A Coke and a Smile

This post feels like one of my more personal ones, because God got all up in my emotions and false truths. He had to reveal how off I have been. Maybe you can relate.

Our local Christian radio station had a contest where you could create the fish logo however you want and post it on social media with a certain hashtag.  If they called your name at 3 specific times per day, you had 10 minutes to call the station and claim a $100 gift card. If you did that, you were entered to win the $10,000 grand prize at the end of May.

Well, I made a fish out of Coke cans. It took me a few minutes total and my name was mentioned 2 days later, so I called back and qualified. It was so exciting! It was fun to think about how great the grand prize money would be, but I almost didn’t want to win. The idea of winning when so many people need it more would have made me feel really guilty.

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My 12 year old was the one who reminded me that it would help with fostering needs that will come up soon. I nodded along as she talked. Yes, yes, I will need to devote more time to appointments and helping with homework than a job. Her words didn’t sink in too deep, but I didn’t want my guilt to rub off on her so I agreed.

Now, I am on the launch team for Kelly Balarie’s new book, Battle Ready, and happened to read a sentence that leaped off the page at me the night before the drawing. THE NIGHT BEFORE. God knew how badly I needed this. It said, “What if you actually started to believe God has good gifts for you because you are His beloved daughter?” The moment I read that I knew it was for me.

In my mind, I don’t deserve good things. Sometimes it is because others need it more. Sometimes it is because I don’t think I have earned it. I struggle with letting God give me a gift out of His love for me. I have a hard time thanking God and just being happy and feeling blessed.

Looking back, I started saying, “But wait. When James has gotten good raises or promotions at work, I am happy and not guilty. This must not be true!” Then I realize that in those times, I am proud of my husband for his hard work. It wasn’t up to me. When it has been something of mine, I feel unworthy of receiving.

Just to let you know, I didn’t win. The woman who won the $10,000 is pregnant with her seventh baby, and I am pretty sure she is happier than I would have been. God always blesses the right person at the right time.

What I am now working on is learning to receive graciously whatever God wants to give me. He loves me! Don’t we all enjoy giving gifts to those we love? He knew I wasn’t ready for this one, but I want to be ready next time.

Battle Ready is available for presale and comes out July 3. I have taken so many notes from it, but I can tell I will go back to it many times for more. It will be an amazing resource and refresher when God has a new message for me. If you want God to work on you and grown your faith and pull you closer, you need this book!

Linking with Holley Gerth

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Summer Days

Summer is here! Wednesday was the girls’ last day of school and I finished my job last week. Starting next week, we will be babysitting a neighbor for 4 weeks and possibly watching staff kids at church other weeks. At some point, there may be a foster child added to the mix. Yes, my summer is going to be filled with kids!

We have already been to get ice cream Wednesday and to the neighborhood pool twice yesterday. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to head up to the pool in the evening for a little night swimming. It is cooler, and James can come with us. There is nothing like relaxing with a breeze!

While there is lots of craziness going on, and probably some adjusting, I may not be writing much between now and August 1. When I have updates or something to say, I will pop back in. For now I feel there are different areas that need my attention. It always feels strange to stop writing, but when it feels the strangest it means I am definitely doing the right thing.

Bring on the fun and the laughter. Bring on the sun and the exhaustion that inevitably comes with the heat. Bring on summer!

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Linking with Holley Gerth

How Cartoon Characters Shaped Me

We all love Disney. They make the best kid movies. (Well, maybe not if you are a step mother. Those are always portrayed as evil.) Growing up, I pretended I was CinderSarah when my Mom made me do chores I didn’t like. True story.

Certain movie characters stick with me, even in cartoons. As soon as I saw Eeyore as a young girl, I loved him. He was so sad all the time while everyone just went about their day. Didn’t they see the poor guy suffering? At least that was the way my young brain saw it. I wanted to make him feel better, to comfort him. When Eeyore would come on the screen, my heart went out to him.

The same year Finding Dory came out, my girls and I were babysitting several families to raise money for Food for the Poor. One family had us watch their fostered and recently adopted 2 and 4 year olds. Yes, those little ones required a lot of energy, but we could take care of them together.

For many years, I had dreamed of either fostering or adopting, but it never seemed to be the right time. We didn’t have the room. The girls were young. I kind of hung up the dream. Then we moved to a house with a guest bedroom and time still didn’t feel right. I began to daydream that we would foster teens when our girls were grown, but that too sounded far fetched.

Once we babysat and I saw the girls’ ability to help and their enthusiasm to care for kids, I began to see Baby Dory in my mind. Her huge eyes stuck with me. She was separated from her parents in the movie and scared. Once again, I found myself just wanting to help a cartoon character.

It began to occur to me that this was the time to help other kids. There are Eeyores and Baby Dorys out there who need comfort and love, and we can give them that.

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In case you are wondering, these stuffed animals are mine. They sit on my dresser as a reminder of my purpose and of the fact that I have been preparing for this next phase all my life. I will have the opportunity to comfort a child who has felt unseen. I will keep that child safe in the absence of their parents. I will love them and guide them while they are in our care.

Our family would love your prayers as we (finally) have been approved for foster care! This summer we may focus on respite care, and giving current foster families a break when they need it. We can ease in and see how it is done, and hopefully get a more permanent placement in late June or July. It is exciting and scary, but we can do it together. If I have learned nothing else from Disney, it is that things work out the way they are meant to.

Linking with Holley Gerth

What I Want Them to Get From Me

Last Mother’s Day was difficult for me. After 15 years without my Mama, a rough couple of months snuck in. This year has been a blur, so the sadness hasn’t had a chance to burrow back in. I am not sure what made this difference, but my life definitely has a new focus.

With us beginning foster care, I am looking forward to future Mother’s Days with kids I can be a Mama to, maybe even one permanently. It is exciting to be able to step into lives and love on sweet children who just want a stable family.

Well, Wednesday night I dropped my oldest and her BFF off at youth group. (They call it something different, but it will always be youth group to me!) This gave me over an hour to wander around Target alone. I bought myself this shirt as a pajama top, because it called to me.

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The shirt made me think about what I got from Mom and what I want to give my kids: Jesus. Our kids are going to learn good and bad from us as no parent is perfect. My parents weren’t perfect and neither are my husband and I. There is no need to even try for perfection.

What is attainable is a strong love for Jesus and faith to get them through life. Kids need to see their parents cultivate a relationship with Jesus and crack open their Bibles. There should be discussions about their faith and questions answered honestly. My girls have seen me reading the Bible, listening to God, and sometimes saying verses out loud as I memorize them. What I do will have much more of a effect than what I tell them to do.

There are many things in parenting that I am not great at, but they don’t matter as long as I teach my kids important ideas and practices. I want my girls to learn traits like kindness and forgiveness while they are in this house. I want to lay the foundation for a life long relationship with God that stands when tested.

Teaching children doesn’t happen without planning and without first showing them how to do it. Whatever is done most is going to look most important from the outside. If you are reading this and don’t think you are showing your children what is most important to you, there is good news. You can always start fresh. Today even. Children are resilient and more observant than we give them credit for. They will notice the changes and slowly start emulating you. It is never too late!

Being a parent is a great responsibility that brings much joy. If we take it seriously now with our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, we will later have the knowledge that we did our best. There is no greater gift I can imagine giving our kids than Jesus.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us moms doing our best!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Don’t Wait Until You are in Prison

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

Paul wrote this from prison. Many Americans in middle class housing can’t say this. Contentment really is a learned attitude!

Being content means acknowledging that we have what we need. There will always be things out there that we would like, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy with what we have. No matter how little any of us thinks we have compared to someone else, we have more than we need.

If we have food for today, we have enough. If we have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs, we have enough. If we have money to get us through today, we have enough. Really, none of us knows what is going to happen today or tomorrow. We could win the lottery and have millions of dollars. We could lose our jobs and have to start back at square one. We could pay off our mortgage after years or have a storm take out the whole house. Good and bad will always happen on the earth.

When we only see the lack of nice things and not the abundance of regular things, we aren’t acknowledging God’s love and care for us. Ultimately it is up to Him to provide and up to us to praise Him for it. He won’t let us down or forget about us.

God never expects us to go through life alone. He doesn’t expect us to be strong or have patience, joy and peace without Him. He provides all that! Everything we have in life is from God and all He asks in return is for us to truly feel it is enough. A big bank account or a small one is enough because God can take away or multiply. Why should we worry?

The next time you worry about having what you need, remember the times God came through. Woven through your life are times you doubted and God came to the rescue. Hang on to those times and know you aren’t in this alone. Know you have all you need.

Linking with Holley Gerth

To the One who Made Me Different

God, I thank You for making me different. Thank You for making me feel like I don’t fit in and for reminding me that I am created to stand out. You made me who I am and not someone else.

You put me on a different journey than everyone else. I get caught up in what others are doing and making and winning. I falsely believe that I am not enough, but I am enough in You. I can only compare my life to….my life. It is mine to share with You. It is mine to follow You and shine for You. No one else can do it quite like I can.

The world can make me feel discouraged and alone, but You are always beside me. You whisper in my ear of Your love for me. Sometimes I am too busy to hear You and miss out on that love. When I pause and listen for Your heartbeat, it is there. Steady. Steadying me. Your presence is all I need.

When I don’t feel like enough, it takes away from Your design. You put me here in this place and gave me a purpose. Me doubting myself does nothing but drive a wedge between You and me. Your creation of me is wonderful. I know that full well.

The days I forget of Your great love are forgiven once I come back to You. Your delight in me knows no bounds. Great are You, and greatly to be praised.

My path is like no other, and that is a good thing. It is good because YOU are good. Your love is never ending. Your peace and joy are mine to share and give to others. I am everything in You because You are everything in me. Thank You forever.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Distractio-What was I Saying?

Do you ever think about what distracts you? Do you think about the wasted minutes in your day that could be used to get closer to God? Here is a list of my distractions.

-Too much social media scrolling and internet surfing.

-Negative thoughts that lead me down dark paths about my life. (for example: my health, marriage and children, and even what someone has said or implied about me.)

-Thinking I have it all covered, so time with Jesus isn’t as needed. Ahem.

-Knowing I have no control, so why bother with this if stuff is just going to happen anyways?

-TV shows that aren’t gratifying.

-Friendships with people who only bring me down or who think God is not real.

-Thinking I don’t have time, but then frittering time away.

-Assuming I will fit it in later in the day and then I forget.

-Other people don’t read the Bible and THEY seem fine.

-Yelling at my girls and then allowing guilt to creep between God and me.

-I am not in a bad place now, so why?

-God and I are good so I can go a day or so with no time with Him.

-God will forgive me if I skip today.

While none of these are horrible, none are good either. They are all lies meant to deceive me into distancing myself from God. I really don’t have any excuses to not spend time with and praise my God. What distracts you?

Linking with Holley Gerth