Is There Anything I Can DO?

My youngest baby girl told me on New Years Eve that she didn’t want to stay up until midnight. She wanted to go to sleep and forget about everything. She is 8. Yikes. Apparently, her class had taken a math test before Christmas and she didn’t think she did well. We chatted about how worrying doesn’t solve anything and she felt much better. Her teacher later told me that this particular test is one that allows each student to keep going until they get a certain amount of questions wrong. Kaitlyn kept getting them right and took longer than other kids. She did well on the test but made assumptions and worried herself into a tizzy. Sounds familiar to me….

Worrying never accomplishes anything. I told my girls this week that the next time they find themselves nervous about something, they should ask themselves, “Is there anything I can do?” If there is, they should do it. If not, they should move on. There are certainly times we can do something, but plenty more where we can’t. This is a good method of determining if the anxiety is valid or not.

I recently began letting go of the future. As I said in a post a few weeks ago, we are hoping to foster and/or adopt a child or children. We haven’t been to the information session or done the many hours of training yet, but by golly, I had it all figured out. In the summer of 2018, we were going to adopt a 5 or 6 year old from the foster care system. I would find a new part time job, since I can’t take days off in my current one. Seriously, it was a definite plan! It got too overwhelming, wondering if all the exact pieces were going to fall into place. I decided to wait and see. We will start fostering at the right time. If the option to adopt comes up and it feels right, we will do it. Children’s lives are too important to God to let them fall through the cracks. He will work it all out. In the meantime, I am excited instead of a ball of nerves.

None of us can change the score on a past test. We can’t take back words spoken in anger. BUT we can study hard or differently for the next test, and we can apologize and make it up to our friend. We can’t wonder and fret about the future productively, but we can make wise decisions now. The future is safely in God’s hands. Let’s leave it there.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Am I Really Living?

That is the question I have been wondering the last few days. If today was the last day of my life (or of the world), would I be happy with how I spent it? To answer it, I look to the people around me who I feel are getting it right.

Am I watching it rain and enjoying the storm? Better yet, am I dancing in the rain?

Am I fully present with my husband and children? Do they wonder if I love them or my electronic devices more?

Do I spend my money on the first thing I see that catches my eye or am I waiting until I am sure I want it?

Am I giving my time and money to help someone who needs me?

Are my words kind and helpful? Do they point others to Jesus?

Am I reading my Bible because I want to and not out of obligation?

Do I stay in the moment and really soak up what is going on?

Do I find the good in every situation or focus on the bad?

Do I thank the people around me for all they do for me and tell them how much they mean to me?

Am I listening for God’s voice in every decision? Am I putting God’s will for my life above my own?

The answer to these questions is some of the time. No, I won’t ever get it all right, but I need to stay aware. Life goes by in an instant and I can miss it. When I think of the people I know who are suffering, it drives home the point that none of us know what our future holds. But I know the One who holds the future. Do you?

 

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

Perspective

Working with hospice patients, I heard interesting stories. These sweet people were at the end of their life here on earth and knew it, and it made them reflective. Do you know what they talked about?

Money? No.

Things they bought? Nope.

They talked about experiences. They told me about moments they cherished. They wanted me to know about their families. How many brothers and sisters they had. Their spouse and kids. Some stories had heartbreak, but looking back, they were still able to smile.

Perspective.

Right now I am close to the situations in my life, but one day I will look back at it all. I want to be able to know I made wise choices. I hope I see that my priorities were in the right order. One day, and none of us know when that day will be, we will all be ready to leave the earth. When that happens, most of the stuff we seem to value will not matter. The people we love and the times we spent with them will take over those spots. The times we were so stressed out will either fade in our minds or come together and make sense.

There will be no room for the junk we are carrying around now.

One of the visits stands out to me. A woman had lost her son in Vietnam and, 40 years later, it was still difficult. But she chose to focus on the fact that she was able to dance with her husband for 75 years. The smile on her face as she talked about her husband and other son was radiant. She suffered a great loss but didn’t become bitter. When we choose to see the good instead of magnifying the bad, our lives turn out different.

I, for one, want to live my life with the focus on who over what, and savor my time over my bank account. When I look back, I hope to see how I helped others and the impact I had on the world. I want to raise my girls with the insight to see the bigger picture. I hope I never forget that parts of life will fade away and other parts will last.

Most of all, I want to look back on it all and know the pieces fit together and created a beautiful life. How about you?

Linking with Faith Along the Way

When I Am Overwhelmed

Over the weekend, I had one of those nights. I felt like I was failing at everything. I wanted to be a better wife and mother, write easier, sell more, and raise more money, but it felt like I hit a wall in every area. I was trying so hard and doing all I could think to do. I was spinning my wheels, going nowhere, drowning.

I collapsed into bed with an overwhelmed spirit, feeling like I can’t find my place and oh so lonely. Tears poured out and down the sides of my face and into my hair-tears that had been at the surface, building up until they spilled out.

“I can’t do this anymore!” my heart cried out to God. In the next ten minutes, my worries tumbled out and kept time with the tears. I didn’t want to stop them, because I knew I needed to take my heartache to the One who put that heart in me. No one else understands where I have been and where I am going like Jesus. No one else gets the anguish I feel.

I came to one realization at this time. I have done everything in my power, praying all the while. I am just at the point where I need to step back and let God work. Maybe in some areas, the timing is off. I prayed for peace and rest. I know nothing gets done without God and am usually OK with that. I needed the reminder to sit back and wait instead of scurry around trying to do it all and fix it all.

It was a moment I had to come to the end of my strength and then reach out for more. God had to let me get to that place so I could see what I was doing wrong. I needed to see that maybe He wants me to try a different tact or wait a little. Either way, I needed to give everything back to God.

I didn’t wake up the next morning with everything fixed and humming along. The situations may not have changed, but I have. God is giving me peace when I ask for it, but just enough for each day. I can’t let it get to that point again. I don’t know what is going to come of the circumstances of my life, but that knowing was an illusion anyways. I must do my part and let God do His.

When I am overwhelmed, it is my heart longing for God. It is my signal to stop, step back and pray. There is no other way to get back on track.

Thank You, Jesus, for wanting me by Your side. Thank You for never giving up on me. I won’t give up on Your plans.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Wild Success

God wants me to have success beyond my wildest dreams. I want that too, but I get the feeling we are thinking of very different ideas of success.

My ideas tend to come from worldly standards. My kids behaving. My marriage being strong and us not fighting. My house looking good for other people. Money to throw around. Lots of blog readers and a bestseller when my book is finished. Lauren and I selling tons of makeup and feeding lots of people.

Do you know what I know God wants to include in my success? For me to look to Him first in everything. To have pure motives in my actions. For my children to grow up knowing and loving Him (so thankful God knows they won’t always behave!) For my marriage to be based on Him and not our circumstances or feelings. The rest may come and go, but I will be wildly successful if I have these down.

God may choose to grant me great sales and lots of money. But He might also go a completely different direction. He loves throwing surprises at me that I didn’t see coming. He changes what is on my heart and makes me yearn for justice and peace.

I love Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What I am discovering is that God leads me into things I would never have thought to do on my own. All it takes is getting to know Him better. When I started reading my Bible more and praying more-out of love for Jesus and not out of obligation-I found myself wanting HIS ideas. Now I want His version of success. I am doing what I can on my end and deepening my relationship with Him. In return, He is opening doors for me.

God has a whole life prepared for me. If I am going to know which way to turn or what choice to make, I have to be able to hear His voice above the others in my life. I must wait and talk to Him before I rush into anything. I need to trust that He knows better than I do and that sometimes I must let go of a desire or a part of my life so He can bring me to something better. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Today is a new day filled with potential. Something great could happen or it could seem to end up as an ordinary day. What I know about today is that God is working. He is guiding me toward the success HE has planned for me.

Whatever happens, it will be beyond my wildest dreams.

Linking with Faith Along the Way.

Resolution: More of Jesus

Call me a sucker for loving New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t bother me. Growing up, I would watch Dick Clark ring it in. By midnight my family would be asleep and I was left alone. Every year. Our first year in Georgia 16 years ago, I went downtown to watch the peach drop. Let’s just say that experience cemented the fact that I will never go to New York to watch. Nope. Now the girls stay up with us and I am teaching anticipation to the next generation. New Year’s has never lost its luster for me!

There is something about the day that gives me hope. Whether the year has been good or bad, a whole new one is about to unroll. How can you not be excited about that? A fresh start if one is needed or more chances for great events.

2014 has taught me so much. I can plan all I want, but my plans don’t hold a candle to what God wants to do for me and through me. I have finished my first year of blogging, and God keeps pulling me farther from my comfort zone and closer to where He is. I have been encouraged by many friends-both new and old. And I have been able to encourage those who need it. My prayer life has exploded, and I have had the privilege of praying for requests from people I never thought would ask. I have been able to speak on the radio and on a podcast. Our family began spending in a way that allowed us to give more, which has blessed us more than we thought possible. God has been at the center of it all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Beyond moving in the beginning of 2015, I am not making plans for the year. God has been dropping surprises in my lap, things that weren’t on my radar. I am afraid of what I wouldn’t see and experience if I get too rigidly focused on my ideas. When I think I know what is best, I end up disappointed.

I am choosing to keep building my relationship with God so I can be aware of opportunities He wants me to accept or decline. I want to know when I need to keep waiting or act. Staying right by God’s side is the only way I know how to be in tune with Him. When I ask for His help on a decision, He makes it clear.

While I am human and live in this world, I will have to make some plans. But I intend to hold loosely to them. Once we move, I will continue writing this blog and write more about intentional spending. (Whether it turns into a book or not, we will see.) I am going to start Gina Duke‘s Prayer Closet journal method to keep track of my prayers.

Overall, I want to help people find Jesus and keep Him. I have never been as outspoken for my beliefs as this past year. That is part of walking out on the waters where Jesus called me, and I want to continue to obey. 2015 is going to be a great year now matter what happens, because I have Jesus with me.

He gives me all the hope I need.

Linking with Holley Gerth and God-Sized Dreams!

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.

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.

The Me I Want To Be

I know who I want to be when I grow up: a woman whose words have weight. The kind who has learned much and thinks about what she says. I want to screen myself and only say things that will lift others up. Words that are designed to encourage. I want to continually believe in others’ abilities. When I open my mouth, I want the young girls to lean over and get every word because they know the words are wise. I want to inspire people to love God and people around them. I want joy to ooze out of me and my smile to be contagious. I want to listen much more than I speak. I want anger and bitterness to always be pushed out by forgiveness. I want to look at someone and not judge them, but to see them the way God does: as someone with a purpose. I want to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow because there were no regrets or missed opportunities in my day.

This sounds lofty, but I know it is achievable. I have known women like this who inspire me. So how do I do it? I start living like this now. I speak less and more kindly NOW. I show love to others NOW. I speak and act wisely NOW. I live in joyful expectation NOW. Maybe I swallow those hurtful words one day instead of spewing. Maybe I realize that person didn’t mean to hurt my feelings and let go of my right to anger. Or I see a need and quietly fill it. I act with intention instead of flying by the seat of my pants. None of this is once and done, but a lifelong process. I will make mistakes, but each mistake should teach me and bring me a step closer to who I am made to be. Each day is added on to the ones before to build a lifetime. My goal is to get closer every day to the version of Sarah who has filled all of her potential.

Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.