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.
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,
Last week Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the entire southeastern coast of the U.S. shared a common bond. We were all experiencing one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the area. Winds blew like trains passing and water raged totally non-threatened by seawalls, sand dunes or dams. As the often taken for granted electricity put city by city into creepy black darkness, I think I could speak for the majority saying that we knew only an act of God could turn this monster storm away. The news (when we could get it) reported of devastation after devastation but let me relay a different side of things - a side which doesn't always make the front pages.
We are in a season where we hear bashing remarks about and from politicians on a daily basis. It's often ugly and incredibly inappropriate. Everything in the media's reporting on hurricane Matthew last week was dismal as well. That is, until South Carolina's highest ranking official, our governor, took the podium just before the hurricane hit our coastline. Somewhat surprised by the act but extremely grateful at the same time, I heard our governor ask for a prayer of protection to be sent to our Heavenly Father. It wasn't a moment of silence and it wasn't just a reference asking God to be with us. This prayer was also not flowery and self serving as to say "Hey, look at me and notice how spiritual I am". The prayer that day didn't show hesitancy with thoughts of what might be politically correct or incorrect. The words were words of genuineness and smallness, true concern and compassion. There have been little to no backlashes of "they shouldn't mix church and state". The feelings and comments seem to have been of thankfulness in publicly calling in a higher power. These leaders knew they would need help and wisdom. Hurricane Matthew was bigger that any human being and the southeastern coast knew that. Believe me when I say I'm not endorsing or putting anyone on a pedestal. I certainly don't intend to appear to do so. What I am doing is noting that we as a nation seem to innately know that when things are at their bleakest there is only one place to turn. So why does our nation at other times seem to push that knowledge away?
On a more local scale, I want to relay some of the kindness I saw and experienced personally. I know there were SO very many random acts of kindness but these were just some I saw.
One young mom posted that her home would be open for a simple meal of tacos to those who she knew did not have electricity in town.
One church in town threw a free four hour post hurricane party for children. The party included pizza, games, hanging out with friends and also a service project... A SERVICE PROJECT! 1 Peter 4:10 says "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." What a great thing to teach these children as they also provided time for them to get their wiggles out! Another group of moms organized a play date at a park for mother's of preschoolers and their children.
Personally, I posted that I was looking for a generator to borrow from someone who might have already gotten their power back. Within the hour, I had one. Then I posted a question inquiring if anyone had seen ice for sale in town (without electricity it's difficult to keep food fresh, right?). There were people who offered ice from their own commercial ice machines, one offer came from a staff member who said I could fill up coolers from the church kitchen supply, three people offered extra bags of ice they had in their own freezers or coolers, one not only offered the ice she had in her refrigerator ice maker but also a warm shower and s'mores around the fire pit! All these wonderful servant hearts went above and beyond. What would our country be like if all our nation's leaders prayed publicly and privately for help and wisdom while asking for prayers from others to do the same? What if we also prayed daily for our leaders? What if we all had servants hearts not only in times of extreme stress and need but every day? What if....
Walking the road with you,
My whole life I have been an “I can do it myself person” I don’t need ….. (Need to me has always been a 4 letter word) Maybe it's because I was a single career women or lived by myself for 11 before marriage. But through the last almost 7 years of marriage –I have gotten better at it. I still don’t like the word NEED.
Recently on a trip to Chicago, a friend had recommended I read the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown (which is amazing and I highly recommend it) Much of the beginning is about being vulnerable and opening up and asking others for help. I distinctly remember –thinking yeah well not me – I can manage just fine on my own.
Also not well thought out for this trip was that I was still nursing Sam Henry and would be gone from him for almost 3 full days. For some insane reason, I decided I needed the break and the rest and took NO and I am mean NO, breastfeeding supplies. Not one pump, not one bottle, not a nursing bra –nothing. I packed like I could just pretend for 3 full days that my body wasn’t continually making milk for a 20 lb. baby -like my body would just forget to make milk!
By the first break from the conference, after I had last fed the fat baby almost 24 hours before, I realized I was in big trouble. Not just -I might leak through my shirt and be embarrassed trouble but a - I am going to be in serious pain –not make it through –starting to run fever trouble. Let me be clear. I am not a total idiot. I usually can make it through a day or even longer without pumping or feeding with nary a twinge. I am not a big milk machine.
I firmly believe God was testing me- so you don’t think you need anyone, you think you can manage this all on your own, well, let’s see about that. Also to complicate matters, I was in Chicago with no transportation besides a timed bus route to my hotel and back to Willow Creek. And I wasn’t in downtown Chicago where I could pop out and find a CVS. The campus of Willow Creek is in a suburb and sits back several miles from the main drag.
At that break, I sat on this beautiful stone edge of a fountain while everyone milled around and made phone calls and I tried not to cry (crying, while I have done a lot lately, is also something on my list that I am not a fan of). I looked around at all the wonderful staff standing about waiting to be helpful and literally felt God push me off that ledge toward a wonderful woman named Karen. I started off saying, "I am a nursing mama..." and before I could say more she ushered me into this beautiful room with soft rockers and dim lighting and told me I could use it as much as I needed.
Here is where I broke down and confessed my stupidity – "Yes, I am nursing mama and I didn’t bring a thing and I don’t know how to go anywhere and I don’t know what to do next". Karen with a bright welcoming smile asked, “What do you need?” I muttered, "I guess a ride to a store". She asked again, “No what supplies do you need?” As I told her what I thought I would need to get by for the few days.. hand pump, bottles, Advil, etc... She hugged me hard and said, "I will text you when I return". I went back to my conference AMAZED. She helped me with not one eye roll, not an ounce of condemnation, no "well that was dumb planning on your part", no "let me call you a cab", just a simple “What do you need?”
Less than an hour later, I returned to that beautifully appointed nursing mother’s room with a tidy gift bag with a hand pump, bottle, Advil and water. She wouldn’t even let me pay her. I have never been so grateful for another person’s kindness in my whole life. Her actions completely changed my entire trip.
In telling that story to a friend when I got back –still in amazement of her actions, her kindness and her gift- my friend said, “You would have done the same thing. Why were you so scared to ask?” She is right. When we are called upon as women we step up, we are there for each other, we drop what we are doing and we do all we can to fix the situation. If I had been in Karen’s shoes, yes, I would have run to the store and helped a girl out. Why then, did it take everything inside of me to ask?
Why is that? Why are we so hesitate to be vulnerable and admit we (GASP) NEED help? Help for that one time we were let down, for that one time we were vulnerable and were hurt… it is going to happen. No, I am not advocating crying on everyone’s shoulder in the coffee shop but it’s time we are REAL with each other.
There is a new song I love that says (and I am paraphrasing), Things aren’t fine and I am not okay... Sometimes we need to find that one women or mama or friend that instead of saying “I am fine” (with that fake empty smile) we know we can say, "I am not okay, but here is one thing you can help me with that can make it better..."
Try it this week – I hope it makes a difference
Nancy Lee Zimpleman
On many mornings I’ve started waking up earlier and driving across town to walk in a great park our town has graciously provided. My mornings started out as a way to get healthier following a class my husband and I took together at our local YMCA. In this class I realized I truly wasn’t as “healthy” as I had convinced myself of. I believe the term they used was “skinny fat”. What! Talking about getting bowled over! However, if you know me, you also know I live by the old adage “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. Call it stubborn or call it pride but this “skinny fat” thing wasn’t going to describe me for long! So off to the walking paths and weight room I go!
I’ve been walking for awhile but the last 2 of 3 walk days were different. The end of last week I got news that I perceived as a light bulb moment. Something that has been a longtime fear appeared to be materializing into reality. Unfortunately, it is causing a deep hardening of my heart. Another blow to an already tough situation had me flat on my face before the Lord. The sudden realization of its implications caused a rolling thunderstorm of doubt, insecurities, and loss. The light bulb moment began taking its toll but as hard as it was in the moment, the Lord knew this point was actually the beginning of my looking back up to Him.
When my eyes opened on that particular morning three days ago, my first thought had been, “I need to go walk. I need to walk hard, fast and far! I need some serotonin flowing and I don’t need to stop until my mind is numbed to my thoughts!” Ever been there?
So there I went… one mile… two miles… three miles… then at the four mile mark I felt a strong pull to just stop and sit on the soccer bleachers to rest. I am not a spring chicken any more ya know!
The awesome thing is what I thought was going to be physical rest was actually a God orchestrated rest for my soul. Be still and know that I am God. The walk full of anxiety and worry and struggle became a quiet time filled with honest exchange of feelings. It became a time of my Heavenly Father holding my every tear. He understood. I felt His presence along with His strength. I felt my soul renew and the struggle begin to leave my body. He took some weight out of the bag I had been emotionally carrying and the relief felt good.
The sad thing was that two days later I allowed Satan to put that weight back in my baggage. I let my eyes drop off him once again and slowly drift toward my insecurities. So I am back on the track again. Yep, that fast, hard, long exercise moved back on the agenda and it may from time to time often pop its head up.
As I now am again walking, I remember a quote from something I read just last night. The reading was something a good friend and I vowed to read together this week. We did this once before and it was such a blessing we decided to do it again. The book, The Shack, is about handing over our burdens and the difficult journey to expect in doing so. Good Christian friends like mine can help hold us accountable when we start to slip back down the slope of insecurities. It's a great partnership to consider.
The quote in this fictional story that has helped me more than once turn things around is “When things are difficult, each time we choose to love, or make a decision based on God’s will not ours, or pray or speak truth, etc., we put another building block in the bridge of healing that will eventually allow us to walk across to the other side – the side of complete peace and joy in the situation”.
After I was reminded of that quote, something about my walk on the all too familiar paths of Patriot Park changed. The familiar steps took on new meaning. The landscape was speaking truth to me, the songs coming through my earbuds spoke more clearly. I began to sense Jesus walking beside me clearly raising my awareness to that. Then the song “Jesus Calling” by 33 Miles came on and the lines “How you see your circumstance is all about a choice …. Do you hear that still small voice saying, it’s okay, you’re not alone, you may be scared to death but I won’t let you go. You may think the sky above is falling, but can you hear Jesus calling? Cause the darker the night, the brighter he can shine…”
Those words spoke so loudly to me. The book quote, the words in the song… they were deafening. As I was about on emotional overload, I rounded a corner on the path I was on and saw this sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.
I felt I was being asked to make a decision... was I going to allow Satan to fill me with worry and insecurities or was I going to let Jesus guide my steps to the right path for me in this situation? Easiest thing... wallow in my hurt and feel sorry for myself. More difficult path... opened up in what I saw around the next corner in my walk...
My Heavenly Father truly has to get concrete and literal with me in order to get his point across so please bear with me.
There it was... the bridge illustration William Young used for his character in the book when God told him, "one building block in the bridge at a time". How about that timing! I had walked this path a hundred times and never thought anything about that old metal bridge except that I'm glad it gets me back to the shady side of the pathway! This time though it reiterated about the way to get to where I wanted to be... one intentional choice at a time.
I suspect I may allow a block to fall back into that water every so often when I'm trying to rebuild my bridge. I may even take back one or two of those blocks at some time along the way. However, if I don't start at some point moving forward, I will be assured to never reach the other side, the place where I desire to be.
God truly never designed or intended our bodies to carry all the worry and heavy loads that result from our human shortcomings. That's why our bodies and our emotions wear down so frequently.
So my journey begins here today. I'm unloading my first block and I'm beginning the foundation for my bridge. There may be points in the construction of my bridge in which I feel I can't rivet even one more piece of metal by myself. I may begin to feel the steel is too thin and heavily dependent on another person's desires or reactions. It's then that I will have to remind myself not to worry about or dwell on the actions of others. I'll have to ask my friend to hold me accountable at that point and encourage me to keep connecting each of my pieces on the bridge. At the same time, I will need her encouragement to continue taking the blocks out of my baggage one by one as I rely on my Father's strength. The path he will lead me on will ALWAYS be the right one and the only one for my soul to rest on.
Always walking the road with you,
Greg and I have been blessed with the most precious little granddaughter. She is developing quite the personality and has her own ideas about almost everything. She is involved so deeply in play most of the time that its impossible to get her to notice who is in the room. She lines up her babies and let me see...there's Allison, Minnie Mouse and, oh yes, we can't forget Bar-B-Q (I think I used to call a similar doll Barbie). Our little Harper is funny and her own unique little person but she is and will always be pure joy in our hearts.
As I remember times gone by with her I smile, yet, I can get deeply melancholy too. You see, my son and his family live in Colorado and we seldom get to see them in the flesh. I do thank God for our once a week Facetime dates though! Memories and the Iphone screen will just have to sustain us for now. I'm sure many of you grandparents can relate to that situation... not ideal but reality none the less.
As I quietly reminisce about staying with her while they were still in Charleston, I realized that as cute as she was there was still a strong-willed little person behind that precious face. I remember changing a diaper through the twists and contortions that a nearly one year old could make proved to be quite a feat. She would want the toy she saw in the distance, then she would want the photos that were above her on the wall, then she would just get exacerbated and want me to be finished!
Truth be told, I wanted to be finished too. I never liked to see her unhappy and she would get that way fast! If she could have only realized that being still meant we would have been done in a flash. All of this thrashing about only prolonged the inevitable! We were going to change that stinky diaper one way or another. After all what’s the alternative? Well, she could stay in the mess, get diaper rash, have mom and dad question my adeptness at taking care of their precious baby girl. (Not a chance that I would let that happen! I wanted to continue babysitting!) So with a forearm against her chest, a leg braced against the furniture, and my tongue hanging out I remembered we would finally close the last tab on the Pamper. (Well, maybe I exaggerated a little but you get the picture.)
Do you think God ever feels that way about us? Does He ever look down on us from that place of authority and love and say “Girl, what are you doing! You are looking at the short term uncomfortable situation and resisting at every turn. Don’t you realize I know the plan? Don’t you realize if you don’t go through this inconvenient and difficult time now you won’t see the joy I have for you later? Trust me, I know best for you in this moment. I’m only allowing it because I know the end result. I’m allowing it because I love you. Yes, that’s right. The loan falling through for that new car is to teach you contentment doesn’t come through ‘stuff’. Trouble in your marriage is because I want you to pull close to me in your pain. The cancer diagnosis, although I did not bring it to you will teach you compassion and wisdom for others in similar situations as yours. The wayward teenager can show no matter how perfectly you think YOU parent them, outside forces are still at work in the world. Yet nothing happens without my full knowledge of it. I knew all of this would happen. I even knew you would fight against me as I tried to guide you through it with the best of parental intentions. I knew you wouldn’t understand right away but I took that chance. I took the chance that you might turn away from me. I took the chance you would say you didn’t love me anymore. I took the chance because as much as that would hurt me, seeing you miss out on the molding and pruning and growth would hurt me more. I’ll wait until you stop thrashing. I’ll wait so I can pick up the broken pieces and put you back together stronger in ME than you have ever been. I’ll just wait….”
I hate to admit that frequently when I am in the middle of struggles and hurts, I’m like little Harper just tensing my neck and thrashing about trying to get out of the situation all by myself. I become like a viper ready to attack. That's an ugly picture but it's true. It’s hard to see that through the anger, hurt, and pain that my Father stands close by patiently waiting for me to relax my muscles and give up the fight. But goodness, if I could see that sooner I would sure sail around some heartache instead of right through the middle! That’s not what He wants though. He wants growth from us. He wants growth toward trusting a Father who would never let us fall without being there to hold us and guide us when we finally looked up… when we realized the last diaper tab has been fastened and the difficulty was over. He wants us to realize that we have traveled through the hard stuff and am better for having faced it hand-in-hand with our Father.
Traveling the road with you,
If you saw me on a day to day basis, you might not notice or realize that I struggle with anxiety and worry. Some of it is exasperated by sleep deprivation and hormones (as I have been pregnant or nursing or both for almost 4 years or 3 years and 7 months and 20 days but who is counting…)
Several passages have come into my life lately to draw my attention to what God wants me to focus on. He wants me to focus on the moment he has in front of me NOW not the what ifs that might happen later. He does not want me to focus on the long list of tasks to do ahead or the future that is not promised as I tend to do.
Joseph had a tough life. He was sold into slavery, lied about, cheated and even put into jail unfairly but he eventually was very successful. Joseph’s eventual success came from his faith in the Lord to do his divine will and he invested himself fully. He understood that some of his situations were out of his control and he entrusted God fully to bring good to his life. Joseph couldn’t see how God could work out all that was going on in his life –from his trials to his successes- but he worked at the task of the moment and trusted God to the big picture.
After thinking about Joseph and his focus on the present, I picked up the book Jesus Calling only to read this: To find joy in today you must live within its boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments. I understand human frailty and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant life in my presence today. (*)
As women we are often multi-tasking several projects at once and there are times that it is necessary. I encourage you though to take time today –even 30 minutes- to focus on one thing you enjoy even if it is work. Notice how much better you feel after spending 30 minutes blowing bubbles with a little one and not looking at Facebook or checking email while you do it. Notice if the work product is better when you spend these 30 minutes doing that one thing instead of doing 4 other things and being on the phone too. Spend 30 minutes in a calm place seeking God, asking for his guidance, rest at his feet. LIVE really LIVE within His boundaries of today.
Worry and anxiety can steal your joy but God reminds us to take one day at a time – even one hour at a time. Focus on what is most important in that time and realize that everything does not need to be done going forward.
Matthew 6:33-34 says: But seek you first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-Nancy Lee Zimpleman
(Excerpt from Jesus Calling, April 11).
Thanks Nancy Lee! We certainly needed this reminder today!
I just read an article for church leaders about the time following Easter. What does the day after Easter look like? Are the leaders comparing numbers with other churches? Are they following through on what happened yesterday? Or are they going back to business as usual? Even though I’m no longer on staff with a church and didn’t have countless numbers of services to attend this past weekend and thousands to serve, this final question bounced around in my heart. Am I rushing off to what’s next or am I allowing myself to sit in awe of what yesterday signified?
Almost 2000 years ago, the God of the universe rose from the dead bringing freedom, everlasting life, and forgiveness of sins to all who believe. How did I get here? How am I so blessed to receive the unbelievable blessings that He brought to His children through His death and resurrection? It started a chain of memories that led me back to the beginning of my relationship with Him. I thought I’d share it with you and I’d love to hear your story as well!
I was blessed to be raised in a household led by parents who loved Jesus…and I don’t mean they checked the box. I mean that I saw them spend time with Him daily. I saw them live out His commands and I saw them live in a community that provided support, accountability, and lived lives apart from the world…yet in it with their love. Now my childhood wasn’t perfect (whose was?), but it was a pretty good start to a life that has had its ups and downs!
I remember sitting at the kitchen table one morning wrapping my Grandpa’s birthday jar of peanuts and asking Mom if I could ask Jesus into my heart. I think I was 6? To me, the decision was already made. It was a given. I knew Jesus because of how my parents, grandparents, and Sunday School teachers interacted with Him and with me. I knew as much about Him as a young child could. And I’ve continued to learn more and more about Him.
He has been faithful to walk through everything with me – from difficult times at home to my first mission trip to working over a decade for the local church. He’s never strayed or proven Himself to be anything but worthy of my worship. Have there been times when I’ve faltered? When I’ve questioned His goodness? When I’ve felt like He walked away? Unfortunately I have felt all of these and more…but looking back, it was always on my side of things. Sometimes, it was simply not understanding what His goodness really means. At times, I gradually drifted and didn’t always realize it until I was farther away than I wanted to ever be from Him. But He is faithful…even when I am not!
That is my attribute to share with others, I think. I believe that our lives are woven by the Lord into a beautiful tapestry. Corrie ten Boom talked about how when we look from our side of the tapestry, it looks messy and there’s no significant pattern, but when God looks at it, He sees a beautiful masterpiece. I think He also weaves Himself throughout our patterns – a golden thread in the midst of our muted colors. This golden thread is a particular attribute of God that He wants to showcase in each of our lives. I believe my golden thread is God’s faithfulness. Over and over in my life, His faithfulness is so evident and shines out from my crazy life. What is your “golden thread”?
So don’t rush off from the incredible freedom, love, forgiveness, and more that is yours in Christ because of Good Friday and Easter. Take time to sit in His presence and thank Him for the fact that you have a story because of His goodness. If you haven’t started your story with Him yet, it’s the perfect time! Then take time to share with someone what God has done in your life. I know I’d love to hear about it!
Thank you, Mel, for sharing with Parking Space Faith. Your commitment is unfailing and your transparency and desire to allow God to lead your life inspires us all. Godspeed on the journey ahead. We will be following as He weaves His golden thread deeper into your tapestry of your life!
"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the
way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone (or
even on the toilet) and ask to be taken somewhere. Inside I'm thinking,
'Can't you see I'm busy?' Obviously, not. No one can see if I'm on the
phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in
the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The
invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can
you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a
clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What
number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a taxi to order,'Right around 5:30,
please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books
and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum
laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be
seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
friend from England.
Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on
and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking
around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare
and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when
Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I
brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I
wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her
inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what
you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would
discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after
which I could pattern my work.
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of
their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they
would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no
credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that
the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the
cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny
bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why
are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be
covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman
replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was
almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see
the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No
act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've
baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a
great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a
disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my
own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As
one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see
finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The
writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever
be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to
sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend
he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at
4:00 in the morning and bakes homemade pies. Then she hand bastes a
turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That
would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him
to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his
friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are
building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.
And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at
what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world
by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Great Job, MOM!
Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know... I just did. Hope this
encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does. We
never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our
(Found on Mamapedia)
I hope you have been encouraged by reading this. I know I was. It's so easy to get caught up in the self-pity of having our individual selves pushed to the back burner while we raise our children. It's also easy to find ourselves striving for "super mom"status by trying to surpass other moms in the "perfectness" category. As a mom of three children, two daughters-in-love, and one beautiful little grandaughter, who have already left not only the nest but live hundreds of miles away from that nest, I can attest to the fact that those daily chores done with perfection are NOT what you will want your children to remember decades from now. All that will matter is that they want to come back to a place they called home for 18 + years ... a place where their hearts can be at rest and where they know they can relive those "momma hug" moments that can not be felt anywhere else no matter how far they roam.
Walking the road with you,
This week I came across some characteristics for God’s idea of a virtuous woman. Each characteristic was referenced as to where it was found in scripture (although I did not include that here). What I wanted to include for you as wives and mothers, however, was the meat of what it said and how knowing these things can actually free us instead of burdening us. Here’s what I found: I realized upon reading the list that it did not mention that God expected us to be computer experts, it never said we had to organize the perfect “Pinterest inspired” birthday parties for our children, it never mentioned that the toilets in our homes had to be clean enough to eat off of, and it never even said we had to feel like making love to our husbands every night that he felt the urge. What it did allude to is that if we are women of God then all the aspects and requirements of us as wives and mothers will be natural things: things that happen because we carry within us the love for Christ and therefore the love for others. This is what the list said:
Faith - A Virtuous Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She seeks His will for her life and follows His ways.
Marriage- A Virtuous Woman respects her husband. She does him well all the days of her life. She is trustworthy and a helpmate.
Mothering - A Virtuous Woman teaches her children the ways of her Father in heaven. She nurtures her children with the love of Christ, disciplines them with care and wisdom, and trains them in the way they should go.
Health - A Virtuous Woman cares for her body. She prepares healthy food for her family.
Service - A Virtuous Woman serves her husband, her family, her friends and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. She is charitable.
Finances - A Virtuous Woman seeks her husband’s approval before making purchases and she spends money wisely. She is careful to purchase quality items which her family needs.
Industry - A Virtuous Woman works willingly with her hands. She sings praises to God and does not grumble while completing her tasks.
Homemaking - A Virtuous Woman is a homemaker. She creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests. She uses hospitality to minister to those around her.
Time - A Virtuous Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord.
Beauty - A Virtuous Woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones.
Moms and wives, please take a close look at these statements. Notice that staying close to your Heavenly Father is all you need to be called “Blessed” and to possess the desire to serve your family and others well. He doesn’t ask for perfection but for giving your best in a loving manner. It’s the attitude I believe He desires not so much the action. He asks for us to put Him, our families and our neighbors at the forefront of everything we do and every decision we make. Basically, he’s asking us to keep our eyes on Him and not the world as we climb out of bed each morning. So let’s push off the heavy loads the world has placed on our shoulders and live letting Jesus lighten every step.
Walking the road with you,
Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. -Psalm 112:1-2; 4
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