When You Can’t Keep Up…

I’ve had about a dozen things I’ve wanted to blog about lately…

But then I signed into my blog site. It’s extremely outdated.

Everything needs updating.

 

I came home spent from a day of sporadic meetings and taxi mom driving…

But then I looked around at my house. The dishes. The dust. The dog hair. The clutter.

Everything needs cleaned. And organized.

 

I checked my email for some important information…

But then I saw how many messages I hadn’t replied to or filed or deleted.

 

I went on a walk and really got my heart rate up there…

But then I realized how many more calories I would have to burn to even make a difference. And aside from that, I need new shoes because my shins are splinting in two. 

 

Small little problems, right? At the root of it, an overwhelmed state of mind. A negative mind. My wisdom will kick in. “Gratitude and praise, that’s the answer. Remember your blessings, that will do it.”

But then a ton of self-condemnation kicks in. “If only I were more grateful, more obedient, more disciplined. Less emotional. Less ME.”

 

If we’re honest, all of us feel this way sometimes. It’s summed up by one simple word: OVERWHELMED. The older I get, the more sure I am that it’s inevitable, even when we know our lives could be so much harder.

Do praise and gratitude make a difference? Absolutely. Let’s do it, even if only led from an attitude of obedience. But let’s not forget that the Lord Almighty, who knows all, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, knows we can get weak for whatever reason, big or small. And He makes provision out of His lovingkindness in scripture.

(From Psalm 61)

“Hear my cry, O God;
Listen to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help].

For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me…”

He hears the prayers of His sons and daughters when their hearts are weakened by the effects of this fallen world. It doesn’t mean we all of a sudden feel all better, that all of our t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.

What it does mean is that when we just can’t keep up with the pace we’ve set for ourselves or we’ve allowed others to set for us, that He will steady us, equip us, show us the next step (even if it’s hard)…lead us to wise counsel…give us a peace deep down that we can’t explain–if only we wil ask for His help.

I wish I could explain it better, but honestly, I just can’t keep up.

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Posted in anxiety, christian living article, Christian walk, encouragement, everyday moments, faith, faithfulness of God, God's faithfulness, God's Word, gratefulness, gratitude, hope, obedience, perfection, personal, power, praise, prayer, self-effort, spiritual maturity, stress, struggles, surrender, testimony, thankfulness, thoughts on scripture, worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Do You Know What You’re Waiting For?

A couple of weekends ago we were dropping our daughter off at the movie theater to meet some friends. As my husband pulled over to a curb to drop her off across the street, a man began to walk toward us. She opened the back passenger door to get out, and he looked in, ready to take her spot. She panicked and flung herself back in the car and shut the door. He looked like he had seen a deer in the headlights as we pulled off to turn around and drop her off on the other side. About a minute later, a car of the same color, make and model pulled up and he got in. We all (including the mysterious man) began to laugh when we realized he thought we were his “Uber” car! What are the odds!

I was thinking this week about how many times I’ve prayed to the Lord for something throughout my Christian life, and even as of late…for healing, answers, relief, direction, help, His will. Resolution from conflict, protection and wisdom for my family, on and on…and the waiting can be hard. So many pat answers, quick fixes, temporary comforts will pull up to the curb of my heart and offer me a faster route than the one God has for me. These shortcuts almost always lead to the wrong side of town.

I’m learning to wait for the right Driver. Only He knows the best route for me. It sounds simple, but it’s really not. God’s way is often through construction zones and detours, because it isn’t about speed for Him. It’s about our growth, and learning to know Him more along the way.

When Scripture tells us He will lead us along straight paths and the smooth way, we can mistake that for the easy way. It’s straight and smooth for us spiritually speaking because when we look back, even though it seemed like a hard road at the time, we will see it was smoother indeed, a straight line to Him, one that kept us from the entrapment of sin’s consequences. And the more we learn to walk in His ways, because it’s developed perseverance and deeper faith in us, the smoother and straighter His narrow path will seem.

How have you been doing in the waiting lately?

“Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.”

Psalm 25:4-5, NLT

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Posted in anxiety, christian living article, Christian walk, everyday moments, faith-filled living, obedience, practical wisdom, protection, self-effort, spiritual maturity, struggles, surrender, thoughts on scripture, worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2-0-1-7

Two weeks into a new year, and I am still struggling to say it or write it: 2017.

Wowwww. I’ve had some serious life changes in the past year. TWO of our adult children have moved out of the house, one to live with ministry roommates and about to finish his last year of college; the other, off to live on campus at a huge university. Hubby became self-employed, working at home now. All of this while becoming…menopausal.

Think I have some things to blog about again? Mhmm. 🙂

Until then, I’m continuing the tradition of sharing my annual verse for the new year (even though I skipped last year). And I’m really excited the Lord laid this one on my heart, because He knows how badly I need this at the forefront of my mind, wallowing around in the study and meditation of it!

“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:17-18

So much awesomeness packed into these verses. If you’re so inclined, study them with me, and of course leave any thoughts or wisdom you have to share!

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Posted in Christian walk, God's Word, Holy Spirit, indwelling Holy Spirit, joy, ministry purpose, personal, priorities, set apart life, Spirit-filled living, surrender, testimony | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Slander Becomes Simply Banter

I’ll never forget the time in high school when an unbelievable rumor went around about me. A very convincing and dramatic “friend” was upset by something I had done that indirectly affected her. Oh man, I may as well bought everyone in the high school (I lived in a small town) a tub of popcorn and a soda pop so they could watch the shock waves of drama that ensued as a result. By the time it was over, I wasn’t even involved anymore.

High School.

Honestly…is it just high school? Or is it one of those timeless sins that has become acceptable in the name of sharing our injuries or becoming a prayer request?

If we, as Christians, were completely honest, do we enjoy or glob onto a juicy story? Or more innocently, choose to believe half truths or seemingly reasonable & justifiable lies?

I can’t answer this question for you, but after examining myself and thinking through it, I would say I don’t exactly enjoy it, but I’ve been involved in it and taken satisfaction in it. I’ve believed things I’ve heard without knowing all the facts. Sometimes I’ve even chosen to believe it to make me feel better about myself. Because of what’s been shared, I am justified for my own poor behavior.

Yuck.

I’ve thought about this on and off in my Christian life, and even more soberly upon recent occasion when some rumors were spread around about someone I dearly love. Then this morning, my pastor read a verse I’ve written and spoken to others on, hitting me in a fresh new way, convicting me:

” You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander & dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature & all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature & be renewed as you learn to know your Creator & become like Him.” (Read Colossians 3 in its entirety).

My goodness, friends. Slander is right up there with anger, rage, malicious behavior, dirty language and lies. Actually, slander is a lie about someone else, usually based in some sort of reality or truth. What I realized as I prayed through this situation with a loved one is that she hadn’t been completely above reproach. She had made some unwise choices which gave others the reason to doubt her behavior. Even though her motives and actions weren’t overtly sinful, they gave others a reason to question her.

And then I was right back at high school. In my own situation. And I had made some foolish decisions which lacked discernment and wisdom and maturity. So others took the appearances and gave wings to my actions, believing what they wanted to fit their perspective.

Wait, that’s not just back then, it’s happening right now. More times than I can count, I believe things about other people that I don’t even know to be fact. It isn’t slander, it’s simply everyday banter. Believe what you wish. Believe what fits your truth, your reality, your lie…

Again…Yuck.

Let’s put this off, my friends. Let’s take this reminder to do what God says toward the end of Colossians 3:

“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and  forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

I have nothing to add to this. Just simple conviction from God’s truth today turned into type that I had to share. Because if I type it, maybe I will more fully live it myself. And maybe then, one less person will get hurt as a result…maybe one less person will miss the grace of God?

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:16

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Life In The Fast Lane

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I entrust my life.
Ps. 143:8

Driving down one of the many tollways that surround my area the other day, a thought occurred to me: I don’t much care to drive in the fast lane. The slow lane isn’t appealing either.

I’ve become a middle-lane kind of driver.

In the left lane, I get tailgated. In the right lane, I’m tempted to tailgate others. But in the center lane, I coast along at just the right speed.

Similarly, I long to be a center lane Christian. I don’t want to get ahead of God’s plan for my life, & I don’t want to lag behind either. I want to coast at perfect speed. Of course this is where the analogy breaks down. Because when we’re living with Jesus Christ at the wheel, we’re going to hit some ruts in the road.

But in the center of His will, with my eyes on Him, my emotions aligned with His Word, peace abides–no matter what obstacles swerve in front of me.

 ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

This is the way; walk in it.’ Is 30:21

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15 Sanity-Saving Indoor Activities//Guest Post by Lindsey Bell

I want to welcome my new friend & TMI Ministry Partner, Lindsey Bell. I think you will be blown away by her practical wisdom! Read all the way to the bottom to get details on her giveaway, and please take some time and leave her your comments and ideas.

Let’s hear from Lindsey:
image
Winter is in full swing where I live, so we’re spending a lot of time inside. Some days (let’s just be honest), that means I need some sanity-saving activities.

Here are 15 easy and fun things to do with your kids when you’re stuck indoors.

15 Sanity-Saving Indoor Activities:

1. Read a book.

Or better yet…write a book or act out a story.

2. Build a fort with blankets, chairs, and pillows.

Then put some of your child’s favorite toys in the fort, and you’ll hopefully keep him busy for at least 20 minutes.

3. Play indoor hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, and bull’s-eye bowling.

Use masking tape to create some fun family games. Check out this post for photos and more ideas.

4. Pull out some of your favorite games and puzzles.

Candyland and Don’t Break the Ice probably haven’t been played for a while, so dig them out of storage, and your kids will feel like they’ve gotten a new toy.

5. Go on a treasure hunt.

If you want to make this super easy, go ahead and get out those Easter eggs a little early. Your kids won’t mind at all.

6. Get in the kitchen.

Bake some homemade chocolate chip cookies or another favorite treat.

7. Play in the bathtub.

Who says baths are reserved for when you need to get clean? Fill the tub with water, throw in some cups and bowls, and your kids will have a blast.

Or…if there’s snow outside, bring some in and fill the bathtub. Then arm your little ones with dump trucks or measuring cups and spoons.

8. Camp…inside.

Put up your tent in the living room and enjoy some “campfire” food for dinner like hotdogs or s’mores.

9. Play Hide and Seek.

This is a game kids of all ages enjoy. For older children, try playing this game in the dark.

10. Play some games with paper cups.

This post has a lot of fun ideas.

11. Have some cardboard box fun.

Put some crayons in the box, and allow your children to draw whatever they wish. Or turn the box into a playhouse or car.

12. Make paper airplanes.

You could even get out that masking tape and make some targets on your floor to see who can get the closest.

13. Have some fun with toilet paper rolls.

I love the ideas in this blog post.

14. Look through old photos.

Your kids will love to see themselves as babies. They will probably also enjoy seeing pictures of you as a child or young adult.

15. Check out my Pinterest page for more Indoor Crafts and Activities.

Let’s Talk: What other fun things do you like to do with your children indoors?

This post is part of Lindsey Bell’s December blog tour. To enter to win Lindsey’s MEGA-GIVEAWAY (the winner will receive 6 books!), leave a comment on any of Lindsey’s guest posts this month (including this one).

For a full list of participating blogs (and ways to enter!) visit this post on Lindsey’s blog.

*photo courtesy: unsplash

imageAbout Lindsey Bell:
Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:
Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com
Her website: www.lindseymbell.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

imageAbout Searching for Sanity:
Have you ever looked at your beloved children and wondered, what in the world am I doing? Why did God trust me—of all people—to raise them?

Motherhood is the most difficult job many of us will ever take. Searching for Sanity offers moms an opportunity to take a breath, dig into the Word, and learn from parents of the past. In short devotions designed for busy moms, this book uses the parents of the Bible—both the good and the bad—to inspire today’s mothers.

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Posted in faith-filled blogs, giveaway, guest post, household, mentors, motherhood, mothers, online resources, parenting, practical wisdom, products | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Count Your Curses?

imageI was singing along to the old hymn recently,

“Count your curses,
Count them one by one…
Count your many curses,
See what evil has done.”

Don’t click the exit button. I’m obviously aiming at sarcasm to get your attention. And mine.

I don’t know why I go through seasons of negativity, but I do. And nothing is more convicting than the myriad of Thanksgiving quotes, prayers & messages that light up my social media news feeds.

It’s actually kind of like spiritual whiplash. One month I’m reading about the latest ministry split or controversy, what that pastor did or didn’t do, how evil things in the world are causing it to spin off its very axis…then bam, Thanksgiving week hits and all of a sudden I’m supposed to give thanks with a grateful heart and get along and never ever complain. About anything. Because then I wouldn’t be giving thanks in all circumstances.

Wait, I guess that sounds a bit negative.

Seriously, though, it’s incredibly humbling if you think about it. I’m grateful we celebrate Thanksgiving every year and that those reminders exist to flip my gaze. But why is it so easy for me…for us…to get sidetracked in the first place?

I want to wake up every single day with thankfulness dripping from my tongue, genuinely overflowing from my heart and mind. Because God is good. Because He never changes. Because He loves me. Because the Lord is just and righteous and merciful and kind. Because He saved me.

“Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sins are put out of sight.
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”

Romans 4:7-8, Psalm 32:1-2a, NLT

“What joy…” The NIV says, “Blessed are they.”

Oh believers, we are forgiven. Our sins are tossed way WAY far away. The Lord has cleared our records!!!

It’s my post-Thanksgiving math assignment. To count my blessings, to count my joys, no matter how much evil tries to stack up against them. And I can find no greater place to start than what the Lord did on the cross.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t air our grumblings before God. He says we can approach Him with confidence about every burden we face (1 Peter 5:7, Eph. 3:12, Heb. 4:16) . It means that at the end of the day, He can enable those of us with open and willing hearts to see our complaints and sufferings through the light of the cross of Christ, the One who daily bears my burdens and exclaims, “Nothing is too difficult for Me!”

Let’s do the math together, my friends.

“Count our blessings,
Count them one by one.
Count our many blessings,
See what God has done.”

***”Count Your Blessings” Hymn: Words: John­son Oat­man, Jr., in Songs for Young Peo­ple, by Ed­win Ex­cell (Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois: 1897).

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Posted in burdens, christian living article, Christian walk, confidence, everyday moments, faith-colored glasses, gratefulness, holidays, humility, living worship, salvation, social media, spiritual maturity, stress, struggles, surrender, thankfulness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Your Kids Have Good Ideas

imagePlease stop by The M.O.M. Initiative website for my latest post. I always enjoy your added bits of wisdom and encouragement, and it helps other moms too!

Click here: http://www.themominitiative.com/2014/10/24/kids-good-ideas/

And speaking of good ideas, it might be good to get blogging again. Very soon, my friends.

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A Sigh Of Faith

 

Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

I have no idea which pastor or teacher said this, but I wrote it down in the side space of my Bible, right beside the story of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego in Daniel 3. In verse 16 it says, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

“Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

So this morning, I took all the stuff that’s been bugging me, the burdens I’ve been carrying around, the concern I have for the Church and the world…I laid them at the feet of my Father.
I gave Him my “whys.”
I came close to listing them here, but why would I do that? For your whys are way different from my whys. And God’s ways in answer to the whys are different from all of ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

“Faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.”

Even though God is able, we need to remind ourselves and those around us, that even when His plan differs from what we are praying & hoping for, we will not give up and bow down to the solutions the world (or our own reasoning) has to offer as a quick solution. It may be cliche, but The Lord not only knows best, but He really, REALLY cares for us too.
A deeply personal and real relationship with Him makes a real difference in all that comes against us, in all that that would keep us from surrendering stuff to Him, in making Him our all in all. Because at the end of each day, can we honestly say, “It was He who carried me through”? and “I waited on Him”?
Sometimes, it’s not a “sign” of faith we need to be looking for, but a “sigh” of faith we need to surrender all…
My hope is in You, Lord. I lay all my worries & complaints before You. I place my trust, confidence & faith in You. Help me to stay focused on who You are instead of what I’d like you to do, walking in surrendered obedience no matter what.

“All my longings lie open before You, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.” Ps. 38:9

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Posted in anxiety, burdens, Christian walk, doubt, faith, faith-filled living, God's faithfulness, stress, struggles, surrender, unbelief, why, worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Judger Turned Judged

image  When I was a new mom, I wanted to appear to everyone like I had my act together and knew what I was doing. But like any other new mom, I didn’t. One of the ways that I coped with the hypocrisy was by jumping on the bandwagons of other moms I admired. They were who I wanted to be, or at least who I wanted others to think I was. And honestly, by the grace of God, most of the bandwagons I jumped on turned out to be pretty good choices. But the state of my heart was another story. I was making motherhood about right performance instead of about a real process, and this led to none other than self-righteousness. Yuck. And that led to judging others. Double yuck.

Do you know what I mean by bandwagon? Merriam-webster.com defines it as “2:  a popular party, faction, or cause that attracts growing support.” What’s funny is that with almost any issue, there are bandwagons traveling in opposite directions. For instance, rocking your baby to sleep versus laying them down awake. Breastfeeding versus formula. Homeschooling versus public or private education. Dating versus courting. And on and on it goes.

Come read the rest of the post & chime in on the discussion at The M.O.M. Initiative!

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