Can A Mom Forget Her Nursing Child?

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Isaiah 49- the promises of Israel’s restoration and the Lords compassion and unending presence.

A prayer- Lord, thank You for being a compassionate God. One that does not leave us alone in our suffering and who can never forget us. Forgive us for questioning You and doubting You and wondering where You are. You are there always, always working and moving in ways we cannot see. Your plan is restoration for Your people. May Your will be done in us today. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

A New Year’s Verse & Last Year’s Word

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/07f/54734968/files/2014/12/img_7678.jpgWow, we’re 2 days into 2019.  Someone tell me where 2018 went?? I’m already feeling like I can’t keep up- I can’t decide on a word for the year…maybe a handful will do?? Maybe I should just choose the word “simple” and that would solve all my problems- ha!

While I don’t feel my mental calendar has flipped the page to 2019, it’s here and with each new year, for me, comes the desire to change up a few things in my life.  It’s a time to reflect on the previous year and set some goals or “resolutions” to be better in the following year.  You do it too, right??

Over the years, I’ve set many of these so-called resolutions, but I find, so often, they don’t stick.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I can remember starting a read-the Bible-in-a-year devotional (more than once!)…I made it to about maybe mid January.  I know I started several new workout regimes only to fall off the wagon soon after I got on.  Why is this??  Is it because we are relying upon our own strength and will to set and accomplish these new goals?? Are we setting ourselves up for failure by expecting too much?

What would happen if we prayerfully considered and established goals, words or verses for ourselves and relied we on the power of the Holy Spirit to see things through? What would happen if we resided to rest in Him and the grace He offers when we forget or don’t follow through on those new year commitments?? What if we took the pressure off of ourselves to perform and humbly allowed Him to move and work in our hearts and lives?

“Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6

Last year my word of the year was courage- and while I ignored it on some days, there is a vast difference in my courage level from one year ago. HUGE, actually. And it’s because of Him. I’ve struggled with fear most of my life. I still do at times and probably forever will, but who knows, with God all things are possible, right!? So, for me, courage was the perfect word last year. And please know I have in no way reached a pinnacle of “courage” perfection- ha! As I reread my “courage list” I see many areas I still need him to move mightily in!

img_0325This was the cheesy picture I sent my friends as we all shared our words of the year. And below are the words I wrote as I began 2018, the places I needed God to help make me brave.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief; bravery, valor, FEARLESSNESS, audacity, boldness.

The courage to trust the Lord.

The courage to let go.

The courage to be authentic.

The courage to be bold in faith.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to be different.

The courage to go against the flow.

The courage not to yell.

The courage to speak the truth with love.

The courage to love freely, openly and with no regrets.

The courage to write.

The courage to speak and speak up.

The courage to give to others.

The courage for missions when it’s scary.

The courage to only seek Gods approval.

The courage to be consistent disciplining my children.

The courage to say yes.

The courage to say no.

The courage to take the risk even though I’m afraid.

The courage to let others in.

Their courage to ask for help.

The courage to be kind.

The courage to be humble.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to do His will.

The courage to say the hard things

The courage to think before I speak.

The courage to forget.

The courage to remember.

The courage to cry.

The courage not to cry.

Courage.

Funny–is it just me or is the word “courage” starting to look misspelled? It’s interesting how looking at a word so long can do that. Even if we say it too much it might start sounding strange.  Which was probably good that everyday I didn’t just wake up and say, “COURAGE!” or continuously repeat the word to myself– it was there when I needed it and an unspoken between the Lord and me. I didn’t rely on the word “courage” to help me but somehow rested in Him and His unfolding of new courage in areas I’ve longed to be more brave in. It’s been like a river He has taken me through, guiding me with the current, developing courage subtly and slowly, without me really even realizing it until now as I reflect upon Him moving and working in my life in the last 365 days.

Maybe before 2020 I’ll have the courage to pick just one of the many words on my heart for 2019 and get back to my initial point of this post!

Not by might now by power but by HIS SPIRIT.

His Spirit will help us in ways we don’t even see or know.

Whatever word, verse, motto we choose this year, may we give it to Him and take note of how He moves and changes us and shows Himself to us. And if you’d like to share, I’d love to know your goals, resolutions, etc…

Happy New Year friends, love y’all!

Thank You, Sweet Jesus for working in ways we can’t even see. Thank you for being so good and faithful even when we are not. I pray today that we feel your love and grace and rest in the plans You have to carry us, mold us and make us new. I pray we press into this new year and forget the things behind. I pray we are steadfast in seeking You and that we wake each day with purpose in our hearts- Your purpose for us. Daily may we give ourselves to You. By humbling ourselves, listening to the Spirit’s leading, and letting You guide us as we determine our goals, word, motto, and/or verses of the year, help us purposefully put them into action each day. May we go into this year with Your grace in our arms knowing that even if we slip, mess up or fail all together, nothing will change Your love for us. In Your saving Name I pray, AMEN. 

 

Broken Hands & Clenched Fists

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This was a recent guest post on my friend Emma Mason’s blog (link here). Thought I would share with you all too! Merry Christmas Eve!


A few weeks ago, while decorating the house for Christmas, I came across our nativity scenes. We have two and they both make me super happy because they are both so special. One was a gift from my parents many years ago and the other belonged to my paternal grandmother.

Unfortunately, one nativity scene has several pieces that have broken over the years- baby Jesus’ hand, Mary’s hand and this year, I noticed Joseph’s hand was somehow knocked off. The other nativity scene was in pristine condition as I carefully pulled it from the box then WHAM! I clanked the pieces together and off fell Mary’s left hand. UGH.

As I glued the hand back on I couldn’t help but think of the position of Mary’s hands reflecting the position of her heart. Both hands in this figurine are open to Jesus. Yes, she is His mother, but before God even opened her womb she had opened her hands and heart to Him.

I’m reminded of her response to Gabriel, the angel who tells her of the supernatural pregnancy she will soon experience:

“’I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said. “May it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38

Now let’s just stop for a minute and put ourselves in her shoes- I think I might have laughed like Sarai did in the Old Testament if an angel had come to me and told me the news that I would be carrying God’s One and Only Son. The Word, God in human form…the One that was promised long ago to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace. The One everyone had been waiting on. I also think I would be very, very afraid of what was to come and what others would think.

But Mary, having open hands, child-like faith and an obedient, willing heart humbly responded to the angel, “OK, whatever you say.”

I mean, wow.

Maybe that’s why He chose her…But honestly, if we are children of God, we are all chosen to have open hands and open hearts to whatever He has for our lives, right?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel my hands are clenched tightly. I lay in bed at night and must consciously relax and open my hands. It seems they have developed a need to retreat to a position of being closed. Has my heart assumed this position too? Maybe my hands are closed because I’m tense or anxious and that’s where it all goes, maybe because I have a phone in my hand so much of the day my hands just assume that position, or maybe it’s my age- I did turn 40 this year? Who knows… but it’s something I must continually do and have become very aware of. Open my hands, stretch out my fingers. Keep my hands open.

Back to my heart- shouldn’t I practice this same exercise here too? Each day wake up and stretch open my heart to the Lord. His ways, His words, His voice and His plans for my life…even and especially if they look different than what I had planned. Keep my heart open.

I’m fairly certain carrying baby Jesus and giving birth to the One who would save people from their sins was not what Mary or Joseph had in mind as they were beginning their relationship. And surely, they had no idea what his life would entail- the criticism, ridicule and His brutal death. And yet, they were the Lord’s servants. Open hearts and open hands to do His will.

Somedays my hands and heart are humbly open to the Lord…other days, they are closed tightly around the things I hold dear and my heart seems shut down and far from him…which begs the question-what truth about God am I not believing?

As I type this, tears are brewing in my eyes because I know what often holds me back- I don’t know what’s next.

But neither did Mary. Neither did Abraham as he walked his only son Isaac up the mountain to the altar. When I think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as a grown man begging God to take the cup from Him because He knew what was coming yet He still humbly responded with an open heart and hands, “…not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

With my fists clenched and heart closed off I’m not believing that His ways or plans are good, or that no matter what’s around the corner, He is good still and can bring good from any situation. I’m not believing He truly loves me.

I can’t control people or circumstances, so my hands and heart assume a closed-off position while holding tightly to what I can because I know that sometimes our biggest fears come true. Sometimes people hurt others, babies die before they even breathe a breath and we cannot make sense of the tragedies we see or experience. BUT- I cannot look to or think about these things more than I look to, think about and believe the truths about God. His promises for good, to be our comfort, for peace and joy, the promise of HEAVEN. The promise and help of His Spirit when bad times come, the promise that His character is ALWAYS GOOD and even though this world is often hard, and disaster comes, HE CAN BE TRUSTED to bring good. Somehow, someway. IF we look to Him for help with open hands and hearts.

Keep my hands open. Keep my heart open.

Our 7-year-old son has placed two gifts in his stocking- one for Santa and one for Jesus. How sweet that he is giving something to Jesus this year for His birthday. I mean, we do leave Santa and his reindeer cookies and milk, right? Of course, we should give something to the Lord as we celebrate His birth.

I want to end this post asking, what will we give Jesus this year? What gift can we give Him? Can we give Him our clenched fists, so he can open them? Can we give Him our broken hands, so He can heal them? Can we give Him our whole hearts today and every day? Can we truly say, “I am Your servant…Your will not mine”?

I think we can. After all, with God all things are possible.

Lord, thank You for Your Word filled with many promises we can cling to. Thank you for the many humble, broken people in the 66 books of the Bible that can teach us how to open our hearts and hands to You. Forgive us when we don’t trust You or when we question Your will or ways. Help us get to a place of surrender. Keep our hands and hearts open to You for salvation, Your Spirit, guidance, comfort, peace, joy, grace and to be used by You. May we gift you our hearts and hands this Christmas. May our eyes see you and look to you, not our circumstance or what if’s. If we are going to clench our fists may it be because we are holding tightly to You and the promises of You. The now and always of You- You are a good God, You love us, Your ways are good, and we can trust You. Happy Birthday, our Savior and King. May Your will be done. In Your mighty saving name, I pray, Amen.

No Shadow of Shame

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It was Christmas Eve. There had been a situation and I was extremely angered by it. Looking back, it didn’t warrant that much anger…but we live, and we learn, don’t we?

Anyway. Angry was I and I didn’t just keep that anger in. I let anyone and everyone in my path have it, even taking it so far as to leave the situation. I just needed to find the Lord and be near Him. To feel His presence and to let Him calm me. So, I headed to the local Catholic church because I knew it would be open at 3pm on Christmas Eve and wasn’t sure about our home church.

I huffed and puffed and made it there safely, my baby in tow, wondering if jumping in the fountain of holy water would take care of my heart situation. While knowing water wasn’t what I needed but just God, Jesus, His Spirit and a big dose of humble pie.

I took a seat in a pew and wouldn’t you know it, there was a group of children singing carols-practicing for an evening performance. I sat, letting my baby play in the floor below me, hoping no one would even notice me, and I cried.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as the sweet sound of children singing flowed through my soul. Words about my Savior, His humble beginnings, His love for us. As I quieted my crazy and humbled myself, His presence was so vastly known to me; although I felt such shame and regret for my behavior.

I remembered the verse my discipleship group and I had recently memorized:

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their face.” Psalm 34:5

Ouch, it stung.

Shame had darkened my face because I let my anger rule my moments and hurt others in the process. Shame darkened my face because I was full of pride and selfishness. Shame darkened my face because in the heat of the moment I did not look to God. I could’ve continue to let shame darken my face, but I looked to Him with a broken and contrite heart, for help.

And help me He did.

I collected myself and the wandering baby, and drove quietly back home to apologize for my outrageous behavior.

While not grateful I had stormed out of the house, I was grateful for some time to clear my head and for a church with open doors on Christmas Eve filled with the sound of children singing. It was me looking to Him and Him helping me. It was me getting to a place of humbling myself and being radiant with joy, even though radiant and joy are not two words that come to mind when I reminisce about the situation. However, in humility, I sought the Lord and found Him. I looked to His radiant face full of joy and therefore was somehow reflecting His Light. Now, did it really require me driving to a church to find Him? Of course not, but my first full sentence as a kid was “My go church all night”, so I know if I’m grappling for Him when the chaos and my sin are ever-abundant and swirling around me, I will find Him at church (and quite often in my pantry!). Thank you, Jesus.

In the last year, I have often thought of this verse; it’s actually in a frame in my closet it means so much to me.

In fact, just this morning as one child was having a meltdown I recited these words out loud, “…those who look to Him for help…help me Lord...”. Just as His Word promises, He heard me and I let Him help me turn a frustrating situation into laughter and joy.

I’ll write it again for us…

“Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy…”

Yes, Lord, may we all look to you with humble hearts eager to seek your radiant face for joy, calm, love and grace. We need your help for this journey! Help us to remember a broken and contrite spirit You do not despise but work mightily in. Help us to stay in this place as we enter the very busy season of Christmas. Help us to keep our eyes turned upon your wonderful face and ponder the reason for this season. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

Take a minute and listen to the words of this old hymn…love you friends.

Halloween Giving and Free Printables

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One of my greatest desires for our children is that they are others-focused.  Not that I have in any way mastered this, but together, I want us to love to give and to do so with cheerful hearts.

Halloween, like other holidays for children, is a lot about receiving, of getting something from someone else.  We have always participated in this receiving, but one year, with my husband out of town and not wanting to tackle trick-or-treating alone with all 3 kiddos, I decided we would stay in and give out for a change.

I didn’t want to just hand out candy, though.  Somehow I wanted to be able to share the love of Christ with those coming to our door step.  What an opportunity, right!?  I found and printed off some cute Halloween-themed wallet sized cards with a bible verse on them and let the kids help me laminate and cut them out (so fun for the kids!).

“…make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5

The evening of Halloween rolled around and we were so excited. Costumes were on, we had a bucket of candy and a bucket of verse cards, we were ready! When the princesses, superheroes and other cute (and some scary!) characters came up to our porch to trick-or-treat, my children handed them candy and a verse card and told them “Jesus loves you!” It was really a precious sight.  Thanks to a friend, my older kids were even able to go to a few houses and trick-or-treat.

That night, as so many people came to our house and we handed out candy and verse cards, my heart was full.  It even made me wish we did something like it for Christmas and Easter and not just Halloween- but that’s dreaming really big, isn’t it!?  It also made me realize we can take anything and turn it into a way to share hope with others.

“…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Since that particular Halloween, we have enjoyed continuing this tradition and have designed some verse cards with some of our favorite verses.  If you would like to do more than just hand out candy this Halloween, a simple “Jesus loves you” is easy and great, or you can click here to download the Halloween verse cards we designed in PDF.

As I type this, my children are happily (for now ha!) cutting and laminating our batch of cards. They don’t have to be laminated and would work just fine without the lamination, we just kind of love and enjoy using our laminating machine. You can also right click and save the individual images below and print at Walgreens or Walmart for more professional and evenly cut cards (wink-wink).

Happy Halloween giving, friends!

Halloween 2018 verse card printable PDF link

B.D. B.D. B.D.

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Over the years, the kiddos and I have used the A.B.C. Scripture Cards as a way to pray and memorize Scripture.  (Click HERE for an earlier post/video and more information on these awesome cards)

I wanted to share the two particular verses that have stood out and helped us the most so far.

The two verses are -you guessed it!- the “B” and “D” verses.

B: “Be kind to one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

D: “Do to others as you would want done to yourself.” Luke 6:31

In our house, B and D are not just two simple letters being put together, but two BIG letters pointing my children back to some very important words. When my children start picking at each other or fighting, I quietly and firmly say to them, “B.D.”, and they know exactly what it means. I even ask them if they are “B.D-ing” in certain situations, which quickly makes the light bulb go off in their sweet minds to recognize how they are acting, realize they aren’t “B.D-ing” and respond by “B.D-ing”.

This year, as my son has been adjusting to 1st grade in a new school we have really been going over B.D. So much that we’ve taken it a step further and on most days I write it on his hands. He then writes it on mine.  We are in this together and I need to be reminded of B.D. just as much as he does.

Using these verses and the letters in which they stand for has created a unique way to communicate quickly and effectively as I parent and it has so greatly impacted the kids. I even see them writing B.D. in random places- YAY. 

While I know the Lord’s greatest concern is our heart and not just our actions, getting His Words planted deeply in a heart can cause great transformation and lasting change.  “B.D.” has been an incredible way to come back, not to my words, but to God’s and how He desires us to treat others so I wanted to share. Love you all.

A Sabbath from Social

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I grabbed my phone, swiped to the second page, tapped my social media box and clicked on Instagram. No new notifications and after scrolling a bit not much new there either. So I switch to my Facebook app right next to IG and opened it up. 9+ notifications- yay, that’s nice! Oh, wait… Nothing too interesting to really be notified about, just some new likes and invitations and oh, I think I’ll respond to the comment my friend left on one of my posts. So I like her comment, post my reply then re-read it and edit it because I’m not sure how it sounds- I add an emoji to help convey my emotion–I would hate for there to be any misunderstanding on what I really was meaning in my comment- and post my edited reply….

The kids start fighting from across the house and my 2 year old starts trying to throw something at my head. I want to keep looking at my feed and let the anxiety from my comment and how it’s portrayed settle so I harshly tell the baby “No. No” and yell at the kids to stop fighting. I mean can’t they see I’m busy?

I go back to my feed.

The fighting gets worse except at this point I’m on a really great informative post about parenting and how I can be better at it so I’m all in here until I hear a scream and someone starts crying. I huff and puff, put the Facebook and my phone down and come back to reality- mothering (or referring in this case–did they offer that as an elective in college? Maybe it would’ve helped me as a parent a little more? Right?).

I break up the fight but now the baby is into the cup drawer again and there are cups everywhere and he’s taken his diaper off cause he went “shoo-shoo”.  Ugh.  All I want to do is get back on FB and finish that article so I can know how to do this parenting thing better but these three little ones keep requiring me to give them my attention which because of my phone and social media has become so very, very divided.

The conviction that it’s time for a change resides over me but I don’t give in quite so easily.  I know what the Lord is calling me to, but I resist the urge to obey… I continue to let social media take up more and more of my time and my joy with my children.  It’s not so much the posting and sharing as it is the time spent scrolling, commenting, and even the things social media has brought out of my heart. Things like jealousy, criticism, judgement, loneliness, fear, anxiety and even anger to name a few.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about? Does the previous scenario sound familiar to you, too?? Do those sins that lurk around in my heart take up space in yours as well?


After starting Breathe by Pricilla Shirer with a group of ladies this summer, the conviction grew.

This study was all about Sabbath rest and making room for it. In fact, the Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat” and means to cease, to stop, to pause, to come to an end. Pricilla questions us from the get-go: “What are we overdoing in our lives? Is there anything we can’t stop? Anything we can’t say no to? What do we need less of?” She says, “Once something is allowed to creep past it’s appropriate place in your life- once you’re unable to say “no” to it- it has become an illegitimate god (an idol)“. GULP.

She encourages us that we gain something when we give up something and that although it takes discipline to decline, freedom lies on the other side of our obedience. She reminds us through Biblical text that on the 7th day, God created rest and we would be incomplete without it. It’s a gift to be celebrated, cherished and respected. I love what my Bible study teacher Leith had to say about it: “Rest is where peace is found.” So beautiful and true.

I knew the conviction on my heart was an invitation to change. To let God mold me. To be a better, more present mother. To give up something to gain something. I knew I needed to “Shabbat” from the social and I confessed to my group what I felt the Lord calling me to do- take the month of July off.

It was out there so I had to do it now. I told my husband and he so encouragingly told me I couldn’t do it- ha! I proved him wrong because I did it! It’s August and I still haven’t opened the floodgates. Mainly because I need to make sure my heart is in the right spot and the social is in the right spot on my priority list.

Looking back, this “fast from my feed” went by really quickly. The first few days I did find myself out of boredom and probably mostly habit just going to tap on the apps but they weren’t there. My hobby had become a habit- an idol that was taking up too much space in my life- I was glad the Lord had called me to a break.

On a side note….isn’t it interesting it’s called a “feed”? I’ve never really thought about it until now but it sounds a lot like food and like something we nibble on…which we do, I guess? Consuming highlights of others lives, binging on the latest stories of both good and bad, uninspiring and inspiring, seeking fulfillment in a place that will never fully satisfy…and I guess just like we must have self control with food, we need it with anything else we are “feeding” on, right?

The following are a few things I learned from my sabbath from the social:

  • I was often seeking approval and affirmations from the social instead of seeking the Lord for this in my insecurities and weaknesses. I am already super known and super loved by God. If I know this deep down in the depths of my heart and soul, I will long for nothing else but Him and His approval.
  • There is certainly a place for the social- it’s an amazing gift of technology and freedom and a tool for so many things BUT, it like anything, can become a sin/idol.  It, like most things, boils down to the heart and priorities.
  • I’m so guilty of over-posting and over-sharing at times but checking my motives before I post can help me moderate things better.
  • If I’m always on the social or my phone, it leaves little room for personal space with the Lord and my family.
  • The sin may not be in earthly terms that great but the ignoring of the conviction or condition of my heart can along all facets be.
  • My phone- the distraction it brings and how tethered I can be to it makes me more prone to sin- to be testy with those closest to me, judgmental, critical, jealous and even competitive of those I call “friends”.
  • Social Media can be a breeding ground for love, hope, laughter and life but it can also be a breeding ground for everything the opposite. My heart must be guarded before I social. Before I check in I need to check my heart. Am I tired, lonely? Feeling like a bad mom? Maybe social isn’t the best place to go. It could easily enhance those feelings of loneliness and failure.
  • There is freedom in the fast. Sometimes it’s found right away, other times it’s not until after the completion of the fast that the freedom comes.
  • In this fast, I gained freedom from the rope tied to the social. It’s a freedom I can’t explain in words, but it’s known in my heart. I gained precious moments with my family. I read more, prayed more and spent more time with the Lord.
  • There are seasons in life. Different seasons require/call for different things. Different seasons bring varying freedoms and convictions. We must learn to flow with the seasons God has us go through (hard for me!).

So. What now? Honestly, I’m a little nervous about hoping back on and scrolling through the feed. Will it turn into a monster again? Especially when I really would like to publish my “meet Me in the mornings” Facebook page that’s been sitting there for, ummm, years.

I guess all I can do is stay in tune with the Lord to hear Him and let Him guide me on the social, which if I’m listening, I know He will.

A Prayer for the Social
Heavenly Father. You are so good, kind, loving and patient with your children. Thank You. God, guide us as we live in this day and age of technology. Help us to act on any calling or conviction you’ve placed on our hearts and trust You for deliverance. You will provide, Your Word is true. Help us to stand firm and represent You well as followers of Christ. Help us to only be enslaved to You, to feed only on your Word more than we feed on the social. We all want to be liked and known, forgive us for trying to get that from others when it’s already there! We are not just liked by you but deeply LOVED and so very KNOWN by You. Help us to hold fast to these truths! Create in us pure hearts, bring out any stuff lurking in the dark so we can remove it with your Spirit. Help us to rest. To Shabbat. To be present. Give us wisdom and strength to get, have and keep our priorities right and in line with you, committed to You, and laid at Your feet. May we bring glory to You in all that we do. In Jesus’ mighty, saving name, AMEN.