Stop Comparing

Comparison is a joy thief.

We start out happy for a friend buying a big house, and then a thought creeps in.

“Why do they get to move when I am stuck in this dump?”

Or a family member gets a fancy car.

“I work just as hard, so I deserve nice things too!”

That excitement for someone else’s life just came to a screeching halt. The joy was genuine, but now so is the indignation. Suddenly everyone else has the life we want. And we. Are. Ticked.

“Come on God. Am I invisible? Do You just love them more?” (OK maybe we won’t admit to being so juvenile, but we sure think this way!)

It has taken me until the middle of my thirties, but I am starting to see things differently. I see a God who loves me enough to give me what I need. I feel His eyes on me, working things out ahead of me. I will have or experience the things He prepares for me at the right time, and no sooner. I know I have it better than I deserve.

Did you get that? We have it better than we deserve. That’s the part we conveniently forget. If we are going to compare, we have to compare our lives to our neighbor AND to the poor. Sure we may not have extra bedrooms, but our children have beds. We have one or more cars while many kids have to walk miles a day to get clean water. Water. That stuff that comes out of our faucets, hot or cold.

We start to have tunnel vision and only see who has it better. The jealousy that emerges takes our joy and replaces it with bitterness. This is a self righteous anger that assumes a friend got what we deserve.

Umm, no.

We don’t deserve better stuff when a mom is working 3 jobs to barely put food on the table. We don’t deserve brand name clothes when there are kids who don’t have jackets. They wait for the bus and shiver against the wind and snow.

God does not have to bless us any more than He already has. But you know what? He wants to. Despite our whining and complaining, He loves to pour out His blessings on us. How cool is that?

Maybe the next time we start looking to our left and right and what they have, we should stop. We should look up and thank God for all He has given us and will give us.

There is no comparing how much God loves us. We are all the same in that way. When we see it like this, the indignation fades away and the joy returns.

Linking with the Saturday Soiree.

More to Life

As the girls are home this week for fall break, you know, while it is still in the 80’s, I find myself yearning for a different house. We spent the weekend going through their toys and filled up half the trash can with pieces of toys and the trunk of my car with donations. I am not saying I want more house, but less.

In my heart, I want a small house with a big yard. There is nothing wrong with our house, but our yard is a giant hill. They can’t really play outside like kids should. Knowing that makes me sad for them. I have so many memories of riding my bike, playing tag, climbing trees, or just being outside. I had the joy that comes from fresh air, sunshine, and exhaustion. We did not play video games or even have cable for years. My childhood was not sucked away with mindless games. I could read for hours or invent a whole world in my head.

I had to learn to get back on my bike after falling where my kids can’t really ride bikes unless we find a trail. Having friends over means being cooped up inside, even on beautiful days. The thought to play outside rarely occurs to them, where we were told to come home for dinner.

Have we really come so far that kids prefer technology over the adventures they are supposed to be having? I think if my girls had a day of playing outside the way I used to, they would want more. I would love to open up a new world to them and show them the fun kids are meant to experience. Soon enough they will be adults and responsibility will kick in. For now, I want them to have carefree days and room to grow.

I am looking for a simple life, a life with less stuff and more space. I want to appreciate the creation around me, and to go slower. I want to have long talks with my family outside where we aren’t distracted. I think it is time to live in the present, enjoying family and friends for the important part of life they are.

The rest is just junk.

Linking with Holley Gerth.

WWJB

Where would Jesus be?

This question won’t leave me. If Jesus were on earth right now, where would He go? The answer wouldn’t be my church, as awesome as it is. He wouldn’t be at yours either. Who would we find Him with? Not other Christians. He wouldn’t construct a Christian bubble and never venture outside of it.

Does this haunt you? It should.

I want to learn from Jesus when He told the pharisees, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Jesus had a core group of Christian friends, but He was always out in the world. He was gentle and kind, and He pointed people to God. He looked them in the eye and treated them with dignity instead of condemnation. Jesus did not join them in destructive activities, but He did not shy away from associating with them. He was judged for it, but He knew men judging Him meant nothing compared with pleasing His Father.

It isn’t that I am not around non believers. I am. But I don’t choose to hang out with them as often as I should. I don’t try to share my faith with them, at least not more than once. I don’t try to show them God’s love the way I am called.

I tend to feel more comfortable around people older than me, not moms my age or people who need someone to guide them. I like the wisdom I obtain, but I forget that someone needs wisdom from me. Even when I don’t think I have much wisdom, I can offer them what they need. I can be a friend. Not just smile and small talk, but I can find out what is going on in their lives. I can show them the peace and joy that God puts in my heart.

This is a challenge to me and anyone willing: think about where Jesus would be and who He would be with. Go there. Really see them. Be a friend.

Linking with the Saturday Soiree!

Icy Hand of Fear

The hand of fear drips icy water down my back. It slides, making me more uncomfortable the further down it gets. My heart races as it seeks to make me cold. The longer I let it go on, the closer it gets to succeeding at making me numb.

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I have to get a towel and dry my back. I have to grab my Bible and warm my heart again. If I let Satan keep dripping fear into me, there may come a time my heart stops responding to warmth. Giving Satan free reign of my mind will lead to not knowing truth from lies anymore. Cutting those thoughts off at the source, and turning my back on them, is the only way to fight.

I have admitted to being a recovering worryer, and Satan knows how to try to get to me. The last few weeks have had my mind turning to this Thursday, the anniversary of 9/11. With all that is going on, all the speculation, I can’t get away from all the theories. I even considered having the four of us stay home that day. That won’t solve anything though.

Fear is Satan telling me I can’t trust God. When I grab hold of that idea, I am letting go of God. When I give in to the icy grip of fear, it isn’t long until I am desensitized. Fear quickly takes over and sets up shop. Just like melting ice saturates whatever surface it is on, fear soaks into my mind.

What can I do when fear grabs me? I must send it packing with these truths.

I will not fear, for You are with me. (Isaiah 41:10)

I will not be anxious about anything, but I will pray about everything. (Philippians 4:6)

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. (Psalm 56:3)

I will cast all my anxiety on You, because You care for me. (1 Peter 5:7)

I will be strong and courageous. I will not be frightened, for You are with me wherever I go. (Joshua 1:9)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

I will not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

You are my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1)

I will not fear, for You redeemed me; You called me by name, and I am Yours. (Isaiah 43:1)

Fill me with Your joy and peace, so Your hope will abound in me. (Romans 15:13)

These and other truths are in the Bible, and God longs for us to hear and believe them. He can pull us away from the icy touch of fear and into the warm embrace of His love. We just have to let Him.

 

 

I am linking with Holley Gerth and her Coffee for your Heart!

Except For

I can’t do it.

I have nothing capable in me.

I am not perfect.

I am not even good.

I don’t have answers.

I can’t pray more effectively.

I can’t do enough to help others.

I can’t be a better friend.

I don’t say the right things.

I don’t act the right way.

I am not enough.

Except for Jesus.

I can’t do it, except for Jesus.

I have nothing capable in me, except for Jesus.

I am not perfect, except for Jesus.

I am not even good, except for Jesus.

I don’t have answers, except for Jesus.

I can’t pray more effectively, except for Jesus.

I can’t do enough to help others, except for Jesus.

I can’t be a better friend, except for Jesus.

I don’t say the right things, except for Jesus.

I don’t act the right way, except for Jesus.

I am not enough, except for Jesus.

 

When I think I have to have it all together, these three words mean the world. When I am done striving, these three words mean rest. When I get to the end of my strength, I know I can’t keep going, except for Jesus.

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree.

Intentional Spending After Two Months

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This picture is what my life feels like. God is shining down on the path He has set for me. It is glorious and unknown. Beautiful and scary. Only what is right before me is illuminated, and each step is in faith. God wants each of His children to set out toward the light and joy He has prepared for us. That always includes taking care of the sick, poor, and forgotten. Jesus came to serve and be a blessing, and He left us here to carry that on in His name.

On July 1, I woke up to my spending habits. I decided I want our family to use our God given resources for good. We were giving what we were supposed to, not much more. Living that way doesn’t make an impact-not on the world and not on our hearts. If you missed the original post, it is here.

Month 2 has had our first setbacks. I went to the chiropractor seven times at $40 a pop (no pun intended.) The garbage disposal died, and well, we like having one. New tires for one of the cars had been put off long enough. Our youngest wanted us to break the bank for her birthday. I guess she figures you only turn 6 once. These things could have deterred us from giving. Honestly, they made me want to give more. So many people can’t handle it financially when something comes up. We are in a place where we can, by God’s grace alone. Years ago we learned that you really can’t out give God. Tithing wasn’t our first priority, but when that changed it was as if we had more money. Not only did we still have enough, the peace that God would provide settled over our home like a warm blanket. We learned we have to keep trusting and keep our hands open.

Looking at my emails one day this month led to a breakthrough. My Hotmail account is flooded with deal offers. Most I would delete before this, but sometimes I would fall for them. They are designed to create discontent and breed disgust. Companies want me to not like what I have or to buy a new one because it is such a bargain. Not falling for this anymore! Unsubscribe. Get away. Be content.

My 3 months of not buying books had to change. Full disclosure: I bought some. Two were for my Bible Study starting this week. Another one had been on my wishlist and for a brief time went from $11 to $1. My Mama didn’t raise no fool! That book has really helped me, as it is about giving. (Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan) I think God understands, and I am not worried about stray lightning bolts!

This month we met a wonderful family about to move to Guatemala to work with orphans. Our kids got to play together, and we are sponsoring their work. Our oldest was able to give them money she earned and the youngest wants to give them some of her birthday money. It is such a blessing for our family to see them and know where our money is going. Seeing our girls have a growing desire to help the least of these has been amazing.

I saw an opportunity to donate to help start a Christian school in Pakistan and couldn’t say no. When someone is willing to risk their own life to teach kids about God’s love, I am on board. God has probably always been bringing me these chances to give, and sadly my eyes weren’t open. Well, now our family’s eyes are open, and so are our hands.

God, use us to help those You put in our path.

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth and Saturday Soiree.

Ask Seek Knock

When I look back at the years since my girls were born, I marvel at how much I have changed. My faith and trust in God have grown after being tested and worn thin.

Eight years ago, I began a 2 year stretch of working from home. At the time, I longed to quit and just be home. That happened when I had my other daughter. A two year old and a newborn were enough to handle! I quit, but soon realized I missed contributing financially.

In these last six years, I have been on a quest that has only found the right path recently. When I was trying and not succeeding, the feelings of failure and despair were overwhelming.

I tried direct sales. Nope.

I worked at Chick-Fil-A. It was not my pleasure after all.

I was willing to work overnight shifts at a hotel. Glad I realized I need sleep before it was too late.

I wanted to write for the publisher I used to work for. They said no.

I applied to stock toys overnight at Toys R Us. They told me I was overqualified and wanted me to work the floor. Did I mention this was a part time Christmas job? Ummm, no. Parents scare me enough without yelling at me for being out of a toy!

I found magazines and wrote a bunch of articles that were never chosen.

I wrote an awesome essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul that was eventually turned down.

I wrote a fundraiser last year for my church. After publishers said no, I decided to print copies and sell it myself.

Do you know how rejected I felt all those times? How lost? All my attempts crumbled under me or were immediately shot down. It felt like no one wanted me (except my family, and they are stuck with me.) Something kept pushing me. Someone kept me from giving up on finding what I was created to do.

Things didn’t start to turn around until I gave up trying so hard and gave it to God. He gave me peace daily, hope, and His promises. But I had to seek them. Once we seek God’s will, He really does show us. It isn’t instant, but He shows up and leads us on each step.

In Matthew 7, it says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” This is so true. For years, I was seeking my own way and getting only frustration. I had to get to a point of desperation where I physically couldn’t do it anymore. I had to fully commit to what God wanted before anything changed. For the last two years, I have been on the right path, but things are just now coming together. 

I am now seeking again, but I know it isn’t in vain. God will bring the right opportunities at the right time. I believe that with all my heart. 

If you are tired of doing everything on your own, stop now. Lay it down and tell God how much you need Him. He has been waiting for you to ask for help, and He longs to bring you to where you are meant to be. Seek God and trust that His promises are good.

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree Blog Party.

Confessions of a First Time Book Writer

Since I have been very vocal on here about starting a book, I wanted to give you an update. This is week 4 of school, and I am learning as much as my girls! 

The second day of school I sat down and started my First Book. That week, I wrote an outline and notes for each chapter. The plan was to have a first draft before Christmas. I spent the next week and a half stressed out about getting it done and worried that Labor Day would push me back. What was I thinking? Pressure and I do not go hand in hand. It makes me anxious and just plain wears me out. Yes, the word “crazy” comes to my mind too.

One of the things that sucked all of my energy was that I ended up writing in a style and about a topic I am not built for. It felt like I was just putting words together and getting enough so I could call it a day. What made me tired yet exhilarated the first week made me plain old tired last week. I was trying to be someone else when I was made to be me.

What made me see the light? All of my readers (friends) telling me my book will be great and that they love my honesty and transparency. All of your sweet words mean so much, and God uses them to show me what I have to offer. The way I was writing fits someone else, not me.

So did I waste three weeks and thousands of words? NO! I am proud that I didn’t sit back and put off starting, but instead dove into this challenge. It isn’t a wasted experience if I learned from it.

I didn’t fail because I have to start over. Failure would be stopping now and saying “I can’t.” Or not ever starting. I am just being redirected.

Ron Dunn said, “Prayer is not a substitute for work, or merely preparation for work. It IS work.” When I decided to step back, I spent more time in prayer. I cried, read my Bible, and got rest. This goal won’t be done in my power, so I needed to reconnect with my Savior. 

I have no idea why I gave myself a deadline when no one else did, or why I picked my ideas. But I am doing what I don’t normally do: give myself grace. I refuse to beat myself up over a setback. God wanted to give me a hug and let me know I am made a certain way for a reason. He had to let me try my way so I could remember I need Him. Every hour I need Him! The book will be finished at the right time when He is at the center. We are on a journey together, and this is a step forward, not backward.

I want to thank each one of you who has taken time to encourage me this year. I soak up the words and use them to push me!

The Lord will work out His plans for my life-

for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

Psalm 138:8

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth and Saturday Soiree 

 

Raw

I feel like there was an old me who has died.

This new me, well, I don’t know what to do with her. She has different ideas. Different thoughts. Meshing her with the old way of life doesn’t work. God is pushing her to grow and do. But do what, where?

She is no longer content to sit on the sidelines. She doesn’t want to stay away from all controversy. She doesn’t want to stay in her safe world and make sure nothing bad happens. She doesn’t want to stay quiet and not offend anyone.

But what does any of that mean? How does she go about changing? How does she match up who she is becoming without losing everything from the old life?

God has been putting ideas in her heart. Things she hasn’t said out loud in fear. Fear that they won’t happen and fear that they will. She knows that if God wants them to come to life through her, He will open doors.

She longs to reach out to people hurting. She wants to cry with them. To listen to them. To sing with them. To help them be brave.

She knows she will get more out of it than they will. She knows God will show up in a big way. She knows He will help her show love in the way He made her to.

For too long she has sat idly by in her own little world. That was what she needed to prepare for the future. She has done little bits to help others. Enough to assuage any guilt she felt. But then God ripped off the Band-Aid. He made her feel pain for the marginalized and forgotten. He exposed what was underneath. There are people who feel unloved by their family, by their country, and by the God who created them. She cries for them. She wants to be part of healing, not division.

Raw. Tender. She is realizing the wound is supposed to stay raw. There will be no healing if she is to be effective. Her heart needs to bleed for them.

She is done hiding. Done pretending. She is ready when He is.

 

 

Congratulations to the winner of Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity. It goes to Franky Hartman! May it wreck you in the way it is meant to, to do the most good. 

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree Blog Party.

Open Hand

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The direction my life is going leads me to the word simplify. My family has been filling trash bags to donate. We are buying less. We are filling our time with more important endeavors and less trivial ones. Once that ball gets rolling, perspective has more room to come in. 

All of this has made me picture an open hand. I try to live my life with my hands open so I don’t get attached to stuff. I am not meant to hold onto things, but to Jesus. Even the people in my life aren’t permanent. The only everlasting one is God. I want to live like I believe this.

Let go of fear that holds me back.

Let go of shame that chokes me.

Let go of what the world says I should have.

Let them go through my fingers.

The open hand is cupped. I want to only catch what God puts in there: His blessings. Right now I have plenty of stuff that only provides a moment of pleasure. What I desire is to release what I do not need so God can fill me up with His gifts. The things I never want to lose can only come from God.

Peace is wrapped around me.

Grace is poured out on me.

Love is holding my hand.

Joy puts a song in my heart.

Strength lifts me up.

Hope keeps me going.

These are what I want my life to be built on, because these are the only things that can never be taken from me. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be accused of storing up the wrong things.

The posture of this open cupped hand is humility. It is brokenness. It is praise. It say “Jesus you are enough for me. Nothing this world can offer compares to You.” When we truly say this and mean it, God can use us for His glory.

Try it. Open up that hand and praise God for whatever He puts in it.

 

Today is finally the day to reveal that my story is featured on God-Sized Dreams. Go over and read it here!

 

linking to Holley Gerth.