What My Daughters Need to Know This Valentines Day

Ask your daughter this question: “Who are you? Describe you.”

I work with teen girls and I’ve asked this very question. They nervously and giggly begin telling me what they excel at and enjoy.

I’m so and so’s girl friend. I play the piano. I draw and paint. I write stories. I am a dreamer, runner, friend, singer, student, soccer player, Spanish speaker, etc.  

They describe attainments and roles.

What answers pop into your mind when you think about who you are? I find that we self-define in similar ways: I am a wife, mother, teacher, grandmother, speaker, artist, author, secretary, ministry wife. I homeschool, knit, grow organic food, vaccinate, don’t vaccinate, etc.

Although we play many roles in life, but this is not who we are. We are first and foremost a PERSON in a personal relationship with Christ.

Why does knowing this matter?

Because it’s a fundamental. Knowing who I am in Christ keeps me grounded and secure in His love and Word no matter what happens to me in life.

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Ephesians is one of my favorite go-to Scriptures for spiritual identity. It tells us that in Christ we are

  • blessed (1:3)
  • chosen (1:3)
  • adopted into God’s family as a son/heir (1:5)
  • redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1:7)
  • forgiven of all my sin (1:7)
  • lavishly given God’s grace (1:8)
  • sealed and secure through the Holy Spirit (1:13, 14)

I am who God says I am in scripture. I am not the sum total of my roles.

  • My husband is a blessing, but if he leaves, I am not diminished or loved any less by God.
  • When my children leave home my job may change, but my purpose in life is the same: to live to the praise and glory of God no matter what I am doing.
  • If we lose our house, or friends, or ministry, we will not be shaken because our standing in Christ can never be taken away.

I fear that we confuse roles for true identity and look for significance in what we do and how others relate to us in our roles.

Girls, you are a person first and your God wants a personal relationship with you.

You may never have a husband. Or maybe you will and he will walk away. At your core, you are still a person living in the presence of God. He wants a personal relationship with you first, before all of your other relationships. He wants your satisfaction to come from Him alone, not in your roles, your abilities, or your achievements. Keeping Christ central is essential to fulfilling your other roles in a godly manner.

We live in a world that is no friend to my daughters. It screams and promotes worldliness which is contrary to Scripture. The world peddles its goods to my girls, promising them satisfaction in everything and anything apart from God.

You have to flaunt it to be noticed. You’ll never be anything if you don’t look like this. Follow your heart, forget the rest. To be popular, you need to _____, and the more popular you are the better. “Likes” matter. You need to be extraordinary. The pretty girls are the thin ones. You need Botox. You need this brand to be popular. You need, you need, you need.

At its root, of course, the world promotes worldliness. It’s usually a self-centered, grasping, covetousness message meant to make you unhappy with what you don’t have and ready to do what it takes to get it. Covetousness is the very essence of worldliness. (James 4:4)

James 4 tells us that we crave, and strive, and war because our worldly passions are driving us to seek satisfaction in all the wrong places. “You desire and do not have, so you…war.” (James 4:4)

War is one response. When we sin to get what we want, we know we are acting on covetous desires. What lengths will you go to get what you believe will satisfy you?

James also tells us that our satisfaction is elusive. “You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.” (4:2)

And mercifully, God is not willing to give you your covetous desires. “You ask and do not receive,  because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3 (envy, covetous motives.)

Why? Because God is jealous for your heart and wants to dwell in it exclusively. “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” James 4:5,

It all comes back to you and God. God wants your wholehearted devotion. He doesn’t want you to do great things for Him or be great things for Him. He wants you to love Him.

That’s what I want my girls to know this Valentine’s Day, because all of life and love starts there. If Jesus Christ doesn’t satisfy you, nothing ever will. When you are satisfied in Christ, your circumstances almost don’t matter.

 

You Delivered Us, And We Will Honor You

I want to take a moment to thank you all for praying for our sweet Addy. Her surgery is over, and we’re still in awe of God’s answers to our prayers. He alone is to be praised and we give Him all the glory. This is one of those stories that we’ll repeat to our children and grandchildren.

Addy’s surgery updates are here, for those of you who didn’t see it.

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Monday was a blur. We were attached to our phone and computer for updates all day. I drank some tea and ate a few bites, but for the most part, I had no appetite and time just stood still.

My day can basically be summed up in two words: fervent prayer. I begged God for mercy for Addy and my sister. I couldn’t stand the thought of Addy being paralyzed after she’d come so far by learning to walk and run with all the cousins. I wanted to see her running on Rye Beach with us this summer. And I certainly could not stand the thought of my sister losing another child. It was something I couldn’t accept.

At some point in the day I remember wrestling inside: “What is it that makes prayer effective? Is it the fervency? The faith behind it? The consistency? And what makes me think that God will grant this prayer of mine? I’m such a wretched being. He knows my weakness. I’m afraid to ask and be disappointed, so I am basically double minded.”

Then I had this picture in my mind. It was of one of my children asking Peter for something they wanted. One child was begging. It was pretty annoying. It was an insistent begging. A will-filled, I want it my way demand. I thought of those mentioned in scripture who thought they would be heard for their “vain repetitions.” I knew that wasn’t right.

Then I though of a lisping child, who went to a father because He knew the father was good and kind. The request was spoken imperfectly. The words weren’t right, but he knew where to turn for help. THIS was right. I’m praying to God because I know that He is my Good Father. My prayers have little to do with me or my ability at all. My prayers are directed to Him because of who He is. My faith in His goodness and steadfast loves drives me to Him for help.

After this, I pretty much was at peace. The wild emotions stopped, and I was able to rest in God’s goodness, no matter the outcome.

Happily, the answer coming back “Granted in Full” and we were brought to our knees again, this time in thanksgiving and joy. I’m so happy that our sweet Addy will walk and run and live. God is good and we’re certainly rejoicing in Him.

God is good even when life is hard. I mentioned to a friend that trials make us sane. They re calibrate our hearts and minds. They pull away the blinders and distractions that hinder us from realizing how truly dependent we are for everything on God. When we go throughout our day, barely giving a thought to the God who sustains, that is the definition of insanity. Reality is this: We need God. We depend on Him for life, breath, and being whether we know it or not. Trials are a great gift, causing us to see clearly who we are and Who God is.

Moms, You are the Difference Makers

Do you feel like your life counts and is making a difference? Does the fact that you are a young mom with kids at home make you feel side-lined?

A shot of hope: You’re making a beautiful difference right where you are.

Have you heard this prayer? It’s one of the most beautiful prayers of all time.

In it, St. Francis of Assisi speaks to the longing in our human hearts for noble service and difference-making a world so full of hate, prejudice, war, and hurt.

peace

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I gravitate toward difference makers and I want to spend time with people who are bettering the world around them.

I want my life to count and you do, too.

But we think everyone else is making a difference. Me? I’m here at home, doing my thing, making meals, schooling kids, changing diapers, tidying toys.

So who are the actual world changers? Are they the people who have a confederation named after them? A conference? Do they have a newsletter or blog? A nationally syndicated TV show?

St. Francis of Assisi gives us clues. At first glance, the prayer sounds like it’s for the lofty worldwide-peace-global movers and shakers.

But upon further examination, it’s small. It’s local, even right down under the roof of your own home.

It’s all about one-on-one human interaction, because isn’t our theology lived out in our human interactions?

So, who is nearest to you right now? That’s where you make the difference.

Moms, you can answer this prayer without ever leaving your house.

You can and will make a difference for the Kingdom of God by caring right where you are. 

Who needs your comfort? Your love? Your care? Who needs you to be a voice for justice in their lives? Who could use your encouragement? Who needs a meal? Who needs a listening ear?

My friend Joy is using her gifts alongside her husband in Uganda. It’s easy to admire here because she’s rocking babies on the other side of the world. But, what if you could make a difference here by rocking babies in a church nursery or by welcoming a younger mom into your home for refreshment and a needed break?

Why do we overlook the local, while glamorizing the distant and global?

Who is hiding deep hurt? Who doesn’t know where to go for help, like the son of this woman who lives a town over from me, who didn’t feel as though anyone cared, so he killed himself.

We are the difference makers if we’ll open our eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to  direct us. Christ through you. A conduit of hope and peace.

Yesterday, was a perfectly normal day, but I prayed that God would take my day and use it for the good of others and His glory, as I pray each morning.

The “others” came in the form of my kids first as I taught them. I checked cursive handwriting for neatness and served leftovers for lunch. I tidied the house.

I noticed an ambulance outside my window through the falling snow. It was my elderly neighbor in need of help. God prompted me to go out and stand with the son as he waited for his dad. “There’s nothing I can do,” I reasoned. “It’s snowing and I would just be in the way.” But the Holy Spirit prompted me to go out. So I did. I stood in the snow with my neighbors worried son, and told him we’d watch the house and pray. I have no idea how that helped, but I showed up.

We had kids over for some snowmobiling fun, came home, and ate dinner. An hour later we had 12 teen girls in for Winter Bible Study. We talked, laughed, and I served more food. I had a table full of women after the event, so we sat, ate, shared life, and prayed for the needs represented at the table. My college daughters want to chat late at night, so I did that.

Was my day remarkable? No. There was absolutely nothing radical in it.  But the Spirit prompted me to go and help and pray and serve and I did. That’s the radical part. 

We’re not living a soliloquy. It’s not all about our story. We are part of God’s bigger story, a Kingdom building story, and the radical part is showing up in the small.

 

Where are you today? What is God prompting you to do? Who can you serve? Chime in and tell me what He’s called you to today.

God-Mandated Curriculum for your Kids

Do you ever wonder what you are supposed to teach your kids?

With a market flooded with how-to manuals for parenting, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest, greatest manual for raising kids.

IMG_6862.JPGWhen you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit who guides your heart and mind and leads you to the help you need when you need it.

And in my experience with my five kids, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work with another, so we really need to depend on the Lord in our parenting. (Obviously–WHY do I even have to state such an obvious, but isn’t it true that we run to manuals more than the Lord?)

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Good news, today. I have a one size fits all parental concrete to share with you. A God-given mandatory.

We must share the mighty acts of God.

Ps 78: 4-8 (selected parts)

The things that we have seen and known, that our father’s have told us (oral, 1st hand history lesson)

We will not hide them from their children,

But tell to this coming generation, the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

That the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,

Here comes the why:

so that they should set their hope in God,

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments,

and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Israelites were famous for forgetting God. They were famous for being in bondage because of their sin and idolatry. God is warning us NOT to be like the Israelites in this passage,  but to remember all of the blessings of God and to tell them to our children.

This means that we tell stories. Stories of how God intervened in our lives.

For me, on top of the Biblical stories of God’s faithfulness through the generations,  I’d tell my kids

  • about the time we broke down in the dead of winter in Vermont, and we prayed as a family and a man walked up the driveway of our cottage and asked if we needed help
  • about the time we couldn’t afford violin lessons and had to opt out of lessons for a semester, until a complete stranger paid the kids conservatory tuition bill
  • about the time when God brought a man to build a room for us as a ministry to us when we needed a bedroom for Matthew. He build a family room/ministry room to suit our hospitality needs
  • about how God IS providing money every month to pay college tuition for TWO kids
  • about how God restored my mother in laws health after a serious brain hemorrhage and how people all across the country prayed
  • about  the every day answered prayers, for little things like grocery money, shoes, gas money and so much more

Has God done something wonderful for you? Tell it to your kids. It’s part of their heritage. Their God has done this! Don’ t forget!

This is a really intentional practice. It’s easier to complain and pass along our poor me stories, isn’t it? If you tell about your trials, tell of the Redeemer who brought you through.

Charles Spurgeon once said that we are all to prone to engrave our trials in marble and our blessings in the sand. 

We don’t want this to be our legacy. We need to share our blessings.

 

How has God acted on your behalf? Share in the comments, then share with your kids!!

 

 

 

What I Love/Hate About Blogging: Updated List

In 2012, as a fairly new blogger, I shared this list of reasons I love/hate blogging. My blog has grown, and my reasons have changed–it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, right?

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Reasons I love blogging:

1. Blogging is personal in an impersonal world. You can really get to know the heart of another person by their words, whether spoken or written. When something is written, it gives us time to really hear–rather than a banter back and forth through verbal speech where we might feel compelled to give an answer. I love reading and mulling over ideas from certain blogs. I’m picky, I admit, but when I find a good one, I really benefit.

2. Blogging is an invitation into our life and home. We certainly don’t have it all together over here, but we are hospitable people and my heart is for young moms and women who are lonely and searching for help. In real life, my kitchen is a place where women come for friendship and encouragement and that is one of my main ministries. This is an online extension of that ministry–welcoming you to our “table.”

3. Writing reinforces and records what I’m learning for a future generation. Last year, my car skidded out of control in an ice storm, and for days I reflected on the brevity of life. We have no assurances of another tomorrow. I was glad I had written so much for the sake of my children. Wisdom handed down from one generation to the next is a gift, but written words are better because they can be revisited when a child is ready to receive it.

4. Blogging is simply an opportunity to spread a message. In this case, the message is the hope and grace that we’ve found in Jesus Christ. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Acts 5:42. Blogging is a chance to go “house to house” in an electronic sense with the good news and teachings of Jesus Christ. We live in awesome times.

5. I enjoy it! (Most days!) God’s given me a certain personality, with a desire for reflection and deep connection, writing, painting and creative pursuits, and these gifts and talents must be used for His glory. None of what you find here is perfect (Hello, Grammar!!) but God can take what I’m learning to encourage others.

6. Following God through the blog has opened up opportunities for greater ministry. If you are faithful in what God has called you to, He gives you more. It’s a double blessing.

Reasons I HATE blogging.

1. The technical aspect. If you don’t blog, let me just say, YOU HAVE NO IDEA. lol And neither do I which is why I hate it. Just look at this little helpful site for bloggers. WHAT!? I’M SUPPOSED TO DO ALL WHAT? EVERY POST!? WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN? I learn a little more each day, but the learning curve is HUGE for a girl who can remember the first time she ever saw a VHS tape player. Yeah.

2. Blogging has changed dramatically in the last several years and is BIG BUSINESS. This means that the community aspect has changed a bit. It often seems that if you can’t do something for someone else, you are invisible. That’s just real life, folks. :)

3. The critical comments. Haters gonna hate, as my son would joke. Criticism is a fact of life when you do anything meaningful. I do consider thoughtful, gracious criticism and am thankful to grow and learn from it. But if you are just plain nasty in general, you’ve done yourself a disservice and people are not going to take anything you say too seriously. “Nothing other people do (or say) is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

4. Blogging could be a full time job if I allowed it to be, and I already have a full time job–my kids. :)  The internet in general can suck the time and life out of you if you’re not careful. I have to limit my time online so I can focus on living life locally. :)

5. There’s so much junk out there. There just is. Browse responsibly and learn like the Bereans, checking what you see with what God says.

6. The drama. Enough said. I’m not a drama queen, and you shouldn’t be either. ;)

Your turn: As a blogger, what would you add? Is your list similar? As a reader, what do you love/hate about blogs. Chime in in the comments. 

How to turn selfishness upside down

When my kids attended the Wild’s of New England one year, they were asked to do a simple exercise entitled “List 75 Ways I’m Selfish.” This was a private exercise to be done in their quiet time, and was a tool for self-evaluation and change.

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Think of ways you’re selfish. If you’re a teen, maybe your answers would be things like:

  • leaving my cups and plates all around the house
  • not doing my chores
  • speaking hurtfully to a sibling, room mate, or friend
  • not sharing what you have
  • wanting praise on FB or Instagram and being deflated when I don’t get it.
  • moodiness when crossed

If you’re a mom, your list might look like this:

  • snapping at the kids when your “quiet tolerance level” has been crossed
  • expecting your husband to help you more than you help him, being lazy in service to others
  • spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need
  • expecting people to notice and appreciate all you’ve done
  • pouting when you don’t get help around the house

If you’re a ministry wife, maybe selfishness looks like this:

  • being possessive with positions, people, or programs
  • being hurt when people don’t include you
  • being touchy when your way is crossed
  • getting offended when your husband fails to keep you in the loop
  • pushing your own agenda because of your perceived rights
  • inserting yourself into ministries you’re not gifted to perform

Selfishness is sin because it violates the summary of the OT commandments given by Jesus: love God first and your neighbor as yourself.

Selfishness is the antithesis of the servant-minded focus we’re called to.

Selfishness also violates Matthew 7:12

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Notice that this commandment is not stated in the negative: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. That would be easy. I’m not going to steal, punch, defraud, or slander another person because I wouldn’t want that done to me or my family. The negative would mean to live and let live. Leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.

But that’s not it at all. This command, and all its implications, is stated in the positive. “Whatever you wish others would do to you, do to them.” THIS takes supernatural Spirit-filling. THIS is how we change our homes, relationships, and churches.

It’s about turning selfishness on its head, thinking ahead (kindness), and giving honor, support, respect, love, and special treatment to someone else. It’s all about pro-active love and preference.

This treatment is not just for your family or inner circle. This treatment is for your neighbor, the person who is unlovable, and the person who is your enemy.

Matthew Henry states that Christ’s example is our example:

Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and believe, but what we are to do; not only toward God, but toward men; not only toward those of our party and persuasion, but toward men in general, all with whom we have to do. 

I wonder if our failure to love others as we would enjoy being treated is why our homes, communities, and churches are so weak and fractured and why our relationships are often brittle. Perhaps it’s due to disobedience or neglect to the most basic of all Christ’s teachings on love.

We pride ourselves in pure teaching from the pulpit, but teaching that does not impact a person on the human level is really useless. Your “religion” is tested in the arena of human interactions.

But perhaps our biggest failure to love is a sin of omission, withholding good when it is in our power to do it.

 “What would I like done to me?”–this is the prototype for our behavior.

So, take that selfish list, and flip it on its head. 

  • If I’d like others to be thoughtful and considerate to me, I must set out to be thoughtful and considerate to others.
  • I love it when someone drops me a note of appreciation, so I should set out to recognize, appreciate and encourage others.
  • I love it when people think of me and pick something small up for me, like a coffee, so I’ll show my love by doing the same.
  • If I’d enjoy help around the house, I must set out to help others around the house.
  • If I’d appreciate it when people to give me the benefit of the doubt, I must set out to give others the benefit of the doubt.

It doesn’t matter if you get these things in return. The blessing comes in obedience.

Christ is our example. He always did the will of His Father. He came to serve worthless, ungrateful humans who didn’t end up doing anything but killing Him in the end.But He rose in power and has given us newness of life so that we can walk like Him. Through the Spirit’s leading and empowerment, we can do this.

What good things would you want done to you? Think about it, jot it down, and, armed with that knowledge, begin treating others that way.

If you are discouraged by the treatment you’ve received this week, let those feelings of mistreatment prompt you to recognize how you want to be treated, and give you guidance about how you’ll treat others, so they don’t have to experience what you’ve experienced.Be the one to look outward and treat others the way you wish you’d been treated.

Imagine what a catalyst for change this could be in your community!

Getting Ready for a Blizzard {and Books I’m Itching To Read}

The temperatures are dropping and we’re bracing for a storm here! I am so excited about a good snowfall!

picture books in winter

Peter and I coordinated our day and each headed out to get ready. He’s getting the generator and I’ve got a huge pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove. I touched a raw chicken before I had my coffee this morning, something I don’t like to do, pre or post coffee.

Some of my favorite memories with my kids are on snowstorm days. We’d make maple syrup candy. We’d squirrel under blankets on the couch and read picture books. The kids would make Playmobil towns for hours.

One particular snow day, we all huddled under blankets to listen to the Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. I made strawberry scones and tea, and we all enjoyed the audio book in front of the cheery fire.

Of course, kids are fidgety, so there were sometimes flailing boy limbs that sporadically made contact with the girls eyes or face (1 boy, 4 girls) causing tears or at least pleas for sympathy from mom. It’s funny how boys do things to get a rise, and how girls react to get the same.

And it’s interesting how one very ordinary day can stick out as most pleasant one years later. On that day, in the moment, I was probably monitoring everyone’s arms and legs to make sure tea cups were not broken or spilled, that nobody knocked the food tray over, and that Legos weren’t swallowed or heads cracked on the sides of coffee tables. But that’s what moms do, and in retrospect it was the loveliest of days.

books snow

I’ve got a great line up of books in my Kindle right now. I’m currently reading Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love,
Come Boldly, and Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being (which I am going through slowly, because I don’t want to miss anything, and because I don’t quite “get” the author’s writing style, slowing me down a bit.) I just finished Million Little Ways, A: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live which was an insightful read for artsy types.

If you’re looking for a good read for the snowstorm, there are a few Kindle deals right now. (I try to get books when they are around $2. I share a Kindle account with my daughters, so we can all benefit from the books even while they are away at college.)
When Sinners Say “I Do” is $1.99
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness is a small book that I haven’t read, but am super excited to dive into it. It comes with high recommendations from dear friends. And it’s $1.62. Woo hoo!

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things is $2.80 and is on my list to read, but I haven’t read yet.

Are you getting snow? What’s your favorite part of the snowstorm? The potential to read by the fire, like me? What are you reading these days? 

 

 

Dear Moms, It’s okay to be unremarkable.

I’m so glad I didn’t have the internet when my kids were little. The internet has become a measuring stick for young moms that constantly tells them that they aren’t measuring up. It hammers away at your soul, a photo, a click, a comment at a time.

I know that if the internet was available to me back then, I would have felt crushed under its weight, because the photoshopped images are just too much perfection to try to replicate.

I have a message for young moms, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart: You will never thrive in life if you try to be remarkable in every area of life. You’ll sink, because it’s too much weight to carry.

unremarkable

Don’t believe the lie of Pinterest– that every aspect of your life must be remarkable.

When I was a kid, the women around me were known for their “one really good thing.” It was like their little badge of honor, and we were all willing to ooh and ahh and revel in that one thing.

My great-grandmother was excellent at making Italian food. From the moment I stepped into her house, I was greeted with the smells of onions hanging overhead and garlic simmering in the pan.

My grandmother had a wonderful garden when we were young. We’d snap the beans off the poles and eat them. The smell of the grapes in her arbor transports me back to my childhood to this day. She was also known as our sleepover grandmother because we all begged to sleep there and play with her little puzzles, and drink hot cocoa and eat blueberry muffins.

That’s no longer the case in our digital age. We can’t just be really good at making fresh salsa or baking bread: we must grow our own organic food, have a house that is way out of our means and looks like it should be on the cover of a magazine, our teeth must be perfect, and clothes up to the minute. Our kids need to be ready for Yale at the age of seven and they must all be athletic, musical, and Mary Poppins-ish—practically perfect in every way.

It’s plastic, and fake, and crushing, to both the child and the mom.

I spoke with an iron-sharpening-iron friend this week about life. We spoke of heart ache and real life and the hurts that are inevitable in a very fallen world. We spoke of embracing obscurity in a world that promotes fame, and of doing the big things which turn out to be the little things after all. We spoke of pursuing faithfulness locally, especially when it’s unseen.

“The world tells us we need to be exceptional, when we really need to be faithful right where we are,” were her wise words.

Isn’t that what we all need to hear shouted from the rooftops?

Isn’t faithfulness in the little things, the local things, what really matters?

Where has God placed you? Look around you. Are you in a room full of little kids? Well, don’t despise this chance to be “missional” because this is where God has called you.

What does being missional in your home look like?

It looks like brushing and braiding your daughter’s hair and taking time to add the touches she wants.

It looks like being present right where you are, and making life “special” for those in your home, and not just for company.

And it looks a lot like faithfully tidying your home to make it pleasant for those who live under your roof, serving meals with loving touches to the people you love the most, and living a kind, quiet, peaceable life right where you are.

It means teaching those chubby cheeked kids about God.

It doesn’t matter what your facebook friends think about how great your vacation was or how nice your home is.

Our goal cannot be to impress others with our lives, but to imprint God’s ways of walking in love into our child’s heart.

I don’t know about you, but I want the people closest to me to love me, not because I can do anything for them, but because they’ve chosen to love me with all of my flaws and failings. And isn’t that what everyone wants in the end, to know that they are 100% loved by their people? The three tiered birthday cake does not necessarily speak love, even if all the other Pinterest moms are making it. Especially if you are irritated and frustrated trying to duplicate it. A simple chocolate sheet cake made with love and served with a smile will do the job better.

My youngest daughter is extremely perceptive. She has super thick hair like me and there have been many frustrating mornings where we try to get the snarls out of her hair. Many times there are tears because getting out the tangles hurts. It’s frustrating to both of us and it’s part of our morning routine that we both hate.  My little girl watches my facial responses as I pick up the brush to help her untangle. She watches to read me, to see if I think she’s a pain to need the help, or if I’m pleased to help her. I’ve made the conscious effort to smile and talk to her while we brush her hair because she’s at that awkward age where she’s trying to figure out how others perceive her, and if they like her. And If your own mother acts like you are a pain in the neck, what message does that imprint about their worth on their hearts?

Aren’t we all like little girls, trying to read our own worth in the faces of others? Isn’t this why we are so drawn in by this Pinterest stuff?

The truth is this: God loves you. He’s remarkable, so you don’t need to be. You’re already loved and accepted. You don’t need to seek for approval that you already have.

In a disconnected world, where people post to social media to impress people they barely know, and where we measure our motherhood and worth by glossy graphics and Pinterest collages, we’d all benefit by simply dwelling well within our own borders to thrive there.

If you are feeling a little unremarkable by the world’s standards this morning, that’s okay. We don’t need to be exceptional. We need to be faithful in our little tasks. God is God, and He put you where He wants you.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

 

Thoughts on Waiting Well {When You Hate to Wait}

Thank you so much for praying for my niece, Addy. Her latest update is here and now all we can do is pray and wait and see if her spine straightens enough for the second surgery.

Waiting has been on my mind lately since we’ve been doing so much of it.

I’ve been thinking about what waiting is good for, and how to wait well when you really hate it and are 100% unable to change your situation.

hate to wait

 

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t wait. The cashier at the grocery store would be focused and quick, the doctor would see my kids at the pre-determined appointment time and not a minute later. The UPS delivery would happen on the day they scheduled, fast food would be fast, and the repair man would come in the two hour window he promised.

Having to wait in a restaurant or in a line for long periods of time is frowned upon in our fast-paced, crazy busy culture. We equate movement with productivity, and waiting to inefficiency, bad service, and wasting our precious time.

(I’m not sure that all of our fast paced efficiency has benefited us. Has it made us kinder, more attentive neighbors? And I’m not sure what we did with the time we saved by hurrying?)

Maybe we’re mature enough to forbear a little inconvenience on our time in the grocery line or at the doctor’s office, but how do we wait when the trial goes on longer than we’d ever imagined and the issues are serious, like waiting for a spine to straighten, a cancer-free report, a wayward child to come home, a relational trial to be over, financial relief, or for someone entangled in life-dominating sin that affects you every day to get over it already, learn their lessons, clean up their act, and grow up? Do we despair or try to control the situation?

James reminds us to “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3)

I want the patience, and so do you, but usually we want to by-pass that trial part that brings the patience.

How do we change our mindset about waiting?

Elisabeth Elliot gives this insight: “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

Waiting should realign our will to God’s. It gives us time to grow, and is a necessary dormancy, a season of rest, like a God-given time to learn, take in, draw closer, and rejuvenate our spirit,  like the ground as it rests in winter tucked under a blanket of snow.

Crop rotation is an important farming principle. The ground needs rest in order to produce higher yield. The soil’s life-giving minerals and nutrients are increase by resting so that in due time, a bud will break through the cold sod, bearing all the new life that was hidden below the ground.

Wouldn’t we benefit more if we stopped wrestling with God’s timetables, and embraced His sovereignty, and with eyes toward heaven willingly lay dormant–not in a depressed state– but in an eyes-toward-heaven, receiving state, like a newborn-babe-taking-in-milk kind of nourishment state.

Waiting reminds us that we are dust-made creatures who are dependent on the Creator.

It is God who works in us and through us, and His times for growth and change are His business. And His timetables for change for others are His business as well. Our business is to submit to the wait, be of good courage, expect Him to do what is best, and let Him give the increase.

The inconvenience of waiting teaches us patience, a virtue that our crazy-busy world could use a little bit more of.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Ps. 27:14

 

 

Interview with Karen Ehman and a Keep.It.Shut Giveaway

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER AND WE HAVE A WINNER. CONGRATULATIONS, BERNADETTE V! I’LL BE EMAILING YOU SHORTLY! :)

Today, we have an interview with KAREN EHMAN, a writing friend and hospitality kindred spirit about her new book Keep.It.Shut. Woo hoo!

Karen’s book A Life That Says Welcome is one of my all-time favorites and her super easy yeasty crescent roll recipe is now my old standby as well. (pg. 145)

IMG_3580If you’ve never read it, consider adding it to your hospitality library.

But, I digress, because today we’re here to talk about her new book Keep.It.Shut, a book about using our words wisely. And not just WHAT we say, but the WAY in which we say them.

 

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Here are a few great thoughts from the book:

keep it shut

“God is patient. He doesn’t fly off the handle in anger. His love never runs out. His faithfulness never takes a vacation day. And God’s Son knew how to impart grace when he spoke while here on earth: “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” Luke 4:22″

“When we flip-flop these two commands—being slow to listen and quick to speak—it often leads to the third part of that verse: we are quick to become angry.[sic] speaking too soon combined with not listening leads to conflict–and conflict leads to anger.”

“If we want to avoid offending our friends–or committing any number of verbal sins–we need to control our lips. And taking a first step can be simpler than you might imagine. When we sense the Holy Spirit telling us that things are starting to go downhill, we can simply say, “I’m sorry. I’m talking too much.”

There are just too many great quotes in this book to mention, so without further ado…let’s get started. :)

Sarah: When I think of Karen Ehman, I naturally think hospitality, family traditions, etc. What experiences prompted you to write Keep.It.Shut?

Karen: Having my mouth get me in so much trouble over the decades of my life! Seriously. It is the old case of any strength carried to an extreme becoming a weakness. I enjoy talking. But I let it get out of hand often. And when it does, I have often found myself in a heap of trouble.
Sarah: What hope would you give to the woman who has had a lifelong struggle with foolish/sinful speech patterns? What gospel hope could you offer?
Karen: Christ redeems and makes all things new. That even applies to our words! When we are intentional to follow his example and to be quick to ask forgiveness when we do sin with our mouths, we can start to form new habits and patterns over time. Then, instead of constantly using our mouths in a way that is not pleasing, we can begin to see that happen only every once in a while as the habit of our speech becomes more godly.
Sarah: Struggling with words is something we all struggle with to some extent or another. And then there are some women who seem to blurt anything that comes into their mind like a verbal drive by shooting. I have a friend whose mother in law has no “filter” and it can be hurtful. I know we’re not responsible for the behavior of others, but what  do we need to know about these women in order to be more compassionate to them and love them well?
Karen: Believe the best about someone before we assume the worst. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They mean well, their mouth just often misfires. It helps for us to remember that, although we might not regret our words as often as someone else, we too have an area of our life where we tend to trip up in sin. Having grace helps us to wipe the slate clean in our relationships with others so we can continue to relate without negative baggage from the past.
Sarah: How can young moms train their kids to be careful with their speech?
Karen: By modeling it. By asking forgiveness for our mama mouth when we blow it. And we will blow it! We don’t want our children to think we are perfect and that we never send in what we say. We want them to see a mom who is striving to be Christ like in her speech but who also knows where to go when she blows it. She goes to God and she goes to the person she has offended, even if it is one of her children.
Thank you so much, Karen, for such great advice!
Now, you can enter to win a copy of Keep.It.Shut. Giveaway ends Tuesday. I hope you win! :)

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*Post contains affiliate links to Amazon. I received Keep.It.Shut free to review. All opinions are my own.