The M Word

Money. I know, I said it. Someone had to break the awkward silence.

Last week, I was asked if I would help other people with their finances. Me. I laughed and laughed. My book is about us learning to give more, but that doesn’t mean I know the first thing about money. Once I learned this was a serious request and that maybe God is calling me to this, (and stopped laughing,) I decided to push past my fears and do it.

Yeah, Satan sure doesn’t like us moving forward and especially not helping people. Something bad happened once I decided to go for it, and I heard a voice ask, “What makes you think you can help others with money?” I had fallen for his trap! When something had gone wrong, I was pulled back in time and couldn’t stop thinking about the past.

I have always had what I would call “money anxiety.” Since we started tithing years ago, it has gone down, but it is always there lurking. In my book, there is a title aptly called, “This is Not About Tithing.” For us, tithing was a good place to start, but we realized two years ago that it should never be the end. Giving ten percent back is a wonderful way to get our feet wet, but we are here to give more than ten percent of ourselves. In this chapter I said, “No one wants to talk about money. We talk around it or about the issues it creates, but not about how we should treat it.” These words have come back to me this week in a new way, and I want to keep facing the money issue head on. Until we do, we are letting money control us and not the other way around.

Once I realized Satan was trying to reel me back in with an old lie, I was able to move forward and remember this is not the end of my story. I mentioned above that I am prone to money anxiety. You know what keeps that at bay? Giving even more. When we kept money for ourselves, it gave us the illusion that we were in control of our money and therefore our lives. Giving money away is our way of acknowledging everything is in God’s hands. When we keep giving, it reminds us to keep the focus on Him and His will.

In the end, I was able to silence the voice in my head.

Linking with Holley Gerth

You Are Cherished

God delights in you. Did you know that? You please, charm, enchant, captivate, and thrill Him. (Why, yes, I do have a thesaurus. What makes you ask?)

The Creator of the universe knows you intimately. He is in charge of everything, but He takes the time to see you. You who feel you don’t matter as well as those who think they matter too much. Ahem. He knows what you are going to do even before you do. And that thing you just did that you knew you would regret? Yeah, that. He may not be thrilled by your choice, but that didn’t make Him love you less.

God’s love for you does not wax and wane like people’s love. It is eternal and constant and unchanging. There is nothing you can do that will make Him love you more. On a bad day, there is nothing you can do to diminish His love.

The love God has for you is like the air you breathe. You can kick up a windstorm because you are feeling unworthy. It is still there. You can breathe air in and out fast, but it is still in you, giving you life. You can try to displace it with water because you are angry with God and you want Him as far away as possible. But He is still there, just on the other side of the water. If you look closely, you can see Him there, patiently waiting. The air gets hot and cold and you feel it. Those are like the times in life you need that reminder of His presence.

Do you feel cherished right now? If not, it is because you are relying too much on people or circumstances to provide that feeling. People are human and live in a fallen world. Nothing on earth will ever make you feel completely loved all the time. You have good days or moments, but those pass. They are essentially useless without the love of God flowing through you. You can’t see Him, but He has never left your side. No one on earth has that distinction, so let those opinions go. The only opinion that matters is the one of Him who delights in you. Bask in that knowledge and smile!

Psalm 18:19 He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.

Linking with Holley Gerth

The Opposite of Peace

Jittery. Why do I feel like I have had too much caffeine? My brain won’t stop. My inner monologue keeps going. Attention span? What attention span?

Oh, I know why. It is because the word I am focusing on this year is peace. As soon as you start asking God for something, Satan starts throwing the opposite at you. Apparently, the opposite of peace for me right now is jittery. Between being awake for hours last night due to my brain being on overdrive and my inability to sit still and focus right now, I am not feeling very peaceful.

Yes, I claimed peace for this year, but that doesn’t mean I can sit back and let it wash over me. (That sounds wonderful, though. A peace bath.) It requires work and constant vigilance. There is a reason the word peace kept coming at me beforeĀ I chose it. I can be anxious and miss out on the blessings of a calm heart.

If something small comes at me and I freak out (hypothetically speaking, of course,) how am I going to react when something bigger happens? Will I get out of my own way and let God work? Probably not. Now is the time to prepare and train myself to let go of fear and worry. They won’t solve any problems anyways.

This year is my training ground. Since it is being used for training purposes, there will be off days. These are days where I get away from what I have been working toward and know I need to get back on track. All of life is a process and this is no different. None of us are ever instantly where we need to be and that is OK. The rough days serve as a reminder of our end goal. The days of a peaceful and calm heart keep me going.

On the days I need more help, here are some verses that speak to me:

Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I am learning that peace is a blessing and one I have to accept. It is not automatic. I need to seek and pursue it daily. As long as I stand firm in Jesus and focus on Him, I will be rewarded with a peaceful heart. And really, there is nothing better!

Linking with Holley Gerth

A Big Hairy Lesson

Y’all, I screwed up. Last week I yelled at my sweet Lauren for a dumb reason. I let Satan get a foothold on my insecurities, and he kicked in the door.

One school night, Lauren asked me if I wanted to do her hair. I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I asked her. Neither of my girls has ever been interested in me doing anything to her hair but brushing it, and Lauren has been taking care of that herself for the last few years. This fateful night, she told me, “Well, you don’t really do anything to your own hair, but do you want to do mine?” That ticked me off, but I didn’t get really angry until she made the same comment a few minutes later. I may have also kicked her boots that I had asked her to move multiple times already. Oh yeah, that went well.

I found a room by myself and sobbed for quite some time. It was one of those nights I missed Mom so bad it hurt. But I realized the reason I missed her so much is because I want to be like her. Mom was so good with our hair that other moms brought their girls to her so she could do their hair for special events. I compare myself to her in so many ways and rarely feel like I measure up as a mom. I knew if I could talk to her she would tell me how silly I was being. She would calm me down by telling me how bad she was at something else. She was good like that-always the first one to make fun of herself. Without those conversations, I let myself believe I am a bad mom.

It is true I have never been into fancy hairstyles, but I am so rusty at even braiding since my own girls never wanted to sit still for long. Having Lauren ask out of the blue just reminded me of the family and friends who act like I am inept with hair since Kaitlyn’s hair looks crazy minutes after being brushed. They don’t see all the times I have tried taming it.

Later that night when I went in to pray with Lauren, she apologized. She didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but she remembered when I used to ask her if she wanted me to do her hair. I guess she wanted to give me a chance. I told her I overreacted and explained to her why it upset me and all was well.

Yes, this was all silly and maybe you don’t relate to hair problems. Really, this was my heart problem. I can’t give in to the lies that say I’m not good enough. I can’t assume everyone is judging me for my kids’ hair, even when they make comments. I only have one life here, and I can’t waste it yelling at my kids because I am insecure. Maybe I don’t have mad hair skillz, but I have a lot of other things going for me. The biggest thing I have is Jesus in me. He gave me the talents meant for me. Comparing them to someone else is just asking for trouble.

This was a small thing, but it taught me a big lesson. I need to control my thoughts so they don’t control me. I was made for great things, and so are you. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise!

Linking with Holley Gerth

To My Girls

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My sweet girls, you are growing up so fast. It is time for you to start making your own friends. You have always played with anyone who is around, but now you have interests and goals you did not have before. Now is the time for creating lasting friendships.

You are being raised with certain values and I hope you find other girls who also have those values. You can sharpen each other and hold each other accountable. Trust me, I know there will be a friend along the way who doesn’t. Please don’t shy away from this girl but don’t go along with everything she does either. Stay strong and be the friend she can count on and go to when she needs advice. Remember all you have learned and share with her. She may not have strong role models in her life.

The friends you make now will influence who you become as an adult. That may sound scary or exaggerated, but it is true. In the next few years, you will begin to pull away from me and rely more on your friends’ opinions. This is how growing up works. As you work toward independence, your friends will be doing the same thing. You will think they know more about you than I do. Therefore, it is important to choose friends now who will help you move in the right direction and make good choices.

Right now, I want to keep you young. You will always be my babies, even as you grow and push against me. You can always come to me, but I want you to also have at least one friend you can go to when you need to talk. I want you to have friends who build you up and make you feel good about yourself but will also be honest when you need to hear something. You are heading to some years that will have amazing highs and devastating lows. Find friends who will ride that out with you.

A great friend will celebrate with you and cry with you, (sometimes in the same conversation. We are girls, after all.) She will become one of the most important people in your world. Choose her wisely.

Finally, be the kind of friend you want her to be. Listen to her and tell her what she needs to hear and not just what she wants to hear. Laugh with her and cry with her. Be kind and compassionate and push her to be her best.

You girls will be amazing adults, and I know you will choose the right friends to help you grow into all you were created to be!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Save Your Finances with Gratitude

What is keeping us from spending less money? Our gratitude is low! It is all too easy to see a nicer version of something we have, (talking to you, iPhone 6,) and wishing we had it. We choose to look at what we want and not at what we have. It is crucial to change our focus to all the ways we are blessed.

How do we do that?

Start a gratitude jar. Think of all you have and write each item on slips of paper. Put the paper in the jar and take one out when you need a boost of thankfulness. Any time you think of something else, add it to the jar. Person, place, thing or idea: it all serves a purpose and has a place in your jar.

Keep a reverse gratitude journal. There are always thing you can be happy about, but what about the ones you see as bad? What about when life throws you a curve and you don’t know how you are going to handle it? Write it down with the date. I bet when you go back and look, you will see the good that came from it and possibly understand why it happened. This could monumentally change the way you see life!

Play the letter game. This is great as a family activity or by yourself. List all the things you are grateful for that all start with the same letter. We started a Youtube channel and just did a video talking about this. (Hopefully our videos will get better and longer with practice!) It is fun to go around and say things and play off each other.

When life gets overwhelming and you feel like everyone around you has more or better stuff than you, take a step back and breathe. Close your eyes and lean back if you can. Take back your gratitude. Without it, your joy is diminished and that is no way to live. Think about the present. Where you are and what surrounds you. The smells, the sounds, the feel of what is around you. If you are outside, is there a breeze? If you are at home, is something being cooked? Focus on being completely there and let everything else go, if only just for a minute.

Think about what you want and ask yourself questions. Will this make your life better? Will you be happier? Does this item enhance your relationships? Would owning this help others? We need to remember what really matters and focus on making those areas better. Our heart. Our family. Our faith. Others. The rest will not be important for longer than a minute, but these areas have eternal significance.

How do YOU keep your gratitude tank full?

Linking with Holley Gerth

You Go Before Me

I go along blindly

As if it is dark

But really I am just following Your light

You are up there in the distance

My eyes strain to see You

When I get frustrated and look away

It is all dim again

When I look behind me

I lose You

The light is always ahead

Constantly shining

You light my path

And prepare the way

I want the road to be easy

But You never said it will be

You promised to go before me

You will never leave me

As long as I see the light up ahead

I will have no reason to fear

If I get turned around

I need only find the light again

You will be there

Always

 

Linked with Holley Gerth