As I was praying about what I could post for Mother’s Day last week, part of me was at a loss. I thought back to my early years of motherhood~
All the helpless moments. The weary days and the long nights.
And all the amazing moments filled with joy and laughter.
The longing in a Grandma’s heart to go back and do it better,
or just to go back and hold them and rock them one more time.
There were times my husband and I thought we had it all figured out, but as I look back now, I realize we didn’t know a thing. With age comes wisdom. The wisdom in admitting that even at this age~I don’t know a thing. That knowledge has my heart searching for answers, and for wisdom from those who have been where I am even now.
And so, I asked my Mother In Law if she could impart wisdom to young moms, and older moms, and all the moms in between. I have always viewed my Mother In Law as the “All Knowing Fountain of Wisdom”, so her response surprised me. Her words were: “I appreciate that you feel that my advice has the potential to be of benefit to anyone, but I fear you may be seeing me through eyes of love.” And so, perhaps I did glean a little age old wisdom in my acknowledgment that~ the older we get, the more we feel we aren’t really wise at all. And yet, her words brought truth to my heart that I wanted to share with all ladies, whether you are a mom or not.
Here are her words:
1. “Marry the right man. When dealing with moms, they have already made that decision for better or worse. The philosophy of “it takes a village” may be popular, but it ideally takes a couple who are willing to devote themselves to raising responsible human beings who know and love God. People who can take care of themselves and others.” (The verdict is still out on whether or not she thinks I chose wisely. She keeps reminding me~”I warned you”… 😂)
2. “Children don’t belong to us. If we do it right they become independent and we feel abandoned until we realize we gave them the tools that made it possible.”
3. Seek backup and be the backup. My mother in law told me that she had “total backup. Husband, parents, in-laws, sisters, all in harmony with their beliefs. Very few people are so blessed.” So often I hear parents sharing hardships on their journey of child rearing, and sadly I also hear the response~’it was your choice to have kids.’ Raising godly children who love the Lord and want to serve Him is probably the hardest yet most important task a mother can do. A task that ultimately brings great glory to God. Be the back up. Don’t demean that task with trivial comments. Just as you have hardships in your life, mom’s do too. Let’s strive to support them on their journey of motherhood and raising little ones who will one day be our next generation.
As I was having my devotions this week, God brought something to my attention. Even Moses, the man who God spoke to directly, needed advice from his Father In Law. Moses could have responded to his Father In Law in a negative way. He could have said- ‘Don’t you realize who you are advising? The man who talks directly to God! Who do you think you are?’ But that wasn’t his response at all . He humbly accepted the advice given, and it helped him tremendously. God could have given that advice to Moses directly, but God chose to use Moses Father in Law to impart that wisdom.
Ladies, we don’t have it all figured out. We never will until we get to glory, especially when it comes to this mom thing. Learn to seek wisdom from those who have traveled this journey before us. I’m so thankful I did. My Mother In Law may believe that I see her this way through eyes of love, but God has used her in mighty ways in my life, and for that I will forever be thankful.
Marry the right man. Give your children to God. Seek backup. Be the backup. Four simple things, yet four things that can change your life and the lives of your children for eternity.
Thank you Mom! I love you!
I was blessed to have a very unusual high school experience.
I know many others could not say the same. When I look back on those years, I truly believe God used every incident to produce habits in my own life for years to come. For that, I am forever grateful.
I went to a very small Christian high school that was a part of our church ministry. The friendships that were forged are the kind that last a lifetime. One thing about those years that really stands out in my heart and mind is this~
I never felt alone.
I felt loved by a community of believers and friends who always had my back. Through grief they comforted. When I fell away from God, they lovingly picked me up. When I laughed, they laughed with me. When I cried, they held me close. When God moved in hearts, we celebrated together.
There was never a feeling of loneliness, unworthiness or judgment. I never felt the need to be something I was not.
Many years have passed since I was that impressionable teenager. Sadly, through the years a few people have now and then made me feel like I didn’t quite measure up.
I know that I am not alone in this area, and yet it’s an incredibly lonely feeling.
There have been times I have fallen away from God and felt shame. Times I would never dream of sharing my failures with others, or even ask for help because of that shame. I was all too familiar with the inevitable reaction of shaking heads and disapproving judgment.
There have been times I find myself knee deep in the insecure feelings of “not good enough”, convinced that I’m doing it wrong, saying it wrong, writing it wrong or sharing it wrong. Convinced that everyone else has their act together and knows what they’re doing in their Christian walk, except for me. Convinced I should be someone else. A much better version of me.
What have we become? Why are so many churches filled with people that look the part but have no empathy or compassion for others? Who continually find the speck of wrong doing in others, but can’t even see the log homes of pretense they themselves are building? (Matthew 7:1-5) Churches filled with people, often women, who make others feel “less than” and alone.
Our church communities should not be this way. I have found that many churches tend to lean one way or the other. Too many churches are made up of people playing a part. People who look down on others who don’t outwardly measure up. The Bible calls them Pharisees. (Matthew 23:25-28) On the other hand there are churches filled with people who share the “come as you are” mantra, but don’t follow through with biblical teaching on how to grow beyond where they linger. There is no solid ground of repentance and forgiveness, encouragement and change. It’s all just a “feel good” atmosphere. The Bible calls this the seeds that have fallen on stony places. (Matthew 13:4-9, 18-23) Both can leave a person feeling very alone.
Jesus never intended any of this to be our reality.
What was my high school reality? I can remember a friend sharing scripture with me on the bus ride to a basketball game. I was going through uncertainty, and she lifted me up with God’s words. When I found out my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, I can remember the comfort I felt in the embrace of a friend as she held me in silence and allowed me to cry. I can remember a group of us sharing tears of joy in the bathroom after a revival service at our church. I can remember testimonies of God’s working in front of bonfires. I can remember sharing the gospel with a new student and friend in an empty room off of the church sanctuary, and her prayer asking Jesus to save her. I can remember that Jesus was real to us, and we were real with each other.
What habits did my high school years teach me? That we could be truthful without feeling “less than”. That we could share in the good without the worry that others would think we were bragging. That we could cry without being made to feel weak. That we could share our struggles without condemnation. That we could talk about God without feeling like others viewed us as trying to appear “better than”.
That we could be real.
Real and never alone.
Just like Jesus taught.
Just like Jesus was here on earth~
and still is today.
That should be our reality.
A fellow sister in Christ should never feel alone. We should have each others backs instead of sticking knives in them. We should lend a hand when they fall, and give our heart when they’re hurting. We should rejoice when they rejoice, and weep when they weep. (Romans 12) We should reach down and lift them up. We should be the hands and feet of Jesus, and have the heart of Him who saved us from the wretched sinners we all are. (Romans 3: 10, 23)
Somehow I think too many forget that part.
Today, search your hearts. Look into someone’s eyes and tell them it’s going to be okay. Give them your hand and your heart and lift them up. Share God’s words of love with them.
Empowerment as women should not be our goal.
Making sure that others never feel alone should be our calling.
Just like Jesus.
A habit we should never, ever forget.
I’m very good at judging a book by its cover, especially the “judging” part. Something I do not take pride in.
My problem is, I never read the entire book. I decide I know the whole story just by skimming a few chapters, or even looking at the cover.
I realized the other day how often I will watch other women, how often I will listen to their words and how often I will come to a conclusion about them based solely on a few comments or their outward demeanor. I am ashamed to say that I allow my mind those conclusions when only God knows their heart. I Samuel 16:7
I am not God.
One comment, one action, one mean word
and we can tend to write someone off as a bad book.
We have no idea what’s going on in their heart, in the ugly chapters with the long words and heartbreaking scenarios. We don’t know what they’ve been through or might be going through. The defenses and walls they’ve put up. The hurt they’ve endured. The sadness that overwhelms.
There is always something deeper.
I am not condoning bad behavior. We should always strive to be like Christ, but often we are quick to apply that rule to others and not to ourselves. Matthew 7:2-5
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
I know without a doubt that Christ has never had thoughts similar to those I have had in the past. Wretched thoughts such as~
“What a jerk. What a witch.
What a miserable, horrible person”.
Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139: 16-17
Putting it on paper makes me weep because I know, all Christ sees is love. Forgiveness. Understanding. Mercy and grace.
He sympathizes with our circumstances because He is fully aware of what this life entails. He’s been through it. His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5, Philippians 2:6,7, Hebrews 4:15,16
Too often I have heard the words…
“but you don’t know what she’s like, what she said, what she did, what she wrote. You don’t know…”
I have spoken those exact words myself.
God knows though. Inevitably by saying those words I am somehow trying to justify myself for my wrong actions in judging that person.
My actions that were not Christlike.
My actions that were no better than hers.
There have been times I was hurting deeply. There have been times I have been stuck in a place of darkness and loneliness, feeling as if no one understood. All the raw emotions that gripped me would suddenly spill out, and I would lash out at someone from the agonizing pain I had been holding in. Other moments tears would be so close that I would remain quiet, appearing aloof. In all my setbacks and shortcomings, I am so glad Christ never judged me by my cover. I am so glad he knew my thoughts and heart and instead of judging He was my advocate to God my Father. He sat with me in the pain and pulled me out of it. He gave me grace. I John 2:1-2, James 4:6
Oh ladies, why can’t we be like Christ? Why can’t we look a little deeper and show a little more empathy? Why are we so quick to judge and so lax to pray? Why can’t we offer to sit with them in the pain~with grace on our lips instead of grumbling in our hearts?
I want to be that book called grace. I want my pictures and words to be beautiful illustrations of mercy, empathy, forgiveness and love.
More important, when God looks at my thoughts and heart toward others, I want Him to see those exact pictures too. We can hide behind a beautifully illustrated cover, but what does Christ see when He looks inside? Proverbs 4:23, I Peter 3:3-4, Psalm 19:14
Our world is a wounded, hurting world. A world that desperately needs Hope, the hope that only Christ can give.
A world that needs to read your book.
Let it be the book called Grace.
James 4:6,11-12, I Peter 2:9, Proverbs 3:3-4
As a mother, one of the most comforting passages in scripture to me are the simple words of Jesus in John 2~
My hour is not yet come.
In other words~
It’s not time yet, this wasn’t the plan.
The magnitude of this speaks volumes to my mama heart because it shows the heart my Savior had for his own earthly mother.
The God of the universe, the Christ who controls every aspect of time and space and knows every detail of our lives down to the second~
changed the very course of time for his mother.
It wasn’t time for Him to reveal God’s plan to the world. It wasn’t time for Him to reveal Himself as the Messiah. It wasn’t His plan to perform His first miracle that day.
Until that moment, He was simply a guest at a wedding.
With the pleas of a mother, all of that changed in an instant. Not because she was a saint.
Not because she had some power over Him that He could not refuse.
Simply because she was his mama,
a normal mama just like you and me.
A mother. A miracle. A Messiah.
His mother asked for help from the only One she knew could truly help.
She needed a miracle.
He did not hesitate.
His heart for her was displayed in a single moment.
Compassion, empathy, honor, love.
And yes, that speaks volumes to me. Because I know that He knows.
He has compassion and empathy and love.
Whatever I am facing as a mother, He will understand, and He will always be there to perform the miracles this mother needs in her own life.
No matter what stage of motherhood you are in, Jesus will be with you through it all.
~When the pregnancy test comes back positive and suddenly, you are holding a precious newborn in your arms.
~When your once peaceful home becomes crazy and chaotic with toddlers and toys, diapers and bottles, giggles and laughter.
~When you fight back the tears on their first day of kindergarten and their last day of
~When you smile for every “first” you get to experience, every proud moment, every minute spent together, every confidence shared.
~When you cry as they drive off to college or vow their life to another.
~When suddenly you are staring into the sweetness and wonder of your first grandchild, and it feels like it was just yesterday that you were holding their mama in your arms.
As quickly as it starts, time will fly by even faster. With the best intentions, you might have the perfect plan laid out for your future, but the minute your baby is conceived is the minute everything changes.
You become a mother.
Through every “first” you can rest assured that He will be with you on your journey. Because He knows.
He knows all about mamas and plans and change.
He is with you through the uncertainty, the fear, the joy, the wonder, the stress, the tears, the loneliness, the pride, the amazement and the thankfulness.
You are never alone mama.
Your Savior has a heart for you.
Even as Jesus was tortured and dying, He took care of His mother.
I do not have one shadow of a doubt that He will do the same for me~
because it was for me that He was on that cross.
Whatever you are facing, know that you can face it with Him. Not only the hard stuff,
but the celebrations of motherhood as well.
No one understands like He does.
No one will have compassion and empathy for you as He does.
No one will love you more on this journey of motherhood than He does.
A mother. A miracle. Our Messiah.
A little miracle in someone’s life is only minutes away.
It isn’t some grand gesture or expensive gift. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost a thing.
It’s simply your words.
Maybe a text or a note, an email or message. Maybe it’s a hug and a whisper ~
“you are loved” or “I’m praying for you”
or even~ “it’s going to be okay”.
You can be someone’s miracle today.
Through the heaviness my heart has been feeling these last few months, God has used so many of you to be those little miracles in my life. When I was home alone, sitting on the bathroom floor crying, and a loving text would come through at that exact moment. When I was packing up my dad’s clothes with tears streaming down my cheeks, and a personal message popped up on my phone. When I cried all morning and asked God for help and a card came in the mail...
On one particular day my heart was hurting deeply. Loneliness overwhelmed me, a loneliness that had been lingering for days. Each day God had continually brought someone to my mind~someone I should reach out to for help. I didn’t listen. I was too worried about what she would think of me if I expressed how I was feeling and asked for help. And so, God in all His amazing grace placed me on her heart instead. She sent me a quick text letting me know she was thinking about me and praying for me. The minute I got it, I knew it was God. I ended up pouring my heart out to her and her empathy and comforting response was exactly what I needed. I no longer felt that loneliness. I felt the compassionate love of my sweet friend, with no judgement and only understanding. I knew she felt my sorrow and grief. Her words were like getting a hug that I desperately needed. I don’t think I ever would have messaged her had she not listened to the nudge God gave her to send me a text.
Never, ever underestimate the power of your words and speaking joy over someone. If God has put someone on your heart I urge you to not push those thoughts aside, but to take action. Pray for them. Send them a card or email, or a quick text telling them how much they mean to you. Tell them that you are praying for them. Show them that you care. Maybe God is nudging you to reach out to a complete stranger. That mama in line at the grocery store that’s having a hard time. The waitress whose countenance screams sorrow. That cashier who looks as if she’s fighting back tears behind a generic smile.
Don’t let those moments slip by.
Heartache and sorrow bed down in the home of loneliness. Each person’s sorrow holds a unique heartache all their own, because every individual has their own unique personality. Even though you may have gone through a similar experience as someone else, the way they deal with it could be completely different than the way you or I deal with it.
This is where the heart of Jesus, through empathy and compassion comes in.
Don’t be quick to judge that young mom in line, that waitress or cashier or even that person that keeps popping into your head and heart all day long, just because they deal with heartache and grief differently. We have no idea what is going on in the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis. A brave smile might mask wounds that cut deep, pressures that threaten to overwhelm or heartache that is debilitating.
So listen to God’s nudges. Send that text. Write that message. Speak joy. Don’t ever be too timid to speak to a hurting soul or send encouragement to someone God has placed on your heart. Because ultimately, it isn’t our words that we are speaking.
It’s the joy of Jesus speaking through us.
Shine the joy of Jesus into the darkness someone’s heart holds today. You can be the very miracle they’ve been searching for.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Proverbs 15:23
One word that can change her life forever.
2 minute read
The blankets were warm.
The lights were dim.
The voices were soft...compassionate.
She was explaining to me what she would be doing, showing me the screen and the images.
I watched as the needle went in, almost as if it wasn’t happening to me.
But it was.
And time stood still...
Thousands of us have been here.
Right here in this very moment.
Holding our breath.
Watching time stand still~
yet our life pass before our eyes.
Waiting for the results that are finally spoken.
And in the waiting,
those who have been here before us have two options:
To show that person empathy,
or to show them apathy.
To remember the fear, the anxiousness, the worry~
and to allow all of those pieces of our hearts to spill forth into our words~
or to thoughtlessly dismiss it because somehow you made it through.
You were ok.
But she may not be.
I remember both reactions in those moments my life stood still.
I will never forget the sweet compassion and heartfelt prayers of those who knew exactly what I was going through.
As that needle went in and I watched, I felt God comfort my weary soul. I felt the prayers of loved ones wash over me and as time stood still, I heard my Savior whisper to my anxious heart that I would be okay...
No matter what story that needle had to tell~I would be okay.
Because He is my Father and even if I lost my very life, I would never, ever lose Him.
And if my physical body had to endure tremendous pain in the process and I had no strength left to hold on~
I wouldn’t have to~
because He would be holding me.
And my sisters would be holding me. Holding me in prayer and compassion. The compassion of those who had been there, who remembered the 60 seconds it took as the doctor told them their results.
That compassion and those prayers allowed me the peace that passes understanding.
60 seconds that could change a person’s life forever. One word that could bring immense relief or heart wrenching sorrow.
So choose your words and actions wisely as you encounter a sweet soul going through the waiting. Remember exactly how you felt and what you wished someone had said to you.
Only 60 seconds,
but they could change her life forever.
Your empathy can tell them a different story.
A story of comfort and of hope.
A story of a sister who will stay by their side and a Savior Who will carry them through.
The story of peace that passes understanding~
No matter what story that needle has to tell.
II Corinthians 1:3-4
“I’M PRAYING FOR YOU”
The words seemed empty.
Empty because they had been used so many times.
The heartache my friend carried was too hard to comprehend.
Blow after blow had hit her.
How much can a human being handle before they break?
I continued to say~
“I’m praying for you.”
The loss of a child~
“I’m praying for you”
The loss of a spouse~
“I’m praying for you”
A cancer diagnosis~
“I’m praying for you”
Surgery, divorce, job loss, a wayward child, a distant husband, a terminal illness~
“I’m praying for you...”
But, are you?
Are we really praying, or is that just our pet answer to a hopeless situation?
Once we have walked in those same shoes and lived the horrors this life can throw at us, our souls understand how important prayer is.
If our hearts truly hold empathy and compassion, if we truly are going to God on their behalf, if we are begging God to comfort and heal~
Then our God~
Who is full of mercy and compassion~
will do just that.
And those simple words won’t be empty words. They become words full of power and hope. They are words to cling to. They are a lifeline for a soul that is breaking.
Don’t allow “I’m praying for you” to become an empty promise to the problems others face. Fall on your knees and go to God for that person. Hold them, cry with them and pray with them.
Let God be real to them in that moment and ask for His comfort and peace to wash over them. The comfort and peace that only He can give. Ask Him to cradle that dear person in His arms.
That person who doesn’t know if they can take much more.
when you say the words~
”I’m praying for you”
they will feel those words come alive.
**“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
**“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
**“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
THE REALITY OF MANY
One minute the sun is shining.
You’re smiling as you sing along to your favorite iTunes.
It’s a perfect Saturday morning.
The next minute you’re getting a call from your dad, asking to be taken to emergency.
And everything changes.
One week turns into two, and then three. For some people this scenario goes on for months or even years. Hospitals. Doctors. Sickness.
You feel as if you are living in a dream. Emotional and physical fatigue take control of your normal routine. You can’t sleep at night and you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.
You leave your loved one in the evening and hold your breath the next day, waiting to hear from them, trying not to think the worst. And then you do it all over again.
You go through the day to day motions, not sure how you even managed. Not only do you find yourself wondering about the distant future, you wonder about tomorrow.
You wonder about an hour from now.
Sadly, this is the horrible reality of life for many.
This is the person next to us in line at the store. This is the lady that quietly comes to church but sits alone. This is the cashier that takes our money with a tired smile. This is the waitress that takes our order with heavy shoulders. This is our brother. This is our sister.
This is someone who needs us.
Petty little things that disrupt our daily routine do not compare to the heartache others are quietly facing. We get angry over the long lines at the store. We lose our patience with the cashier for taking so long. We snap at the waitress who got our order wrong. We don’t get out of our seat to welcome that lady sitting all alone.
Too often life revolves around “me.” We don’t open our eyes to those hurting all around us. We don’t look for opportunities to encourage those we speak to, because we are too busy focusing on ourself.
And all along that lady standing next to you is wondering if her daddy will see tomorrow. That wife is wondering if she will get to see another anniversary with her husband. That mom is wondering if her child will see another birthday.
Don’t wait for your own crisis to recognize this. Something I found myself guilty of as I walked down the hospital corridor day after day. As I looked into the rooms of patients that had been there for months and into the tired, heartbroken eyes of loved ones.
Look for opportunities to share a kind word, a smile, a meal, a hug. Offer to sit with a loved one who’s been sick far too long. Pick up groceries or run errands for a tired care giver.
Look into the eyes of that cashier, that waitress, that person next to you in line, that lady sitting all alone.
Look right past yourself and into their eyes. Truly see them. Then do your best to give them a little bit of that Saturday sunshine back again.
WHEN “GOD WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE” DOESN’T CUT IT.
I’ve been accused of living in a bubble.
It used to upset me and I’d feel the need to defend myself. I watch the news. I know what’s going on in the world. Tragedy has hit home in my own life on more than one occasion. I know and understand the suffering of others.
But maybe, just maybe my blog has become a bubble of pet answers and cute cliches, and I truly wasn’t seeing the deep despair some are living with on a daily basis.
What answers do I give to those who feel as if they have no hope?
How can I tell a mother that her children will be okay when that mother is facing debilitating heartache and despair in her own life?
How can I speak words of hope to those who know all those same words, and still can’t grasp that hope?
“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” doesn’t cut it.
So what do I say?
I don’t know.
I don’t have all the answers.
As desperately as I want to, I can’t write some cute cliche that will answer all the heartache and pain you are going through.
The only answer I have, the only answer I can cling to is this~
God loves you.
When life is at its darkest, when those we love the most in this world have failed us~ failed us in a way that breaks us to the point we think there can be no return,
God loves us.
He is the only One Who loves us unconditionally~with grace and mercy. With power. With hope. With strength. With compassion and with comfort.
And when there isn’t anything else left to cling to~ we cling to Him.
When the pain is so deep we don’t have words left to say~we just ask Him to hold us and keep loving us because that’s all we have left in our emptiness.
And we can know that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He will keep loving us amidst the anger we feel for the circumstances life has thrown at us. He will keep loving us when we stop believing He does. He will keep loving us when we can’t pray. When we have lost all faith. When we can’t function. When we can’t stop the tears from flowing.
He will keep loving us.
Cling to Him as He holds on to you.
He won’t ever let go.
Everything and everyone will eventually disappoint.
When you feel like there’s nothing left in this world to trust in~
the One Who gave His only Son for you because of His unfathomable, indescribable, unending love ~
THAT love belongs to you.
It is all yours.
It wraps around your heart and soul and holds you when you think you can’t go on.
God will never stop loving you.
And if that is all we have left in this world,
It is enough.
~~On the cloudiest of days, when my soul is dark and my heart is thundering~ God will give me little snippets of unexpected sunshine...
Discouragement comes in many forms and often sets up camp in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. It’s a mental enemy that battles against us and gains it’s strength from every wayward thought our contrite heart imagines.
God uses the smallest things to remind us of His love, but we can often miss it because that enemy discouragement is clouding every bit of sunshine the Savior throws our way.
Sadly, many times encouragement is fleeting. It can often come in the smallest gesture of another, and change someone’s day completely.
God can use all of us in this battle against discouragement. He wants us to be on the front lines, fighting for Him.
He is tapping our shoulder.
He is whispering in our ear~
My child needs your words today.
They are hurting.”
But we brush it off. We make excuses. We’re too busy. We wouldn’t know what to say. We don’t even know that person.
And we walk away, not even realizing in the moment how desperately that person needed a word from a stranger, a smile, a hug.
My grandson Ethan saw a political sign in someone’s yard last week. He asked his daddy if someone placed the sign there to tell everyone~‘Have a good day!’ 😊
We are quick to speak on politics or our favorite sports teams. We put their signs in our yards and their jerseys on our backs. We are quick to speak our disapproval of others and the choices they make- and yet, too often, words of encouragement are absent from our vocabulary.
I cannot tell you the amount of times you, the reader, have encouraged me. When discouragement sneaks in and tells my wandering heart that it has no business speaking words of truth, God sends a warrior my way. Someone that otherwise would NEVER cross my path in my normal day to day activities.
It astounds me every single time.
He uses YOU to bless me.
And that brings tears to my eyes.
Let’s wear God’s words and outwardly show others the beautiful signs of our Saviors love~~
Speak those words, give that hug, send that card, bring that meal, say that prayer.
Shine like your Savior and lift someone up out of the depths of discouragement.
Be God’s warrior today.
THOSE TIGHT LEATHER SHOES
Three of my kids were in college. My fourth was a senior in high school. My life had suddenly become very quiet and I found myself with some “me time”. Leisurely mornings consisted of coffee and God’s word, followed by a morning work out with plenty of day leftover. I’m a list person and each perfectly “scheduled and planned out” day I crossed off my “to-do’s” with a feeling of accomplishment. At the time, I remember having a conversation with a young lady whose life was very different than my own. She had 5 young children, a full time job and was super involved at church. I specifically remember her telling me in tears that she could barely find the time to spend with God. As I look back on that conversation, I can remember my heart’s response in thinking-“ you make the time for what’s important in your life”. I didn’t allow the words to leave my mouth. Perhaps I knew it was the wrong attitude to have toward this sweet lady because all the while God was whispering to my heart~"Charisse. Have compassion, have understanding. Remember." But my judgmental heart chose not to. So He reminded me. Within just a few short months my youngest went off to college, my oldest had our first grandchild, her husband (who was going to be the main caregiver of their newborn) got a full time job and I became the full time nanny/grandma. It was like becoming a new mom all over again, except with half the energy. Add to it, Pastor’s wife and mom to four adult children and it was hard. Very hard. I love my precious granddaughter so much, but I’m not going to lie and tell you how much I loved this new nanny role I was put in. I didn’t. I know that sounds absolutely horrible and I hate to even admit it. People would always comment~ “isn’t being a grandparent amazing?” In my coma-like state I would smile and nod, but deep down inside I just wanted to cry. All. The. Time. My life was turned completely upside down. It took a long time for God to change my heart and show me this was His plan and once I accepted that, everything changed. Grace filled my heart. I loved my life. (And 6 years later, I’m still babysitting both granddaughters daily, and still loving it) In the mean time, it was a struggle. I’m not a morning person, but was thrown into very early mornings full of baby busyness right from the get go. 5:30am came too quickly and 10pm couldn’t come fast enough. There were long days of constant crying (both baby and grandma) and absolute, pure exhaustion. I had every intention of getting alone with God before going to sleep each night but my evenings were filled with church activities or family plans and I couldn’t seem to catch up or catch a breath. I resorted to plastering notecards with Bible verses all over my house, setting alarms throughout the day reminding me to pray and once in bed, trying to talk to God, but falling asleep the minute my head hit the pillow.
God taught me a valuable lesson through all of this. Too often we as women can become very judgmental. We look at other women and think we know exactly how they should be living, eating, dressing, marriage-ing, raising their children and even worshipping. We don’t put ourselves in others shoes, so sometimes God has to shove our feet into those shoes Himself. They’re never a nice comfy pair of slippers but more like a brand new pair of leather stilettos~tight and uncomfortable, maybe even painful. The thing about tight leather shoes is~ the longer they’re on our feet, the more they soften and conform. God might have to put us in uncomfortable, and maybe even painful circumstances, to soften our hearts toward others. To conform us to His image. To help us have compassion.
Yes, we most definitely should “make the time for what’s important” in our lives, and God should be at the top of our list, but we should also remember that only God can see and know the hearts of others. Only God understands the circumstances they are in. The shoes that God put on me were very tight, uncomfortable and even painful but He opened my eyes to what others might be going through and He filled my heart with compassion. He whispered to my soul that it was ok to fall asleep at night. He wasn’t disappointed in me. He understood and showed me that taking care of that grandchild was the most important thing He wanted me to do at the time.
Don’t be so quick to judge. Learn compassion. Stick your feet into some tight leather shoes for a while and have a little more understanding~ or God may be picking out some stilettos a few sizes too small just for you. 😉
Jude 1:22 I Peter 3:8 I John 3:17
Today my husband will be doing the funeral for our dear neighbor, Rose Storm. This past year, any passerby might look at Rose's beautiful, picture perfect home and gardens and not think twice that heartache was within that home's beautiful walls. Rose lost her husband to cancer and shortly afterward found out that she had cancer and didn't have long to live. Not only was she going through the heartache of missing her husband, but also the heartache of knowing she would die soon and say goodbye to her children forever. To all appearances, you would never know. This is the very thought that burdens my heart. I am often too guilty of it myself. Our busy lives, wrapped up in the many "to-do's". We drive down the streets in our neighborhoods and rarely give a second thought to the homes and the people that live in them and the needs they might have. Even in our day to day lives~ the cashier at the store, the mom on the soccer field, the waitress at the restaurant, the grandma on her front porch~all of them could be going through some type of heartache that we know nothing about. We get so busy, we don't take the time for a kind word and smile or an invitation to church or a note of encouragement. I read a quote that said "If the devil can't make us bad, he will make us busy." All the things that take up our time might not be bad things at all, but they can blind us to the hurting souls of those around us. The souls Christ loved so much that He died for. Christ never called us to be super moms or wives. He never told us to make sure our kids were involved in every sport and activity or stay so busy we never sit down as a family for a meal. He called us to look on the multitudes with compassion. To love as He loved. Today as you drive past your neighbor's homes, look at each with open eyes and open hearts. Slow down. Think. Pray. And when you finally get home after a day of"busy"remember~
someone needs Christ's love not too far from here.
I'm not really the healthiest person. It's always bothered me. I wanted to be one of those moms full of energy who played with their kids non stop, kept a spotless home, cooked amazing meals and still worked out like a champ every day. So not me. I've had stomach problems since I was in high school. I was hospitalized and went through so many tests and so much waiting. For years. I eventually found out it was Celiac disease, but not until Michael was a senior in high school. I've had cysts on my ovaries that Drs thought were cancerous. More waiting. I've had so many mammograms with bad results and biopsies and more waiting. I had migraines every month that lasted for a week and sometimes longer. I've had a hysterectomy due to a small mass on my uterus that looked cancerous. I've had mono 4 times and combined with the Celiac, I now have chronic fatigue. I said all that to say this. I have had a lot of scares when it comes to my physical body. A lot of waiting on test results. A lot of crying and asking God what was wrong with me. A lot of nights laying in bed in the quiet darkness wondering if I might possibly die very soon. All of this might sound so trivial in light of what others are actually faced with physically on a daily basis, but in that moment of waiting time can seem to stand still and worry can creep in. In times of waiting I have had to put my trust completely in my Savior. I have had to ask Him to comfort my heart, to hold me in His arms, to help me not to worry. It hasn't always been easy but every time I have cried out to Him, He has given me His comfort. He has given me a peace in my heart that no matter what, He was in control and He loved me and everything would be ok, even if that meant cancer and dying. I have many friends right now who are waiting. Waiting on your own test results or those of a loved one. I have been through scares recently with my own children of waiting. I also know that sometimes ladies like to keep things private, but can I encourage you to reach out and ask your fellow sisters for prayer? I know it's because of the prayers of others that I could go through the situations I have been in with a peace in my heart. I could feel your prayers. If you have been through a time of waiting in your own life, reach out to those who are going through it now. Let them know you understand, that you love them and you are praying for them. We need each other. I desperately need prayer on a daily basis. I truly believe the things we face can be used for God's glory. They can help us draw closer to Him and they can help us to have a more compassionate heart towards others. We all need compassion. In times of desperation, we all need that peace that passes understanding and the knowledge that others love us, understand and are praying. If you are waiting today, please know that God is with you. Allow Him to hold you and when you feel that you can't take another step, allow Him to carry you. And know that you are loved and you are prayed for.