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,
Many of you moms may have been listening to your local christian radio station this week. Many of you may have even heard the same discussion about parenting and marriage priorities that I heard. When the discussion first came on air I have to admit my mind was hundreds of miles away with issues of what would be for supper that night and exactly when I was going to find time to do the artwork I needed to be doing. As the questions were posed on the show one grabbed my attention and made me sit up a little straighter thinking that I wished someone had suggested that to me when my children were young. That being said I thought I'd like to share it with you.
The question was, "If you could give one very helpful piece of advice to young couples who are currently raising children what would it be?" The guy being interviewed responded with this idea:
Teach your children that although you and your spouse love each other very much, marriage is not always easy. It has to be worked at every day. At night, it is the child's job to go to bed when bedtime arrives without complaint or stall. The reason that is so important is because that's your time to do the daily work on our marriage. In order to keep your marriage strong you have to talk and cuddle and just be together uninterrupted. If little darlings constantly get out of bed and whine and interrupt you, your work goes undone. You want your family to remain strong and because of that desire there needs to be an understanding. If they interrupt that important time you need for marriage work, they will be held accountable. The amount of time they took from your marriage will be spent with them in their room (or something similar) the following day. I know that sounds harsh but mom and dad's relationship is just that important and we shouldn't allow it to be pushed aside. Tell them that if you can have this time every night (and there will be exceptions of course), you promise they will love the parents that mommy and daddy are even more. You will be more rested, more patient, and more loving to each other... just what a family should be.
These words are paraphrased somewhat as I was actually driving when it came on so I couldn't write verbatim. However, you get the idea. Marriage IS hard. We do need to work on it daily. Our children need to be fully aware of this fact. Of course, when your children are really small they won't be able to grasp the concept but don't underestimate their ability to grasp the concept of cause and effect when they are approaching 2 years of age. They will understand that mom and dad are serious about their "work". They will understand when mom supports dad and dad supports mom in this time being theirs. They will also understand and appreciate it as they see mom and dad smiling at each other, holding hands, and happily walking through life together as a loving couple. A loving couple makes a loving family. I think this suggestion could have made life so much easier and more relaxed when our three were little. As a "empty nester" my advice would be that it is definitely worth a try!
Walking 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!
My phone was blowing up in my purse as I sunk my teeth into an oversized petit four. As it turns out, the texts were more of a treat than the miniature cake with a rosette on top. After leaving my OB appointment I had composed a text to let people know when my new baby would arrive, that she had finally moved positions, and that my favorite doctor would officially deliver. After I pressed send I looked back at the list of recipients. Each lady represented so much of the Lord's graciousness and provision in my life. Each lady lived in a different state. Each lady prays for me.
I have moved eleven times and lived in seven states since 2004. I have begged for egg boxes at IGA, bought bubble wrap in bulk, solicited help from any one that would help. I have cried, I have sobbed, I have been lonely. I have felt disoriented. I have had to accept help when my prideful soul wanted to pretend I didn't need help. I have learned to pray, what it really means to memorize scripture, and to go meet people when I really just want to run to my hometown and be with my people who have known me since before I was born. I have experienced deep joy and witnessed Christ work in my heart and around my family like I could never have imagined. All because of the game of football.
Moving and learning to move; there is no class. It is emotional and physically draining. Throughout these twelve years I have learned that you can't give into that, and you can't stop there. You must begin with the idea that the Lord will go before you orchestrating all of the best for you and your family. In the beginning it was only important to me that I lived somewhere safe, found a church, made friends, and that I would land a good hair colorist. Today I still look for those things, but my list has grown as my family has grown. I make a physical list of everything that begins to overwhelm me, and I pray that list, continually lay it down before the Lord as any one of the items begins to creep in and create anxiety. I watch the Lord check EVERY single item off. At times it has taken a year or more for some items. The Lord is all about details, our details. He longs to show up big, and for us to give Him the glory for what He does. "He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
When I was little my mom managed to get the most delicious biscuit recipe from our neighbor, Mrs. Lawson. These little bites of heaven are light, and buttery, and can be cut round, or heart shaped, or even into your home state's shape when you're needing that. When you make these biscuits, as you would any biscuit, you have to use your hands. Your hands get sticky, and floury. The dough is everywhere. It always seems that when I make this recipe someone calls when my hands are covered. I always feel like I have to stop, regroup, and quickly answer the phone. Moving has been like making Mrs. Lawson's biscuits for me. You just kind of have to dive in. You must go and meet the neighbors, they don't always come to meet you. You go visit the church and the bible study in a room full of women you don't know. You go again. You don't compare to what you used to have when you lived in the last town. You live in this town, and you pray that the Lord makes it your home, and that it will feel like home. You get your hands in the mix and you seek His face. Even if you never gain a heart for your new town, you will know the Lord deeper, and you will know how much you need Him.
In Arkadelphia, Arkansas the Lord gave me a wonderful neighbor who loved to make homemade marshmallows. I remember one cold night I heard a pounding on my front door. When I peered through the peep hole I saw her holding a huge rubber spatula and her hand cupped underneath so as to prevent any marshmallow "drippage". That night she ran inside my house and we ate real marshmallow cream. She reached out to me and we pressed through the awkward and we still keep in touch today. As a child I grew up in First Baptist Church Sumter, South Carolina. My mom sang in the choir and my dad sat with my siblings and me. One quick way to make me homesick is going to a new church. If I just let myself go and my eyes drift to the choir loft I realize I don't see those familiar faces, and I don't hear my dad singing next to me in the pew. Before long, if I reach out, and allow people in, I do know those faces in the choir loft, and I benefit and grow. I have story upon story like these. That doesn't mean these people are common, but instead that our Lord is gracious and extravagant with His children.
There are those times that there are gaps and I don't feel God. I don't sense His way for us, and his provisions of the past seem like a blurry mirage. It is in those times that my husband and I go back to our time line. We've created an actual Brown Family timeline and the only dates on it are dates that we see God move in our lives. In those times He cared for us so obviously that we could do nothing but rejoice. This timeline guides us through the "gap" to remember He is gracious all of the time; when we notice and when we do not. The Lord is always active. Always. We must train our minds to see Him at work.
-Rachel Jones Brown
A most grateful "thank you" to Rachel for sharing her heartfelt and very transparent story. Sometimes it's hard to admit our insecurities and struggles. It's hard as moms to put out there that we don't have ALL the answers and we don't have it ALL together ALL the time. If we are honest, we are all Rachels. We cry, we scream, we get to the end of our ropes. Isn't it merciful of our Heavenly Father to send us "a Rachel" to share and to empathize with us until we feel strong enough to reach out and take His hand once again. You are a blessing girl! Thank you for your words.
My friend, Carolyn, has been after me for some time to write some of my thoughts and inspirations down. So here it goes.
In my Christian walk, I often stumble. Ok let me be honest, I fall, scrape my knees and hands, and also bruise my ego and my heart. Sometimes I have to question what I have done to my brain as well!
As a Christian women I often seek God's direction, but as a woman who grew up in the 70's and 80's I often get side tracked to those old sayings "I am woman hear me roar. I can bring home the bacon; I can fry it up in a pan, and make you feel like a man!"
I know you are laughing out loud and I am laughing with you. The truth is I am nothing without the grace and love of our Heavenly Father. When it comes to marriage, I can honestly say the Lord provided a mate that is well suited for me. No, not everything is perfect, but He did bless me with a man who desires to please the Lord and wants to walk in the path of righteousness. It has not always been that my husband led me to church. Sometimes I did the pushing. I am sure you have been there at some point.
I would attend ladies' retreats and come back so pumped that I would be ready to take on the marriage, the children, the house, and the job with a renewed spirit. But you see I often missed the point. Even though I was renewed and charged by GRACE, I would still get some of my directions wrong.
Psalm 46:10 tells us, "BE STILL and know that I am GOD." It took me a while to understand this and, every once in a while, I still have to catch myself and regroup.
Regardless of having these words in my head, I kept having a deep desire to have what the pastor's wife had… a man that was on fire for the Lord, could pray with ease, knew the bible verses by heart, and never ever sinned! Ok, I know you are laughing out loud again, especially if you are a pastor's wife!
A dear friend and pastor, who was often in my home on Sunday nights for potluck suppers, helped me to truly gain an understanding of the gift that God gave me in my husband. For the short time that God sent Pastor John and his wife to us, I saw my husband take great leaps of faith. I saw him develop into a Godly man, the man that had been hiding inside him. I often remind myself that God's timing is perfect. Until this time, although I had seldom thought about it, God had been growing me and causing me to desire my relationship with Him to be much more, too. It was not only about molding my husband but about molding me. He timed my husband's relationship with the Lord to take off and, unknowingly, I would need to run to keep up with him. God knew this and that’s exactly what I did… run! It was so perfect for over 3 years! I was amazed at how much my husband grew in the Lord during that season!
I have to be honest however, after Kim and John left my husband stayed pumped for awhile then I saw him become angry. Not really in a bad way though, so maybe I should rephrase it and say not angry but “upset” over issues at church. I thought, “Ok this is it, maybe that was all I should hope for.” But you see, it wasn't just my husband that changed and taken a step back, it was me as well. We lost our youth pastor and his wife, and a couple of other families that I dearly loved and was close to. I found myself in a depressed state and I was missing the happiness as well as the gratitude.
After some time, God showed me and was clear about what He was trying to teach me. We, as a married couple, needed to seek him together as well as separately. If I let up on praying and searching through God's word then, guess what, so does other members of the family. God showed me a different side of my husband during that struggle.
Our children had gotten older and our middle daughter went away to seminary. She went there with the thought, “I will not fall in love with someone who wants to be a pastor, because I am not pastor’s wife material.” We are still laughing though, because my daughter has now been married for a year and yes our son-in-law is finishing seminary and going to be a pastor!
When the young man asked for our daughter's hand in marriage, I heard my husband on the phone. He talked very gentle, but he said, “I think I know where you stand with the Lord, but how about you tell me.” He made it very clear, our view on marriage is that it is a lifelong commitment, and if he was not ready for that, then his desire was that he not ask her to marry him.
He came into our room after talking with the young man and said, “We need to pray.” He prayed so beautifully while asking God's guidance on this marriage. At that moment I could see my prayers being answered concerning my husband.
It wasn't long after that wedding that my oldest daughter's boyfriend called to ask the same. My husband had a different conversation but, in ways, much like the first. He again asked about the young man's faith. For you see, my husband had a desire for my girls to marry men of faith. So when you least expect it or think that God may not working in your husband, He shows you that He most certainly is!
The best advice I can offer any wife is to remember WHO is in control! Be the best wife you can be, pray and continue YOUR walk with the Lord. He will bless you and your marriage. Remember the words in 1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of Sins.” We are, after all, all sinners. No one is perfect in marriage. We need to seek God while remembering His teachings on love and marriage are sometimes not exactly the same as the way we view things and they don’t always happen in our time but in HIS.
Thanks so much to our friend, Alice, for being transparent and real with us. She is definitely following her Father’s command to pour what she has learned into the hearts of younger women just starting out. You are a jewel my friend!
Prayer Is More Powerful Than Persuasion:
In life and especially in marriage, conflict is an inescapable reality. I wished I had known earlier in life that talking to God during conflict and emotional upsets was much better than talking to my neighbor or my friend who might fuel my fire.
I used to think that if I persuaded my buddies to see my side that meant I was right and validated me to tell my husband so. What it did was to make him feel devalued in the realization that I had discussed our conflict with others. It especially hurt him when I discussed personal disagreements with my… oh my goodness… my MOM! Even when he and I had gotten past whatever it was, my mom still held onto the thought. Not good.
It took time and learning the hard way before I could piece together the understanding that some of those early marriage conflicts grew into major battles sometimes not because of the issue at hand but because I let others fuel the fire that God could’ve put out during prayer… if I had only gone there with him. Remember the "Stop, Look, and Listen" rule? Let that apply to your marriage as well. STOP before emotionally reacting, LOOK upward for wisdom and direction, and LISTEN to your heavenly father instead of to others in the heat of a disagreement between you and your spouse. Your marriage will remain stronger and your mother will continue to love her son-in-law!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
Thanks to all of you who allowed us at PSF to share this June bridal series with you. My prayers would be that somewhere through our journey a new bride has benefited from what God has revealed. The first few years can bring such great joy, yet, at the same time, so much disappointment and hurt. The bible commands us to pour what we have learned into young women. I pray this has helped.
Walking the road with you,
Forgiveness Doesn’t Always Fix Everything:
Unfortunately, this is one of those imperfect phenomenons that we don’t like to think about but I have found to be true. Had I realized this earlier in my marriage (and honestly that goes for other relationships as well) I would have tried to be less callous, less reckless with my words and more aware of the costs when opening my mouth prematurely.
I have termed this phenomenon my “emotional tornado moments”. As women we all have them. God made us emotional beings. However, some of us seem better able to control them before the destruction starts reaping havoc... and then there's the rest of us. We set out on the course of no return at the first raindrop and gust of wind. For those of us who fall into this group of having "emotional tornadoes", please understand that there are relationships and hurts that can never be fully fixed by forgiveness. Doing and saying anything we want and thinking we can ask for forgiveness later is not the way Christ would have us conduct our lives. It's an unwise theory to live by. The wounding and insensitive words we may throw out there may be forgiven, but the damage and scars from them may never be the same.
I wish someone had given me the wisdom in my early marriage to stop, think, and pray before irreversible damage could be done. Believe it or not it's possible for God to train us in that way. (Although to be honest, I'm still working on it.)
Given what happened in Charleston last week, I wanted to add an additional thought to this. What if the shooter had stopped, thought and prayed when those thoughts first entered his mind? What if his friend who heard him tell of a planned attack at the College of Charleston had prayed for him, had spoken wisdom to him or had even sought help for him? How different the outcome could have been.
On the flip side, what if the families of the victims had not stopped and prayed before they responded to the media? What would be the situation in Charleston at this very moment? I truly shiver to think what our state would be up against. Because of their faith, the faith of South Carolina grew. Further violence was stopped dead in its tracks. Does their ability to forgive fix the hurt and pain? No, the pain is still there. The sinful act rooted the pain in the our souls ...in the souls of the families.
What their ability to forgive did do, however, was to start the healing process at the very moment of their first prayer. It started the healing process for them and for our nation. Instead of hearts becoming bitter and hard they have become united and loving. They are now standing on the promise that God will use even this horrible incident for the good of those who died loving him and for those called for a purpose that He knew about long before they were ever born.
Want to be a good friend to someone, a good spouse? Speak truth into them when their "emotional tornadoes" hit and if possible stop and pray for wisdom in helping them see the situation clearly. Also, ask your spouse or a trusted friend to be your voice of reason when those moments arise in you. If you trust them in that role beforehand, God will use them to stop the fire before it gets out of control.
“I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” – Psalm 39:1
Please continue to pray with us for the victims and their families in Charleston.
Walking the road with you,
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