To Rejoice is Greater than to Rush [Day 15: WHEN]

I wrote the following post for Five Minute Friday a few months ago, and I thought it was so fitting for this series. When my little life is less than what I want it to be or I feel stuck in my current circumstances, I don’t have to continue my pattern of waiting, wishing, and whining. I don’t have to rush from one thing to the next in search of something that will fill me. I can do the will of God even when my feelings war against my joy.

To Rejoice is Greater Than to Rush

When will the kids grow up? When is our ministry going to take off? When are we going to get to go out on a date together again? These thoughts come in waves as I rush from one event to the next always wishing the next more comfortable phase would usher itself in while I’m scrambling to catch up to the chaos of the one that came before. I want the fruits of my labors like yesterday, and I really wish we could just get a hurry up on this harvest we’re waiting for. Oh, and when is it okay to rest? Here I am again waiting, wishing, and whining.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In this rush which seems far too routine to me, I wonder what I am missing. I don’t have to search long to find my answer.

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It really couldn’t be more clear than that. While the present may not be savory, it can be sanctifying. I can daily find reason to rejoice rather than rush to the next better thing. The King of the Universe reigns also over my days. I fail never to have the opportunity to commune with him as friend with friend. And I happen to believe that this encouragement to give thanks in every thing is good advice for today, tomorrow and this season and the next one. Actually, forever because I’m told it’s God’s will concerning me, and I know He won’t change His mind on that matter. I want to see what this looks like in daily practice. Do you?

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to do His will be rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in every circumstance of my little life. 

What can you rejoice in today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

A Sacrifice of Praise [Day 12: PRAISE]

I sat in Ama’s home with a lovely group of women made up of Americans and nationals too. We had paid our dear widow of our church a visit with the hope of being a blessing to her. But I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all blessed that day. She made us black tea, and we conversed with her dogs to make her smile. One of the girls of the group shared later that a cockroach crawled between her feet. We thanked her for *impressively* remaining calm and not taking away from the sweet vibes shared between sisters in Christ sipping tea and enjoying the company of one another.

As the conversation died down, Ama showed us her beloved Bible — never mind that she can’t read — and sadly shared with us that a rat had eaten through some of its pages. She then pulled out her solar powered audio Bible and began playing in Genesis 1:1. She closed her eyes and smiled. She listened intently as if it was the first time she had pressed play on this device.

When she opened her eyes she said, “I love the Bible. It’s sweeter than honey to me.” I translated these words for our visiting friends, and the elders in the bunch got collectively teary-eyed. She began praising God and sharing with us how good He is. Even though she knew there was not one unbeliever in the bunch, she got her Gospel on in a big way!

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

I was encouraged by Kate Motaung’s post today to change my vocabulary to regularly praise God for everything He is and every gift He gives. And I was encouraged by Ama that no matter how little I have or how small my life may seem on the grand scale of things, I can praise God big. I can offer a sacrifice of praise.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Hebrews 13:15-16

It has been said that praise is the consummation of joy. When I’m truly enjoying God and relishing His gifts, praise is the expression of that fulness I find only in HIm. He is well pleased, and His name is glorified when I offer it back to Him. May my heart always be the kind that rejoices in the Lord and my mouth always be spewing sacrifices of praise.

I “make” God big in my life when I praise Him in times of victory and defeat, great joy and great sorrow. I “make” Him big when I enjoy Him and let Him (and everyone else around me) know it. 

What can you praise God for today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

A Fruit-Bearing Formula for Moms [day 15: remain]

Motherhood is soul-wrenching and energy-draining, but it is simultaneously joy-inspiring and life-giving. We moms dream big dreams for our children, and we want them to have all the best things of the world and none of the hurt. We want them to invite Christ into their life the moment they reach any semblance of maturity. We feel so much pressure to be perfect. At the heart of it all is one thing — for me anyways. We want our work to matter. Not because we want to be appreciated or respected — though that might be nice! — but that we want the seeds we sow to take deep root in our children’s lives. We want all our mistakes to fall away, covered by the blood of Jesus. But we want those stinking seeds we put everything we had into planting to do something!

Sleepless nights, stomachs tied up in knots, and tears shed behind locked bathroom doors. Dealing with developing children is heart work and heart work is hard work. We want to train our children “in the way they should go” so when they grow up they will continue in that way (Proverbs 22:6). We till the ground and we plant seeds. God gives the increase, bearing fruit in our children’s lives. We want to see it remain.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16-17).

The formula for achieving this desirable result is presented in the rest of the chapter, and it is surprisingly simple. 

1. Abide in the love of Christ
2. Love others
3. Ask for fruit according to His will

 

Abide

We delight ourselves in Christ, and He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) The desires of our heart are not the fruit, however. The desires of our heart are the big dreams He changes to match His own. We begin to dream according to His will. We begin to beg that the Lord would do the heart work and relieve us from the pressure of perfect performance. Dependent on Him, we draw closer to Him. Sure of our standing with Him, we are free to love our children with mama bear abandon.

Love

I love this article which points out that our children are our neighbors. We are to be kind and loving even when our children fall short of our expectations of them. Even when their dreams are small and short-sighted in comparison to what we believe the Lord would want for them. We are to love them like Jesus loves them — sin, snot and all.

Ask

Abiding in Christ, desires aligned with His, we beg for the fruit only He can bring forth in our children’s lives. He wants to accomplish good work in their hearts. He wishes that our heart work would remain. He desires to grant us the desires of our hearts. Ultimately, He will work His will for our good and His glory though it may not match our picturesque plan or fantastical fantasy. We can be sure His ways are true though this may be beyond our comprehension this side of heaven.

Remain

In this heart work, we can remember that we moms are truly never alone. Our Father is there on the sleepless nights, when our stomachs are tied up, and when we lock ourselves in the bathroom. He has promised to never leave or forsake us even in these soul-wrenching, life-draining days. So, we celebrate small. We hang on to those joy-inspiring, life-giving moments, and we cling to Jesus. Because, not only will He give us fruit that remains, but He will also sustain us for the heart work of raising children so we also may remain. These precious children need us.

What do you think of this formula?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

These Days were Made to Be Enjoyed

 Five Minute Friday: ENJOY

“We have established an after-dinner routine that I quite enjoy. Usually, we are in such a hurry to get to it, we leave the dirty plates on the table and run off to tie shoes and zip jackets. The kids wait on the porch or rush the front gate to start down the hill on our family adventure. The crisp air and view of the mountains takes my breath away in the best of ways.

I gaze at my children whose hands are grasped together and grins are adorned with splattered spaghetti sauce. In our haste to start our stroll, I had forgotten to clean them up. I smile sheepishly at the aunties we pass along the way who signal their disapproval. Nothing could rob me of the joy of this moment.

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Except maybe when the kids’ smiles cease to join us on our walk. When their feet drag and the pitch of whiny voices reaches as high as the mountain peaks. On these days, we cut the length by a lap and hope for a better run the next time. I remember all the peaceful and wonderful moments we’ve had along these cracked roads and trust we will steal a few more amidst the hurriedness of busy ministry life. I wonder when they’ll start wiping their own faces and racing ahead of us instead of walking hand-in-hand at parents’ pace.

The good and the bad days. The long walks and the short ones. These days, precious and few, were made to be enjoyed. Sometimes, we just have to try harder than others.”

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Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).