Pain in this life is a given.
It is unavoidable.
It will happen.
It is a foolish endeavor to attempt to avoid it touching our lives. Seasons of pain come and go. Sometimes the season is short but sometimes those seasons seem endless. Sometimes the pain is of our own doing, a consequence of a rebellious spirit. Other times, we are blindsided by life and we find ourselves in the crosshairs of a fallen world.
What do we do when we find ourselves in a season of unrelenting pain and hardship? If pain is inevitable, then there must be some kind of help out there for the afflicted, some Divine provision for a hurting soul.
Maybe we need to change our understanding of pain and it’s purpose in our lives. Sometimes it just helps to know something has purpose.
What would happen if we saw pain as a tool? Then recognizing how that tool is used in our lives would be hugely significant.
Let me explain.
If pain is a tool, then we need to recognize whose hands hold the tool.
If the tool finds its way into the hands of the enemy, we can be sure that it will be used to cripple us, maybe even destroy us. We know the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. John 10:10
But, if the tool finds itself in the hands of a loving Father, then we can be assured that the tool will be used to chisel and shape us into something beautiful. We could then claim Romans 8:28 with absolute certainty. We could know beyond any shadow of a doubt that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Armed with that assurance, we could stand up under the weight of any pain.
We don’t often have a choice as to whether pain enters our lives or not, but when it does, we do get to choose whose hands will hold the tool.
Choose your carpenter wisely.
Have a great week,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
We are so excited to welcome Ashley Cook to our PSF team.
She married her high school sweetheart and together they have three children. In addition to raising three busy children, she also serves part time as Children’s Director in her home church where she also sings on the Praise and Worship Team.
Ashley confesses that she has wanted to be a writer since elementary school and she uses blogging to fulfill some of that desire. She has a love for storytelling, photography, and music. She loves to help people find humor in the craziness of life and she is passionate about making God’s grace and love tangible for people.
Visit our Mom 2 Mom page to read her blog, Resolutions, Rambles & Roles.
I am cross-eyed this morning as I begin to write this letter to all of you because I stayed up through the entire coverage of the 2016 election results. I wanted to go to bed, but I couldn’t tear myself away. I will probably pay for it today. Pray for your brother still living at home!
This has been such a heart wrenching process full of anger, hostility, and fear. I am aware more than ever of the tremendous division in our country and it is truly heart breaking. As I watched the election process unfold, as I watched the response of the media, and as I watched the wide range of responses from the American people, I felt a mixture of emotions that I don’t think I have ever experienced before in the aftermath of any presidential election.
As your mom, my heart wants so much for all of you. I want an America that is once again great and stable and safe. I am so keenly aware this morning that Donald Trump will not be able to provide that for you in the next four years; neither would have Hillary Clinton or any other candidate that ran for office been able to. It is a task too great for fallen man.
But, there is a God in heaven.
I want to share with you what I do believe to be true about my God - your God. He is sovereign above all things. He will accomplish what He intends to accomplish, with or without the cooperation of man. Because I believe Him to be sovereign, I believe that He has chosen the next president. You have just witnessed something that many are saying, “defies human logic”, and is “a miraculous event”. What I want to make sure you recognize is that you have just witnessed first hand God actively steering the course of history. Daniel 2:20-22 says this:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with Him.
Don’t miss this, guys. He is still in control. While some are saying that this will be a time of great revival in our country, others fear that this will bring about our destruction. But don’t you ever waver in believing that He is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. He has His eyes on you, always. You are precious to Him, the apple of His eye. He alone holds your future in His hands and He is a good, faithful Father to all generations who love Him and obey His words.
One last thing, if we truly believe Him to be sovereign, then we are to act on that belief. If our choice for president did not win, we are not to grieve or be fearful because we know He is in control. If our candidate did win, we are not to gloat or act disrespectfully, but compassionately and lovingly. Instead, we are to continue to pray fervently for our country. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, loving people where they are and proclaiming the truth of God’s word.
We need to pray for unity in this country so fractured by hate and indifference. But we have to put feet to our prayers. We have to be the instruments though which God heals this land. We have failed miserably. He is giving us another chance. Let’s get it right.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was, “To love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” But then He added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 36-40) Sadly, Christians are not known for their love. Jesus also told us that other’s would know we were His by the way we loved one another.
Let’s take very seriously our responsibilities as His disciples. Let’s not let Him down.
I love you all,
This past Friday, National Daughter’s Day thoughts were posted all over Facebook. Even though I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a real thing, I decided to post a picture along with everyone else. As I looked for a picture to post, I found myself thinking back over the years spent with my little girl who is no longer a little girl.
I remember when Philip and I decided it was time to start our family, I wanted four girls and no boys. I grew up with three brothers, all boy cousins, and mostly boys in my neighborhood. I did not want a boy.
I got three of them - and one girl.
Let me assure you, I am most grateful for my boys because I came to realize that raising up the boys was a whole lot easier than raising up the girl.
I have another child getting married.
ANOTHER CHILD GETTING MARRIED.
I’m sorry, but when did this happen? I was just trying to convince her to leave the ginormous bow in her hair because it matched her outfit. Never mind the fact that she kept falling over from the weight of the thing. And now, she’s trading in her bows for a veil?
“How exciting!” Everyone keeps saying.
OK, you know what? NO. It’s just not all that exciting to me. It is to her, just not to me. I’m just being honest here.
I’m not real good with change, never have been. I find myself even less good when the change involves my children growing up.
I think being a mom is the best job on all the earth…ever, and I’m just not ready to retire yet. I can remember being a little girl who wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a mom. While others were aspiring to be lawyers, doctors, teachers, Wonder Woman (seriously? I personally would have never admitted to that one), I just wanted to be a mom.
But time stands still for no one. So here I am, child number 2 just graduated from college and in just a few weeks, she’s getting married and moving to another state. Granted, it is the one right next door to my state and only a few hours away, but it’s still, “away”.
So I was kinda in a mood the other day and I found myself telling God that I really needed His help because I wasn’t really happy about His plan. How sweet is it that we can confess that to Him and He just loves us even when we’re being bratty?
Anyway, I asked Him to help me change my heart so that it aligned with His. I asked Him to help me remember all that I needed to be thankful for because it was all a gift from Him. I asked Him to help me remember that my joy and peace and contentment were found in Him alone and not in a house full of children.
You know what He did? He gave me the sweetest of blessings.
That morning, after my time with Him, a chain of events happened and all of a sudden I realized that all four children were going to be home for supper that night, like years ago. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.
Philip had put two and two together also and he may have been almost as excited as me…almost.
When night came, each one straggled into the kitchen just like they used to and sat where they used to sit. As I watched them while I was getting supper ready, my heart was so full I thought it might burst.
When Philip got home, he rounded the corner into the kitchen with a huge smile on his face and said, “I’ve been waiting for this all day long!”
While we were at the table, Philip posed this question, “What is the best memory you have of growing up here?”
And the stories began…
We laughed and reminisced for quite a while. There was a lot of ground to cover because this family tends to do a lot of stupid things, which in turn makes for lots of stories.
I want to make sure you understand that I absolutely love my daughter that I gained through marriage and my future son that I will gain in a few weeks. My joy wasn’t in them not being there. My joy came from being able to go back in time and experience that sweet feeling of having all my chicks under the same roof. Even though none of them are “chicks” any more.
But as we sat there, I realized that there was a little emptiness, like things weren’t complete. You know what I realized it was? Sarah Kathryn and Tony weren’t there. Even though I loved remembering what it was like being a mama with her children around her, I missed my new children and our family wasn’t complete without them.
So God gave me this sweet taste of the past, but in doing so, He showed me the preciousness of the future. And I found my heart aligning with His.
What an awesome thing it is when we ask Him for help and He answers so perfectly!
Have a great week!
Here is a great video for all Mom's. Saw it this morning and came home and looked it up on Youtube. Wanted to share it with all of you. Go get the kleenex! Happy Mother's Day!
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel totally inadequate as a mom? Like when your kids decide to have a firework war and use your car as home base?
Please note the ages of the two in the back and the fascinating markings on my car.
What mother, on the 4th of July, thinks about telling her children to not have a firework war and use her car as a fortress? Especially when they are old enough to carry a driver's license and to vote. Of all the things I have thought to tell them not to do, that’s just not one that ever crossed my mind.
And for all you supportive "boy momma" friends who are saying, “That’s just what boys do,” I want you to know that the only reason the girls were not in the picture was because they were taking them.
Nobody was innocent that night…nobody.
There have been times over the years were I have found myself thinking, “What in the world, God, could You have been thinking when You gave me four kids? Did You have any idea that I would be this bad at parenting?”
I can still remember when I brought my first born home. I had absolutely no idea what to do with him. Mothering just didn’t come naturally for me like it did for some of my other friends. They were so good at it. They just instinctively knew what to do. I guess I figured that the same thing would happen for me. When it didn’t, I panicked.
My first hint that things were going to be rough came when I was still in the hospital. Friends told me that they always knew when the nurse was bringing their baby to be fed because they recognized the cry…not me. In fact, when I heard a crying baby coming down the hall, I would start praying, “Oh please, don’t let it be mine.”
When I brought Drew home, my mom stayed with me for a week. When she left, I sat on the sofa and cried. I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Why didn’t he come with a manual? I needed instructions. As I explained all this to God, He remained silent.
Now when I look back over those first months of motherhood, I realize that God wasn’t silent because He didn't hear me, He was just waiting for me to become teachable; to surrender my ideas on parenting and allow Him to show me how to parent. I'm still learning, but oh my word, how I love being a mother!
Please note that I said I loved being a mother, not that I was good at it or that it was was easy.
You know what? Mothering is just plain hard sometimes. I don’t care how old our children get; every season brings an astonishing mixture of joy and tears. There are peaceful seasons when we feel like maybe, just maybe, we got some things right. But for most of us, there are those stormy seasons when our hearts are torn to pieces and we wonder where we went wrong.
There have been times when all I have had to cling to is the truth of God’s Word. When I have had to make a conscious decision to trust Him with my child. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Moms, we can train and teach and encourage and speak truth and attempt to effect outward behavior, but only God can change a heart. We all know Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it." I have quoted this verse to myself more times than I can count, and I choose to believe it.
Honestly, sometimes I do find myself saying, "Okay, God, I'm ready for them to be old now." Especially when I see the rocket's red glare in my car and not in the sky.
I ran across this in the book, When the Handwriting on the Wall is in Brown Crayon by Susan Lenzkes. Thought y'all might enjoy it.
but there definitely was not
a packet of instructions
attached to my children
when they arrived.
And none has since
Come through my mailbox.
Lord, show me how
to be a good parent.
Teach me to
correct without crushing,
help without hanging on,
listen without laughing,
surround without smothering,
and love without limit-
the way You love me.
Have a great week!
“No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” -Philippians 3:13
Edisto Beach is a place that our family loves dearly. We have built thin peaked drip castles by the hundreds, combed the beach for shark’s teeth until the back of our necks cramped, and had crabs enthusiastically grab onto stinky chicken necks time and time again just before their captor quickly scooped them up. One of the funniest snapshots of my mind is a time when we were going to an inlet to dig clams and seine for fish and shrimp. We were all doing our thing when my youngest son let out a scream that would curl your toes! I honestly had never heard anything like it!
This blog is from my young friend, Ben Jackson. After reading his blogs and hearing his story, I wanted to share one with you. He is a testimony to the powerful influence of Godly mentors and to the incredible influence of a Godly mother who pointed him toward Christ and who never gave up on him, even during the tough years.
Instant gratification and contentment are daily stumbling blocks in my life.
Boy, that was a depressing first statement, wasn’t it? Let’s try that again.
When I was a little boy, I always wanted to be a big boy. When in middle school, I couldn’t wait to be a high schooler. In high school, I couldn’t wait til I graduated. The X’s and O’s changed through the years, but the desires never did. I’m going to try and assemble my thoughts as well as I can here – what the Lord is showing me in my life currently – and it is a strange blend of rest, seasons, thankfulness and his holiness.
This past year brought more challenges than I bargained for. The physical, earthly things were manageable – full time job, full load of college classes, volunteering with Young Life – but I battled contentment inwardly. I did not want to live in Sumter this year. I was unhappy, and felt like I was missing out from all the “big college” fun that so many friends of mine went off to experience. It doesn’t sound like I battled too much – it may sound like I was simply feeling sorry for myself (which I was). But what I came to realize is this: for weeks and months into this year, my sin was dominating me.
And then comes Jesus.
Back in May, I wrote a blog to moms who had children graduating from high school and heading off to college. And now, here we are. Some of you have already moved those precious babies into their dorm rooms, while some of you are finishing up the packing and getting ready to head out.
I'm right there with you. We move our child in on Sunday. This is child number three. You would think I would be a seasoned mom by now. Full of advice on how to handle this process with grace and dignity… While I do have advice because I have walked this road before, I'm coming up a little short on the grace and dignity part.
Several of you have asked me to repost the blog, so here it is. The only thing I know to say at this point is:
One, I will trust my God to accomplish His purpose in my child's life - and in my new season of life as well. Two, for those moms not here yet, cherish every single second because it goes by way too fast.
To Moms of Graduates
Another school year is coming to an end. Thank goodness. It’s time for summer and all that goes with it – laid back schedules, sleeping in a little later, boiled peanuts, no homework or tests.
If there were ever a Momma who lived for summer, it would be me. I cannot adequately explain to you the absolute joy I feel on the last day of school. I feel liberated, probably more so than my children. I have looked forward to every single end of the school year…except this one…and two early ones.
This year, I have a son who will graduate from high school and head off to college in the fall. A chapter in his life will close.
A chapter in my life will close.
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