Be all There

Here is a weekend challenge: Do something just for fun and be present.

Hike with your family or best friend. Go at the right pace for you and enjoy the nature around you.

Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Try rolling the marshmallows in my husband’s concoction of cinnamon, paprika, and chili powder before roasting. I promise it is good.

Host a tea party for your kids. Make sure to also serve scones or some other sweet treat.

Drink coffee. That’s it. No social media scrolling. No standing over the sink making breakfast while you drink it. Just enjoy the flavor and the feel of the warm mug.

When your child tries to tell you something that is important to them, really listen. (Unless it involves Minecraft. Then you have my permission to zone out.)

Meet with a friend for good conversation and some belly laughs.

Sit with a book and read until you decide to stop, unless you have small children who decide for you.

Walk around your favorite store with no intention of buying anything. Look and really see what is there with no agenda.

If you like house work, knock yourself out. Organize, purge, pull weeds, whatever makes you feel satisfied. Then come to my house!

Create something that isn’t for a specific purpose. Do it just for fun, even if you aren’t the best at it. Maybe especially if you aren’t the best at it.

When you take time for yourself, the stress of the world melts away and your priorities become clear. Take care of yourself, because this is the only body and mind you get.

I’ll go first.

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Linking with Holley Gerth

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Slighted

People tell me how great a mom I am and how great my kids are doing often. What do I listen to though? I often only hear the voices telling me the opposite.

On the way to church Sunday, my husband and I were talking about where we are going to put cookbooks. Twelve year old Lauren chimes in from the back seat, “We use cookbooks? I thought we only use Pinterest!” When I told her that I do, in fact, use cook books, her response was that she thought we either go out to eat or I bring leftovers from work. Ouch.

Cooking dinner is not my favorite part of house work. It feels like I can never make meals everyone will eat. If I can make something my pickiest child will eat, someone else will have an issue with it. When I do meal planning each weekend for the week ahead, I often feel deflated already. I put a lot of work in our meals, but my child picked at that most sensitive spot in my armor. I wanted to cry. Or yell at her. Somehow it made it worse that she didn’t seem to understand she had hurt my feelings.

Later in the morning, during the service, our pastor had us quietly listen for God. When I did, I heard the word “cherished.” No matter what anyone says or how they make me feel, it really doesn’t matter. I am cherished by God. We humans are fickle and don’t know everything, (especially these of us who think we do,) so we can’t judge our worth by what others say. The only opinion that truly matters is God’s, and He thinks we are special and made in His image.

Hopefully the next time I feel slighted by someone, I will be able to brush it off. I want to remember that God sees all of me and loves me still. His is the voice I want to hear above the rest.

Linking with Holley Gerth

He Remembered

The story of Hannah and Samuel is a story of hope, perseverance, and God coming through. We can all relate to something in Hannah’s life: Her simple dreams, her unfulfilled longings, or maybe seeing every one else having what she wanted. Her humble life made a huge impact for the kingdom of God after all was said and done.

1 Samuel 1 tells about how Hannah was unable to bear children for years, while her husband’s other wife kept popping them out. (Yes, that is the technical term used by the author.) Hannah had her husband’s love, but her heart longed to also be a mama. It must have been sheer torture to see children running around that were not hers. When you think about the culture of the day, a woman’s purpose was to have kids. There were no fertility treatments available. She would have been looked at like there was something wrong with her for her to be punished like this.

Poor Hannah.

Many of us today feel forgotten and overlooked. Sometimes it is because we have a desperate desire for a spouse or child. It may be for a close friend or a fulfilling job. None of these things are bad, and yet they are denied to many of us.

Verse 19 is my favorite verse in the story. “The Lord remembered her.” Now, God had not forgotten Hannah in the years leading up to her conceiving Samuel. He knew everything about her and her heartache. He knew this time tested her faith and strengthened her for whatever may lie ahead. It also gave her a great story for when other people came up to her at the well with their own tales of sadness. She would be able to say to them, “I kept praying for a baby and God gave me more than I asked for.” Maybe she even dropped the mic after that. What more would need to be said?

The problem we often have is we give up asking for what we want or don’t even ask for it in the first place. Hannah didn’t give up her dream and she didn’t blame God. She didn’t decide God was against her. She simply kept pouring her heart out to God and trusting Him for the outcome. Samuel’s name literally means, “I asked the Lord for him.” She put it out there for all to know.

God gave Hannah the gift she had pined for. He didn’t hold back on her and He won’t hold out on you. Trust God and hold tight to His promises. When you do, you won’t be able to hold the blessings He pours over you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Gardening and Electronics

Linger. Persist. Prevail. Stand. Endure. Perch. Reside. Remain. When we remain with Jesus, we stay well watered and nurtured. When we pull away and do our own thing, we wither.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think about vines and plants that much. That may be because I kill everything I touch, but maybe not. I love the idea of remaining in Jesus and Him in me, but a vine is difficult to picture.

Thinking of Jesus as my power source makes sense to me. When I stay plugged in to Him, I am calm and at peace. I have more wisdom and understanding and can share it with others. However, the days I don’t make time to connect to my power source, I am more frazzled and easily irritated. I make bad choices and don’t give people the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t let my phone battery get low, so why would I let my spiritual battery drain? Isn’t the condition of my soul worth more than a Facebook status?

People fall away from their faith when life gets hard. I want to be one who stays strong and remains with Jesus. I want to be one who bears fruit and whose actions lead to big things being done for His kingdom. I want to be one who lets Jesus shape her and who wants what He wants.

I don’t want to lose my connection by wandering too far from my Wi-Fi signal. I can’t allow myself to put down my charger because I decide I am fine without it. On my own I am unable to do anything, just like my electronics need their sources.

When I have endured with Jesus the rest of my time here on earth, I will have much waiting for me in heaven. I can’t forget my daily doses of Jesus or forget all He has done for me or else I will strive to live on my own power. I will wither like a branch who has lost its vine or a phone who has lost its power cord. Whether you relate to plants or electronics better, both of these are bad outcomes.

If you are an iPhone or a leafy branch, there is only one good option. Stick close to Jesus, your source of life, and you will thrive and maybe even light up the world.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Your Face I Will Seek

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8

The last few months I have been taking this more literally than I ever have before. Out the window are some time wasters. Gone are activities that don’t serve well anymore. In their place is more of seeking God’s face. Between reading the Bible, writing out verses, and spending time in silence trying to listen to God, things have become more real. God has become more real to me.

I will admit, when I started sitting quietly for 12 minutes at a time, it felt pointless. My mind never stills enough. I always keep bringing it back. But now that this is routine, I find myself praising and thanking God, bursting into worship songs and hymns, and feeling His heart on situations. No, I have not heard audibly, but I feel His presence. My thoughts are different too.

Yesterday was such a sweet time between God and I that I got teary. My soul was focused on God and all that He does for me. There may not have been words spoken back to me, but there didn’t need to be.

One thing I have never liked is to not know what is going to happen. I don’t like waiting for test results. I don’t like feeling in limbo. Just tell me what is going on so I can deal with it. Now that the time is almost upon us to actually begin fostering, much of my life is up in the air. I don’t know when we get a placement and what that child will be like. I don’t know how to make summer plans. I have no clue what I will be doing for a job in the fall. Nothing. When I think of the future, all I see is a blank space.

In the past, this not knowing would be a huge issue that would have me tied in knots. I would think of every scenario that *might* happen and worry. I would lose sleep. I don’t want to say that is the “old me” and the “new me” is so much wiser. There will definitely still be times of worry and sleepless nights. I know my tendency to anxiety will never go away.

Instead of being a stressed out mess, I now have joy. I am peaceful and content. Several times over the last few weeks I have thought about how calm I feel. My life is full of unknowns, and I don’t care. That is what I call progress.

When I made the conscious effort to sit with God and let Him mold me, He got to work. He has always known me inside and out and given me everything, but until recently, I didn’t give Him what He truly wants from me: my attention. God just wants me to spend time with Him. For the first time probably ever, that is what I want more and more.

When we give God our time and attention, He gives us His peace. He gives us His wisdom and His mercy so we can extend it to others. He does all of this because He loves us. He is waiting patiently for anyone who wants to hear from Him.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Why is This so Hard for Us?

As kids, we did things that made us happy. No one had to ask us to be selfish with our time. That just came naturally. Now as adults, we want to do our stuff and more out of a compulsion to look good on paper, but at what cost?

Earlier this year, I said no to a volunteer opportunity. I knew I couldn’t take it on but felt so flattered to be asked. I took a few days, not to pray about it, but to work up the nerve to turn it down. They thought of me!

More recently I left a volunteer group that I had never really been that involved with, and it still filled me with such dread. Saying no to these things initially gives me a feeling of shame and embarrassment. I must not be enough to be able to do this and everything else. But I just have to remember these aren’t the right fit for my place in life right now.

We come at these at the wrong angle. I am not here to just fill up my time with projects. I need to be doing the right projects. In a few weeks we hope to have a school age child move in with us. This child will have court hearings, visitations, and doctor appointments. Their care will take up my time and patience in a way nothing else has. A few years ago, fostering was not something I was able to invest in, but the time has come.

At one of our home visits, the woman said I will need an outlet, the way my husband has tennis. Now, I had been thinking this and looking for something. Why is it that it takes someone else telling me to take care of myself before I do it? Days after being told I should find something, I signed up for 5 yoga classes on Groupon. Yoga has been something I have been wanting to try in a class, but I didn’t do anything about it until now.

All of us do this in some way. We don’t eat right or quit smoking until a doctor tells us it is life or death. We don’t begin counseling until we can’t sleep anymore or our past torments us. And we don’t seek God until our lives are in ruins. Waiting until the last minute to do something we know we should do doesn’t help anyone. Whether the reason we hold off is pride, guilt, shame, or plain old fear doesn’t matter. God wants us to take care of the bodies, minds, and souls He gave us. We should have respect for them and not run them into the ground.

Life is short.  There is much we can do while we are here, but what is the right thing? Only you know that for yourself.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Repay with a Blessing

It’s not that I have a rage problem. At all. It’s more that sometimes I have a glitch that makes it difficult for me to move on from anger. Or frustration. Or hurt. You too?

One day recently I started thinking about what I like about someone who hurt my feelings. It felt impossible in the moment, but the longer I did it, the more impossible it became to stay hurt. I had to come to the realization that this person is human and makes mistakes. They aren’t all bad.

At the same time I thought about this person’s good qualities, I found Bible verses that applied. I gave my frustration a double dose of the antidote, so I could delete it from my brain. Negativity doesn’t stand a chance when my thoughts are turned toward goodness and the Bible!

Here are 7 verses to help in times like these. I am writing out and focusing on one a day, and hey, there happen to be 7 days in a week!

When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. Ephesians 4:26-27

Always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. James 1:19-20

The Lord hates evil thoughts but is pleased with kind words. Proverbs 15:26

Whoever forgives someone’s sins makes a friend, but gossiping about the sin breaks up friendships. Proverbs 17:9

If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. Do your best to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18

Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

All of you should be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble. Do not do wrong to repay a wrong, and do not insult to repay an insult. But repay with a blessing, because you yourselves were called to do this so that you might receive a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

These are tough words to hear when I want to hang on to my anger and disappointment. The problem I have is that I am a verbal processor. This isn’t so bad if I talk to James about a situation and work it out so I can let it go. It becomes a problem in those times I then talk to a friend or two about being wronged. Then it becomes gossip. Gossiping enables me to rehash the bad feelings, and then they don’t go away, but grow stronger.

It is so difficult to repay someone with a blessing, but it makes everything so much better when I can do this. If not a blessing, at least I need to let go of the bad feelings. They are too heavy to carry around anyways.

Linking with Holley Gerth