It Doesn’t Always Feel Natural to Nurture [Day 10: listen]

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mooooom!” This is the soundtrack of my life it seems. I remember when I was young hearing my mom say she wished she could change her name. I never understood that joke until it leaped out of my own mouth. “Just-a-minute” and “go play” seem to always be on my lips. The world pulls my heart away from motherhood and makes me feel like I’m not measuring up to what it means to be a modern woman in a million different ways.

The big dreams of motherhood can certainly feel far away. I often think way down the road to graduations and wedding days, but there are thousands of days between then and now. And right now, there’s an almost 6-year-old who desperately needs to know why you can see the moon this morning.

What I fail to realize when she seems to do nothing but chatter is that she’s listening, too. And she’s watching. She’s learning from me. She’s finding her way in this world, and she needs my help to navigate it all. Though most of it seems of no importance to me, it appears they are life and death to her.

I think we moms tend to forget that this is what we wanted — to be needed and to nurture. Perhaps we just didn’t expect to be on call for these jobs all. the. time. We forget, too, that we were created to do this. Perhaps we can’t see past our inadequacies to sense this may be true.

My daughter doesn’t know I don’t feel completely prepared — she just knows she needs me. She has a million questions, and I’m her most trusted resource. My daughter needs me to help her find her way to graduation and her wedding day. Baby girl is in a hurry, too! Just the other day, she was crying in a taxi asking me why God won’t tell her who she’s going to marry right now. Someone tell this girl she’s only 5!

Yes, this is what I wanted. It’s wrapped up in tears and drama, and maybe I wasn’t expecting that. Even when I wish I wasn’t, I am needed. I am called out of my self to nurture. Though I was created to do this, it doesn’t always feel natural to nurture. It’s in these moments I see my own desperate need for God’s grace in my life. Yes, I was created to do this — but not without help.

I wonder if Timothy’s mom had these days where she wanted to change her name. Did the future preacher ever get under her skin or inspire after-bed-time sobs on her pillow? We don’t get a glimpse into those days because all the Bible tells us is that Timothy was a great, godly man and it was much thanks to his mama and grand-mama and their unfeigned faith.

If it is my prayer to raise world-changers, I have to be present in their worlds today. I listen and lead and, above all, I pray. I give them over to the God who has the power to change them as I do the work on the ground of molding little hearts. To do that, I have to have real faith like Timothy’s mama. I have to believe God is who He says He is and that He will show up in their lives and mine as we figure this whole thing out together. When I realize the significance of this title I’ve taken, I don’t want to change my name anymore.

 

How do you feel about your title today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

It Helps to have a Plan [Day 9: plan]

This past week, focusing on celebrating small in my marriage has been really convicting for me. It seems I have A LOT of work to do to re-train myself to purposefully praise, embody true love, treasure all parts of our story, cherish my spouse, and safeguard my marriage. If I’m honest, it all seems a little overwhelming to me which is a shame because the whole point of celebrating small in my marriage is defying discouragement and finding joy in each leg of our journey together.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be able to combat overwhelm if I have a plan. So here is my plan to celebrate small.

P: Praise God for the sanctifying work He does in marriage.
L: Love each other through failures and disappointments.
A: Ask God to reveal His hand at work in my marriage.
N: Nurture harmony by dreaming big and celebrating small as one.

When our big dreams become nothing but a blur in the distance, we go back to the blueprint. We trust the Lord will work out the details as we follow Him. The beauty of following this plan is that it benefits us today by allowing us to increase in boldness and strength for the journey and — whether we realize it or not — it gets us closer to those big dreams of ours.

 

What does your plan look like?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Purposeful Praise from Today ’til Forever [Day 4: hope]

Paul and I will have been married for 8 years in April. If you read my last post which revealed my age and you are skilled at kindergarten math, you can figure that we were married young. Real young. I was one month past my 20th birthday when we were wed, and my groom was 21. We knew so little back then, and everyone but us knew it already. For the most part, everyone was kind and shared our joy. As it was on that day, it is my sincerest hope — as I shared with you on day two of this series — that we will share a life-long union and magnify Christ in our marriage. 50 years or bust! I really pray the Lord grants me that wish or whisks us to glory instead. Mainly because I don’t know how to “adult” without him.

Awww…wook at da babies!

As I’ve learned to celebrate small, however, I see that today matters. The big dream of lasting decades and decidedly living for the Lord together through our old age is important, but it isn’t everything. Choosing to love my spouse and to see the good in our marriage every day — especially the hard ones! — is the path we tread to the swarms of grandkids and a jam-packed anniversary party. Today isn’t so glamorous. Rather, it’s nap-time’s-up, baby-boy-wet-the-bed, throw-dinner-together, quick-kiss as he walks in and we walk out to church-kind of day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and totally miss each other. Resentments can pile up quickly as I’ve unfortunately learned. But all the things that keep us spinning in ministry, family, relationships, and all types of service to the Lord are directly impacted by the health of our marriage. So, yeah, it matters. This is where that thing I’ve been preaching to myself for the last month or so comes into play in a huge way.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:15-17).


No, we don’t float around this house singing hymns to each other — to me that sounds strangely fun but maybe not so much to my dear husband — but we absolutely would benefit from taking the time, thought and effort to encourage ourselves and each other in the Lord. My husband is 100% better at this than me, so I am completely taking responsibility for improving in this area in my own marriage. Big-dreaming-discouragement keeps me from breathing life into our marriage, but celebrating small breathes life back into me.

Purposed Praising Powered by Peace

I can rejuvenate my marriage by celebrating small — by choosing to praise God for blessings he pours out on our marriage even in the daily grind and what feels more menial than missional. I remember that I am completely loved and accepted by God, created to do good work in my marriage. When I operate from this place of peace, I give support to the hope of that long, happy marriage and joy to the journey of getting there. Who we are and how our marriage stands will be important 50 years down the road, we know; we want to leave a legacy. But more than that, we acknowledge that our marriage matters today. It matters to two spunky monkeys that roam the halls of this house, and it matters to all who are touched by our ministry efforts. Above all, it matters because it is a covenant made with King of the Universe.

It seems I could write about this all day. I’m fired up, but my time is up! I’ll be talking about celebrating small in marriage for the next several days, so I do hope you’ll return and join in the conversation while you’re here.

How can you purposefully praise for the health of your marriage?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Emotional Highs and Lows of Church Planting

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

A Letter to 17 Year Old Me

As I approach my 27th birthday, I look back on the last ten years and marvel over all I have learned and how I have grown. My 27 year-old-self looks just about nothing like the youth of years past, and not just because I have 3 babies under my belt and the stretch marks that come with them. I have changed because God has been gracious to work His way in my life beyond any dream I had ever conjured in the days I scribbled names in notebooks and browsed the internet for potential careers.

I’ve matured, married (quit college), and become a mom and missionary. But mostly, I’ve been molded by the hands that created me which so graciously continue their work on me. In the bending, in the being re-made again and again, I’ve learned a few things. If I could go back and give my teeny bopper self (you can say things like that when you’re my age, y’know) some words of wisdom, I have a few things I would say. I hope you’ll be touched and challenged by this “Letter to My-17-Year-Old-Self.” Please share it with a young gal you know who might benefit from this perspective!

Dear Young(er) Me,

I’m writing you from ten years down the road you’re walking now. Life hasn’t been easy but it has been blessed. I write you this to encourage you to keep the faith and following God. I have some things I want to share with you. I know I can’t change anything but maybe some looker on will see some wisdom in these simple lessons.

Make plans, but only tentatively, knowing the Lord will likely change them. I promise, you’ll be glad He did. Make progress and strive for change, but allow God to do the heavy lifting. You have big dreams in your heart, but they’re too big for you. Even when the dreams are good and the work is fulfilling, they’re heavy and can be a burden. You need Jesus. As much as you want to, you can’t do everything and you sure can’t save the world. Thankfully, He’s already done that job.

Devote yourself, first, to God before any other relationships or commitments. Trust God to build your tribe, adding and taking as He sees fit for your personal growth and peripheral influence. Know that devotion to Christ, though admirable, is not always inclusive and inviting to those that prefer to remain on the fringes. It’s OK to be weird or a little radical in your pursuit of God, though you may lose some friends along the way. God will bring the people into your life that will encourage and build you up as you seek to please Him. And the seasons in between, you will learn of the sweetness and love of Christ in a way you would never have otherwise. And you’ll be thankful for these times that left you vulnerable and aching for the Vine.

Continue reading at Where My Heart Goes

Thanks for reading,