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
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,
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,
With all that has been going on in our country this last week, I have had no words…and y'all, I typically always have some words. I’ve just been observing how divided people are, and how angry they have become with each other. So much hate and anger that it leaves me confounded. Don’t get me wrong I know the reasons people are taking various sides and stand points, but I don’t understand the anger behind it. More is accomplished in love and in union than hate, anger, or separation could ever bring about.
But then a friend of mine in a brief conversation pointed me back to God’s word. So I started thinking through scripture and asked God to give me words. What can I talk about? Where can I draw similarities and differences in what I am seeing today with what happened in Biblical times?
…and guess what came to mind? The Battle of Jericho. Our media has been so saturated with the election and with the women’s march that occurred several days ago. I suppose that when I think of a march, I think of Jericho. I am in no way saying that the two are alike, but I just want to dive in and take a deeper look at the march in Jericho. It was a successful march. Why? Because God told them to do it, and he told them exactly what to do.
Joshua and the Israelite people didn’t come up with this plan. They didn't come up with an attack. They didn't organize this march. But they were OBEDIENT to what God told them to do. Did it make sense? No. Did it look like it would work? No. Do you even remember exactly what God told Joshua to tell his men? Probably not, at least not all of the details. Why? Because it wasn't this strategic plan of attack! It wasn’t exciting. Let’s take a closer look…
Below I have listed the things that God told Joshua to do in Joshua 6:2-5.
This was a plan completely devised by God. This plan may have seemed a bit silly, perhaps even unsophisticated, because it’s not how we, humans, would have devised it. Sometimes I think God does things in such ways that seem futile to us, to prove our trust in Him. He always comes through for us. He does what He says He will do, and sometimes, such as in Jericho, He includes us in the process. He gives us an opportunity to be a part of something spectacular and greater than ourselves. Something we could not even devise let alone accomplish without His power. It isn’t just faith alone that God required of Joshua and the Israelites; He also required works. This is what SHAPES us. We yield to the teaching and provision of God, it proves true, impactful, life-changing, and we then learn from it and are shaped by it.
So another question that I had as I was studying the scripture is why? Why did they march? Yes, God told them to, but why? If you’ve studied the Old Testament at all then you know that Joshua took over leadership after Moses and led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Israelites in their attempt to enter in and take for themselves the Promised Land which God had promised them. Again…why? Because God had promised them something, and as I said before, and as we know, God comes through on His word. He was leading them to the land but their obedience was still required. Do you think the Israelites were worried or fearful? Without a doubt, I am sure that they were. It’s our human nature to worry about things. But guess who was also fearful? The people of Jericho. They knew of the God who led the Israelites out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea. What was the difference between the two different groups of fear? The promise of victory before the battle was even waged!
Even before God shared His plan with Joshua, what did He do? He declared them victorious. “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.’” Joshua 6:2 …Huh? They hadn’t even gone to battle with them!…But isn’t that just like our redemption story? God sent Christ to save us a long time ago. The victory is already ours! He overcame sin and death on the cross!
So what does that mean for us? Do we just sit back and relish in that victory? No. We do what Joshua did and we follow the plan laid out before us by our Father. How do we know what that plan is? We know His plan by immersing ourselves daily in His word.
…and just to be clear, there isn't a tab titled “Plans” that you can thumb to in your Bible, where you’ll find a bulleted list of what you need to do in your life and in all of your decision making. Ha! Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, as we read the Lord’s word, learn His heart for people, for kingdom, for how we should make the best use of our time and resources, we learn what it is to be diligent and walk in obedience. This brings clarity to the decisions we make which helps navigate our paths.
“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
When things in your life, in this nation, and in this world aren’t going the way you think they should, be sure that your thoughts are Holy, set apart. Be sure that they come from your God of victory and not a god of defeat. He will inspire His people, and He will devise a plan in the promise of victory, when we march in obedience according to His word.
With love & laughter,
I’m sure when you read that you probably thought it was a typo. Perhaps your mind autocorrected to “God is good all the time.”
I was scrolling through Facebook the other morning and misread a post because the font was some swirly-twirly kind of font. When I read it I saw “God is God,” which isn't at all what it said, but it made me stop and think.
God is God ALL of the time.
All of it. Not just when things go our way, and certainly not just when everything looks good. So is God good all the time? YES. He is good in ways that are often times difficult for us to understand, and even worse, sometimes they're painful. But, what we must not forget is that He is still God all the time. In every situation.
I’m not just talking about situations of life and death, marital problems, addiction, or world poverty…Those are major issues where we often look to God for help, but He was already there and He was already God before any of that existed or became a problem.
God is God all the time...in the moment to moment situations of each day.
In the good and in the bad.
In the rescue and in the loss.
In the law and in the redemption
In the grace and in the mercy.
In the consequence and in the discipline.
God is God all the time.
When you need Him and when you “think” you don’t.
When He feels near and when He feels far.
When you succeed and when you fail.
When you rejoice and when you mourn.
When you love and when you hate.
When the sun rises and when it sets.
God is God all the time.
Each day as I spend time alone with God in study or in prayer, there is a reverence, or deep respect, that comes over me… but there are also a lot of questions. God, why did You do that? Why were those people punished? Why don’t they listen? When will You show me? How can I help change this? What should I do? What did Jesus do? Why did He do that? How will I learn? Are we any different? Are we so much the same? The questions just pour out of me. BUT, and this is important, …even when I don’t understand, even when it makes no sense, even when I can’t believe it, He is still who He always said He was.
He is holy, set apart, free of guilt or sin, all powerful, all knowing, always with us, always for us… HE IS GOD. In all the ways I want to understand everything, I am not meant to. But one thing I have to trust and believe is that He is over it all. He is God all of the time.
God as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.” If this is who He is, creator, ruler, sustainer, then, guess what? He knows all and is present in the midst of it all, ALL of the time. We just tend to forget that.
God is God when the sink literally cannot hold another dish.
…when we haven't slept in days.
…when we are drinking our third cup of coffee (or are on our third attempt at reheating and drinking it).
…when potty training is a nightmare. (Literally, am I asleep right now as I’m typing this? Wake me up!!)
…when the refrigerator looks like a mix of the barren lands and your child’s science experiment.
…when work has called you for the third time this evening, and you just left the office 30 minutes ago.
…when you remember you don’t have a nanny, and your 5 year old can’t (and shouldn’t) cook you dinner.
…when you sit down to read your Bible and you fall asleep (straight to snoozeville).
…when your best friend’s life is 100% more put together than yours (or so it appears).
…when you haven't had a second of time with your husband in what seems like weeks (at least not the kind of time with meaningful conversation that reminds you why you married this man and procreated all these little tiny humans that eat up every other second of the day.)
So what does that mean? It means He cares.
If He created us, He knows us. He knows our needs as mothers, spouses, and as His daughters. Even when we don’t see or feel His goodness, He is still God. Which means His word doesn’t return void (even though we often run on empty), that He is for us (even though our children obviously are not), that He is near (even though bedtime isn’t), that He pursues us (even, and this is touchy, when it seems our husbands won’t), and that He is infinite (which is usually how our laundry feels).
He is God all of the time. We must not forget, overlook, or undervalue that very important yet simple statement. And if He is God, then He can handle it. Whatever it is that stood out to you as you read this. Whatever He brought to your mind in this moment. He can handle it. So give it over to Him, and let Him take and keep it for you…but if it’s dark chocolate, well you can just give that over to me.
With love & laughter,
Mom 2 Mom
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