Time: Letting Go of Control

I had a rough Mommy day yesterday. I woke up exhausted from not getting enough sleep, because I had been up late the night before spending time with my husband catching up on Cake Boss and then writing a blog post. It may have been my fault, but there are only so many hours in a day. I hate writing while the kids are awake because they’re constantly interrupting my thought process, plus I have a hard time telling them to play on their own so that I can do something for myself. I feel like they should get my attention during the day because they are my primary job right now. I will never apologize for staying up late to spend time with my husband because that is precious time that is not only essential to the health of our marriage, but it’s also essential to my sanity.

Ary was excelling in being a baby-toddler. The only time she wasn’t on the move was for the hour and a half that she was napping. Other than that, she was all over the place. As always, she was on top of the table repeatedly throughout the entire day, no matter that I yelled at her every time to get down. She got into their plastic cups and poured herself water from the dispenser on the fridge about a dozen times throughout the day, spilling water on the kitchen floor and all over herself every time. She even took a cup of water one time and poured it all over Eowyn. From swinging on pull out cabinet drawers in the kitchen to mysterious crashes in the playroom to rubbing hand soap all over her legs and tummy, you name it and she was doing it yesterday. When I took them outside to play for an hour, she snuck off while I was helping Eowyn on her bike. I turned around to check on her because I couldn’t hear her shoes squeaking and I couldn’t find her. I went into the backyard to find her going down the slide on the playset. Which means that she walked about 300 feet from the driveway to the backyard on her tip toes so that her shoes wouldn’t squeak and I wouldn’t know that she was gone. To top it off, I ran out of duct tape half way through the afternoon so she ran around stark naked for about 2 hours until Tyler was able to run to Target to get more. Thankfully, she only had one accident and it was pee and it was mostly on the tile.

As if she wasn’t enough on her own, Eowyn, who is usually a really good girl, was also giving me a run for my money. She’s gotten into the habit of tattling on her sister every single time Ary does anything. But when she’s tattling, she’s yelling in a very loud, whiny voice. I can’t stand whining, and there was a lot of it going on. I was counting on being able to take a nap with the kids, but Eowyn decided that she didn’t want to take a nap even though she had dark circles under her eyes and was obviously tired. She was excelling at being a 3 year old; for every time I told her to stop doing something (like using the couch as a trampoline), she ignored me and continued doing it.

All day I felt like I was having to repeat myself over and over and over again, and it was so frustrating. Why can’t they listen to me the first time I ask them to do something? Why must I have to yell and get angry in order for them to actually listen?

Says every mom on the planet.

On top of all of the frustration that was my children, I was struggling physically. My hips were aching and I was nauseous all day. The house was a nasty mess too; the carpets desperately needed vacuuming, the dishes were out of control again, and all of the toilet bowls needed scrubbing. It was humid as all could be, so my pregnancy discomfort was amplified by 100%. All I wanted was to have a normal day where I wasn’t so exhausted and uncomfortable, the kids weren’t downright crazy, and I could clean up the house in between playing with the not-crazy kids. I tried to control my temper, but failed miserably. I feel like I spent most of yesterday yelling at the kids.

Then at the end of the day, once the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, I opened up my devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, and opened up my heart so Jesus could come in and clean out all of the nastiness I had let inside. This is what I read:

“Draw near to Me with a thankful heart, aware that your cup is overflowing with blessings. Gratitude enables you to perceive Me more clearly and to rejoice in our Love-relationship. Nothing can separate you from My loving Presence! That is the basis of your security. Whenever you start to feel anxious, remind yourself that your security rests in Me alone, and I am totally trustworthy.

You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust in My control. Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth. I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways. I am always doing something new within My beloved ones. Be on the lookout for all that I have prepared for you.

Romans 8: 38-39; Psalms 56:3-4; Isaiah 43:19″

After the day that I had had, this was exactly what I needed to read. It’s hard to focus on the blessings in your life when you become consumed with frustration over what’s going wrong. As frustrating as they may be at times, my children are the primary reason why my cup is constantly overflowing with blessings. Looking back, I can see now that one of the reasons why I spent all of yesterday in such a bad mood was because I kept desperately grasping for something that I could control. My body wasn’t behaving the way I wanted it to, my kids were not behaving the way I wanted them to, my house didn’t look the way I wanted it to, even the weather was not what I wanted it to be, and I was completely powerless to change any of it. Which is extremely frustrating.

As an adult and especially as a mother, I feel like I should be in control of my life. Yet I am constantly reminded that in fact, I do not have my stuff together. But as always, God’s way is the exact opposite of the world’s way. Where the world teaches that at a certain age we should be in control of our lives, God tells us to release all control over to Him, because we were never really in control to begin with. The successful stock broker that has all his p’s and q’s in order by the world’s standards could suddenly not have a job one day when the market crashes, and his whole life suddenly spirals out of control. The happy couple finally stops birth control when they are ready to have kids, only to find out that they can’t conceive. The outdoor August wedding in Southern California that took a year to plan is destroyed by a freak-of-nature torrential rain storm that no one saw coming.

We like to think we are in control of our lives because it gives us a sense of security; it makes us feel safe. But the reality is that we can only control what we place our trust in. If we choose to put our trust in schedules and jobs and plans, then we will always be left disappointed. But if we choose  to put our trust in God, we can feel secure in the knowledge that we may not know what each day is going to bring us, but we know that God’s in the driver seat and that He wants good for us. Everything is out of our control. The sooner we accept it and fully release our lives to God–like every single day in and day out aspect of our lives–the happier we will be.

Mind you, this is easier said than done. But every day, I will remind myself that I am not in control of that day. That does not make me an irresponsible adult. It puts me in a position where God can mold me into the woman that He destined me to become before the beginning of time. I will continue to make plans, but I will make them with the knowledge that God might decide to scrap them and do something completely different (which He is prone to do). I will do my best to work with whatever I’ve got, rather than be upset that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I will proudly admit that I do not know what I am doing, because I know that God knows what He’s doing. I may not know where I am headed, but I know that as long as it’s where God wants me to be, then it will be better than anything I could have ever planned for myself. Because only when I leap off the cliff in blind trust, will the true adventure begin.

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