Restless: Finding Our Purpose

Why are we afraid to dream big? Why are we sometimes even afraid to say what we are thinking of doing? How about if I go first!

I have spent time making lists and thinking about who I am and what I am here for. (I got the book Restless by Jennie Allen a few months ago. This is not a review, but the book is AWESOME!) Making these lists led to brainstorming ways to put traits and experiences together. Remember, brainstorming doesn’t mean everything will happen, but it lets your mind run free.

-Start a Bible study for moms in my neighborhood.

-Befriend older people who may be lonely and want to tell me stories.

-The girls and I can bake cookies or muffins for said elders.

-Invite people over for coffee more.

-As my girls get older, be the house they hang out at. When kids start to be home alone after school, have them come to our house.

-Write a book about intentional spending. And maybe other topics!

-Teach Lauren to cross stitch. She has an idea to sell items she cross stitches to raise money for poor and homeless kids. I will help her any way I can.

-Start a home prayer group.

-Never turn down an opportunity to give. (This will take a lifetime to master.)

-Never hide my flaws and mistakes from people.

See, I’m relational. I crave interaction but discovered I prefer one on one or small groups over larger groups. Having my Grandma live with us for years and spending lots of time with my Mimi and Papaw gave me a love of older generations and hearing their wisdom. Losing Mom at age 23 helps me understand others’ loss. Moving around forced me to meet people easily.

I think I can do the most for people through words. Sometimes on paper or computer, but more often in person. All the polite talk, the small talk, gets in the way of deep personal relationships. People are starving for real communication and eye contact. They want to see that someone gets it and know they aren’t the only one going through it.  They want to know they aren’t crazy. I prefer to go below the surface than to talk about the weather. (Well, we can talk about the weather for a minute. It’s too COLD!) I want to know how someone is feeling and what they are thinking. Anyone who reads my blog knows I tend to live my life as an open book. If I am going through something or feeling a certain way, I know others are too.

How about you? What are some of the experiences you have had that can be combined with your personality? God doesn’t waste any of it and will use it for His glory. Big or small, good or bad, they all add up to who you are. Let them bring God glory!

 

 

Linking up with the Saturday Soiree.

Help My Unbelief

Waiting seems to be the story of my life for the last few years. Now I am beginning to see there will always be times for activity and times for waiting. The ebb and flow of life. When I recognize those times of waiting, what I do is just as important as when I am in the bustling times.

This weekend, my family had a twenty four hour period of excruciating waiting. I refreshed my email way too often, wondered if my phone was working, and fretted many hours away. It was literally twenty three and a half hours of that.

Finally, I stopped. I had been praying, but this time I prayed differently. I told God I was sorry for behaving like this and for not trusting Him. I do trust Him, but something had been broken or disconnected in those hours. This prayer became one of those times of confession where I felt so bad about it that I cried. Maybe the world wouldn’t understand why my faith disappearing was so bad, but I knew. My heart had to break open and feel how it must make God feel. I was so sad. But then I didn’t feel sad anymore. God wanted me to understand, but only for a minute. Then I felt peace and light. I was back to knowing who is in control and who isn’t.

Within minutes, my phone rang. It was what I had been waiting for. Did y’all read that? Maybe ten minutes after I confessed my temporary insanity, God made things happen. That was not a coincidence! I had to learn a lesson and right what was wrong, which wouldn’t have happened if the call came earlier.

It appears I am still short on patience and trust. God knows I will need these qualities the rest of my life, so He keeps building them in  me. It is hard at the time, but each time it makes me stronger. There will always be circumstances out of my control that take their sweet time. I have to learn to keep my dependence on God or confess when I don’t.

Sometimes admitting to God that we haven’t had faith is the most difficult thing to do, but it has the most benefits. God knows the condition of our hearts, but we still have to confess our weakness to Him. He promised to give us strength when we need it. Psalm 29:11 says The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Even though our house selling situation is up in the air again, I am choosing to trust God. God always proves faithful to me, and I am fixing on His will over my own. He will work it all out.

 

 

I am linking with Holley Gerth!

Dear Baby Girl

Dear Baby Girl,

You know how you had to tell your baby girl she couldn’t paint her fingernails the other day? Remember telling her she is too young to do it herself, that she is not ready? Remember how your heart broke as she tried to be brave and keep her tears in? Now you know how I feel when I tell you you aren’t ready for the next step that you want so badly. When your tears flow freely down your cheeks. Just like your six year old is your baby, you will always be My baby. Just like you want to prepare her, so do I. As you protect her heart, I protect yours.

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She can’t understand why her sister gets to do things she can’t. You are the same sometimes when a friend gets what they want ahead of you. You whine and yell and get frustrated. You plead with Me until you realize it’s no use and give up. You forget that I hold your future in My hand. I want what is best for you, and that may take some waiting.

Just like your child has to learn to trust you, you have to learn to trust Me. Just like you surprise your child with ice cream or a toy, I love to dazzle you. But you have to stop looking at what you think you want and put your assurance in Me for that to happen. You can’t possibly know what is around that bend, but I do. I have been preparing it since the beginning of time, and that is all you need to know right now.

My dear child, I have loved you with an everlasting love. If you will trust my unfailing love, I will bring you to places you don’t even dare to dream about. When I unveil My plan, tears of joy will spill out and you will marvel at how I accomplished it. There will be highs and lows between now and then, but hang on. When you feel tempted to let go, grab hold of Me tighter.

I have plans for your family, plans for your ministry. We have many years together, as long as you remain in Me. Put your future in My capable hands and let me show you where I want you to go.

I love you more than you can possibly know.

Love,

your Father

 

 

linking with the Saturday Soiree at Faith Along the Way.

Blogging: A Love Story

I love blogging! More specifically, I love the blogging community I have discovered. Where have you ladies been all my life? This summer I was nominated by Amie Jo at Life’s Little Projects for a Very Inspiring Blogger award. Last week Kortney at Vulnerable Prayers nominated me for a Liebster Award for new bloggers. It is so flattering and humbling to be noticed. Although I didn’t write about them, I truly appreciate these ladies’ efforts and their inspiring blogs!

All this led me to think about my (almost) first year in the blog world. The friendships I have made have been so encouraging and have pushed me to grow. God always knows what I need to hear and from who. He is always using my blog friends.

These are not awards, but here are a few ladies who make a difference to me:

Linda at Creekside Ministries. Linda is special for many reasons. When I had been at this a few months, she came along as my first non family member or friend to start reading and commenting on a regular basis. This was huge as I didn’t know that anyone who didn’t know me liked my words! Linda is such an encourager to so many of us and writes beautiful words. Thank you Linda!

Valerie at Grace with Silk. Valerie is also an encourager and another friend. I love how on her blog, she shares what God is teaching her and adds amazing pictures. You have great talent Valerie! Thank you!

Maddy at MaddyChristine Hope. I “met” Maddy this summer and she really loved the Intentional Spending post. She was the first person to email me about my blog. Maddy has such passion and shares it with us. Thank you!

Sarah Ann at Faith Along the Way. Sarah Ann has been a friend in real life for 10 years. She started her blog this year too and I have loved sharing ideas and writing guest posts for each other. Not long after she started, she began a weekly link up for all of us to share our posts. Sarah Ann, I love your words and your spirit of community! Thank you!

There are so many names besides these. Kathryn, Julie, Anita, Maria, Abby, Beth, Susie, Trudy, Crystal, and Lisa are just a few.

You have all encouraged me and told me when I encouraged you. Y’all keep me going and the world is a sweeter place with you in it. Keep sharing your heart and spreading the love of Jesus.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship!

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth and her Coffee for the Heart!

Filled with What?

Earlier this week I thought about how we are to be filled with what is good. Specifically, we are to put good things in our mind. Our brains are so susceptible to corruption and easily convinced that sin is OK. In this world we are bombarded with evil, so we must stay away from it. I decided to only expose myself to good for a week. Once I calmed down from that idea, I went with a day.

Why didn’t I think of this before election day? Oh well, a day late and a dollar short. So I stayed away from most of the internet-including Facebook-for 24 hours. No TV since I can’t be sure what will be on any show. Books were limited too.

In general, I don’t frequent bad shows or websites or books, but are they useful for building others up? Nope. They are mostly entertaining fluff. Do they increase my faith? No, but they fill up my time. Do they make me a better person? Ummm probably not. TV shows let me see a fake crime being solved or laugh at witty people. Facebook tells me which friend is now pregnant, starting a new job, or what they ate for dinner. Oh and we can’t leave out the funny memes! Books keep my mind engaged. I love them, but they aren’t always edifying.

Skipping all this gave me extra time, and I went to bed early. I missed time with my husband, you know, where we watch TV together without conversation.  I had extra time with my Bible. It was difficult, which tells me this was necessary. When I let these things dictate my happiness, something is wrong.

The next morning I didn’t race to these outlets. Facebook was not quite as appealing as normal. Maybe it helped straighten my priorities? Maybe time away loosened the grasp these areas had on me?  It certainly pointed to the fact that I need better media in my life or different activities. My usual may not pull me away from Christ, but it distracts me.

God calls me to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable, according to Philippians 4:8. It makes it much easier to take my thoughts captive if I am putting the right things in. I want God to do new things in and through me, but how can He use me if I am full of junk?

All of this is not to say I will stay away from all of the world. I should definitely be discriminating in what I put in my mind, and I think intentionally taking time away from these things on a regular basis is a good start. If I want to stay on track, I need to be in the world and not of the world.

So my question is: this weekend, what are YOU doing to renew your mind?

 

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree.

More Than Enough

God I praise You for who You are

You exceed my expectations

You wake me up each morning

When not everyone gets that privilege

You put the sun in the sky or a gentle breeze

Just to remind me You are here

You give me food-more options than I need

To sustain me

You place me in a family

One who shows me Your love

You allow me to live in a house with more than one room

While others don’t

You grant us two cars

And others don’t even have one

You provide us with enough clothes for multiple families

Yet we are only one

You keep me healthy

Even when I don’t appreciate it

You have patience for me

When I whine that I don’t have enough

You let me live in a country where I can worship You freely

Without fear of persecution

You created me just right and placed me in the right place and time

I trust You with my future

I don’t ask for anything more than I have

Because it is more than enough

You are so generous to me

I want to bask in Your love

To linger in Your peace

To bathe in Your joy

To live in Your presence

All the days of my life

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

 

The Unknown: Dun Dun Dun!

Unknown.

But only to me. God knows everything and has every detail planned out. Do I still have fear? Absolutely. I am always trying to get through one situation, because then I can relax. But guess what? There is always going to be something else coming up. That is life. As soon as something is known, another unknown arrives to take its place.

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We just fixed up our house and put it on the market. (Yes, I am exhausted and ran out of Magic Erasers. Bless whoever invented those!) Now we wait and pray we get an offer soon.

We have an inspection and appraisal.

We find a house to buy.

We close on both houses.

We pack and then unpack.

We make new friends.

There is enough unknown right now to make this mama anxious. I am learning it is OK to admit that. But I have to do something with that worry.

Even a good change, like moving, causes stress. It means I must rely on God. I know that God’s plan for my life trumps any fear I may have. His design for me is greater than anything I would dream up. Or settle for.

I feel called to be around other moms more. I have resisted because it is not what I prefer. In general I am more comfortable around people older than me. And seriously, me, mentor? But I am past thinking I have nothing to offer. If God wants me to walk alongside moms, especially moms who are different than me, who am I to argue? He will equip me. He has been working on me, stretching my faith, and molding my will. He has made me want what He wants, not what I want. Our family hasn’t felt the need to move until this fall. Now I know God has used the time to prepare us for a new situation. He has also been preparing our new house and neighbors. God really does work all the details of our lives out. Our pieces of the puzzle fit with the pieces someone else has. We just don’t know it until the right time.

When I think about what God is going to do through my family, some of the anxiety melts away. If I get to be part of a greater plan, there is no bigger honor. I think that is what usually gets me with the unknown. I don’t look at it the way God does. I see change as a threat, instead of an opportunity. I need to realize that God wants to use me.

Telling God I am worried does mean I am weak and need His strength. That is true whether I admit it or not. But bringing it out and not being ashamed of it is how I work through it. Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” When I ask for the strength and wisdom for today, God will give it to me. I don’t have to be afraid of the future.

Let the adventure begin.

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree at Faith Along the Way.

Do You Give Hilariously?

God loves a cheerful giver. We all know that. When I heard that God loves a hilarious giver, it caught my eye. The Greek word used in 2 Corinthians 9:7 is only in the Bible once, and it is “hilaros.” It is the root for our word hilarious.

Think about laughter. When one person starts, it is contagious. Before you know it, the whole room is crying from laughing so hard. You just can’t stop. When you try, something sets you off and it goes around again. Giving is like that. When you give with a happy heart, people see. They see the lightness you feel. They see the difference you are making. They see God surprising you with blessings. Are you a contagious giver?

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When you give  hilariously, it is joy spilling out of you. Joy wells up and can’t be contained when you give. The more you give, the more satisfaction and contentment overflow. The word hilarious is not meant for a polite laugh or a small giggle. It is boisterous, convulsive, exhilarating, noisy, uproarious. The very nature of it is excitement that is meant to be obvious. Giving should not be done so you can be known from it, but it should produce explosive joy. Do you exude wild joy from giving?

The other picture that hilarious giving brings to my mind is God laughing. Since generosity comes from Him, He loves nothing more than seeing us-His creation-loving each other by giving our resources for His kingdom. I see Him on His throne. He is leaning forward to get a better look and then He throws back His head and gives a good belly laugh. His crown almost falls off His head. All of heaven shakes as He does. He just can’t contain His excitement when you truly get it! I can hear the people in heaven say, “Oh, someone must be giving again,” as they feel the vibration. God gets a twinkle in His eye when you give. He is so proud of you! He created you to bless others as you have been blessed. Are you pleasing God by blessing others?

As consumers and residents of this earth, it is easy to feel stressed about giving. But if we look at it the way God does, that unease turns into joy. There is a snowball effect that happens when giving begins. Start small and look for ways to be a blessing. Pretty soon the joy will be activated and hilarious giving will ensue.

Start giving and see how God pours out His blessings on you and those around you!

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth.

Looking Back

Almost two years ago I started writing out my prayers. This happened for about eight months. The other day while cleaning I found these prayers.

There were times I saw God come through fast and build my faith and wonder. Things we had just asked for were given. My excitement practically leapt off the page! It is so much fun to look back and see God’s hand at work.

Sandwiched between those answers was pain, loneliness, and frustration. I began one day with “It’s me begging again.” I felt such desperation to find something I could do to make money for our family to use and give. I had tangible desires that were godly, so where was God?

Reading through it now, I see how my heart changed. Here are some of the things I said:

“I am on my knees asking for Your help. It takes wisdom to find the perfect thing and I need Your help and patience.”

“You put me here to make a difference through me, despite me. Please prepare my heart. Make me patient and pliable.”

“This Bible study hurts today. My church does not have prayer meetings and if it did, I probably would not go. I don’t like to pray out loud. Lord please help me get over that! Take away that fear and uncomfortable feeling. I want to be used by You and maybe that is how You want to use me.” (He did!)

“You are God, You are good, and I am nothing. You should scrape me off the bottom of Your shoe and move on but You embrace me.”

“I want to serve You the ways You have planned for me.”

“My hunger and thirst for You has definitely increased lately.”

“I want to be known as the one who prays.” (This took my breath away. Little did I know that I would become known for this!)

“You have something so great planned for me and my family and I can’t wait to know it!”

Toward the end, I started to praise more and ask less. I began to thank God for what He was going to do in my life. I went from begging to praising. Being able to look back and see my growth shows me God’s faithfulness. He knew I wasn’t ready for this blog yet. I still needed more molding, more testing, more refining.

The last prayer was written the day before our first prayer meeting. I stopped writing prayers out because a series of things happened to me and members of my family. It took everything I had to hold on to hope. There were days I could only do the bare minimum for my family and even that got messed up. As soon as one situation would be resolved, another crisis would pop up. Health-life and death issues. School-my girls really needed me. Ultimate spiritual warfare took my family into Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a very heavy time.

We started the prayer meetings right when all of these attacks began. If I hadn’t had the months of studying the Bible extra, learning to pray, and growing closer to God, our family would have crumbled. God was our Rock. The waiting and hoping part grew old, but it saved us. Reading these prayers is a good reminder to me that God has to lay ground work in us.

God is faithful and will bring us through problems at HIS pace. He will answer our prayers in HIS time. He will make us want HIS will when we ask Him to. God knows what He is doing and how He wants to use us.

We just need to keep trusting Him.

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree.

Contrast

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On a walk this week, a sight jumped out at me. I noticed the sky and trees and the glorious coloring. The question I kept asking myself is would I have noticed the sky if it weren’t for the trees? They bring out each other’s beauty.

Would I appreciate sitting in front of a sunny window with a cup of coffee if I hadn’t been out in the cold?

Would I enjoy quiet if I hadn’t been through chaos?

Do I embrace my health before it has been threatened?

Do I feel grateful for having enough or does that only come after it has been taken?

I think sometimes the only way we get perspective is to go through hard times. Our life has to be shaken up to see how blessed we are. Sometimes things need to be taken from us so we can wake up. They may be returned to us, or they may not. We have to learn to appreciate what we have or God may give it to someone who will cherish it and thank Him every day.

If your life is in order now, tell God how much you appreciate it and all He does for you.

If there is a dark situation in your life, remember to thank God for it. This is needed to contrast the good He will bring. He is creating beauty in you. When the dark time has passed, you will shine and reflect His light even more!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5: 18

 

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth.