Bible, challenges, children, communication, faith, faithful, Family, family trips, forgiveness, God, God's will, mistakes, parenting, religious, scripture, spiritual, trips, Uncategorized

Arriving Ahead

One year we were on vacation with my family. My kids were having a blast spending time with their cousin. We were headed out to dinner and were a larger group, so some were going in the rental car, and the rest were riding in a shuttle van. The van showed up and was ready to load passengers. We were hustling around grabbing last-minute items before we left.

The kids (there were four of them) wanted to ride in the shuttle van so they jumped aboard. A few minutes later the van pulled away. We quickly realized there were no adults aboard the van. The kids spanned ages from thirteen to six and were a fairly responsible group (for children), but we never intended on sending them alone. The impressive (or scary) thing is how they convinced the van driver to leave without a parent. Once we realized the kids were on their way without us, we hustled into the car and hurried to meet them.

The kids, sure enough, were waiting for us at the restaurant. They were beaming with pride from their adventure and were surprised when we didn’t match their enthusiasm. We chatted with them about how we were glad they made it safely, but next time they are not to leave without an adult. We expressed our concern for their safety and explained why their decision to drive off without us was not safe.

This reminds me of our faith journey. Sometimes we like to forge ahead, we make our plans and ask God to bless our path. This usually turns out how the adventure with my kids went. We might reach the destination, but if it wasn’t God’s plan for us, something is usually missing. We rush ahead convinced we know what is best, forgetting to ask God to align our will with His will. When things don’t work out as we planned, we are disappointed.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

May we keep in step with the Spirit, for the steps of a man are established by the Lord. (Galatians 5:25 & Psalms 37:23)

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Cheerfully Chosen

My husband and my daughters submitted a video to be considered in a photoshoot for a hunting organization. My husband Jonathan loves to hunt so this was a natural fit.

I helped them take a few videos and pictures while dressed in head-to-toe camo, and Jonathan sent them off. A week later, he was told he had been selected and they also wanted one of our daughters.

My husband was out of town when he got the news. We called him and I put my daughter on the phone. She hung up the phone after speaking with him and had the most precious look on her face. Her smile got huge, she looked into my eyes and tenderly said, “They picked me.” She spoke with surprise, humility, and delight. She seemed shocked they had chosen her.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We all desperately want to be known, seen, and heard. My daughter’s humility spoke of her character. I was excited for her. It feels good to be chosen, and it was important for this pre-teen girl to be seen and selected.

The great news is God sees you and me every day! He loves you and never takes His eyes off you. Wow! That is hard to comprehend. If only we walked around with that confidence every day, letting the negative comments bounce off us.

God knows you and loves you. Getting that information into our hearts takes some work, and an enemy is trying to block that truth from penetrating. Psalm 139:1 states, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!”

If I could share her joy that afternoon, I would. That same joy felt by my daughter can be felt by you. You are known, loved, and cared for by the One that matters most.

Bible, blessings, challenges, children, faith, faithful, sin, Uncategorized

Smothering the Scent

One evening I headed upstairs to put my kids to bed. As I walked into my youngest daughter’s room (who is seven), I was blasted with a pungent smell. She immediately started saying sorry and explained the reason for the odor.

She had opened a container of nail polish. She didn’t actually put any on, but the act of opening the jar had smelled up her room. In our house nail polish needs to be done in the bathroom, and usually with mom’s permission.

When she realized the intense odor, she came up with plan B. Plan B involved taking hand sanitizer, rubbing it all over her hands, and waving them around the room. When this only increased the aroma in her room, she went to plan C, call in re-enforcements (big sister).

When I entered the room, older sister is by an open window (in the middle of winter) and I had a hard time distinguishing what scent I smelled. The two of them were scurrying around the room trying to make the odor disappear. I was especially light-hearted about this incident after I realized no harm was done, no property was destroyed, and no one was injured.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We sometimes try so hard to cover up our sin to God. We act as if we can hide things from Him. Instead of humbly coming to God and confessing our sins, we cover over them, or at least try to, just like my daughter did (usually making the situation worse).

Jesus died so we don’t have to carry around sin and burden we were not meant to carry. Don’t hide your sin from God, take it to Him, and let Him wash you clean. Remember the sacrifice He made for us and live in the freedom He desires for you. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

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Rapidly Running

One brisk fall morning, my girls and I were on an early morning walk as my husband was leaving for work. As he began to pass us, my middle daughter who is ten started picking up speed and took off running adjacent to his truck. In our leisurely walk, I wasn’t expecting her to take off so suddenly.

Without looking back, she ran with all her might to keep up. When he stopped at the stop sign, she also stopped and leaned over to catch her breath. I was impressed with her stamina and determination to keep up with him. I admired her drive and joy.

This reminds me of our faith journey. Oh, if we could run our race like my daughter did that morning. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) 

What if we could run after God with the same intensity as she ran beside my husband’s vehicle? What if we did not grow weary of doing good for Him? What if we pumped our arms with enthusiasm and a huge smile on our face?

Imagine if all Christians chased after God with such veracity and drive? Maybe we all need to strap on our running shoes and be ready. Maybe we need to get out there and start walking so we will be prepared and ready as He leads the way.

We will need to occasionally stop and catch our breath, just like my daughter did. We need to constantly replenish ourselves in Christ and the truth the Bible shares. Then we can get back out there and continue the race.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good.” (Galatians 6:9)

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Clothes for the In-between

One beautiful fall Saturday, I took my oldest daughter shopping for clothes. I relish these opportunities when I get a chance to spend one-on-one time. Sometimes it takes a child growing out of her clothes to permit the occasion.

She is twelve but almost my height. She has long legs and everything in the kids’ section is too short and won’t fit after one wash. We found a few items in the ladies’ section, but most of the clothes were not made for a twelve-year-old body.

After a few hours of shopping, we pieced enough clothes together for her to have something to wear for fall and winter. It’s tough to be in between sizes. She’s not a woman, yet she’s not a little kid anymore.

This reminds me of our faith journey. As adult Christians, we are no longer children, ignorant and innocent. We are aware of our sin patterns and usually know the paths we should take. However, we retain our childish tendencies such as refusing to ask for forgiveness and wanting to do things our way.

Even mature Christians don’t feel worthy or deserving of the freedom and guidance God provides. It’s hard for us to step into and accept the unlimited help Jesus provides. We still like to figure it out for ourselves, leaning on our own understanding. I don’t think we will ever feel truly worthy of fitting in the clothes Jesus has for us.

We don’t have to think we have mastered everything in the faith. We are in the in-between place until Jesus comes again. We get to feel unqualified and unequipped because we have Jesus to fill in the gaps. He is there to cover our inadequacies. We get to be limited in our physical, mental, and spiritual abilities because He is unlimited. He loves us as we seek to know Him. He puts us back on the path when we wander off. He comforts us when the sin of this world is too much for us to handle.

As you seek Him, He will continue to clothe you with His goodness. “Put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

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Deliberate Dolls

What a children’s book and our faith have in common

One evening I was reading to my six-year-old before bedtime. We were reading The Doll People by Ann M Martin & Laura Godwin. This children’s book tells a story of a doll Annabel and her family. They live in a dollhouse but can walk and talk. They only move about when their human owners are asleep or not home.

In the first book of the series, Martin & Godwin informs us how the dolls are created and made “real.” The dolls decide if they want to be a regular doll (giving up human abilities) or a doll person (can walk and talk). If they choose a doll person, they must take an oath.

Annabel is informed right before taking her oath that being a doll person is harder, it comes with great responsibility. It also comes with fun and adventure.

This reminds me of our faith journey. The Christian life is not easy. Although we don’t take an actual oath, we do commit our lives to Christ. We promise to live for Him instead of ourselves. This is no easy task.

In the book, if humans catch the dolls moving, they are thrust into doll state where they can’t move or talk for 24 hours. There are also rumors of a permanent doll state for serious offenses.

As Christians, when we mess up, thankfully we aren’t thrust into a paralyzed state like Annabel. Instead, we repent of our sins to our loving Father in Heaven. He doesn’t reprehend us, but rather washes our sins away. He doesn’t chastise us and shake His finger in our face. He accepts our burdens and mess. He cleans us off, and helps us get back up again. What an incredible Father we have!

Just as Annabel forgets, or chooses to ignore her oath on occasion, we sometimes forget who we are living for. Or we choose to go our own way knowing it’s not God’s plan.

Being a Christian comes with responsibility and risk. It also comes with a great reward.

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Quizzical Questions

My six-year-old daughter is full of curiosity. My favorite question she asks she has been repeating since she learned how to talk.

At various points during the day, she will ask me, “Can I tell you something?”

I never know what will follow this question. She could spit out something totally random, or ask me questions about an activity we have coming up. It could be something profound on her heart. Or it could be a funny story about an incident in her kindergarten class. The topic always varies and so does the seriousness. As Forest Gump would say, “it’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Although her thoughts are never the same, my response remains consistent. When she asks this question, I respond with one word… always. I always want her to come to me and feel comfortable discussing any topic. No matter how absurd, profound, or random her questions are, I want to hear whatever is on her heart.

This reminds me of our communication with God. He is always available, always interested, and always ready to listen to us. He never thinks our thoughts, desires, or concerns are ridiculous. He doesn’t want us to hide our joys, feelings, and worries from Him. He welcomes our voice, as often as we will share it.

Just like we embrace our children’s thoughts, God welcomes ours.

I communicate with my children to maintain a healthy connection. That same philosophy applies to our Heavenly Father. The more we commune with Him throughout the day, the more we can feel and recognize His presence. The more we share with Him, the lighter our burdens become.

Can we all go to God with the questions like my daughter asks me and say, “God, can I tell you something?”

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Dare to Dream

How saying yes to God’s ideas can show you His capabilities.

I tend to be a no person. I can produce about fifty reasons why something won’t work in about half a second.

My oldest daughter is an extrovert with big ideas and loves having people over. Last year she proposed the idea to host a back to school party inviting every fifth-grade girl. My head reeled with the work involved, but the learning opportunity was too great to pass up. We gave her the green light and ended up with thirty-two girls at our house one Saturday afternoon. Parents informed me they had to stay in town that weekend because their kids insisted they attend the party.

My daughter made invitations, created a schedule, decorated the house, prepared food, and was responsible for the entire cleanup effort.

This reminds me of our journey with God. We all have ideas and goals, yet we are experts at pushing them aside. I had a long list of why throwing a pre-teen girl party was a poor idea. Instead, we encouraged her creativity and she gained valuable lessons not found on paper. There is something about experiencing the life cycle of an idea. She brought an idea to life. She experienced the work involved, overcome obstacles, and could then reflect on what she would do differently.

God does not limit our capabilities. Why do we? Our ideas won’t come to fruition in a day, a year, or even a decade. They might not look the same when you are finished. While there is no certainty in pursuing a dream, it’s guaranteed not to happen if you don’t try.

God gave me the idea to write down my story of a spiritual transformation and how He freed me from fear. I wrote a little bit every day for years. Now I have a manuscript. Who would have thought?

What are the ideas/goals you are putting off?

Instead of pushing aside your dreams, push aside the reasons you are unable to do them. What steps can you take today or tomorrow towards that goal?

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Transformation through Paint

We recently painted my daughter’s room from pink to blueish gray. There are so many activities we can’t do now, this is one thing we can. 

We moved into our current home when our oldest daughter was six. At the time, she requested a bright pink color for her bedroom. This April she turned eleven and her tastes are maturing.

When there was a small patch of pink remaining on the wall, my middle daughter said, “The pink is almost gone, that’s sad.” After this statement, I got nostalgic and realized my little girl who loved pink all those years is growing up. It was kinda sad.

When the room was complete, we remarked how one can of paint completely transformed a room from bright and youthful to calming and serene. The ambiance of the room had morphed.  

For the most part, the room was new, remade, ready to take its owner into a new season of her life. Even though the room took on a new persona, the pink still remained underneath. It existed behind the blue, and maybe along a few edges.  

This reminds me of God and how He transforms and renews us just like we modified my daughter’s room. God doesn’t wipe away our past, it will always remain just like the pink paint will always be there even if it can’t be seen. Our past is a part of who we are and where we came from.

We get to bring the difficult parts from our past to God and He makes us new again. I tried to hide and ignore the hurt and pain I felt from losing my mom to suicide when I was twenty. When I finally transferred the baggage I was carrying around to my Heavenly Father, He restored me. He gave me a fresh coat of paint and a new passion for life. I can’t change my past, but I can accept His love and grace and use my story and grief for His glory.

The previous version of me will always remain. My mom is still gone and that will never change, but He is using this part of my story to transform me into the person He created me to be. I have a new paint color, a renewed spirit.

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Minimalist Meets Corona

Paper towel and toilet paper aisle at BJ’s

I am a minimalist by nature. When it comes to inventory management in our home, specifically related to food, I tend to under-do my buying. It took me years of adjustment to increase my purchases to provide for a family of five. Thankfully, it’s been a gradual adjustment as each child develops and begins eating more and more.  

Buying extra of anything goes against my natural fibers. When others buy three, I buy one. When most buy at least one, I buy none. I don’t know how I got this way but it’s who I am.

I found myself at BJ’s stocking up because the world is in uncharted territory trying to manage a contagious virus. Shelves are empty and fear is everywhere. I called my husband asking for advice about how much I should purchase. I felt pretty good about my cart overflowing with items. This alone is an amazing accomplishment.

Over the phone, I asked him, “Why did we send a minimalist to stock up on food? This seems like a bad idea.” I can’t even fathom what thirty days of food looks like. How do you buy for that in one trip?

When minimalism collides with the ripple effect from the Coronavirus, things get tricky. My minimalism bleeds into other areas and as a result, there is an internal conflict between a feeling of scarcity and a desire to provide opportunities for creativity and fun. Just yesterday, my five-year-old daughter was independently attempting to make her own version of Vaseline. In the bathroom, she mixed a combination of toothpaste, water and hand soap. While I appreciate her imagination, I can’t exactly go to the store and stock up on liquid hand soap right now. How can we be responsible with our supplies without instilling fear in our kids?  

Thankfully we have a God who provides for us abundantly, especially when it comes to the intangibles in life like love, joy, peace, play, creativity, silliness, and laughter. While I might be trying to encourage responsible usage of toilet paper in my house, maybe this is the time to embrace our creative and silly side? Maybe these intangibles are powerful weapons during a time of uncertainty. God does not withhold from us, we just forget to ask. Why shouldn’t we sing, dance, love, and be silly? What’s holding us back?  

It’s critical to have earnest conversations because we are all feeling an onslaught of emotions. However, if I remain in a state of permanent gloom, my hope and joy dwindle and I tend to take my kids down with me. If I can insert joy and fun into the house our spirits lift. How will we ever know the magnitude of God’s unrelenting love and abilities if we limit His access?