We all do it. We eat some incredibly, delicious food. Maybe it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert… it doesn’t matter the type of food; we just eat it and we love every bit of it!
So, naturally, we go back for seconds…
Maybe it was our absolute favorite food ever, or perhaps it just looked really, really good when we first saw it. Regardless, we missed out on it the first go round, so we figure we will just get a little bit of it to see how we like it.
…then comes the regret.
“Ugh, I did NOT need that.”
“I am waaaay too full.”
“Whoops, I didn’t realize that (insert name) hadn’t even had any yet!”
“I can’t eat all of this. I was just worried it would all be taken!”
“It looked really good, but uhh not so much. What was I even thinking?!”
…Ashley, what are you talking about? Are you blogging while hungry? Yes, in fact I am (when am I not hungry?), but that’s not what I’m talking about!
…I’m talking about going back for seconds, in our individual lives, on our individual plates.
Our life plates.
You know, the ones we fill up every day, week, month, year, with tasks we need to accomplish, groups we want to join, or relationships we have.
I recently went to a women’s retreat and heard a speaker reference sitting down with God to evaluate her plate. “I’ve just got too much on my plate right now!” We have all said that phrase or heard someone we know use it. She went on to discuss how she evaluated her plate over the course of 30 days and prayed and asked God to show her what should either stay on or come off.
I thought to myself, “ohh I JUST went through this in my own life! What a great lesson for SOMEONE ELSE to hear. We all need to do this, and I am SO GLAD that I JUST did this!”
So after a full day of sessions, the retreat ended and I was super encouraged… until I wasn’t anymore.
I have been battling, and I mean battling, myself, the enemy, the ones I love, the media, the lady at the grocery store, the guy two lanes over from me, I mean literally EVERYONE lately! But the battlefield has not been one that anyone else could see. It has all been in. my. mind.
Irrational thoughts (check)
Negative self talk (check)
Self doubt (check)
Questioning the voice of God (check)
Raining down fiery darts like in the movie 300 (double check)
It has been a MONTH, if you know what I mean! I go to sleep, exhausted from a day of constant thinking, evaluating, and questioning, all of which is done in my very own head. I wake up and the mental battle starts again. Someone asks me how I am, and I’m like…hmm they probably don’t want to know all of the crazy that is happening inside of this head of mine!
So where did all of this come from, and why does it feel like I am stuck in a hurricane of my own thoughts and emotions?
…it’s because I went back for seconds.
So what does that mean? What does it mean to go back for seconds?
Last November, when I cleared off my plate, I quit my job, was kindly let go from helping my husband with his company (hah!), and then I put back on, in order of priority, God, husband, and children. Evidently, I wasn’t personally finished filling it yet, but I didn’t realize that then.
Within the course of a month while holding my newly cleared plate, I took on leading worship more frequently at my church, doing a few photography sessions here and there, and then was asked and decided to commit to FIVE volunteer teams at my church! Talk about a buffet!!! I mean, c’mon people, it was God’s work! All good things are ALWAYS good, right?
I had kept a little bit of worship on my plate, and a little bit of volunteering, but I had enjoyed them SO MUCH, that I went right back and grabbed myself some seconds, even though the Lord had distinctly told me to clear off my plate! I let that last all of 2 minutes before throwing stuff back on it. And I mean, it’s not unlike me to keep myself busy, or get ahead of God, but this time I really didn’t even see it. I was trying so hard to fill it with the good, Godly stuff, that it took me 3 1/2 months to see that it was making me spiritually sick!
Because here’s the thing… when we load up our plates, whether with 4 things or 14 things, we have got to take the time to properly digest all that we are trying to consume. Otherwise, we are just stuffing ourselves full of really wonderful things, that we just don’t have time or room for!
And how does it feel when you stuff yourself? When you have a gluttonous spirit? It’s awful! It becomes hard to even “feel” anything other than miserable. Sensing the discernment of the Spirit and the voice of God become almost impossible! Why? Because we are sick from all of the stuff on our plates, yet we keep adding more good, when really what we need is more God!
And when we do that, y’all, we take away those great things from someone else. We put too much extra on our plate, and we don’t leave any for the person that perhaps God intended it for in the first place.
The things we already have on our plates can nourish us, grow us, fill us, but we won’t ever experience that if we just keep pilling things on top of what we already have!
And understand me on this, those things that you feel like you just HAVE to HAVE…the pan of brownies that NO ONE WILL EVER MAKE AGAIN…y’all, that’s just not true! There will be another pan of brownies. And if you live in my house, a weekly pan of brownies! But what I’m trying to say is, that good thing you feel like you aren’t getting a taste of quite yet…it won’t be gone forever. One day, when you least expect it, but when God most purposefully intends it, you’ll get your chance to try it…or maybe you won’t.
If I can digress for a moment, I’d like us to discuss a passage from Hebrews. In chapter 11 we read about great people of faith from the Old Testament. The verse above specifically pertains to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These great men did bold things with patient faith, knowing that the Lord was working in and through their hardships. They took on JUST what the Lord told them to and then they waited in faith until He directed them. And the Lord did. He directed them and gave them people to share their faith with, but these men died never experiencing the best thing they could’ve ever experienced, and that was the promise of the coming Christ. Yet, they were long suffering. They kept believing and they kept doing EXACTLY what God had placed on their plates. Even when it wasn’t, perhaps, the things they wanted the most.
That’ll preach, y’all, cause it’s preaching to me! When you are walking in all of the good, but not the path that God has set for you, you might as well be behind enemy lines! That battlefield of the mind that I mentioned earlier, was my own doing, yet there I was giving the enemy all of the credit. I think he was likely relishing in how easy I was making it for him, but never the less, I was there because I wasn’t satisfied with what God had given me. Ouch! That hurt to type.
But God, through Jesus, gave us a way to ward off some of this “going back for seconds” nonsense. In Matthew 6 when Jesus is talking to His disciples (sermon on the mount), He instructs them on how they should pray. “Give us this day, our daily bread…” Jesus doesn’t say, “Give me this day, absolutely everything good that I want to have!” Negative. And aren’t we thankful for that?
“Give us this day, our daily bread…” don’t worry about tomorrow, and don’t try and get all you possibly can today, but instead, Lord, give us what we need that is sufficient for this day, and this day alone. Because really that’s all we can handle. And honestly, WE aren’t even handling that! It is only by the power of Christ and the grace of God given to us each day that allow us to handle what we have. We are also reminded of this in Proverbs 30:8, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need.”
So let’s each take a good, long look at our plates. Let’s not keep adding all of the things, going back for seconds, to then never even try all that we’ve added… because, guess what? We end up throwing those things away, becoming spiritually sick, or going to battle against ourselves, when God is over on the sidelines with a kitchen sink and dish rag whispering, “just let me clean this up for you.”
It’ll be so good. And it’ll be so hard…but also, SO worth it!
…and for the love of Pete, don’t go find yourself a bigger plate! :)
With love & laughter,
In the book of Exodus we read about Moses and his great deliverance of the Israelites. After the Israelites left Egypt they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years waiting on God to lead them to the promised land. While they were in the wilderness, the Israelites started to complain about how Moses saved them. They were slaves back in Egypt but compared to just wandering around in the desert with no food, the slave life in Egypt was looking pretty good! We read in Exodus chapter 16 that the Israelites started grumbling and complained to Moses, “We had meat in Egypt but then you had to go and lead us out so that we could starve out here in the desert!”
Of course, there was no food in the desert. How were they to survive? Why would God lead them out of Egypt only to bring them to a desert? Don’t we feel like we’re in the wilderness sometimes? We feel like God leads us somewhere only to abandon us. I know this feeling quite well.
I love the way God writes a story with the paper of our life and the pen of His Holy Spirit.
From the time I was a child I knew conceptually that God loved me. I knew that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. I knew this and believed as much as any child could. But in the back of my mind, I sort of thought God was lucky to have me on His team. Perhaps He even smiled when He thought of me, because I wasn’t really “that bad”. Especially not like those other sinners He died for.
It wasn’t until college that the fruition of my childhood belief became a deep and life-changing faith. It wasn’t until I became the person that I had always judged that God showed me his far-reaching grace. I was transformed as I began to believe the truth that I was more sinful than I could dare to imagine and more loved than I could dare to dream.
Cornerstones of the Christian faith like grace, imputed righteousness, the power of the Spirit, community, evangelism, and other foundational truths I’d been taught as a kid became my oxygen. Jesus was no longer a part of my life…He became MY LIFE.
It was as if I had purchased a fully furnished house and finally had the electric company come and cut the lights on! Everything that was needed to live was in place and finally, it was a home that could be richly enjoyed.
Upon graduation, I zealously entered full-time Christian work and couldn’t wait to tell college students just like me about Jesus. I fell in love with watching the light grow from a flicker to a flame, as they began to understand the Gospel. I loved my job. Full time ministry! What’s not to love? Yet, God gently showed me that I was using my profession and ministry successes to prop up my ego and validate my identity. Full-time ministry was a good thing, but I had made it into a god thing, an idol in which my value and worth were found.
In the thick of my love affair with ministry you can bet your bottom dollar that I firmly believed I did not need a man to slow me down. And, on cue, per my pride, God used a trip to do Hurricane Katrina relief work to introduce me to a person He would use to show me His unfailing love
There we were, hundreds of Cru staff and college students covered in mud and bug bites, freezing our tails off sleeping on cots under circus tents and taking showers in the back of 18-wheelers. There he was, leading a team from Ole Miss and there was me, leading a team that “just so happened” to needed to bunk up with their students because there was no room for us at any other sites. Sparks flew, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Six months later we started dating, six months later we were engaged, six months later we were married and the rest is history! Literally HIS story!
I remember one night, Joel sat me down and said that he felt I had nothing left to give and that ministry was in a sense the "third wheel” in our relationship. I was heart-broken and ashamed but I knew that ministry-aholism and the anxiety that comes along with it were something that I needed to process and battle. God used Joel to teach me so much of His love and my identity in Christ being perfect and complete, not needing to work harder or do better and that I no longer needed to avoid sin to avoid my need for Jesus. It was powerful.
A few years into marriage we (and by we I actually mean “I”), finally moved from fear to faith and decided to try and start a family. After a year of “trying” we realized it simply wasn’t happening. This was soul-wrenching. I remember numerous trips home to see our family when I’d have fully envisioned and planned “the announcement” and played out how excited our parents would be to become grandparents. But every time, there was no announcement to be made. The endless cycle of hope and despair continued. Two years later, I remember our reproductive endocrinologist patting me on the knee and saying that humanly speaking, there was no reason we should not be able to conceive and that perhaps there was a Higher Power who had a better plan. This was the confirmation we needed to end fertility treatments and pursue adoption.
Our gut reaction was to begin an international adoption process. It seemed the sexy thing to do; yet after looking at our options, it didn’t seem to be the right fit. We pursued domestic infant adoption the way many of our friends had done, but again, we lacked the peace and confirmation that we needed to proceed. Of course, the ONE THING we said we’d NEVER do was foster and adopt a child through social services. I mean, we’d never been parents before and weren’t these kids typically older with more issues? We decided to do our due diligence and attend an interest meeting. It was there that the Holy Spirit made it irresistibly clear what He had in store to build our family.
We walked away with fresh tears on our faces and a forged plan to fight for a child. We spent 9 months meticulously scribbling out all our paperwork and then waiting. In the darkest of places, smack in the middle of a “what the heck is taking so long” pity party, we got the call. Okay, well, really I made the call because “WHAT THE HECK WAS TAKING SO LONG???” But the social worker on the other end of the line asked me, “Did you not get a phone call already? You were matched yesterday with a kid… Or maybe it was two kids? I’m not sure…just call this number.” And call the number I sure did. It took that social worker 4 hours to return my phone call. FOUR HOURS, PEOPLE!?! Do you know how well you can clean your oven when you have 4 hours of nervous energy pumping through your veins?
There were a flurry of phone calls and emotions followed by a pivotal conversation with a friend whose advice we trusted… WHO JUST SO HAPPENED TO HAVE OUR FUTURE SON IN HER RESPITE FOSTER CARE AT THAT VERY MOMENT!!! Within a day we were not only matched, but we were in LOVE with not one, but two precious children.
A boatload of details needed to be worked out. Details like car seats, elementary schools and job transitions. But amidst the details we were seeing miracles happen and dreams we never even knew to dream, were coming true. Joel’s birthday fell in the midst of the hubbub. I deliriously asked him if there were anything he’d like for his birthday. With his eyes filled with emotion, he sweetly said that all he wanted for his birthday were two pigtails and a cowlick. On July 25, a spunky 2 year old and a snuggly 5 year old, their foster family and I threw Joel a birthday party at the Chick Fila play place. A few days later they came to live with us. Joel got exactly what he wanted for his birthday.
Over the next 9 months there were biological parent visitations, court hearings and finally on April 24, 2012, the judge declared what we’d always known, that they were officially a part of our forever family!
Ours is a beautifully broken story of God being good even when He didn’t feel good and Him being completely caring and sovereign even when things seem insanely out of control…nothing different than what He is doing in the lives of all His children. And the rest is history. Truly HIS story!
Thanks so much to Kitty for sharing her story with us. She and her husband, Joel, have a fantastic website. Please visit
http://www.joelandkitty.com/ to learn more about them and read some more of her blogs.
I married on April 12, 2014, for the first time, at the age of 46. This is also my husband’s first marriage, and we both were beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen for us. It wasn’t my choice to be single for that long. Each passing year watching my girlfriends find “Mr. Right,” get married and start families, just seemed to make the ache of loneliness grow even deeper. I couldn’t understand why I had such a deep desire for marriage if God was never going to fulfill it. I learned a lot in those years. A lot about God’s faithfulness, my strength, His character, and my faith. Honestly, I could have married a couple of times. I was engaged in my early 20’s and made the very difficult decision to break off the engagement. I knew it wasn’t a solid relationship and doubtful that it would stand the test of time. Most of my friends and family didn’t understand my decision, but I knew God was telling me “no.” It was a very lonely time for me. After that relationship, I dated several other wonderful guys over the years. Guys who would make great husbands. But in time, we or I realized they just weren’t going to be the “right” husbands for me. Most people did not understand. I was called “picky”......A LOT! Haha!
Oswald Chambers wrote, “When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it, but wait.”
How very difficult that is for me. How very, very uncomfortable I find that blank space. I tend to act on impulse. I believe God is calling me to something, and instead of waiting and bathing it in prayer, I jump to it. Often, things do not go well when I respond this way.
I am beginning to understand that there is much to be learned in the blank space. I think God does some of His greatest work in my life when I sit still and wait for His timing.
In my last bible study, one of the ladies shared a story that she had run across. I thought I would share it with y’all. I pray that it will give great encouragement to anyone in the midst of a fiery trial.
There was a couple who took a trip to England to shop in a beautiful antique store to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups.
Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked “May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”
As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke, “You don’t understand. I have not always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Don’t do that. I don’t
like it! Let me alone.’ But he only smiled, and gently said, ‘Not yet!’” “Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick,’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly, ‘Not yet.’”
“He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then… Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. Help! Get me out of here! I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, ‘Not yet.’”
“When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! Ah, this is much better, I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The
fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Oh, please, Stop it, Stop it!’ I cried. He only shook his head and said. ‘Not yet!’”
“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he
took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited ——- and waited, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next?” An hour later he handed me a mirror and said ‘Look at yourself.’ “And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me, that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!’”
Quietly he spoke: ‘I want you to remember,’ then he said, “I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know
it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
The moral of this story is this: God knows what He’s doing for each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good,
pleasing and perfect will.
So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to “stink”, try this….
Brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest teacup, sit down and think on this story and then, have a little talk with the Potter.
– Author Unknown
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13)
New Year’s night I sat by my computer feeling like I might explode as I waited for Parkingspacefaith.com to appear. It reminded me of how I used to feel on Christmas morning when I was a little girl. My three brothers and I would have to wait in the hallway while my Dad tortured us by taking what seemed like hours to light the fire in our den and get the camera ready. My heart would race and none of us could sit still. When Dad would finally give the okay, we would burst through the door to see what Santa had brought. What great memories!
As I sat waiting for Ken to give us the okay, I began to think back over the journey that brought us to that moment. It was neat to see all the little things that God had orchestrated. From the first tugging to do something for His glory to the realization of what He was actually calling us to do. I remember the overwhelmingly confused feeling when I felt the pull to build a website. I had no idea how to go about building a website. For crying out loud, I am the one who is usually saying mean and hateful things to my computer because it is not cooperating with me. I have even seriously considered throwing it out of the window. Then to complicate things further, Carolyn, Grace, and Lisa by their own admission were more computer illiterate than I was!
Isn’t that just like God? He gives a seemingly impossible task – one that is not within our range of ability and then He waits for us to surrender it to Him completely. I guess He knows that if it were within our realm of capability, we would take off on our own and completely mess things up. Though things did not instantly fall into place, like I wanted, God began working out every little detail. He sent the right people, with the right gifts, at the right time. He left no doubt that it was His hand.
You know, left to my own plan, I would have never picked a website as my avenue for serving my Heavenly Father. Nope, I would have picked something in keeping with my talents, like, well…uh, okay so let’s move on.
Here’s the point; God often calls us to “God sized” tasks. The problem is, we often dismiss them because they are beyond our ability, not in our area of expertise, or they aren’t in our area of “giftedness”. Oh yeah, and there is usually a little issue of time…not enough of it. Please, all of these I consider to be valid arguments, and make no mistake, I have used them all. However, I don’t think God finds them acceptable, at least He hasn’t for me.
So, as I sat there in front of my computer I mused over how freeing it actually was to be called to a task that I was incapable of doing because really, the only thing God had required of me was a willing heart. He did the rest. Now that I think about it, Moses didn’t have the expertise or ability to part the Red Sea, but it parted. Peter was not a gifted teacher nor did he possess a superior intellect, but Christ used him to build His church. And, I guess if a few fishes and loaves can be multiplied to feed thousands, God is quite capable of multiplying our time in order to fit His purpose into our schedule. By the way, there is the option of eliminating some things from our schedule in order to have more room for God’s plan for our lives.
I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, the only one I ever made was “to not make a New Year’s resolution.” I am proud to say that over the years I have stuck to it. Now I think maybe it’s time to break my old standing New Year’s resolution by making one for 2013. Some of you might want to join me. For 2013, I resolve to embrace the “God size” tasks more willingly. Whether it involves working through me to do something for His glory or working in me to become something for His glory, I know that it is God who will “equip me in every good thing to do His will.” (Hebrews 13:21)
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