My Comforter

A  few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take my youngest two children to the park without older siblings. After my 2-year-old ran all over the playground equipment, she settled into the swings.

She asked me to push her high. So, I obliged. Then she told me, “I do it by my own-self.”

So, I walked away and sat on a swing next to her.

She smiled ear to ear as she went back and forth on the swing.

But then the swing started slowing down.

“Mom, will you push me high?” she asked.

I got up from my swing,  stood behind her, and gave her a push. Then I went to push her again, but she told me, “No, mom. I do it by my own-self.”

Sure enough, this repeated a few times. Eventually, I was tired of the get-up, push, sit-down dance, so I told her to find something else to do.

Of course, my two-year-old was not happy to hear this, but she did as she was told.

What a perfect picture of how I tend to treat God.

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I recognize the need for Him. I ask him to give me that first push.

But then as life gets going, I get prideful. I start thinking I can do this by myself.

I forget the momentum that started the whole thing was God. And I cannot keep going without Him.

Yet, I let my pride tell me I am responsible for the movement. I am the reason I am doing so well.

Then that swing starts to slow down. Things are out of my control… again. I recognize I need help.

I recognize my pride. I ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and then start the whole thing all over again.

Sometimes, I honestly sit and wonder why I suck so much!

I am currently under a huge conviction to put down my phone. I’ve had this conviction before. I’ve walked this same walk before. Yet, I fell right back into the trap.

Since I’ve had this conviction before, I thought I knew how to handle it. I will just stay off social media.

Well, social media was only part of the problem. Mindless scrolling through articles online. Mindlessly checking my email… which still only has junk in it… mindlessly checking work related stuff…

I let my pride tell me I knew what to do… only to have it revealed to me, that social media was not the main source of my struggle- I turned my phone into my comforter.

When I am bored… I go to my phone. When I am overwhelmed… I go to my phone. When I just need some me time… I go to my phone.

The problem is not my phone. The problem is how I am treating my phone. I’ve turned it into a mini-idol. It has become my source of comfort. Ouch!

If I am constantly going to my phone to numb my feelings, I give God no room to move. (Don’t get me wrong, He’s moving… I am just missing out.)

If I am overwhelmed and mindlessly start scrolling through my phone, I have missed the opportunity to hand my frustrations to God. Those feelings haven’t gone away, they are just placed aside while my mind goes elsewhere. Now I am holding onto those feelings instead of laying them at the foot of the cross.  I have missed the opportunity to grow in relationship with him.

When I’m upset by bad news and I turn to Google for answers, I missed the opportunity to go to the only one with answers. Google may have facts, but Google cannot offer me comfort. Google cannot give me any peace. Google is not my God.  

So here I sit again, on a swing slowing down in momentum. Asking the wrong thing to give me that comfort. Looking to be numbed rather than given life…I’m slowing to a stop, rather than looking to the only One who can make me move.

 

Praise God for His mercy. Praise God that He is still completing that good work in me. He knows I need a Savior, and His blood already covers me.

If you are in a similar situation, trust me when I say- I get it. But this conviction is straight from the Holy Spirit, don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow closer to God. God is the only one who can truly comfort. God is the only one who can give you what you need. 

Lord, I don’t want to ever think I can do this on my own. Yet, often my actions reveal otherwise.  I’m sorry God that I have let yet another thing take your place in my heart. I am sorry Lord, that I sin. But God, I am so grateful that you already knew I couldn’t do it on my own. You already knew I would fail. You already sent your Son to die for me, so that His blood already covers my sin. Thank you for refining me. Thank you for showing me the errors in my way. Help me stay on the straight and narrow path. Help me avoid the traps of this sin. Let me find rest in you and you alone. 

Trusting God as Your Provider

On Sunday I got the opportunity to be the Student Ministries elementary teacher. I really love teaching these kids about Jesus! Well, this lesson was on trusting God with your family. We specifically looked at Abraham and Sarah as they had to trust God’s plan to give them children at a very old age.

One of the sermon illustrations involved us asking God to provide water. I drank the last of my water from my water bottle, and I was “very thirsty.” We prayed that God would fill my water bottle so I could have something to drink.

When I opened my eyes, the water bottle was still empty. “Guys what happened? Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” I asked the kids.

They had some good suggestions. “You forgot to include us.” “You forgot to say amen.” “You didn’t say in Jesus’ name.” So, I changed my prayer to meet their suggestions, but guess what? God still did not fill my water bottle.

Instead, a nice man came in with a bottle of water and asked if I would like it.

Amazing! God answered our prayer, but not in the way we expected it.

Obviously, this was a sermon illustration and completely staged, but this is a perfect illustration of how we come to God in prayer.

We think we know our needs. We definitely know our wants. And we know how we think God should meet our needs. But we are not God.

In fact, we are imposing our will on God and not looking for His will to be done. Isn’t it funny how we are always trying to impose our will on God and yet, He never imposes his will on us. God will not violate our free will, and yet we think that we can do that very thing to God… 

Trust God Provider

I can specifically recall a time early in my marriage that Ben and I were struggling financially. (Let me clarify, we were not smart with our funds and did not understand budgeting at this point.)

We were living paycheck to paycheck and feeling every bit of it.

Then my husband came to me and says, “Renee, I really think we need to tithe.”

WHAT!!! We don’t have enough money as is it, how is giving the first 10% away going to help?

So, I reluctantly let my husband lead. I was very skeptical. I may have even made fun of the idea by saying, “So what are we just going to magically win the lottery now?”

Well, within a week of being obedient and tithing, we saw God provide.

We got a check in the mail we were not expecting. Wow!

Ok maybe there was something to this tithing thing.

Over the course of the next year or so, I started to see God providing in ways I never thought possible. From random checks in the mail, to new job opportunities, to lower cost of fuel, to generous friends paying for our meals.

God answered our prayers, just not in the ways we thought He would.

When I was teaching on Sunday, it was all I could do to NOT laugh as we changed our prayers. But honestly, that’s what I do.

I sit there and rearrange the words, rearrange my thoughts, and put an expectation on God. Really, I should be presenting my request and watching as he provides.

Not too long after our whole tithing incident, I witness God provide for another church member.

There was a guy who was sitting near us. He randomly walked over to a lady in the back of church and handed her something. When he came back, he was almost shocked. Apparently, he felt a stir in his heart to go give that lady the $5 he had in his wallet. He was reluctant because that was supposed to be his lunch money, but he obeyed. The old lady told him she almost didn’t come to church today because she didn’t have gas money for the rest of the week. But God assured her He would provide, and He just did.

Upon hearing this, the man he was talking to said, “Hey let’s go get lunch. It’s on me.”

I sat there amazed. I just witnessed God at work through His people!

Sometimes that nudge at your heart… that feeling you just can’t shake… that may just be the Holy Spirit prompting you.

You have to learn discernment to know for sure. But for me, when this feeling pops up, I ask myself the following questions:

-Does this align with God’s will?

-Could this be supported by scripture?

-If another Christian is with me, I tell them the prompting I am having and see if they have input.

But the deciding factor is always, “Is this something God would want me to do?”

It’s an amazing feeling to know that God used you to bless another person. 

We have to learn to trust God, in all areas of our lives.

We may think that we know what is best. But we must remember we are the clay; God is the potter. God will provide in His ways… in His timing.

We know Abraham and Sara got tired of waiting on God to do what He promised. We know that they devised a plan to get their family in their timing. But that was not God’s plan. And even though, they carried out their own plan, God blessed them while carrying out His plan. God’s plan showed everyone who the one true God was.

 God is faithful. We can trust God with our family. We can trust God with our lives. We can trust God in all areas.  He will provide. He will show up. He will be ever present. In fact, he is the alpha and omega. The God who is, and who was, and is to be.

Trust Him. Be obedient. Align your prayers with His will. Watch Him work in you and those around you. 

“Some trust in Chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 20:7

Dietary Restriction

We recently learned that our daughter is lactose intolerant. Let me tell you, I had no idea how hard a dietary restriction was on a four-year-old.

The first week, I felt like I had to make her “a special” meal for every meal… apparently I overuse dairy in my kitchen. Luckily, she was a champ and thought making a special spaghetti was pretty cool…  

I made some adjustments in the kitchen, gathered some dairy-free snacks, and life seems to be moving smoothly…

Until we are out in public and someone offers my kids a treat. Chocolate, cookies, muffins, donuts, cheesy crackers… guess what they all contain- dairy…

Even when they do try to accommodate (and I really do appreciate it), she still feels cheated… I can’t really blame her. What kid wants to eat pretzels while her sister is eating a chocolate chip cookie???

My poor daughter doesn’t understand. She knows she can’t have dairy. But she really wants it. She knows a belly ache is coming if she eats it, but she still really contemplates it.

The world does not really care about her needs. It’s a fact- she can’t have dairy. Yet, everywhere she goes, people will be eating dairy products. I will continue to be the “mean-mom” who tells her she can’t have it, while allowing her siblings to have some. I know it doesn’t seem fair, but they don’t have the same needs. 

There are many people who are just now learning about her dietary needs and trying to accommodate. They are looking for treats she can have and offering them instead. I know as more and more people come alongside her and understand her dietary needs, it will be easier. But the world will still offer diary… a lot…

dietary restriction

I have definitely felt like my daughter during some of spiritual pruning.  Sometimes I know the area God is working on me, and I am striving to align my will with His. But then I see other Christians doing the same thing God is leading me to NOT do.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right? Why is God choosing to convict me of gossip while the ladies in the front of the church are sharing not so great information about another member of the church? Why is God convicting me of my love of food, yet every gathering has an unlimited supply of junk food.

The world doesn’t care about our convictions. The world cares about themselves. Knowing this, we can go out in the world prepared to battle that sin.  But it feels different within our Christian circles. We are following the same God, who is a personal God, yet works on us each individually.

The truth is life is not about other people. It’s about God!  The Holy Spirit is leading you in this way so that you can grow closer to God. Your job is not to understand but to submit.  

You have no idea what God’s plan is. Maybe your conviction will change your behavior and help spread His light. Maybe you will help inspire a conviction of other people. Or maybe you will be the safe person that this person can turn to once the Holy Spirit reveals a similar sin to them.

Instead of thinking it’s unfair, pray. Sanctification is not meant to be fair; it’s meant to be personal.  Pray for the strength to overcome this sin. Remember to keep your eyes on the Lord. You cannot ask a neighbor to remove their speck while having a log in your eye. My relationship with God is between God and me. God is completing a good work in you and is faithful to carry it out to completion. 

Guess what? He’s doing the same thing in every believer’s life. It’s our job to love other Christians, walk beside them, and help them in their walk. Remember your convictions are your convictions. Share those convictions, but do not push them. It’s not your job to change another person, that’s God’s work. Clean up your own spiritual diet and allow God to do what only God can do.

We all have a spiritual diet. What we fill our hearts with is very important. Use those spiritual disciplines and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Read you Bible. Pray. Meditate. Yes, even if that means waking up early or staying up late. Find a time. Do it.

Gather for fellowship. We have a very real need to be surrounded by like minded people. Iron sharpens iron.  

Share your testimony. Share your God moments! Share your struggles.

When God first called me to share my testimony. I straight up told Him I don’t want to. I cried wondering what people would think. I cried knowing just how hard it would be to share the pain I have endured.

Then God showed me the Garden of Gethsemane. Guess what? Jesus didn’t want to do it either. He begged His Father to let this cup pass. But He submitted, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  

I, too, submitted. I learned that sharing my testimony may help others. But really, it’s helping me. It’s showing me just how active God is in my life. It’s helping me recognize His activity. It’s helping me leave the old life behind and embrace the sanctification process.  It’s helping me be open in all areas of my life. Yes, being open about my shortcomings, struggles, and faith has also helped some other people do the same. But really, this was about obedience and growing closer to God. Not just about helping others. 

Share your testimony. Share how God is active in your life. Someone else may see their new convictions as a “dietary restriction” and needs to see you holding your head high walking with the Lord. They need to know they are not alone.  

Up Close and Personal

My family and I live near the airport in St. Louis. There are days I see countless airplanes flying overhead. They often resemble those toy airplanes. I can usually make out the color, airlines, and sometimes I can even see the windows. 

 

However, there are other days that I do not see a single airplane. It’s definitely not because there are no airplanes flying. This one is on me. I live by the airport; I tend to tune out the sound of airplanes now. 

 

Yet, sometimes when I am driving on certain roads, we can catch the airplanes coming in right over our heads. They’re so big. Those planes are up close and personal!  Though I’ve seen this several times, it really is just as neat each time. When this happens, I wish I could see another one do the exact same thing. 

 

This is a really good illustration of how I tend to see God’s movement. When I am looking for it, I see it. But I can easily be distracted and not pay attention to it. But then there are those moments when God is so BIG and so amazing that I just want to experience His movement again and again. 

 

But can I be honest? I want to experience God and His movement, but I don’t always want to experience those “things,” that “stuff,” that brings me to those God size moments. 

 

When life is good! Yes, let me feel those WOW moments. But when life is not so good… I just want the not so good to go away. But it’s in those not so good moments… those moments where my only choice is to admit my weaknesses and hand that “stuff” to God, that I experience those airplanes up close and personal. That’s when I really get to see how BIG my God is!  

up close and personal

If there is one thing that I have taken for granted my entire life- it’s my health. I always pray to be happy, healthy, and safe…but it’s more of a recited checklist. 

 

Well… in 2012 after having baby #2, my body started acting… well pregnant again. I was sooooo tired. I had weird aches. My vision was doing funky things.

 

I didn’t exactly have a doctor. I was 27 and not too worried about my health. Yet, I couldn’t keep ignoring these crazy symptoms. By the grace of God, I was able to get a new patient appointment with  a doctor rather quickly. After my first visit with this doctor, she properly diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (This is almost unheard of in the world of autoimmune diseases!) She put me on some medicine, referred me to an endocrinologist, and I began to learn about the crazy world of autoimmune diseases. See, my immune system recognizes my thyroid as “bad” and is attacking it like it would attack a virus.

 

Correct medicine. Occasional blood work. Life goes back to normal. Four kids later… the same things are happening but on a different scale.

 

My hands and feet are hurting and are swelling like crazy. I get random headaches. And man, that fatigue!  So, I asked my doctor to run bloodwork to see if I have another autoimmune disease. I honestly thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

 

A few days later, the nurse called me with my results. She said my rheumatoid test came back clear, but my ANA test came back positive. This is an indicator of Lupus.

 

At first, I was like, “Oh, ok. No biggie.” I have one autoimmune disease, what’s another?

 

But then I started reading about Lupus. At first it was just to check my symptoms. Then I started realizing what all Lupus attacks-joints, muscles, tissue, skin, heart, lung, kidney, brain… Wow! This could get bad. It seems unpredictable. I could actually die from complications related to this disease.  

 

Then I started pleading with God. Please God, let me live to see my kids graduate high school. Let them get out of the house before you take me home. I don’t want to be the reason they are mad at you. Then I was like, `Oh I want to see my kids get married.’ `Oh, could I see my grandkids…’ my mind completely went haywire. 

 

I know how ridiculous this train of thought was, but it happened. I didn’t even know if I had this disease. I didn’t even really know the ins-and-outs of Lupus, how it’s treated, or anything… Even though I read that 90% of people with Lupus have normal or near normal life expectancy, I thought I was going to die. I just let my mind roll while completely focusing on worst case scenarios.

 

I had to ask God to help me be ok with this diagnosis. I had to learn to live while I was suffering.

 

God gently pointed me to a book I picked up months ago and never finished- It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeust. It was like the chapter I stopped on was written just for this moment. 

 

God allows us to suffer, but He is still a good God. We cannot possibly see the big picture, because He is the master artist.

 

See, I had been giving into tactics of the enemy. The enemy wants me focused on my pain, my suffering, my shortcoming, so that my eyes are not on the prize- Christ. As Lysa words it, “God wants us transformed, while Satan wants us paralyzed.” I was paralyzed for sure! 

 

I could not keep my eyes on my current and potential suffering. I needed a new perspective. I needed to see God’s perspective. I needed to realize, I am the clay- He is the potter. He is the master artist. 

 

As I closed that chapter of the book in peace, I knew things were going to be ok. I prayed and thanked God for answering my prayer. But He had another message for me, and I could feel it in my bones. I sat at my kitchen table with a few minutes before I needed to get my kids up and decided to check my email. As I looked at my email, I saw a link I just knew I needed to click.  

 

(Here it is if you want to read it: https://joyfullifemagazine.com/oh-death-where-is-your-sting/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=new_post_oh_death_where_is_your_sting_by_bekah_bowman&utm_term=2019-07-12)

 

This article was written by a momma with two sons diagnosed with chronic fatal illnesses. She went through and explained that she was mad at the disease. So mad that she couldn’t even see her son. Then God gently showed her the cross. She realized He knew what it felt like to see His son unfairly suffering. As she was pointed to the Cross, she felt God’s compassion. Here she got to experience God up close and personal. Here she felt His love. Now, she was able to see her son, not the disease that was eating his life.

 

That was a message I needed to hear-Our God is a God of compassion. He understands how we are feeling. He wants us to give him our burdens. 

 

I needed that article. I needed that book. Both of those writings were written by the hands of God’s servants and placed into my hands at just the right time so that I too could see God up close and personal! The testimony of their suffering brought me peace from God.

 

God is a good God. God is a compassionate God. And God cares for you.

 

God also has the power to heal, but sometimes He choose not to. Sometimes greater glory comes to God through our suffering. If I was not in a place of suffering, I never would have been in a place to see Him up close and personal!  In our suffering, we more willing to draw nearer to God and experience Him in a whole new light.

 

Do I wish God would take away our suffering? Absolutely. And one day He will. One day we will all be in a perfect place with God forever. Until then, I will worship God for who He is. He is a BIG God! And He is a good God, all the time… even in our suffering. He is near to those who call on His name.

 

If you are in a period of suffering, I know God wants you to experience His peace. Draw near to Him. I pray that God gives you peace, comfort, and the opportunity to experience His love up close and personal!

Escape Room

 My husband and I had the opportunity to do an Escape Room Challenge for our anniversary. It was super fun! If you have never done one, I would highly recommend it. We will definitely be doing another one soon.

 

Well during this challenge we were locked in a room for an hour with clues and a ton of locks to open. We sifted through the clues and found the first combination. But then we went to a lock… and it didn’t work!

 

What! So, we tried the combination backwards… nothing…  we had to ask for help… we used our first clue. Do you know why we needed that help? We were on the wrong lock!!!

 

So, we started trying all the other locks. Some locks were key locks, so we knew those wouldn’t be the right lock. Some locks had longer combinations. But it still took us a little while to figure out which lock it was.

 

As I looked at the clock ticking down, I wondered how we would complete this entire task on time. But we ended up finishing with 15 minutes to spare.

 

See as we went through the process, it got easier. We started piecing clues together quicker. We also knew where all the locks were. We started seeing the patterns quicker and were able to use previous knowledge to help us in our current situation.

 

Yet, we still did struggle occasionally, especially with having the right numbers, wrong order.

escape room help

This is such a clear picture of a Christian’s walk with Christ.  When we start out, we are excited and ready to start the journey. But that first bump leaves us a little shaken. We are not real sure what to do next.

 

It’s so important to ask for that help! The person who helped us with our challenge knew exactly why we were struggling… and he knew exactly what we needed to complete the task…  but we were frustrated and confused.

 

While we were in this rough spot of the challenge, my husband and I could have chosen to throw our hands up. We could have decided to vent about how ridiculous the challenge was or how dumb the lock was. But that would not have actually helped at all with our challenge.

 

One of my biggest hang-ups in my Christian walk has been gossiping. See, I was the person who needed to vent. But my venting sessions usually including me talking poorly about the other person or thing that was causing my frustration. I was seeking the approval of the person I was venting to and definitely not sharing the whole story- just my frustrations. This was in no way helping me grow closer to God. In fact, it was 100% feeding my flesh.

 

I learned that venting did not actually help the situation… and sometimes… most of the time… it was downright sinful. It never fixed anything and still left me feeling defeated.

 

I needed to go to the one who could actually help me in this situation- God. I needed to go to the Lord in prayer. Instead of venting, I needed to pray for that person. I needed to pray that God would help me see that person the way that He sees them. I prayed for patience, understanding, peace, and growth. And I began seeing answered prayers.

 

Through this process, I also learned that I am not alone in this struggle. Other people have this struggle too. Everyone struggles with sin. It’s part of our nature. I needed to intentionally look for other women and men who have walked the same path I have walked and are still standing strong in their relationship with Christ. I need mentors. I need my sisters in Christ.  

 

Think about it- my husband and I would have never gotten out of that Escape Room had we not asked the mentor- the person who knew our path- for help.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to find that circle of Christian women to surround us. As a baby Chrisitan and very much an introvert, I found a lot of support through online communities like Proverbs 31 and Club 31.  It just so happens that during this season of my life, they were doing a book study on the book Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman (a Bible study on gossip). I know this was no coquidence, but a God thing. I learned to love all the ladies who write for them. They are so relatable. They make me feel like they understand my issues, that I am not alone, and I can conquer that sin with God on my side. They gave me the courage to start sharing my own testimonies, struggles, breakthroughs, and so on. 

 

But don’t stop there! Online support, books, blogs, they are great tools. But we are called to fellowship!  A friendship rooted in Christ is an amazing gift! Get involved in your church. Join that prayer group. Join that Bible Study. Join in that fellowship opportunity. 

 

And when you stumble, because you will, reach out to someone for help. Let them console you. Let them pray for you. I know it can be scary to just put yourself out there. But when someone tells you that you are not alone, they’ve been there, and here’s what I’ve learned- it’s seriously a gift from God! Sometimes, you may not like what they have to tell you, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong. It means you need to look to God and access His ways. 

 

We are all on this journey called life. Don’t let a little bump derail you. Keep your eyes on the prize- Christ. And when you need help- ask. 

 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

Guess Who

Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe a rather comical game of “Guess Who?”

 

My 7-year-old was trying to play with my 2-year-old. My 7-year-old son actually did a good job of teaching as they played, but his sister…well, she’s still only 2. My daughter happily sat across from the table, interacting, answering questions, asking questions, and even putting players down.

 

If you were not paying close attention, you would have thought she knew what she was doing. My son asked her, “Is yours a boy?”

 

And she said, “Yes.” But in reality, her person was a girl.  So now my son was playing the game with all the wrong player up to choose from. Eventually he realized what happened, and said she cheated. 

 

Well… yes… she told you the wrong information, but in reality… she probably didn’t actually understand the question, how to answer it, or even how to play… She really needed someone next to her helping her… but she’s two… she can do it on her own… well at least she thinks so.

guess who

I bet you can probably relate to a similar scenario. Maybe you were thrown into a role, job, or task you wanted to do but really had no idea how to do it. So, you just did the best, took instruction even though you didn’t really understand what that meant.

 

I know I can relate.

 

I have felt like this during every new season of my life. Marriage… I had no idea how to be a godly wife. Motherhood… I had no idea how to be a good mom. Homemaker… I had no idea how to keep a home, cook, or clean.

 

To be honest, I grew up hearing this message, “You can be anything you want to be.”

 

I knew what I wanted to be, I wanted to be a mom. But people would tell me I could be so much more. Well-meaning people would tell me I could be the president one day if I wanted to. I got this subtle message that being a mom wasn’t important. Your career was more important.

For whatever reason, being a wife, mom, and homemaker were completely under-valued jobs that you didn’t need training for. So I paid very little attention to anything that had to do with fulfilling those roles.

 

To be a teacher, I needed to go through four years of college. To be a doctor, you need much more schooling. Heck, just about any job requires some schooling or training.  Yet, to be a mom, you need to have a kid. Zero qualification. Zero training. But perhaps, the biggest thing you will ever do with your life.

 

I’ve heard people say that schools need to have “Life Skills Class” which includes cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and the like. That class would have greatly benefited me when I became an independent adult as I didn’t know how to do any of that.

 

However, today as I hear people begging for these classes, I wonder- why don’t you just teach your kids these skills yourself?

 

Model it. Teach it. Live it. Have your kids do it alongside of you.

 

Remember that your attitude towards it matters. Treat these skills like they are important, necessary, and helpful. Make sure your kids know that you want them to do it too.

 

Yes, they will never hold a class called, “How to be a Godly Wife,” but that doesn’t mean you cannot teach that to your daughters. It starts when they are little. Model it. When they get older, teach them to happily serve along-side of you. Advice: Don’t treat cooking and cleaning as chores or your children will also see them as such.  Chores imply you have to do it, serving shows you get to do it for your family. As they get older, share with them the blessings of the role they have. Teach them to pray. Teach them to go to the Lord in prayer before throwing around harsh words. Teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully. Teach them to put effort into their relationships. Teach them that marriage matters. Teach them that marriage takes three, and that a healthy marriage is a good thing to desire.

 

There also will never be a class called, “How to be a Godly Mom.” But once again we can model that. We can let our daughters see how much we rely on God. We can pray. We can serve. And when we mess up, we will ask for forgiveness. We can model love and show that our job is to teach them. Teach them to be independent. Teach them to fly. Show unconditional love. Show stability. Show Safety. Give them room to grow while nourishing their needs.

 

The big roles in life often appear undervalued in our culture, but that does not mean they are invaluable, especially in God’s eyes.  “Children are a heritage from the Lord… Blessed is the man whose quiver is full.” Seriously, there is no greater joy than to see your children walking with the Lord.

 

Our primary job as parents is to lead our children to a relationship with their Savior! Keep that in the forefront of your mind. We have no idea where this life will lead our children, but we do know one day they will die and meet our Heavenly Father. I want that meeting to be joyous reunion where they hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” So, I will do my best to point my kids to God in every situation possible.

 

Some of you have godly women walking alongside of you pointing you towards Christ in every situation- Praise God for that! Some of you do not. But regardless of the situation, God is on your side. God will lead you, guide you, convict you when your wrong, and walk alongside of you every step of the way if you will let Him. You just have to trust Him with your kids.

 

As much as you love your kid, God loves them more! Weird thought… I know. But our love is flawed. Our love tends to be selfish. God’s love is never-ending, always and forever.

 

Some of you may have been thrown into the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker completely unequipped.  But let’s not let that cycle continue. Let’s teach them the value of their role. The joy that comes from fulfilling them. And do all things to the glory of God! 

Distracted From the Beauty

My family and I recently went on a road trip for vacation. Our plans concerning vacation changed at least three times. So finally, my husband and I decided to just head to our “Bucket-list” spots. Near the top of that list was Niagara Falls.

We started heading north Sunday after church. Along the way we stopped at some of Lake Erie’s beaches. The lake was so massive! It was beautiful! And the water was freezing! Well not literally, it was probably more like the temperature of a glass of ice water.

We could see for miles. We saw lighthouses, boats, and a lot of seagulls. It was fun to soak it in, skip rocks on the beach, and watch my kids stick their feet in the extremely cold waters.

Then we were off to (in my mind) the main event- Niagara Falls.

We arrived at Niagara Falls, New York and went to Niagara Falls State Park. It was nicely laid out. Off to the side we could see the mist of the falls, so we headed that way.

It was huge! And the waters were rushing so fast! As I stood by the waters I actually felt as if I were moving! It was quite impressive.

But something was just off. 

There were so many people standing around. Many of them trying to snap a selfie with this natural beauty. It was hard to find a spot for my family of eight on the rail next to this massive beautiful waterfall.

For whatever reason, I didn’t really get to soak in the beauty. To the right I could see another waterfall, so the family and I headed that way.

This one we were able to admire, get pictures of, and watch a little bit more.  

On the way out of the park we stopped at a trail that went behind the falls and saw the rushing river and some smaller waterfalls. Sadly, here is where I first said, “Wow, this is beautiful.”

Later my husband and I reflected on the visit.

At Lake Erie, we had the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy God’s beautiful handiwork. But at Niagara, we saw a lot of tourists. We saw a lot of man-made things around the falls. We saw a lot of ways for people to make money on the tourists. But we didn’t really get to just sit back and think, “Wow, God you did that.”

We were distracted. Distracted by the large crowds that barely left room for my family to stand on the rails next to the enormous waterfall. Distracted by the buildings. Distracted by the signs and paths pointing in other directions.   Distracted by the options of things to purchase. 

My goal was to soak in a natural wonder of the world, but I was distracted. Distracted by people who had the same agenda as me (other tourist). Distracted by people trying to help me enjoy the experience more (tourist attractions and such). 

Distracted by people on a similar path. Distracted by things intended to help you… (or take your money.)

distracted from the beautyg

You know it’s not all that hard to become distracted. Distracted by the world. Distracted by people. Distracted by doing the right thing… distracted by church…

Hear me out- church is a good thing. Church, religion, and traditions are designed to help us grow in our walk. But sometimes we depend on them to be our “God-time.” Sometimes we make these things the main event. Sometimes we get caught up in the actions and forget who we are serving.

I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of being distracted by doing things for God and His kingdom. 

We see this list of things we should do: go to church on Sunday, volunteer, donate, give, and be a good person. 

Go to church on Sundays. I can do that.

Donate to that church food drive, mission support, clothing drive, or whatever else may come. Can and will do. 

Volunteer at church. Hey, I can do that too!

But then we get comfortable… Comfortable serving in our spots. Comfortable singing certain songs during different seasons in the church. Comfortable doing just enough to get by. 

Before we know it, we’ve lost sight of the natural beauty that’s part of being a member of the church.

So now on Sundays, you put  on some nice clothes, smile, and do your part. Then we do our best throughout the week to be a good person.

But here’s a harsh reality- being a good person will not get you into Heaven. The only way into Heaven is through Jesus. 

We have to commit to those not so easy things too…

So what’s not so easy?

Maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Regularly reading your Bible. Spending time in prayer.  Seeking God’s will. And obeying that will. Personal growth- it takes time and effort.

Going to church, donating, volunteering, and the like are very good things. But they are meant to be from an overflow of your heart. Not the main event. 

Sometimes, doing church stuff becomes a distraction rather than a natural beauty.

Sometimes serving and going to church seem more like an obligation than a joy. 

I heard a pastor once say, “Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course.” 

When I first heard this six years ago, this was eye opening. I have seven days in a week. Seven days for personal reading, reflecting, prayer, and time with God. I go to church once a week. I should be getting solid food all week. Sunday should be the icing on the cake. 

Let me ask you a hard question. Is church your dessert or main course? How is your relationship with God between Sundays?

If your answer is not one you want to admit, rest assured that’s ok. God still is persuing a realtionship with you! Start where you are. Ask the Holy Spirit to come along side of you and lead you. 

But please, make the effort to get solid food all week long. Don’t let “being a good person” be distractions from the beauty in what God is doing all around you. 

When you arrive at church on Sunday, your service, your donations, your worship, all of it, should be an overflow from your whole week. 

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the main event- Jesus! Come and worship just as you are! Allow all your actions to be an overflow of your heart. 

 

God, you are good! The whole earth is full of your majesty. The mountains and seas proclaim your goodness!  Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for loving me, leading me, and teaching me. Lord, please forgive me for the times I allow myself to be distracted. Guard my heart. Protect my mind. Let everything I say and do point to you. Thank you for blessing me! Help me to never forget and avoid the traps of distraction. In Jesus name, I pray. 

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

Proverbs 21:2