Thursday, March 29, 2012


So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. -Colossians 3:1-2 (MSG)

It's been a rough week in this house. Sigh. Monday was like any other Monday: crazy, but time got away from me and I got almost nothing done. And then it was Tuesday. Tuesday ushered in horror from any mother's perspective. The stomach flu. *shudders*

Lukas was first, which was weird, because it almost always starts with ME. I'll spare you the details, but just know I ended up needing a shower. Hours later, as I tried to forget the evening and just sleep, it was Ian's turn. I was up all night with him as he "lost it" and then slept, making little noises that kept me up with concern.

The morning finally dawned and the other "healthy" kids made their way downstairs to the living room where Ian and I were for the night. They said they felt fine. They went up to play together in Lily's room, and then Andrew promptly returned to the living room. Lily's turn. Could it get worse?

As I made my way through the house with Lysol wipes, warm soapy water, and washed 9 (yes, I said 9!!) loads of laundry, I thought how much the day truly sucked while simultaneously begging God to spare the rest of us from this illness. I didn't want to get sick and I didn't want anyone else suffering with it either. And then I got some awful news from next door that changed my perspective on this terrible day.

A dear friend of our neighbor's, one who we'd dubbed our "part time neighbor", died unexpectedly. And suddenly, my day was a gift. It was a miracle that I'd been allowed to care for my family that way.

You see, any day could be my last. I realized that while what I was doing was disgusting, it WAS what I had been called to do by God. Just as the verse above says, I needed to stop shuffling through my day, "eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of" me. When I looked up from my own nonsense, there were neighbors that needed encouragement, kids who just needed a hug, and a husband who'd brought his work home just so he could help me out.

Here's my challenge for you and me today: Think about your circumstances from another perspective. Is there any way to view anything in a good light?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Old and Ugly or a Blessing in Disguise?

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. -1 Timothy 6:6 (NLT)

I was at Bible Study again last night and this verse came up. On the one hand, several group members were saying that we need to be content with whatever God has given us and in whatever place he has put us. And on the other hand, some were saying that being content with where we are will lead to never striving to be better, never wanting to be an improved Christ follower or work for the Lord outside of our comfort zone.

I didn't comment last night, because I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about either stance. After all, they both SOUND good, right?

But I'm ready to comment now. Here's MY thoughts on this:

I think that we can be both. I believe that we need to learn to be happy with exactly where God has put us and what he has given us. We need to do our best with what we have while we have it. And then, if God chooses to entrust us with more, we will have more. Being a Christ follower should naturally lead to wanting to be more Christ-like in our walk anyway, right?

For example, I'd love to have a different house. Ours is old, small, oddly laid out, and pretty hideous on the inside. BUT, this is where we are meant to be. God wants us here. We have tried to sell our house before and it didn't work. And I think that's a good thing. I am learning to be content with it while we have it.

Could we afford a bigger, better house? Probably. Do we need a second bathroom? It'd be nice...Do I wish we had just one more bedroom so our boys didn't have to sardine into the one they're currently sharing (there ARE three of them in there!)? Sure! But they are comfortable in that room. They are learning to get along better. They are developing a relationship with one another that they might not otherwise have. And honestly, they fit in there better than I ever imagined. There are three beds (one is a bunk bed), three dressers, and bins of toys lined up nicely (occassionally) under one of the beds. It's actually shocking to me that God could grow that room to fit my children's needs, though I don't know why I continue to be surprised by our miraculous God! He is amazing and that room is just one piece of evidence that God cares about the little things in our lives.

So instead of looking at my current home as old, ugly, and sometimes inconvenient, I choose to see it as a blessing! Living here means awesome neighbors! It means friends for my kids. It means the ability for our family to go on a dream vacation every year and have family night every Friday night. It means seeing a need in our church or hearing about it on the radio and being able to do something to help someone else out!

Here's my challenge for you and me this weekend: Look at the thing in your life that you are most dissatisfied with. How could you see it differently? Are there any hidden (or even obvious) blessings that have come of it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Cookie Nudge...

Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given-and you will receive even more. -Mark 4:24 (NLT)
It's 12:45pm on Wednesday and God has asked me to do something. I'm sure of it. He spoke through a friend encouraging me to do something that anyone else would likely see as trivial and nothing to get worked up about. But I want to puke and back out of it, claiming that I didn't realize that was him speaking.
And then I hear a reply. "If I can't trust you with the little things, why would I give you something bigger?" is what he's whispering. So I'm going to do it. I'm going to walk to a random woman's house who I've only met once and give her cookies, because that is what I think he wants me to do. Sigh. I'll check back in and finish this post when I get home...
All right, 2:00pm and I'm back home.
I decided that I should walk because it was forcing me to be more committed to the crazy thing I was doing. If I drove, it'd be much easier to just keep driving and back out. The entire time I was walking, I was praying. Praying that it wouldn't rain, praying that she'd actually be home, praying that I'd actually knock on the right door and not meet yet another stranger in my quest to follow this nudge that was scaring me out of my wits. Haha.
Anyway, we found the right street and then found the right door. I took a deep breath and knocked. I could hear movement inside, so I said one last prayer (please don't let her think I'm a loony stalker!!), and the door opened. She smiled and I held up the cookies, mumbling something about making them and walking them over...
I thought I would feel more uncomfortable about it all, but as soon as she was outside and thanking me for the cookies, it felt normal, natural, like exactly what God had asked me to do. And it wasn't as hard as I'd made it out to be in my head.
And that got me thinking. How many things have I missed out on (that could be just like that) simply because I was afraid to take the steps to get where God was asking me to go?
Here's my challenge for you and me today: The next time God asks you to do something that scares you, just do it! He knows what he is doing!

Deep Roots

““But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” -Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

You know, when I read that verse, I can't help but picture people going through horrible, trying times and just staying strong in their faith. Like they can't be rocked, no matter what happens. I see people who are like Paul from the Bible.

Paul was put in prison and still wrote letter after letter to other believers. He preached to the other inmates and the guards. He was unwavering in his faith. He didn't complain that God wasn't with him. He knew that God had a greater purpose for his life. He made the best of every situation he was placed in and did what he knew he was called to do: share the gospel with anyone and everyone he came into contact with.

Can you imagine how many people he spoke to? Can you picture the number of people that learned of God's love for them, even in the most unusual of places simply because Paul didn't waste his time wallowing?

Paul's roots were definitely deep!

Here's my challenge for you and me: Don't focus on the drought going on around you. Instead, focus on God and know that he is with you! He knows what he's doing and can most definitely bring you through this drought if you let him!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coincidence? I Don't Think So!

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. -Psalm 13:5 (NLT)

We've been talking a lot about the upper and lower stories at church lately. To clarify, the lower story is where we live our everyday lives. It's where we get speeding tickets, come down with the flu, and struggle with teaching our kindergartners to read. The upper story is God's story. It's the "coincidences" in our lives like when a friend calls just when we really need someone to talk to. It's God weaving all of our lives together for his greater purpose.

Since we live in the lower story all the time, it's easy to get caught up in it and forget that God is working in our lives even when it doesn't make any sense. He can use the craziest, strangest, and even the most devastating times in our lives for his purpose. And we may or may not ever see some of the things he is doing through us.

So here's my challenge for you and me: No matter what's going on in your lower story right now, remember that God loves you. He chose you. He wants to be with you. And he WILL work it all out for his purpose!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Got Faith?

"The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle." -Matthew 17:20b (MSG)

If you look at this verse in The Message, it says "poppy seed" and the New Living Translation says "mustard seed." Whichever one you choose to imagine, picture just how small those seeds are! They are tiny! How much faith must be jammed into those tiny seeds to move a mountain? And yet, Jesus said it, so it's true!

Reading that verse in Matthew leads me to thinking on this verse as well:

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. -Philippians 4:13 (MSG)

I just love that! It doesn't say anything about understanding what God is doing or seeing the end to the suffering in sight. It simply says that we'll make it through if we put our faith in Christ! Period. There's no more to it! Just trust and hand it to him. :)

At the same time, this means that we can do anything with God on our side! Homeschooling lots of kids at the same time, potty training that stubborn two year old, keeping the vegetable garden alive for once-all possible with his help. :)

Here's my challenge for you and me today: Put your faith in God and let HIM help you with whatever you're struggling with today!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Even the Little Things!

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? -Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

I went to my Bible Study last night at church with almost no gas. Both cars were pretty low so I took the least low of the two, said a prayer, and off I went. Now, to be clear here, I didn't get more gas because Shaun wanted me to wait until the weekend for it. So being an obedient wife, I just went for a quick prayer rather than gas.

On my way to pick up a friend for bible study, I simply prayed that the gas light wouldn't come on until I was on my way home. And it didn't come on at all while I was driving to her house, or when we were driving to the church and back to her house again. It stayed off.

I hugged my friend goodbye, prayed again, and set off. But this time, while I prayed, I upped the anty. I asked God not to let my gas light come on until I got to the exit-like structure at the other end of my town. It didn't matter that I didn't know what to call it; God knew what I was talking about.

I could almost hear God whispering, "Let me take it one step further." And you know what? It didn't come on at all. I pulled into our backyard and locked the doors, no gas light!

And it occurred to me. If God is looking out for me with something so trivial and insignificant, can you imagine what he's doing in the rest of my life? In your life? With the big things? It got me thinking of prayers I've said in the past.

I grew up begging God to give me a sister. I desperately wanted one! But it didn't happen biologically in my family. No, instead, God gave me wonderful sisters in Christ! I have some of the most amazing friends that I am privileged to call sister!

I prayed for a good, Christian man back in the days of no spouse. And he "did me one better." He gave me Shaun who always puts God and his family first! There is no doubt in my mind about Shaun's feelings for us.

I prayed for "just one girl" back when we only had Lukas and Andrew. And God, true to form, "did me one better" when he gave me, not only Lily-the one girl I asked for-but also Ian, a fantastic little boy that I can't imagine life without!

Here's my challenge for you and me this weekend: Count your blessings and leave your trials to God! He's got them! He can handle them! He WANTS to handle them!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beautiful Things

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9

What did you imagine your life would be like when you grew up? When I pictured my own, I thought I'd be a mom to a lot of kids with a great husband and I'd probably be a teacher. Kindergarten, of course, because I thought they were cute back then. Lol.

Now, I think we've talked about how my life turned out differently (in a great way, by the way) than what I imagined in past posts, so I won't ramble on about that again now. But just know, I've had a LOT of bumps along my path to where I find myself now. And I have to say that God has done an amazing job making beauty from all of my nonsense. He's used some of my dumbest moments to make beautiful things.

And that reminds me of this awesome song that we often sing at church...sorry if you're struggling to follow my thought train this morning. I have a terrible cold and am all over the place!

I know that God will always do much more amazing things with my life than I can even imagine and yet, I continue to picture where I think it is going. I'm eager to see what he does with my life from here! Part of me wants to lay out my dreams for anyone who is still reading this, and the rest of me knows that isn't the purpose of this post.

The purpose of today's post is this: No matter where you are on your life's path, God is there with you guiding you and loving you. Listen to him! Lean into him! He will lead you through the good, the bad, the scary, the impossible. You might not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but he can! Stay close to him while he works to make your ashes into something beautiful! You won't regret it. :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

He Knows Your Heart

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” -Psalm 139: 23-24 (NLT)

In my own private conversations with God, when I'm in the midst of a struggle, I say the first part of this verse a lot. He knows my heart. He knows my longings and my struggles, my insecurities and my secret dreams. And if I'm paying attention, He even gives me moments throughout my life when he meets those and eases those for me.

When I went to this morning in search of a verse for inspiration for this morning's post, this was the verse of the day. And it called out to me to be written on. Because while I often tell God that he knows my heart, I don't usually add that I'd like him to test me or point out what I'm doing wrong. And obviously I should. But I'm human. I don't want to know that I'm not perfect (even though I honestly know it!).

This morning, I suppose what God is sharing with me is that the tests and trials in our lives are a wonderful opportunity to grow in Christ and draw closer to HIM. It's hard to see it when you're in the middle of an awful time in your life- a death in the family, trouble with the law, a battle with your children, divorce-but God can make beauty even from these awful things if you let him!

Here's my challenge for you and me this morning: Hand over your worries and concerns to God this morning and let Him shape them into something beautiful for you! God doesn't promise an easy, worry-free life when you follow him, but he does promise to always be there. Let HIM handle your toughest battles today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Feeling" it...

"O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.” -Isaiah 25:1 (NLT)

There are many days when I just don't "feel" it, but I know God is still there, still loving me, still carrying me through the tough times and rejoicing with me in the good.

While today was not one of those days for me, I know I am not the only one who has them. So if today was that day for you, remember, God is here. He loves you. He knows your pain. And he is holding you tight. Lean into him!!

This song has been screaming at me lately. I've been listening to it a lot since it was sung at church a couple of weeks ago!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Are you all in?

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

I got this verse at church yesterday when we were discussing the story of David being annointed as God's new king of Israel. At the time, David was a young sheep herder. He was the youngest of 8 boys. Insignificant in the world's eyes. So insignificant, in fact, that he wasn't even amongst the original sons lined up to be examined by Samuel. They had to call for him as an afterthought!

The part of this verse that really stood out to me is that last part: "The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them...the Lord looks at the heart."

I have felt what David must have felt that day so many times. Insignificant. Forgotten. Not worthy. Not good enough. To take it further: Too insignificant to be noticed by my husband when we met. Forgotten by my "friends" when I ended up pregnant in high school. Not worthy of a good life when I made mistake after mistake...not good enough when it comes to parenting my babies.

But God doesn't see it that way. What God sees is his beautiful daughter. And no matter what I've done or will do in the future, he will go on loving me. And that makes this heart happy. The same is true for every single person on this earth. God loves you no matter what you've done.

As our pastor said yesterday, God wants to see a heart that is "all in" for him. He doesn't want "sometimes" or even "almost always." He wants to know that you're following him all the time, even when it isn't easy or fun or even appealing.

Here's my challenge for you and me today: Are you all in with God? Tell God your decision today. Have a great day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Giving Equals Receiving

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. -Luke 6:38 (NLT)

I've watched this happen around me over and over again. Shaun and I have multiple friends raising money for adoptions, missions trips, and all sorts of other endeavors. I've watched, time and again, these wonderful people give to others even when you'd think they would save every cent toward their goal. And God rewards them for it! I've seen it! :)

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we were ALL willing to give more? And I don't just mean money. What if we gave more time? More effort? More love? What if we leant a listening ear when a friend needed it or offered them a hug of reassurance?What if we got together with our friends or our small groups and helped others out together? Are you picturing it?

Think back to your last selfless act. Didn't it feel wonderful? Didn't you think, in that moment, that you made a difference? Even if it was a small one?

In my Bible Study on Ruth, we've been talking about this idea of helping others and serving, of coming alongside someone in need and "taking them under our wing" for no other reason except that they need it. We all have people in our lives who could use a little extra grace, a little extra encouragement, a little extra prayer. Sometimes, you just need to look around and really SEE them.

Here's my challenge for you and me today: Find someone to give a little more to today. Whether it's your husband, your children, a friend, or even just a person at the grocery store or the library, give them a little more today and see what happens. :) Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Yesterday is Over, Let's Focus on Today!

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. -Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

If you think about it, we can apply this same principal to dwelling on our mistakes from yesterday. It won't change anything to obsess over those mistakes. Make amends and move on.

That's what I'll be doing today! Yesterday, I discovered that my cyber schooling oldest son had some very poor grades going on in several subject areas. And while I'm not going to just pretend they don't exist because yesterday is in our past, I am going to let go of the blame I laid on myself over it and help him through it today. Today will be better. Today is a gift and we are going to treat it as such!

Here's my challenge for you and me today: Stop worrying about yesterday, don't worry about tomorrow, think only of today and how you can best serve God today.