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Month: January 2015

Encouragement for Wives

Encouragement for Wives

When you were a little girl what did you dream about when you got older?  Did you play dress up and pretend you were getting married?  Did you dream about being a mommy one day and practiced mothering your dolls (or younger siblings! 🙂 )?  Maybe you were more of a tomboy?

Growing up, believe it or not, I was more of a tomboy!  I could hold my own climbing trees with my brothers and playing football in the street with my brothers neighborho23od friends.  My older brother and I were close and I always wanted to be with him!  It didn’t matter what he was doing!

I had thought about getting married one day but I didn’t think much about it really until I was older.  As I grew older in my teen years, I only wanted to be a wife and mother, never did I have a career focused mind.  God just didn’t wire me that way!

My husband and I met at college and I can honestly say he is the best thing that has ever happened to me!  I used to day dream about our life together and honestly, this life together has been much better than I could have ever dreamed up!  It hasn’t been perfect, I don’t want to lead you astray in thinking that, but it has been wonderful.

As we approach our tenth wedding anniversary and I look back on our decade together as a married couple I am extremely thankful for these years together.  I truly believe God intended marriage to be a gift, not a drudgery.  Not something to complain about.  Not something to speak poorly of, but a gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed each and every day.

I know I haven’t been marrie27d nearly as long as some of my readers, but as I was pondering my marriage I just wanted to share what has helped me in my marriage!  I’m still learning myself but any way that I can encourage you in your walk, that is exactly what I want to do!

I think one of the greatest pieces of advice I can give to a new wife or a seasoned one is to pray passionately, boldly, and daily for your man and yourself!  Pray for God’s protection and blessing over both of you.  Pray for each of you to put on the entire armor of God daily so that when Satan shoots his darts of temptation you both are able to deflect those darts and gain victory over them.  Satan is real.  Temptation is real.  Our spirit may be willing, but we all know how weak our flesh is!  Keep short sin accounts with God.  The Psalmist tells us if we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us! (Psalm 66:18)  Keep a heart that is pure and right before God, daily!

Second, is to get in the Word of God!  How can we expect to be the kind of wives we need to be if we are not daily soaking up the encouragement and challenges that God is desiring to give us?  We cannot extend grace if we have not yet accepted it for ourselves.  We will grow stagnant in our marriages if our relationship with God is stagnant.

Third, never speak badly of your man to anyone and protect his heart46.  Your husband is a precious gift from God to you!  He was created to be your husband!  When God was forming him in his mother’s womb years and years ago, God was forming and creating him with you in mind!  Isn’t that crazy wonderful?  Treat your man how you would want to be treated, as Matthew 7:12 states. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  If it would break your heart to hear someone speaking ill of you, then don’t speak ill of him!  If you and your husband get into a tiff, that should not be the tale you tell at the mommy play date.  We should praise him and speak highly of him to others, not the other way around.

Fourth, seek his good and be his best friend.  Proverbs 31:11-12 says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”  The Lord has convicted my heart to pray that God will continue to turn my heart to that of my husband.  As a mom it is so easy to get distracted, especially during the rather needy years of having little ones.  Yet, aside from my relationship to God, my relationship to my husband is the most important relationship!  I’m not saying “abandon the crying babies to focus solely on your man”, but what I am saying is remember he has needs as well.  Meet his needs, take time to nurture that relationship with him.  Seek to do good for him, find ways to ease his load, leave little love notes where you know he will find them, plan a special date night in if a babysitter is not available, let him know how impressed you are with the size of his muscles 😉  Get the idea?  Let him know he’s your hero!  Don’t just post about it on facebook, tell himc&w14!!  Keep working on your friendship with him and go have fun together! (Yes, my man was LAUGHING at me in that picture on a roller coaster as I screamed my head off! 😉  He knew just where the camera was;)  )

Fifth, remember what drew you to him, minimize his faults and maximize his strengths!  As we grow in our marriage sometimes it can be easy to flip flop this last point.  We can easily begin to maximize his faults and minimize his strengths.  How horrible would we feel if we knew someone was knit picking everything wrong we did throughout the day?  Putting our daily life under a microscope and every single day the person scrutinizing us said, “Failed again”.  Is that not what happens when we maximize failures?  None of us are perfect.  None of us have it all together.  Everyone is learning and growing and just because we are Christians does not mean we are perfect, it simply means we have been forgiven by a gracious God!  A God who knew all the sin we would ever commit before we were ever born and yet still chose to come and die on a cross and conquer death so that we could be forgiven!  Grace!  Oh what grace!  When we stop and think about what God has done for us, how can we refuse to extend grace to the love of our lives?  How can we so easily extend grace to others (friends, co-workers, church members) and yet withhold it from our beloved?  Remember what drew you to your husband, maximize his strengths and minimize his weakness.

Oh there is so much more I could list, but my kids are up from their quiet time and I am about to become a referee 😉  My last words would simply be this, enjoy life with your husband!  He is a good and perfect gift!  As Proverbs 14:1 states, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  If whot datee aren’t building our homes, our husband, then we are more than likely pulling them down with our hands.  Ask the Lord to help you build your husband up! Don’t be like the foolish woman and pluck it down.  God longs for us to enjoy our marriages!

I don’t have it all together and I have a lot to learn still about being a wife and helpmeet, but I surely am enjoying this journey with my man!  He is so gracious when I mess up and offers quick forgiveness.  I am beyond blessed and extremely thankful for this man I get to call mine!

How To Help A Mama Whose Baby Is Heaven

How To Help A Mama Whose Baby Is Heaven

On my calendar each year I write down the birthdays of our loved ones, little hearts are drawn where an anniversary is celebrated.  But on my calendar, there are 5 birthdays that many wouldn’t really count.   Five birthdays of members in our family that we don’t get to celebrate with yet.  They have gone ahead of us to Heaven and I can’t imagine the celebration they get to enjoy up there!

With each loss the ache does not get easier.  With each loss I long for Heaven more.

The topic of miscarriage is often kept silenced.  Why is that?

God has placed a deep desire on my heart to reach out to Mama’s who have experienced this loss and be a person who offers them the hope of healing by pointing them to Chbaby-on-board-signrist, the One who can actually heal their hurting heart.  I also long to help those who have not gone through such pain to maybe understand a little bit about what their loved one or friend may be going through and give pointers on how to encourage and help them through this difficult time.

Many women have sent me messages asking, “How can I help my friend?  I don’t understand her pain and loss, but I want to help!”  I say, “Praise God for your sensitive spirit!”  What a blessing it is when the body of Christ acts like the body of Christ and reaches out to our hurting family members, even when we do not understand.

My advice first of all is to pray, pray, pray.  Pray for that Mama!  If you are a mother whether by birthing your own child or by adoption, as soon as you know that baby is on the way your heart instantly fills with hopes and dreams!  Your mind suddenly becomes filled with nursery themes, potential baby names, pictures of what he/she may look like. “Will he have my eyes?”  “Will she have her Daddy’s dimples?”  We DREAM and can’t wait for those long nine months to pass and we get to hold our sweet anticipated baby in our arms.

We follow a healthy diet plan, we endure the morning sickness, we wait in anticipation to feel those first flutters, we follow our prenatal plans to a “t”!

So what happens when those dreams are shattered by a few simple words that hold the most heartbreaking news, “We can’t find a heartbeat”?  How can one really help a mother who no longer is going to get to see those dreams fulfilled?  cryingA mother who is left sobbing much of the time as she feels the deepest pain her mother’s heart has ever known.

Pray my friend, pray.  Don’t just tell her you are going to pray and then never do, as can often happens in our Christian circles, no.  Really, pray!  Her pain is real.  Her pain is deep.  She may struggle for a few weeks, a few months.  Pray for her!  Ask God to bring her to mind often so you remember to pray.  Write her name down on your hand, on a piece of paper, on your mirror, anywhere you will see it often so that you can be reminded to pray for her.  God is the only One who can ultimately bring the healing and healing takes time.  So in that time, pray!

Second, I encourage others to acknowledge she and her husband are really truly experiencing a loss.  The loss of any life is a tragedy.  We mourn for those babies that are aborted, so why would we not mourn the loss of a baby who was miscarried or born still?  We understand that God is the giver and taker of life, but it is still very natural to mourn and grieve the loss of the baby one truly never knew.

How can we acknowledge this loss?  I encourage those who ask, to go pick up a coffee/tea/hot cocoa and drop it off at her home or her place of work.  Let her know you are thinking of her!  Send a note in the mail letting her know you are thinking of her and praying for her.  When you see her ask her how she is doing, I mean really doing and then wait for her reply.  Don’t ask in a “I really don’t care hurry up and answer so we can move on because this is awkward” kind of way.  We all know how that feels anyway when we are not going through a rough time, so imagine how it would feel when it is compounded by this hurt?  Show you really do care by listening.  Even if you don’t know the hurt and pain yourself (praise God for that!), listen, admitting you can’t relate instead of trying to pretend you do. There is nothing wrong with admitting you may not understand or relate but it is rather frustrating when others who have not experienced the pain try to pretend they do.   Don’t listen with the intent of finding out juicy gossip to spread around.  Keep her shared heart confidential and take it to the Lord, not to your next ladies luncheon.  Don’t be afraid to cry with her if she does choose to open up.

Third, don’t gloss over the loss by giving input where it is not needed. Oh my oh my, this is where more hurt can come in.  Avoid saying things like: “At least you were not that far along”, or “You are young, you can always have more!”  If this is her 1st loss or her 17th, no one child will make up for the one she has lost!  If you have children in your home, you know that if you were to (God forbid!) lose one of your children, you know that no other child could take his/her place!  It just isn’t possible!  The same thing applies to when a baby is miscarried!  Though we may not have known that child out of the womb, that child was ours and there is no replacing one life with another!

Also, if she has had multiple miscarriages please, oh I beg of you, please do not try to give her your advice on the matter or encourage her to stop “trying”.  I’m just going to be blunt, it isn’t your business.  I know, I’m sorry, that was harsh or maybe a bit “to honest” but wow, seriously, your thoughts on their reproduction does not help.  That is the business of her, her husband, and God.  We do not know God’s will or plans for the lives of others.  Our job is not to judge or weigh in on that matter, our job is to minister.

I was the recipient of comments such as these and they hurt and frustrated me.  As much as we all think we can control the conception of life, that truly is in God’s hands.  If we had heeded the “wisdom” of others (who were not doctors) we wouldn’t have had our 2 year old.  Life is in God’s hands.  When comments are made about “just stop trying!” it feels as if the commentator just devalued the life of the baby lost.  Talk about bringing out the “mama bear” in a real quick hurry!  Not to mention, the commentator has just lost opportunity to actually minister in the life of that woman.

This in a nutshell is in my opinion a few ways to help minister to a hurting mama. I am deeply appreciative of the women God has placed in my life that have encouraged me, prayed for me, and simply been there through my times of grief and loss.  God is good and God brings healing in time.  His grace is sufficient in our time of need and every moment of the day.

I hope this blog post has been helpful and given a few ideas of how to help minister to those you know experiencing this kind of loss.

Come Unto Me!

Come Unto Me!

She entered the room, it was obvious her cigarette had just been put out before she walked in the door and she took a seat.  Quietly she listened as our devotional ended and prayer requests were shared. It was just a few of us ladies gathered together, “Does anyone have any more prayer requests?”

Without hesitation, “I do” she whispered, as she tucked her hair behind her ear.

The young woman that none of us knew, felt comfortable enough or maybe it was that she felt so desperate to ask for prayer.  Whatever the reason, her story began to spill forth.  Those of us in the room fell silent and in complete shock.  Each of us, our hearts breaking for this woman, sharing her request and the emotion of her heart spilling forth down her cheeks as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue.  The tears just wouldn’t stop.  All of us putting ourselves in her shoes and not knowing what we would have done or how we would have handled ourselves.

When she was done sharing, it was obvious the heart of this mother was aching, hurting, yearning for healing.  “Wendy, why don’t you pray?” was the request.  With a lump lodged generously in my throat I took this request to the only place I know to take it, to the One Who can bring the healing.  The Great Physician.  Laying these requests at His feet was quite honestly an honor, and I yearned to see a miracle performed!

I didn’t know this woman before, but my heart was drawn to her and I longed to see her come to Christ.  The ache was so real, so heavy.  I wanted to tell her, “Please, let me lead you to the One I know who can begin to help heal this deep wound of your heart!”  The desire to see her seek Christ hung heavy in the air and the Lord did open that opportunity for me to point her to Him when our time in prayer was done.

A few days have passed since this encounter with this woman and I have often wondered if that ache I had is similar, even just by a smidgen to the yearning Christ has for the lost to come to Him.  For the world to seek salvation and refuge in Him.  To stop carrying the hurts that cut them so deep and see true healing.

John 11:25-26 states, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Do we really believe?  Do we see our salvation as something we just keep to ourselves?  It’s good enough for us, but not good enough to share?

If we were to find the cure fore cancer we would be sharing this good news with our family, friends, and strangers because we knew it would save their lives, here on earth!  It would spare many broken hearts, it would conquer the sting of fear that cancer carries with it.

My dear readers, fellow sisters, if we have claimed the name of Christ, if we have received the GOOD NEWS of the cross, then we HAVE the GOOD NEWS!  We have the CURE the world is seeking after!  Yet, far to often, we don’t see our salvation as good enough for all.  Oh, we may not say those words, it would be very “Un-Christian” for us to admit that vocally, but our actions {or really lack there of} speaks loud and clear.

I heard a song the other day that said, “Jesus paid much to high a price for us to pick and choose who should be saved.”  Do we do that?  Do we pick and choose whom we think deserves to hear the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel?  What if the person God brought into our lives to lead us to Him had done that with us?  How vastly different our lives would be.  I could very well have been that precious woman seeking help and healing.  Would someone else have seen passed my heavy cigarette smell and appearance to share the Gospel with me?  good-news1I don’t always take the opportunities when God gives them, and that is something God has challenged me to work on.

If we truly believe HE is the answer, then we need to be sharing His GOOD NEWS with the people He allows to cross our paths.  Christ frequently says, “Come unto ME!”  Let’s make more of an effort to purposefully do just that!  Point them to the One who can ultimately save their souls!

Images courtesy of Google images

Opening Up

Opening Up

Can I share something with you openly?  Something that has been a bit hidden away in the secret corner of my heart?  This past year I slipped into a long period of near depression.  It began in the early summer and lasted to the beginning of fall.

I was discouraged and feeling alone, like I didn’t matter to anyone.  If I dropped off the face of the earth would anyone even notice?  I know that openly admitting this I am opening myself up for potential judgements or critics.  Should Christians struggle with discouragement or depression?  The matter at hand isn’t whether one should or not, it is in reality a real battle that I struggled with.  Opening up like this though may help someone else who is currently struggling and giving them the hope of Christ to carry them out of that valley!

One day I began to do some research about these feelings I was having, I knew they were not healthy by any means.  I would pray and read my Bible, but still the feelings were there and a real battle.  In the fall I discovered that sometimes vitamin deficiencies can cause feelings similar to the ones I was having.  I began taking a multi-vitamin but I just couldn’t hack it!  Literally!  It came right back up as soon as it went down!  So I did more research, come to find out some people have trouble taking multi-vitamin!  Ah-ha!  They are like an immune-system overdose and your body just has to get rid of it right away.  Okay, scratch that One A Day off my list!

Another change I began to make though was to get up earlier to spend time with God.  I used to do my devotions during the kids’ nap time, but I prayed and asked the Lord to help me get up earlier and to help me stay committed to doing so every morning.  He has been SO good and SO helpful!  I have not had to set an alarm one time to wake up earlier in the morning!

I get up before the sun and it is sooo quiet in the house, it is blissful 😉  I get the coffee pot brewing and I turn on the fire.  That fireplace alone has done wonders for me! 🙂  Once my first cup of coffee is well on it’s way to my soul, I open my Bible.  As I have mentioned before I have been doing a Bible study through a program called, “She Reads Truth”.  It’s been really helpful to keep me on track and I can really relate to some of the things the women write!  I would LOVE to write for a place like that!

Anyway, my Bible study has been more consistent than it has ever been before, all glory goes to God!  I’m not just reading my Bible to say I read it, but I feel like I’m drinking in the life that I need to make it through our busy days!  Before anyone else is up the Lord and I have spent a good 45 minutes alone together, reading His Word, pouring my heart out to Him and reading books that help me grow as a Christian woman.  After my hubby gets up we read our Bibles together and end our time in prayer.  It certainly makes me feel more connected to him.  After all of that is completed, then the kids are able to get up.

Can I tell you that it has made all the difference in the world for me to get up earlier?  Seriously.  It has been amazing!  I am finding my strength and encouragement in Him!  I am finding myself pondering what I’ve read throughout the day, praying as I go, and learning about speaking life, grace, TRUTH into my children.  My husband told me the other day, “I see a difference in you, you seem so much more joyful!”  I took that as a tremendous compliment!  I took it as a compliment because he is seeing CHRIST at work IN me!  It is all Him!  In my heart dwells no good thing, so the Scriptures tell me.

So this journey I’m on, it isn’t just about getting my physical body in better shape, it’s been about getting my entire mind, soul, and body in better shape!  God is at work, and my days are not perfect and full of roses and lollipops, but each day has SO many gifts in it and I can make the choice to look over those gifts and choose to not see them, or I can choose to search out the gifts that God has laid out for me every.single.day.  GOD makes all the difference!  He is so good and I am so unworthy!  I have SO much to thank Him for!

Thankful in the Chaos

Thankful in the Chaos

Today was, hm, well, it was quite the day!  It was full of chaos and all kinds of crazy!  Can I share with you just a smidgen of how it went?  You’ll laugh, I promise!

Okay, so this afternoon I was organizing closets.  Ya, I’m in a total “organize everything in this house” kinda mood lately.  So I was organizing clothes in my sons room.  I heard my phone ring {which was out in the kitchen} so I stepped out to answer it.  Tossing over my shoulder instructions to my son to put away his clean laundry as I went.

It was my sister, “hey, what’s up?” I answered my phone and my the conversation had barely begun when I walked back into my sons room to discover he was putting his clothes away as I had instructed him but he was kinda doing the “cram ’em in” method and the bottom of his top drawer was about to come through the bottom of his drawer!!  Yikes!  “Wait! Stop!” I said, as he tried to cram and slam the drawer shut… but the clothing sticking out the bottom of the drawer was keeping it from closing all the way.  Whoa that was a close one!

So my sister and I chatted for about 4 min longer {my sweet nephew is sick 🙁 } and when I hung up I walked out of the room and walked into the dining room to find the kids trying to teach Lucy {the dog} how to do tricks.  With her dog food.  That was now all over the dining room floor.  I promise, I was not on the phone long enough for this kind of mess to take place so quickly! Those little ones are FAST!

“Alright, stop with the dog food.  Lucy can eat her dog food in her room.  Please pick up the food all over the room and take it to her room.”  They quickly got to work, they knew they had made a mess.  Well by then the youngest of the bunch had discovered what a fabulous idea it was to give Lucy her food by dropping it all throughout the house! It got Lucy to follow her around as well so that was a wonderful perk! Yay!

So I’m going about helping her pick up the scattered dog food kinda not so happy about the matter….. when I notice my oldest singing a song.  I had to laugh.  Her song? “With Christ in the vessel I can smile at the storm!”  Oh boy, God has a sense of humor right?  This wasn’t a storm by any means, rather it was just a long day and this was “one more thing”.  Know what I mean?

My husband is gone to a meeting and I began to close the curtains when a tiny pair of shoes on the window sill stopped me.  shoesI had to take a picture.  Those little shoes were placed on the window sill by my toddler who eagerly wanted them put on her feet.  Then ran off to find something else to do.

Those shoes reminded me that the crazy, the chaos, the busy day are all reminders that I am blessed to be a Mama.  One day there will not be shoes on the window sill, there will not be children’s clothing to organize, the loud {at times} chaos will be replaced with silence.  I need to embrace these moments.  Even when it’s been a rough day, because each day is loaded with so many blessings, so many gifts from God that I shouldn’t even make the time to think and dwell on how rough the day was.  When I’m focusing on how all kinds of crazy the day was that means I’m not focusing on the blessings that God is giving me at that very moment!

Little shoes reminded me of a big lesson!  I am to blessed to dwell on the chaos!  The chaos eventually calms down, and yes, there are even blessings in the middle of the chaos!  The kids were getting along quite well while they were teaching the dog “new tricks” 🙂  I am undeserving and yet He keeps pouring the blessings on!

Now I’m off to add “Chaos” and “all kinds of crazy” to my list of 1000 Gifts!

Mama, Tell Me A Story!

Mama, Tell Me A Story!

“Mom, can you help me find the book of Job?  I want to start reading it.” Asks my 7 year old.  “Later honey, we are in church and you need to listen to the message God has for us” was my reply, but I squeezed her tightly as my heart beamed with praise to God for her tender heart!  Her Sunday school class has begun to learn about Job and she was intrigued!

As I puttered around the kitchen fixing their lunch later that afternoon I asked my sweet girl about why she wanted to read about Job right then.  “I just want to know what happens!” she proclaimed!

“The story of Job is an amazingly wonderful story, a true story about how important it is to stay faithful to God even when we are going through something hard.”  I spread the honey across the bread, “You know, when we decide to follow Jesus, Satan does not like that.  Everything God loves Satan hates.  But it is always, always right to stay close to God.” I whispered to them, their ears hanging on to each word I said.  My heart praying they would take these truths and tuck them deep into their hearts.

“Mama, tell me all about Job!” requested our 5 year old inquisitively.  So as I poured some applesauce and dipped their spoons in it the story began.  A story that is full of so much of God’s grace and the challenge to stay close to God and keep trusting Him, even though the trials may rage.  I shared about how Satan was just so sure that Job would turn if God would remove His hand of blessing and how God gave permission to Satan to take Job’s children and wealth and eventually his health.  The story unraveled and their eyes were wide.  A story they have heard before, but one that captivated their heart once again.

As they took bites of their sandwiches and slurped down their applesauce I prayed as I spoke that God would use this story to touch their very souls!  You see, each morning when I get up I pour my coffee and cozy up on our couch.  The fire is on and I dig into God’s Word and then I pray and pour my heart out to God for my children.  I plead with Him to save their souls at a young age and for them to never ever ever rebel and turn from Him.  I ask of Him to protect them from the world, it is sly and can creep in so easily and trick all of us into thinking that what it has to offer is more grand than what God gives freely.  What Christ gives comes with no guilt or shame, no regrets. “Please God, keep them close to your side!”

As I pray I plead with Him that He would help me to find ways to bring the Gospel into our every day life, as I fix lunches, referee squabbles, bandage owies and pour baths.  I yearn for Christ to be so integrated in our home and family that we all are more aware of His ever constant presence and that it will deepen our desire to live for Him more.

I don’t always take the opportunities given, but I want to do better! The spirit is willing but the flesh can be so weak!  {Matthew 26:4, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”}

God is gracious though and as I pour my heart out to God I also ask Him to make up the difference where I seriously lack.  It is God alone who can save them but it is my job as their Mama to point them back to Him every chance I get.

Deuteronomy 6:5-8, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:   And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.”

I’m learning as a Mom, I have much to learn as a Mom.  I will never be the perfect Mama that I want to be, but God didn’t call me to be a perfect Mom….. No, He called me to be a Mama who relys fully on His grace and trust that His Spirit is stirring the very souls of my little ones.  The little ones that are really His on loan to me and He longs for all of them to come to Him more than I do.  So I’ll keep sharing truths from God’s Word, I’ll keep pointing them to the One Who loves them more than life itself and trust their souls to His safe keeping.

Jumping in with both feet

Jumping in with both feet

I’ve been reading a book, a book that has been changing my heart.  A book that has brought to light something I need to learn!  God’s Word is definitely a book that does this daily in my life, but God has been using another book as well.  A book about finding thanksgiving and joy in every day life!

About a month and a half ago I began praying that God would help me to have a truly joyful spirit, every day.  Every. Single. Day. The Lord had brought this book to mind to read and I’m enjoying it immensely!   I admit, it has not been easy to be joyful always and in all things….. sometimes we learn best though through tough days!  It’s easy to be joyful when life is superb, it is not so easy when the kids {and me} are cranky from lack of sleep, when little ones are not motivated to complete their schooling for the day, when the washer overflows, you take the car in for two new tires because that is in the budget and you discover you have to actually get 4 new ones, and the baby has a diaper explosion {which rarely happens anymore but of course has to happen when you are out} and you are unprepared! !  Know what I mean?

So, I’m taking steps.  Little steps.  Steps that will eventually, Lord willing, lead to a joy-filled life!  It’s beginning with a lot of praying and a list and I’ve jumped in with both feet!  giftsA list that will be scribbled on each and every day as I learn to give thanks in all things.  A list that will contain 1000 Gifts that God gives.  Things like, “quick hugs and kisses just because”, “A warm fire to sit by”, “God’s provision for those two extra tires”, “The way my 5 year old kisses my cheek each night”, “lovely scented candles that make our home feel cozy”, all of them make the list!

As the author of this book points out, being grateful, joyful, it has to be learned and to learn it takes practice.  So I will practice and practice until it becomes my first nature to give thanks in all things!  Turning my heart that can so easily be full of ingratitude into a heart of pure thanksgiving, daily, no matter what swirls around throughout that day.  This is God’s perfect will for my life, He tells me so in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Will you join me?  Wake up fresh each morning searching for those every day, easily and often overlooked gifts, that He daily loads us with!  {Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.“}  I’m excited to see how God transforms my heart, one moment of every day at a time.  With each new addition to my thanksgiving list, my prayer is that I will become closer to Him, the One Who gives me reason to be full and overflowing with JOY!

If I Were to Write the Story

If I Were to Write the Story

As I read the words sprawled across each page of the book in front of me emotion, deep emotion grips my inner being.  Right to the core.  The sentence, “Just maybe….maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds” {Found in the book 1000 Gifts} cuts deep into my soul.

A sentence so short, but one full to the brim of truth.

How many of us would love to re-write part of our story?  The story that God knew was going to take place long before we breathed our first breath?  Erasing pain, memories, regrets that have held us captive, hurt, enslaved.  Re-writing our story to look more like a fairy tale is how we think it should go.  Is it not?

Yet, the ending of that sentence above….. if we were to re-write what has already been, what ending would there be?

When my husband and I said our “I do’s” nearly 10 years ago I never ever imagined some of the trials that we would go through.  So many pregnancy losses.  I never imagined that I would be that mother who had to bury her baby boy.  No, when I dreamed of my happily ever after that was never part of my dream.

There were so many days when I have struggled with the story God has been penning for my life.  When I have not believed His words of truth, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  Instead I doubted His goodness, I rejected His daily grace as I struggled through the valley He wrote specifically for my life.

If I were to write my story it would hold fewer tears and much more joy, but that is because in my humanness I fail to remember that there can be joy in the midst of the tears.  Joy, not because of my current circumstance but rather because of the grace He freely lavishes on His own.  Joy because during the tears I am never forsaken.  Joy because He holds His children in the palm of His hand.

If I were to re-write my story I would not know about the things I have learned about God through those tears.  It is through the valleys He has taught me much more about Himself.

So instead of choosing to re-write my story, I can choose to accept the story He has perfected for my life.  A story that will include mountains and valleys, grief and joy, failures and victories, losses and gains.  Because all of the intricate details He is writing about my life, He is using them to draw me ever closer to Him.  So that when others look at me, they only see a reflection of Who is living in me.  So that He can be glorified.

Where do you find yourself in the story God has written?  Whether you find yourself on a mountain top or in the depths of a valley, keep trusting!  Keep pursuing!  Keep following after Him!  Psalm 105:4, “Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.”  Don’t run from or resent the story He is writing for you, embrace it!  He is good, and all that He does is good and for our good!  Cling to His promises and let the Author take control of the pen.