I was talking with my friend yesterday about the pressure we tend to put on ourselves to “get along” with everyone, to “like” everyone, and to even be “friends” with everyone. I am air quoting the fool out of that sentence because the interpretation of what each of those looks like is different for everyone.
Some of us are people pleasers so it is harder. We want to like and be liked by everyone. And if we don’t or if we aren’t then feelings get hurt. Typically the feelings that are hurt are caused by the missed expectations we placed unbeknownst to the other person. Man, oh man, we are silly sometimes.
We continued talking and sharing with each other about how we’ve grown out of those tendencies to fret over, or even guilt ourselves over all of that. But still those feelings come up and we have to check ourselves (before we wreck ourselves or start acting foolish). I mean, sometimes life just feels like an extension of adolescense that no one signed up for, am I right?
And we all have friends (some more than others), but it’s almost as if we have friends specific to different places… like we have work friends, church friends, school friends, play date friends, family friends, and the list goes on and on. It’s not that we wouldn’t still be friends with them in different settings, but it’s just that those are our friends related to or formed from those specific places.
Have you ever thought any of those friendships were headed one direction and then all of the sudden you’re like, “wait I thought we were headed to Happy Friendshipville, but we somehow got re-routed to Crazy Town!” …surely I am not alone. Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. Maybe you just got to know someone and realized they weren't who you thought they were, or maybe that you didn't have as much in common as you thought. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We are all different.
So after talking with my friend she shared something her mother had said to her that helped put all of these feelings and irrational thoughts into perspective. This isn’t verbatim but you’ll get the gist…
There’s someone for everyone,
but you don't have to be everyone’s someone.
…that’s some good stuff right there. Let that marinate for a minute or two. Now flip it over. Soak the other side in. Okay, ya got it?!
have to be
That was never how friendships and relationships were designed. I think our pride and need for approval have developed some of those false precepts about what those should look like.
How exhausting is it to try and be the “someone” that “everyone” is looking for?!
And if we are being honest, it’s likely disingenuous aka NOT REAL!
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) tells us, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The same verse in the NKJV reads, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Those seem to say two different things, but I like what John MacArthur’s notes say regarding the NKJV of this verse…
“The best text says 'may come to ruin' and warns that the person who makes friends too easily and indiscriminately does so to his own destruction. On the other hand, a friend chosen wisely is more loyal than a brother.”
"Indiscriminately" means to do something in a random manner. I can be pretty random at times, but I will tell you that choosing my friends is not the area that I would want to do things randomly. I believe we should have a criteria for choosing friends and, as Christians, we should look to Christ and His love and treatment of others for just that.
Yes we are to love others, to serve others, to meet the needs of the least of these, but friendship is deeper. It is more guarded, more trusted, and more sacred than being everyone’s someone.
So look around...look at your circle, your community, your tribe, your PEOPLE. Are you investing your time and energy into a few intimate and lasting relationships? Or are you trying to be everyone's someone?
Because after all, the only “someone” that will ever be meant for EVERYONE is Jesus, and there is only ONE of Him.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “my life is crazy town!” in a DAY…this renovation would be paid for. Oh yea. That’s right. We are currently renovating our house.
…while living in it.
...with our three children ages, 6, 2 1/2, and 10 months.
...and our 5 month old puppy.
...who got electrocuted because he was chewing one of the many exposed electoral boxes.
But seriously, y’all.
Howdy, I’m the mayor.
During my prayer time last week I was thinking through all of the crazy we are currently living in and I finally just said, “Lord, PLEASE don’t let us make any more stupid decisions!” and what I meant to say was, “Lord, PLEASE help us to be wise in the future decisions we make!”
Ha. The Lord knows my heart, so my mouth was just speaking truth.
Do you ever stop and look around at your life and try and step outside of yourself?
Like, how does everything look from the outside?
Am I holding this together?
Who keeps making my life crazy? OH RIGHT- ME!
Why do we do that? Why do we add stress to our own lives? Well, if you’re me or my husband, it’s because we like to live in a perpetual state of, “Hi, we’re gluttons for punishment.”
That sounds miserable. And our lives are joy-filled…but seriously, we are a couple of gluttons!
I think it’s because we are just naturally always pursuing tasks, or goals, or SOMETHING. We always want to be striving for some. thing. I don’t think that’s bad, but I do think it can become a beast. It can consume our lives and our happiness.
And in the middle of the self-made hurricane, are my three precious children.
How do they feel about it all?
How do they like the sudden change and the literal ripping our home to pieces aspect?
I never really asked. I never really considered. Until my daughter, Ava, walked out angrily one afternoon from me and under her breath mumbled, “Why’d you have to ruin our house?”
Perspective. It’s so important. And I hadn’t considered hers. At least not until that point.
What do things look like from where she stands? From what she comprehends? From her “normal”?
I am the adult making decisions in her favor, although it may not look like that now. I see things she can’t. I see family meals in our house around a table every night for the FIRST TIME in the almost 2 years we’ve lived in this house. I see the late night snuggles on our couch, after making sundaes, while we watch her favorite movie. I see the Bible study evenings with friends and families from our church and community where we will pour into the lives of people we love and people Jesus longs to know. I can see all of that and so much more. But right now…right now it just looks a lot like a mess. A dusty, insulated, hot, mess.
So she responds to what she sees. And what she sees isn't good. But it’s work. It’s the work in progress leading to the ultimate home we have envisioned for her and her brothers.
Why doesn’t she see that?…because she’s human. Because she's stuck on what’s right in front of her. Because she’s just like you and she’s just like me, when we are too distracted, too FIXATED, on the mess in front of us, to see the beauty of what God is preparing for us in the future.
And beneath all of it...all of the groaning and complaining and questioning "Why me, Lord?" is a whole lot of selfishness and pride. Man, it consumes us. But in the mean time, if we can manage to step away and look at everything, think through everything, PRAY about everything, we will see God working. We will see the beauty.
So while I sit here preaching to myself, at my computer, while the good people of Crazy Town are sleeping, I can smile. At least a little.
...because everything is a work in progress. Whether it's my house, my children, or my own heart. "And He who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Phil 1:6
With love & laughter,
I posted this a year ago on Facebook and thought y'all might enjoy reading it as well. The Vine can speak to you in mighty ways...
I have a muscadine vine in my backyard. It was here when we bought the house, but it is my pride and joy! I dream of having a garden one day, so I just pretend with this precious grapevine.
The Lord has used this to speak to me in such an impactful way. Just a couple of months ago there wasn't a leaf on it. There was, however, a leafy green something growing on the top of it. Not knowing much about plants, I asked a friend what it was. He told me it was a weed. To my untrained eye, I had no idea. The vines had no leaves, yet this weed was flourishing.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now have an abundance of leaves and a little bit of flowering has started. Last week I noticed that there were a couple of jack and the bean stalk-looking swirly things springing up about a foot above the top of my vine. They looked pretty, vibrant, and green. I thought perhaps they were new vines so I asked Richard and guess what? They were weeds!
Today I purposed to work on my vines and get rid of those bright green WEEDS. As I took my shears back there and began to work, the Lord began to speak to me. At the base of these "vibrant" weeds were large thorns. Way too many to count and they ranged in size from my thumb nail to smaller sizes. The base was wide, thick, strong, and thorny. What appeared as vibrant, green new growth on the vine was actually a weed stifling the vine's growth and stealing nutrients from the soil. On the surface with the other leaves, it was beautiful and interesting. On a deeper and closer level, it was just the opposite- ugly and a nuisance.
As my daughter Ava was helping me, it brought to mind her starting to build relationships with people now and in the coming years. She is young, naive, and impressionable. She may only see the surface level charm and beauty, and she may miss the heart of the person. This is what I have to guard her from... to teach her about...to give her scripture to reinforce.
The Lord called to my mind Matthew 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
This can be a warning to any degree on the character of people, ourselves included. Even the weeds flower and bloom, but guess what, they do not bear good fruit. They have no good thing to show from it. Let me tell you, it was WORK to clean up these vines and there is still work to do. The weeds act like vines and wrap themselves around the healthy grapevines to blend in. I have to literally rip and tear them off of each other. They are trying to become one.
Surely this sounds familiar to someone... Relationships can be life giving or exhausting. They can take from you and never replenish your soul. The Lord knows that! He warns us of these. What does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? Who could love like that? Who gives, requires no work from us, and simply asks us to accept this gift? Jesus. God sent Him just for that purpose, so that we could abide in Him. Think about that.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:1-4
Disclaimer: there is not a single picture in this post, but it doesn't lack the entertainment and appeal of simple words and lots of honesty. Double-dog-dare you to keep reading!
Is it just me or do you love it when you talk to other people and as you’re talking realize that the two of you are so similar to each other?! It’s like looking at yourself in a mirror, for better or for worse. I think it’s eye opening.
When it’s someone younger than me I feel like so much of me wants to say, “No, stop! Don’t do or say that! You’ll regret it.” But when it’s someone older than me I think to myself, “TELL ME EVERYTHING! What should I being doing differently? Help me to be wise!”
I think we learn a lot from each other. Sometimes by watching what people do and other times by hearing what people have been through. We can get caught up in our world of one where we think we are alone in some relationship, situation, or struggle. 9 times out of 10, we aren’t! We just don't talk about those things enough…
So in an effort to tell you a little about me and become a little transparent in all of my quirks, craziness, and Ashley-isms, I’ve decided to just list a bunch of random facts about me. Some from the past and some from the present.
Maybe you will read this and realize we aren't so different after all. Perhaps we’re very much the same. Or maybe vice-versa. Either way I don’t think it hurts to share bits of ourselves with each other from time to time.
So…here goes nothing!
1) I was named after a soap opera character that my mom thought was pretty. My middle name was after my grandmothers and will always be my favorite! "Iva-ann"
2) I’ve lived 24 years of my life in South Carolina and I still feel like the most non-southern person I know. #idontdrinksweettea …I lived in Holland the other 4 years. #militaryfamily
3) I was sad to get rid of my beloved middle name when I got married, but evidently that's what you do in the South, so I took my maiden name instead.
4) When my husband proposed to me, my vision literally blurred, I thought I was gonna pass out, and all I kept saying was, "You're freaking me out! You're such a freak!" ...l'm not even kidding. Let's call it a panic attack.
5) I dated my husband for 6 years before we were married. We have been married 8 years... 14 years of togetherness. That’s half of my life!!!
6) I will choose a bean burrito over most things, most days, and I even ate one before walking down the aisle on my wedding day.
7) I don’t like my food to touch on my plate so I naturally get smaller portions…but then get seconds. (or cry on the inside because no one realizes how little I really just ate but don’t want to be rude and appear to eat all the food- oh the struggle!)
8) If nothing else is available, I will always use the pretty decorative towels in bathrooms, so sorry to all of my fancy friends- the shower curtain is my last resort. #thingsiprobshouldntshare
9) I prefer to drink bottled water at room temperature because I can drink larger amounts of it faster.
10) I will choose the handicap restroom 9x out of 10. Not sure why but I do.
11) I love music and often think in lyrics and quote/remember scripture through songs.
12) I don't like to put makeup on unless it'll be worth it because I hate wasting anything. Same goes with showers…yikes!
13) I have the craziest dreams and can almost remember every single one of them every morning when I wake up. I should write them down… or maybe I shouldn’t. #thingspeoplewouldntread
14) I unknowingly seriously struggled with OCD in high school that affected my body image, night time routines, and abuse of Tylenol/motrin and other basic pain relievers. #liversdontlie #willthathashtagmakesensetoanyone
15) I figured out I had serious issues when I randomly watched a documentary on OCD and watched my life and daily struggles happening to other people on TV. That’s when I realized it wasn't “normal” and talked some to Richard (husband/then bf) and a little to my family. I don’t share that part of me as much as I probably should with other people.
16) As a result of those obsessive tendencies I used to constantly have items with me at all times, but I've slowly let some of that go. It was in case something tragic happened, so I'd be prepared. #realist #pessimist #fineline
17) I used to be super self righteous and judgmental in high school. For sure the Pharisee who didn't understand a thing about grace. Thank you God for your forgiveness and faithfulness to me.
18) I used to be perceived as super intimidating because I wouldn't talk to people. So much of that stemmed from my lack of confidence and concern with no one wanting to talk to me, or at least that's what I'd tell myself.
19) Sometimes I feel like I over share now to compensate for time lost getting close to people around me back then. Sorry to everyone who has ever had to sit through a convo starting with, "this may be TMI but..." haha y'all are the real MVPs
20) I loved college. I stayed at USC Sumter and felt like it was my personal mission field. Meeting new people is my favorite.
21) Speaking of college- I have a Master of Education in School Counseling that I’ve never used…yaaaaaay
22) I’m not a good play mom. I seriously do not enjoy playing at all. Hide and seek...ugh, the worst! ...ok maybe tag is. Mama can't run after you and it makes me feel out of shape.
23) I’m self conscious about learning new things because I want to be perfect at it instantly. Makes for a horrible student! Ava is just like me. #payback
24) I’m not a very emotional person. I shoot straight. I may cry twice a year. Maybe. So when I do, people around me assume the sky in falling. #endoftheworld
25) The above can make me appear to be insensitive or a jerk though. Whoops. Love you mean it.
26) I have a natural blonde streak in my hair that is a birth mark. Several people have asked me if I highlight my hair and my response is, "Why would I put one streak in my hair?" ...again, the unintentional jerk comes out. But seriously. Why? #rogue #xmen
27) I absolutely LOVE to talk in different accents. South African is by far the hardest for me…and by hardest I mean I can't do it and it makes me sad.
28) In another life I would've loved to be an interpreter for some high security government job.
29) And I would've been a medical doctor. or maybe just a medical student. Cant handle the whole “your life is in my hands…literally” aspect.
30) I wish I were a genius…which is why I think I could be a professional student. “I’ll just be learning everything for forever, so if you need me, that’s where I’ll be.”
31) I absolutely love to hear stories…which is why I think I love movies, because Lord knows I don’t like to READ stories. jk I do. but they better be short. and by short I mean audio…books.
32) As a result of the above, I take way too long and share way too many details to tell anyone, anything. #sorryboutthat
…OK, I think that’s enough (way too much) random information about me. And 32 feels like a solid number of things, right? High fives to everyone who read this entire post. We could be real life friends.
Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email if you wanna chat further about anything!
With love & laughter,
Kids want to do what they see being done.
They want to be who influences them most.
They want to follow where their people lead them.
The above picture of me was taken by my daughter, Ava. She sees me taking pictures a lot and so she wanted to do it herself. She did a good job! I pulled it up and thought, good focus, good centering, (probably mainly good luck), but even still…good work!
…and then, hmmm, my mind began to wander…
What else does she see me do?
How else do I influence her?
Where else am I leading her?
My answer to each of these questions wants to point to Jesus! …wants to point to Jesus.
Unfortunately I know I get that wrong a lot.
At a baby dedication I attended this past Sunday, the pastor referenced the lyric “oh be careful little eyes what you see…”
For the majority of our children’s young lives, their eyes are looking at us, at what we are putting in front of them, or they are looking at who we allow into their lives.
What’s the common factor there? WE. We are responsible for what they see. We as parents, caregivers, guardians, etc. are the PRIMARY ones influencing our children for the majority of their time with us.
You may be thinking, I work, I’m not with them a lot. They’re in school, they attend daycare, they're just little babies…Well, unless some other arrangement is setup, you as their primary caregiver get to decide where they go to school, attend daycare, and yes even babies are impressionable, so what they see matters. In each situation children are exposed to things, to other people, that will influence them. “Be careful little eyes what you see,” is really more directed to the adult in that it should say, “be careful grown adult what you show them.”
Yikes! Does that feel heavy? Did I just put a lot of pressure on you? That wasn’t my intention, but I do want you to be reminded (as I was this weekend) that we have little eyes watching us all of the time.
Maybe you’re struggling as an adult to make decisions that are good for you, let alone worrying over how they influence your child(ren)…well, this is where we as Christian women have some major help. That help comes in the form of the Holy Spirit and is given to us directly from Jesus Christ. John 16:7 talks about how Christ was leaving but sending us a helper, an advocate who would come alongside us and guide us through conviction and hope.
So, yes, maybe you're struggling right now with decisions, and listen, parenting well is HARD. WORK. But we were never meant to do it on our own! Pray. Pray in the moments where you feel you are failing. Pray with a grateful heart in the moments where you're finding success! Pray all of the time, without ceasing, for your child(ren) and their future. The Holy Spirit will help you. He IS the helper!
Ok now let’s talk about what these little eyes see…
The obvious thing that comes to my mind is technology! Whether that’s TV, computers, or phones, kids of all ages are almost immediately exposed to one of them. It’s like the unholy trinity! Seriously.
So what does that look like? News, TV shows, movies, COMMERCIALS (for the love of PETE), games, You Tube videos (of about a trillion different categories)…
How about music? What are you listening to when you’re driving? “Oh it’s just (insert whatever)! They’re little, they don’t know what that means!” Suuuure. Until they repeat it back to you. Cause we all love when our 2 year olds do that!
What about what you’re reading? What’s on the cover? Who is it magnifying? What is it pointing them to?
There are so many avenues that influence our children because WE expose them to those things.
…oh right. So that number one area of influence is really who then? It's us.
We can’t always blame media, the schools, the neighbors, or who or whatever else we desire. WE have to take ownership of that which we expose our children to. We control what they watch, what they listen to, who they talk to (for the most part), what they spend their time doing, and the list goes on. For a good little while, we have control over all of that.
So now for the next BIG question. And this is super important...
If we are the ones controlling what influences our children, who is controlling what influences us? WHO influences US?
…The answer to this question is the most important, for it steers and directs our paths and the paths we put in place for our children.
Ponder the answer you think is right, and then think about the answer that is perhaps the real truth in your life...and then listen to this song. It is so encouraging and a great reminder of the opportunity we have daily to opt for the BEST influencer.
With love & laughter,
I’ve been trying to focus my thoughts and really think about what God would have me share with y’all…and there’s just so much good He’s doing in my heart, mind, and spirit lately that I just figured I’d share that.
Now, this "good" I’m talking about isn’t what you might think. Life isn’t going perfectly... and it never will, so let’s just put that out there… but I’m just getting a clearer picture of who I am apart from God. The wretch that I am without the saving grace of Jesus.
“Ashley, that’s sounds awful!” …maybe, but isn’t it such a sweet place to be? Maybe you don’t know because you’ve never been there.
Several years ago I heard this saying and I don't know who said it or the exact words, but it was and is impactful…the better we think we look, the further we likely are from God…the messier we look, the closer we likely are to God.
When we pursue the world, when we look at our co-workers stats, our best friend’s marriage, the neighbor's house, a stranger's misbehaving kids, we usually start feeling a little better about ourselves. Maybe not always though. Sometimes we feel less than, and covet things, but when we want to feel better we usually look at others like “at least I'm not doing THAT, or like THEM,” and suddenly we feel inflated with a false sense of purpose, or status, or security.
See, when we pursue Christ, when we learn about who He is, the example He set through stories in the Bible, we realize that we aren’t great. We get a lot of things wrong on a daily basis. We only have Him to compare our lives to, and in order to ever love well we must have His love, forgiveness, and heart inside of us.
God has been drawing me closer to Him lately (isn’t He always?), but lately I have been really receptive to it. I’ve been ready to meet Him when He’s calling me and follow His leading. Why does it take us so long to do that? Why will I need to re-read this in a few weeks, months, a year, because I’ve since forgotten that He never leaves or forsakes me? It's because I’m fallen, imperfect, sinful… we all are, and we all struggle with this. But in this time of closeness and pursuit of the Father, I want to share what God is showing me.
I’m prideful. (I often call out in others what I wish I could change in myself.)
I have high standards for my kids. (But maybe they're a little too high sometimes.)
I’m prone to raise my voice. (There are time I over react too quickly.)
I’m Christ to my children. (But am I the best representation of Him? Not always.)
I need to memorize more scripture. (How can I instill in my children what I don’t know in my heart?)
My husband is not my enemy. (But sometimes I treat him like that.)
The word of the Lord is relevant. (The world’s gonna tell you otherwise…don’t listen.)
This time with my children is short. (But yet I put things before them…shame on me.)
…I can write all these truths to myself, and y’all, I know they're true, but I still fail at righting my wrongs. That’s why I’m so thankful for God’s grace and the gift and power of forgiveness.
In this sweet, but difficult time of growing closer to God, I am seeing how much of a mess I am, but it’s all good. Without Him I’d still be that hot mess, but not know of my need of sweet Jesus, the salvation that He offers, the gift of the cross, and the debt that I no longer have to pay.
So yes, it’s all good. Even though it looks and may sometimes seem all bad. And if you’re reading this and you’re confounded because you’ve never experienced this, please don’t think, “well, I must not be growing closer to God…maybe I’m not a Christian.” Don’t let those words penetrate your heart, unless they are the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Pray. Ask God to show you how He’d have you respond… Maybe it’s through re-direction down a path you're taking that you know isn't good. Maybe it’s taking time to sit with Him and just open His word and read it. Just His word. Or maybe it’s reaching out to me. Ha, I don't know what God could be up to, but I know I’m just sharing my heart! Please leave a comment or shoot me an email if you feel like you’re in a spot and you just need someone to listen… to talk to…to receive prayer from.
You never know, God may be on the verge of wrecking your world in the best way possible. It may not be pretty, but man is it gonna be good!
With love & laughter,
DISCLAIMER: While typing this, my 2.5 year old had two pee accidents one of which I think he did just so he could get ANOTHER bath, and the third accident involved another stinkier substance…in the hallway. The Lord wants to know if I can live out what I blog. I hear you Lord. You’re funny…but it’s all good.
For years I overlooked and undervalued the wisdom and teaching of the Old Testament. The post below is something I wrote back in November 2016 and shared on my personal blog. I wanted to share it with all of you too, because I think it's important...
The phrase, "nothing new under the sun," from Ecclesiastes came to mind this morning as I was reading through Judges. Also the idea of perpetual or repeated sin...
I look around at everything these days... media, my community, our nation, humanity and think, "Could it get any worse? Is this the worst it's ever been?"
I mean really! Should I be prepared for more?
...Then I read Judges 2 this morning, about the Israelites forgetting their miracle working God, and a new generation coming up not really knowing or even believing in Him at all. Sound familiar? Then, the Israelites start turning to their own ways. Idol worship (remember that can be anything put before God and also literal other man-made objects), following foreign gods (and these aren't like out-of-towners, these are false deities), and practicing rituals of sacrifice, sacred prostitution, etc.
hmm... yea that sounds pretty bad to me.
But then I look at where we are today. Have we learned anything from them? I mean really. Do Christians even know these Old Testament stories about the Israelites? I didn't. Not really.
I've chosen (and the Lord has pushed me) over the past two years to read through the Bible book by book, and in two years I am only in Judges, but the Lord has been TEACHING ME. Really teaching me.
Reading some (a lot) of it has felt like spending 40 years in the wilderness myself...the repetition in phrasing, the reminders of who God is, the pillars or monuments setup to remind Israel of their miracle working God...it all seemed SO redundant. I even asked God, why? Why so much of the same? I get it already! Don't they get it already?
...Until I got to the end of Deuteronomy, and read through Joshua, and into Judges. Guess what? Guess what the Israelites did? After older generations died, the miracle-seeing generations died, and the new generations came through...guess what happened? They didn't remember. They didn't "keep these things" which the Lord commanded, or taught, or showed them, time and time again...
So then I sat back and thought... this! This is why, Lord, you repeated yourself. Why you told them time and time again. Why you provided the 10 commandments. Why you specifically instructed them on entering the Promised Land. Why you told them to annihilate wicked cities. Why you wanted them to rid themselves of ALL those people. Not just the ones that looked mean...all of them... those people didn't know You, and You knew they would influence and blind the Israelites. You knew those people would cause them to stumble, fall into temptations, and FORGET You.
But as I read in Judges 2 this morning, you sent an angel (pre-incarnate Jesus) to remind them of Your faithfulness to them. To remind them of their deliverance out of Egypt, the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. And to remind them that You will never break Your covenant with them (Judges 2:1)...but because of their, the Israelites, disobedience to You, they would forfeit, throw away blessings, and even trade them for troubles.
Why? Because they forgot!
Lord, I didn't know for the longest time why I should even read the Old Testament. I didn't see its relevance to me, to our generation...I was so mistaken. I needed to read it to learn, so that I could remember Your goodness and faithfulness to Israel...I am not an Israelite, but, man, I sure look a lot like them. I sure act a lot like them. But my prayer this morning is that I don't keep forgetting like them. Like they did. My prayer is for the generation of my children to know You and remember You because of what You alone have used the Israelites to teach me. So that I might help them to not forget...so that no one may ever look back and say of my children and their generation, "they forgot."
With love & laughter,
Over the last few months I’ve had several people look at me with all three of my kids and say, “man you’re in the trenches right now!” or “I remember those days-surviving the trenches!”
My first thought was like, my life doesn't feel very “trench” like?! Should I hate where I am in life right now? Should I be more exhausted? Are my kids being crazy? AM I CRAZY?…it didn’t feel that way.
But then each week it seemed I’d find myself dealing with more and more stress… my 2 1/2 year old started displaying new and undesirable behaviors. My 6 month old became more sick and more clingy. My 5 1/2 year old became even more argumentative than normal. What was happening? uh-oh…the dreaded trenches.
My inner monologue started rolling..ok THESE are the trenches they were talking about. I guess I’ll just have to do my best to survive each day…get through each moment. I know it’s not fun right now, but it’s only a season. I can’t enjoy playing with this child or that one, because of what this one or that one is doing. I’ll find time later. This is ONLY a season.
Ok let’s STOP. Let’s stop right there. All of the above are thoughts we have all had- I am sure of it! And we have all said or been told that whatever current difficulty we are going through is just a season we will “get through.” Well, guess what? That whole sentiment has been super convicting to me lately. Let me tell you why…
Life is hard.
Mom-ing is hard.
Wife-ing is hard.
Friend-ing is hard.
Work-ing is hard.
Love-ing is hard.
Change-ing is hard.
But they’re also all very rewarding.
If we get caught up in the middle of “getting through” any of them, we risk missing out on the JOY in every single one of them. Especially mom-ing.
And calling everything a season seems a little like a copout… Life is full of seasons. Like literally and figuratively… but I don’t want to just get through each season of my life. I don’t want to just survive the trenches. How about we stop referring to periods of life as seasons or trenches and just call it life. Cause I mean, that’s what it is…and when I think about my life... well, I don’t just wanna “get through” that.
I want to live my life…
I want to grow in my life…
I want to remember my life…
I want to experience my life …
I want to find JOY in each and every moment of my life.
I’m just not too sure that viewing a period of your life as a trench, season, or something to “get through” accomplishes that.
We all, especially us mamas, have to be so intentional. We have to guard our hearts. We can’t let what the world says be the loudest voice we hear. We have to intently listen for that still, small, yet true voice of the Father. What does He want you to learn, experience, or remember in this moment (difficult as it may be)? Cause, I’m telling you…that’s where the joy is.
There is joy to be found in all of the good and in all of the not so good that comes with being a mama. Whether your children are little or grownup, there is still so much joy to be had. We just have to put off more of ourselves and put on more of Christ. His love, grace, and mercy will help us find the joy we desire.
So for me, for this mama... I want to stop the trench-living and “getting through” seasons. Life will always have obstacles to overcome, and I surely don’t want to miss out on the joy because I’m too busy trying to get through the course.
How bout it, mamas...will you join me?
With love & laughter,
Ok… you might be a mom to littles if your first thought was Frozen! Am I right? That was mine!
But seriously- today in my quiet time it was coronation day! Saul’s coronation...
I have been reading through 1 Samuel for the last couple of weeks and it has been great. I have previously heard several of the stories, but to read it as a collective book has been so impactful!
Quick history lesson: Samuel was a prophet and the son of Hannah and Elkanah. Hannah is the woman who was barren and prayed and asked the Lord to bless her with a son whom she would then give back to the Lord. I am sure there are women reading this now who have either prayed a prayer similar to Hannah’s or know someone who has. It was a powerful prayer because it was done in complete humility. She could not have children and acknowledged her need for God to intervene. She prayed, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of my life…”
Two things: 1) she refers to herself repeatedly as a maidservant to show her humility and dependence on God and 2) she asks specifically (we need to pray more specifically) for a MALE to perpetuate the name of her husband.
Fast forward- God answers her prayer, and boom there’s Samuel! …And then Hannah had additional children after that as well, because God does things BIG.
Ok-back to coronation day. In Samuel’s day up until this point there had been judges who upheld the law and prophets who were regarded very highly as they were given direct words from God. But guess what? The Israelites were over it. They were over judges. They wanted a king. Why did they want a king? Because eeeeeverybody else had one.
Now doesn't THAT sound familiar? They wanted something because everyone else had it. Here’s where I started my questioning cycle with the Lord…Are we still so much the same? Yes! We do the same thing. Our kids do the same thing. This WORLD does the same thing!
We want what everybody else has, because we think it will be sooo much better than what we currently have. For the Israelites, it was a king.
Now-something to understand… switching from judges to a king would COMPLETELY change their form of government. Completely. Did they know that? Yep! In 1 Samuel 8, Samuel even says to them, ok you want a king? It’s gonna be crazy, and you’re gonna be dealing with a whole new system. Your best will now be HIS (the king’s) best. Your best food, animals, property, men, women, etc. So you still want a king?
….yep! (insert eye roll)
THESE PEOPLE! They were even warned and yet, there they were singing the “give us a king” song all day long.
…but there was more to it than that. See, they already had a king. The Lord, the God of Israel who brought them out of Egypt, He was their king. But they didn’t get that. They wanted a king who they could see, hear, smell, touch…they weren't satisfied with the King of all Kings, nope. They needed a man.
Again- doesn’t this sound so familiar? We do that same thing. We as Christians have access and direct communication to the source of all things and yet, often times, it’s not enough. Ouch! As I type that it hurts me to even think we are (I am) like that, but we are (I am). Forgive us, Father. Help us to not want our own way so badly that we seek the things and the people who will fail us and fade away.
OK- fast forward a bit more and we have Saul who God told Samuel to appoint as king. Samuel tells Saul and it’s finally coronation day! You would think that Samuel would give this elaborate, special speech to send Saul off into his kingship, but instead, he addresses (reprimands) Israel one more time. Samuel reminds them of their history and all the Lord has done for them and the ways in which they have been wicked, even in desiring this king. Saul is literally becoming king and Samuel is declaring it a form of rebellion against God! He is insuring the Israelites that if they and their king serve and obey the Lord, they will find favor. But if they turn to their own ways, His hand will be against them. Seems like a basic concept, right? …it is! But how many times had they been told this same story? Sheesh. Lots. Samuel closes by telling them that he will continue to pray for them and teach them the way that is right.
So overall- there are a few things that come to mind at the close of this coronation:
Like I said, this story could preeeeetty much be taken out and put into today’s society and measure up pretty well. We still do so much of this today. Especially in politics. (yikes!) We live in a world that is rejecting the one true God and following after other “gods” or idols much like in Samuel’s day. So if we are like the Israelite people in desiring things we don’t really need and then begging and promising to do whatever is required in order to get what we want but don’t really need…who are the Samuels? Are you a Samuel? Are you sold out to obedience, speaking truth, and praying for those who make unwise decisions? It’s an interesting thought. It’s an important thought. Cause guess what? God’s grace and mercy are still the same and they’re still available to all people, but not all people know that. We, as Samuels, can be the speakers of truth, the examples of obedience, and the extension of God’s grace to those who need it most. Think about it!
With love & laughter,
This is my time.
Ava has just been picked up from school.
Levi just woke up and is yelling from his crib that he needs his whistle.
Leland is playing solo in the living room while cartoons can be heard in the background.
This is my time.
I sit here and I commit these minutes to the Lord to help me to focus in on His word, to help my heart be opened to his teaching, and to let my mind meditate in these moments.
Meanwhile the stirrings of chaos ensue in the background.
Yet, I dare not get up from my seat. I know that once I rise and leave my time with Him, the day starts and the likelihood of it stalling enough to meet again decreases.
This is my time.
Will it be the same tomorrow? No. But right now, this is it.
I used to feel guilted into meeting with the Father daily at the same time. Maybe when I was younger I should’ve felt some of that because I had my priorities out of order.
But now, in this season, I want to meet with Him. I long to hear from Him and be taught more of who He is, so that by it I can discover more of who I am meant to be. But in this season…this season of odd hours in the night, and managing young children, and working part time jobs, my time with Him looks a little different every day. Even still, I don’t miss my meeting with Him. I look forward to it.
And today, this morning, before my day starts, this is my time.
Never take for granted free time you have to meet with Him. If you can schedule it every morning, afternoon, or night and stay consistent with that, I applaud you! I think that it is important. I just can’t right now. However, I can consistently change my time with Him, but that’s about as consistent as I get.
The enemy would love for you to feel defeated in this area. Especially you, sweet mama. The one who is multitasking, perhaps the most! Don’t let him have that victory. When you wake in the morning, pray that the Lord would show you the free time you have each day, and then utilize it.
I have started to do that, and guess what? I look forward to it! I look forward to the time I have to meet with Him. I look forward to breaks in my schedule because in that moment I think to myself, this is it…
This is my time.
With love & laughter,
Mom 2 Mom
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