Make That Change Now

Years ago, I wondered if we would ever be out of debt. The mountain seemed too high and we weren’t putting a dent in it. Why should we bother trying?

Happily, I can tell you we are out of debt now and are saving as well as giving more than I thought we would be able to. Paying off debt has led to so many things! The first thing is after a few years of being away from that mountain, we were able to move to a bigger house that has a flat yard and driveway. Our girls can play outside safely.

After we moved, I spent 6 months writing my book, Intentional Spending, because I had time. Right after the book was published, I began working part time because I wanted to, not because I had to.

Having an extra bedroom in the new house is a dream come true. I wanted a guest room, like most of us want. Little did I know at the time that a desire I have pushed down for years would surface now. I have always wanted to foster or adopt, and that empty room has been calling to me. Why should it sit empty most of the time when little ones need a bed?

I can honestly say that had we not worked hard to pay off debt when we did, our lives would look very different. We would be more stressed and fight more. I would not have been able to stay home and would have missed the time I had when the girls were little. My writing would not have happened, both this blog and my book. Most of all, we would not have been in a place to begin the fostering journey. We would have been stagnant, waiting for the good life to begin. We would have been waiting for the life God had planned for us.

It’s not that we will never have to worry about money again. None of us knows the future. However, I think we are better equipped now than we were before. When things come up, we have a stronger base. We know we can trust God to help us because we have seen Him come through time after time.

What lies in your future that God is preparing you for? Will you start your own company? Give more? Adopt a child? Have a parent move in with you? God wants to blow the doors off your expectations, but He can’t if you are limited. Whether it is your finances or some other limitation, make that change now. Take care of it now so God can take you to your next place. He is waiting for you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Fifth Grade Is Giving Me More Gray Hair

Y’all, fifth grade is hard. For me, not my child. Well, for her too. This year we have had to deal with friend drama for the first time, Lauren has been unorganized and her grades are terrible. This is uncharted territory for her. I suspect it is only going to get harder.

What I pray Lauren is learning through all of this is that God has her in the right place. She is at the right school with the right teacher. Nothing was overlooked. Of course I want her to learn from mistakes she has made and do better, but she will be making mistakes all her life. If she grasps the concept that nothing she does escapes God, she will do well.

In the past, Lauren has had only sweet teachers who baby the class. (Not Kaitlyn, bless her heart.)  She has felt loved and cherished no matter what she has done. She has never liked to ask or answer a question, but I get that. All those other years, she excelled and life was good.

Enter fifth grade. The school my girls attend expect a lot out of the fifth graders. They are not ruling the school, as one would think (or maybe it was just us thinking that). They set the example for the younger kids and get in trouble more often. There is not even whispering in the hallways, as the younger kids get to do. They have to be quieter in the lunchroom. It has been a difficult year, but worth the effort.

Lauren’s teacher is sweet and loving, but she expects the kids to work harder. There are more consequences than there have been. She is preparing the class for middle school next year. In middle school, teachers won’t hold their hands and baby them. If the kids were to go in unprepared, they would be shocked and not do their best. Her teacher says many kids come back to her and say sixth grade is much easier after being in her class.

As an adult, I believe God puts us in situations that are difficult and help us grow. Maybe He is preparing us for something greater, or maybe He wants us to draw close to Him in our weakness (or both.) It has taken me many years to understand that there is a plan for my life and to embrace it, but if I could have gotten it sooner, I would be better off. I would worry less and enjoy life more. God has me in the palm of His hand where I am safe. Why would I want to be anywhere else?

My baby will go on to middle school in a few months. She will be more confident in her abilities and readiness. She will have less fear of the work. She will begin to blossom into the woman God wants her to be. If she can grasp the concept that she is in the right place now rather than later, her life will make more sense.

How about you? Do you go through life knowing God has you covered? That He has a plan and purpose for your life? Rest in that knowledge this weekend, my friends!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Interrupt Me

Two weeks ago, I asked God to interrupt my life.

That is a dangerous thing to ask.

Since then, I can definitely say God did what I asked. I have been challenged. Things have come up which means others have had to be dropped. My pride issue has been confronted. My rigidity with regard to my schedule has become glaringly obvious.

About 2 days after asking God to interrupt me, He laid a big idea on my heart that I wrestled with all night. I thought, “Really? Don’t I have enough going on already?” My priorities had to be reevaluated and adjusted accordingly. This is too important to be ignored. Honestly though, this is already a busy season in my life. If it has to be a bit busier for the time being, I trust God to get me through with a shred of sanity left.

Since I started this blog, I have written on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is not just so people know when to come over, but I also like things to go according to schedule and to be neat. I like having lists and order. However, on Friday, I played hooky.

My husband took the day off work to spend it with me. We went to see a movie. We talked and maintained our friendship. We had lunch without the kids. I am thankful for this interruption. I am thankful for my husband wanting to spend time with me. Most of all, I am thankful for the life I have been given and the chance to see how it can be improved.

On Friday, not only did I not publish a post on here, I also laid down my lists. The floor stayed dirty. Dishes stayed in the sink from breakfast. Instead, I read 200 pages in a book I had been looking forward to. The things that normally call out to me had to wait. Except laundry. Laundry couldn’t wait.

Now, I am not saying everyone reading this should ask God to interrupt their lives. If you aren’t feeling that call, then it isn’t right for you. But I know we all get caught up in life and forget to come up for air. We have routines and lists and miss the opportunities that come up all around us. When that happens, who knows what we could have changed or prevented?

What I am saying is that you need to make sure you pay attention to who and what are around you. Don’t take your loved ones or the life you have for granted. Take the chances that come up instead of letting them pass you by. You won’t regret it!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Grace For Me

When I say the wrong thing and beat myself up for it but wouldn’t think twice if someone else said it…Grace for me.

The times I yell at my kids and then feel horrible but would forgive someone else….Grace for me.

Words won’t come for a blog post and I fret over it but would tell someone else it is fine….Grace for me.

There is a list in my head of all that needs to be done and I push myself harder than I push anyone else….Grace for me.

My body is tired and aching and on I go until the day is done when I would tell someone else to slow down…Grace for me.

I forget to stop at the store on the way home and feel annoyed with myself but I would be understanding with anyone else…Grace for me.

On and on I go. I push myself to do more and be better.

God says He made me just the way I am.

He declared me perfect.

Who am I to argue with God?

Grace for me it is.

Steps to Lovely Thoughts

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

When I think about only having good thoughts, it makes me wonder how that is possible. I picture myself sitting there alone in a room. I only have my Bible. There are no fighting children, TV that is putting scary ideas in my head, or laundry to fold. It is just me and God. And let me tell you time like that is more scarce than a unicorn around here. Yet I must take my thoughts captive. So, here are some thoughts on how to accomplish this in an imperfect world.

Step back from things that desensitize us. Let me be clear-I am not telling you to give up TV and electronic devices. However, we need to be careful what we expose ourselves to. When we look at things like gratuitous violence or bad language, they can easily convince us that these things are normal. We start to talk and act like what we see or condone it when others do. There are also lots of news articles that may not be the most helpful. A little bit can really go a long way. Realizing what affects each of us and pulling away from it can keep our minds clean. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

Step toward forgiveness. Holding onto grudges is a tiring act and doesn’t do anyone any good.  When we keep a tight grasp on our hurt, we quickly become bitter and our thoughts turn away from God. Focusing on being kind to everyone and letting go of hurt is a great way to bring in the right kind of thoughts. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Step back from worry. Worry can take hold of our thoughts in the blink of an eye. One minute something might happen in the future and the next thing we know we have convinced ourselves it is inevitable. Thoughts have us spinning and scared and nothing has even happened. Nothing good comes from this mindset. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Step toward the right friends and be the right friend. Our friends have so much influence on us and we don’t realize it. We want to please them and that can lead to actions we wouldn’t normally take. On the other hand, having friends who will encourage us and push us to be our best is truly a gift from God. Maybe we can think about getting closer to the people we want to be more like. “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Step back from wasting time. Hobbies are great and we all need a release from the stress of life. There is nothing wrong with having some free time. But sometimes, free time leads to an overabundance of thoughts. It can lead to jealousy, greed, and discontentment. It can corrupt the seeds of good thoughts you have just planted. Be careful with time. “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

Step toward reading the Bible. God gave us His Word and wants us to soak it up. When we do, we also soak up Him and His ways. And His ways are perfect. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

How do YOU keep your thoughts lovely?

Linking with Holley Gerth

Doubt Is Not the End

God is faithful. Period. Even if that is all you know, that is enough. If you ever doubt a situation, know that you aren’t alone. It is normal to question life events. The problem lies more in not trusting God.

Hebrews 11:11 says, “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” We all know Sarah had her doubts. She even took matters in her own hands by telling Abraham to have a child with another woman. She may have had doubts and questions, and her track record was far from perfect. Still, she clung to the hope she had in God. Overall, her life was marked by faith because she knew God keeps His promises.

The Bible tells us that Sarah and Abraham had a baby “at the very time God had promised” (Genesis 21:2.) God’s timing is rarely in line with ours, but it is always right. We think we have it all figured out, but God goes and makes it spectacular when everything is lined up. All of those things we can’t see that factor in serve a purpose. If we get out of God’s way, He has room to work.

One of my favorite verses is Genesis 21:6, “Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” The joy in Sarah when her hope came to fruition was contagious. She couldn’t help but laugh and bring laughter to those around her. She had waited decades and made plenty of mistakes. A lot of life was lived in those years. Nothing diminished the happiness she felt.

What can you take away from Sarah’s story? When you have times of doubt, it doesn’t mean you have less faith than others. It doesn’t mean God will punish you and not give you the desires of your heart. Your life isn’t over in those moments. It may just be beginning.

When those questions come rolling in on you like a tidal wave and threaten to take you under, stand on God’s promises. He doesn’t expect perfection. Your emotions don’t have to be unwavering. You are human, after all. Just remember that God is worthy of your trust. He is faithful. It may seem crazy, but don’t forget He won’t let you down.

Days will come when you get knocked down by fear. If that happens and you misplace your trust, find it again in the morning. It won’t be far from where you left it.

Maybe your situation is different than Sarah’s, but God is the same. He will forgive you on the days you lack faith. He will give you the life He created you to have. You may not have a baby in your nineties, but you will laugh. God promises.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Hope for the Future

Psalm 3:3 “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Job 11:18 “Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.”

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”

2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”