My Secret Weapon

“Those days”.  You know the ones, when the world dumps down on you and everything that could go wrong does go wrong.  You start to spin in circles and feel overwhelmed by the pressures.  So many roles to play, so many responsibilities, and so many things not going the way you would like them to. It is in those moments, I have but one place to go; His presence.

There, before my God, I am no longer a mommy, a wife, a business owner or a daughter; except a daughter of the King.  Here, in my robe of white with my princess crown securely in place, I dance before my Lord and he holds me until all I feel is His love.

All else fades.

Every care of this world pales in comparison to the look of love upon His face.  Nothing else matters. Only this; I am His.

We have two choices when the circumstances of this life cause the earth we know to crumble beneath our feet.  We can either fall under the weight, entering in to that pit where the 4 D’s (distraction, deception, discouragement and defeat) wait to devour us completely or we can straighten our crown, realizing these circumstances are merely an opportunity for glory-strength to rise up within us.

Glory-strength is the strength outside of your own.  It comes solely from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  When you operate in spiritual strength, all things are possible because the outcome is no longer up to you.   Today, I choose glory-strength and I know I will only find it in His presence.  In the world, that means I have to do whatever it takes to get alone with God, even for just a moment.  As a mommy, that can mean getting creative.  It might mean sitting on the bathroom floor (aka my “sanctuary”), locking myself in the closet, sitting in my car in the driveway, taking a walk or any other means to find quiet.  Not that His presence isn’t with us in every moment, even in the chaos and noise but it’s in these quiet moments that we can lock onto that strength we need for the next crazy moments.  However you have to make it happen, I assure you those few precious presence-filled moments are worth it!  They are golden and stirred with happenings in the spiritual realm we can’t even fathom.

Glory-strength is the power to accomplish all things, greater things than you can imagine, through Him.  It is what Philippians 4:13 is talking about.  When you leave the sacred meeting place of His presence, you are changed.  Not only do you take up your secret weapon of glory-strength, you also become radiant. In Exodus 34, Moses spoke with God on Mount Sinai.  When Moses left that holy place his face shown and was radiant.  So much so, that he wore a veil over his face to speak again with the people.  When we meet God face to face in these sacred spaces, we too become radiant as His presence fills us.  That radiance is exactly what the world needs to see.  Others need to see your passion, your desire, your drive, your energy and your excitement!  They need to see you shine!  They don’t need to see one more person beaten down by circumstances.

Today, instead of opposition, choose opportunity.  Let Glory-strength prevail!

Hebrews 11:1, Exodus 34: 29-35, Philippians 4:13

Fail or Faith

“You failed”.  It was the second time I heard that from the doctor’s office regarding the recent blood work.  Is there no better way to word it?  No, just “you failed”!  It has a way of ringing in your ears making you think there was something you should have done to succeed.  Every pregnant mama knows of the dreaded “glucose test”.  You go in, they take your blood, make you drink sugar garbage as fast as you can and check your blood again in an hour.  If you fail that one, as I did, you get to go back in for the 3-hour fun.  This time you sit and sit and sit after drinking the sugar garbage and have your blood taken every hour to see if you’re a really big failure or just a small failure.  I ended up with the double fail.  Yep… #totalmomfail

The disappointing factor is; I’m healthy.  Health is my business!  I eat well, I exercise, get plenty of rest, drink over a gallon of water a day and take supplements to fill in the gaps.  Taking care of my own health and helping other’s with theirs is what I do daily.  It’s how I make a living and it’s something I take pride in. But alas, “you failed” is what I heard.  Twice.

You know that moment of choice where you either decide to have a huge pity party, whine and cry and complain or take it to God and fix it?  Yes? Okay, well I chose the first path with this.  First, I complained about all the people I know who guzzled sodas, ate loads of candy and ice cream and never exercised their entire pregnancy but somehow never had any issues.  Then, I felt so bad for myself.  I listed a million ways this will impact my happy little schedule.  After all, who has time to check their blood sugar three times a day?!  And finally, after a day of wallowing, I took it to God.

I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so hung up on this.  Really, what’s the big deal?

The big deal is this.  In this world we live in our fragile human hearts want to believe that hard work equals success.  If we work hard at our job and make wise decisions with our money it will lead to prosperity.  If we take care of our bodies it will lead to a long healthy life.  If we take care of our children they will grow up to be perfect little people. However, news flash…it doesn’t always happen like that!  In fact, most of the time it doesn’t.  Businesses still fail. Retirement plans collapse. Children still disobey. Our health continues to fail.  Why?   Because we live in this world.  This world will never subscribe to a perfect formula because it will never be a perfect place. It is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  Heaven is our eternal home and our only constant hope.

But God.  But God is one of my favorite reminders.  Those two words remind me even if the perfect formula is not present in this life, a perfect God is.  He dwells within us, walks among us and surrounds us in His love.  While worldly circumstances may never be perfect, His plan always is.  He works all things together for good.  In some crazy mysterious way, we weaves every up and down into a tapestry of love.  While we’ll never understand it in this life, we can be certain of its hope eternal.

With that, I’ll prick my finger, check my blood and continue to take care of this temple because God has a perfect plan for me.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 8:28

One Thing

It’s a preschool day for my son and my husband volunteered to do drop-off this morning.  I stepped out of the shower and into the rareness of a quiet house.   A brief sigh of relief was quickly ebbed by the thousands of “should-do” thoughts that came rushing into my mind.  As mothers, we have but few moments to ourselves so they must be used ever so wisely.  I should unpack those bags still sitting in the living room from our trip last week, I should start a load of laundry and definitely get those dishes done, I should turn on some music and clean (you know REALLY clean) this house, I should water the flowers and pull those weed, not to mention everything I should be doing for our business.  I’ve got messages to follow up with and notifications on social media blinking at me eagerly waiting to be opened, along with a list of phone calls to be made.  Then one tiny voice in my head whispers, “or write”.  Write; the one thing God has been so patiently and lovingly nudging me to do for the last few years and the one thing that always seems to come last.  We all have one thing; that one thing we love doing but it always takes a back seat to the many “have-to” moments in our day.  Maybe yours is reading or praying. Maybe it’s creating artwork or music.  Or maybe yours is just sitting quietly in His presence.  Whatever your one thing is, if you’re like me you don’t let yourself do it very often.  Why is it that the things that feed our spirit the most we all too often give the least amount of space in our lives?  Maybe life just gets busy, maybe we’re so busy pouring into others we neglect ourselves or maybe it goes even deeper.  Maybe we don’t even feel worthy of this precious time with our One Thing.

I so frequently find myself striving for perfection in every area of life that instead of excelling in one aspect, I feel like a failure in all areas.  I’m not sure how many roles you play in this world but most of us are juggling several hats.  Yours might be employee, student, daughter and friend.  Mine are wife, mother, daughter, friend and business owner.  Each one takes up a vast majority of time and when you add them all together, sometimes it feels overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to be “the best” at each one.  I blame social media and the Pinterest mom generation for this need to excel at our daily tasks.  What else are we to do? We’re constantly bombarded with images of the mom who just made her kid a snack of fruits and vegetables in the shape of a train (how in the world?!!), the crocheted blanket someone crafted up for a friend’s new baby (while you just grabbed a gift card last minute) and the beautiful spread of (yes, all organic) foods the wife loving prepared for her husband, while you realize it’s 5pm and haven’t a thing in mind to make.  Yes, I blame social media because that’s where we see this portray of perfection but that’s not really where the blame rests.  There is an enemy who would love to defeat us at every turn and if he can use a picture of a fruit and veggie train to do it, he will.  The problem isn’t everyone else and what they excel at, the problem is us.  The problem is me buying the lie that I’m supposed to be the best at everything I do.  What if we’re just supposed to shine in our One Thing?  What if the very thing you put off till last is the one thing you need to focus on the most?

So I’m writing.   Today, I choose my one thing.  I choose to quiet all the other voices pulling for my attention and focus solely where God is leading my heart.  The beauty of this life is that yours isn’t the same as mine.  Maybe you need to go focus on making baby blankets or cooking dinner because that is where God has called you.  Maybe pouring into your children or your husband is exactly where He wants you to be.  Or perhaps you are reading this on your lunch break and God has called you to invest in your career.  Then excel.  Do what it takes to make that your One Thing and be the very best at it, but don’t try to be the best at all the things.  Staying in your own lane and keeping your eyes on the path uniquely planned for you can be one of the most difficult challenges in this life.  Their grass may look greener but it will never feel as soft as what is planted beneath your own feet.  So I’ll do my one thing and you do yours and together we can create a beautiful garden.

Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 5:8, Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Luke 10:42

One Piece, One Peace

puzzleOnce again, I came to that checkpoint in my day; the sacred “naptime” where every mom has a critical decision to make.  1-2 hours of uninterrupted time (if I’m lucky) and how to spend it?  There is always part of me that just wants to stop, drop and snooze.  Then the Susie Homemaker in me wants to make the house presentable (she never wins). The business woman side of me just wants to power through and get as much work as possible accomplished in that time.  That one usually wins.  After all, this business pays all our bills and allows us to help others along the way.  However, today my heart said, “write”.  I find it so difficult to let my heart win this one.  Writing these days feels like a luxury as I sit amid piles of laundry and dirty dishes with a to-do list a mile long running through my mind.  But alas, here I am.  I’ve realized that when I silence that one passion, this outlet, this need to for self-expression I not only feel distant from the One who created me to write, but everything else in my world suffers as well.  I become grouchy and irritable at the other duties I feel are pulling me from my heart’s desire.  That, my friends, is an ugly place to live and everyone in my house notices it.   You see, I could forge ahead, trudge on and strive to pave my path in this business while keeping all the other pieces of my life in place. Or I can stop, center myself, commit to this calling God has placed on my heart and allow Him to hold all the pieces as He weaves the path for me.  All the striving and pushing forward won’t amount to anything if I forsake the very desires God placed in my heart.  And whether I am good at it or not, He has placed a desire for writing in my heart.  When God places a call upon your life, just forget about being equipped, competent or superior in any way.  All He needs is for you to be obedient. So today, I choose obedience.  I choose to trust in what I cannot see and believe that he will bless all the other pieces I laid aside in order to pick this one up.  Above all, I choose Him.

Philippians 2:3

Sank You

I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”

Seasons

The garden of life brings seasons.  The spring with its tender newness, the summer with its delight, the autumn with its bountiful harvest, and the cold dark winter all have their place and time.  For some, the winter is long and it trudges on past spring invading the summer and robbing the autumn fields of its splendor.  For some, the winter never seems to end. It becomes one tragedy after another, just living from storm to storm and trying to hang on to the sliver of hope that spring is just around the corner.  Spring is, after all, just around the corner. It just may be the longest curviest corner in history!

I’ve been there; the feeling of eternal winter.  I’ve walked in those cold shoes, wishing I would have had warmer boots to trudge along in, something a little sturdier to keep me from slipping under the massive load I was baring. I write this though from the summer.  So I did make it through, though not alone.  God was there as I walked through the harsh cold winter air to now bask in the warm sunbeams of summer.  My winter may have paled in comparison to yours. It may have looked like a walk in the park compared to the disaster you face today.  But we aren’t here to compare winters.  Someone will always have a better and someone will always have it worse.  The grass is truly only greener where you water it.

So water your grass in the winter. Water that grass that is buried under the muck and mire of dirty snow and ice.  Water it by seeing the beauty that is born from adversity.  Water it with hope.  Water it with love.  Water it with tears.  Water it with the faith that one day, the snow will fade.  The fresh shoots will spring forth and the winter will be no more.  Water it with vision.  God’s Word tells us without vision we parish.  Set your mind then not on what is seen but what is unseen.  Fix your eyes on what is eternal.  This cold winter will not last, so set your mind on what will last.  Though the snow may be deep and the darkness thick, watch for the light.  Fix your eyes on He who never changes. The seasons, they shift.  This life brings constant change, therefor we must look to the one who stays the same.  Our One Constant in any season is up to something.  He is working your winter for His glory and when the spring does come, oh what mighty growth will cover the land!  You will be changed yes, for the better.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then we shall fully know.

Life here on earth will always bring us winters but we hold fast because we look for an eternal life without season, where He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.  The old order, the old seasons will pass.  Our One constant remains.  Water your grass in each season.  Water your grass in faith and know that even if you must walk through the winter, you never walk alone.

Proverbs 29:18, Colossians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 21:4, Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear to Freedom

hebrews-12-1Fear.  This filthy little monster creeps in unexpectedly to rob joy, steal hope and stifle dreams.  Fear causes immobility because it whispers the “what ifs” that lead to deception.  Fear is the one lie that offers a bounty of lies in its wake.  It creeps in slowly, unknowingly and often disguised as reason, logic or reality. It takes the fragile flower of hope and crushes it with doubt. It leaves confusion where there was peace and fog where there was vision.  Fear breeds rapidly if not recognized and removed.  It gives life to deception which leads to discouragement.  Discouragement causes defeat and defeat leads to despair.

Despair; “the complete loss or absence of hope”.

God does not give us the spirit fear. He “gives not a spirit of fear but one of love, power and a sound-mind”.  Fear comes from the “enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”.  Fear is one of the enemy’s most powerful tools and it comes so often in disguise that recognizing the root of our rot as fear, can be difficult.  Yet, nothing is impossible for our God!  “For we know all things work together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose”. All things.  Our God is mighty, strong, a consuming fire.  “He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.  For “all the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be and we are God’s masterpiece”. He has “created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”.

Fear says, “its impossible”, God says, “I’ve already made the way”.

“Let us then strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us”.

Let us run.  Not from fear, but without it.  Let us drop our chains, the ones God never intended for us and let us run. Run in hope. Run with vision. Run with purpose. Run in the direction of the dreams God has placed in your heart.  Run in freedom.

2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8, Romans 8:28, Deuteronomy 4:24, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 139:16, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 12:1

Praise from the Garden

The sun takes its moment to shine forth in brilliance. Its rays beam and burst out in all directions with four strong points to north, south, east and west as if a blazing cross has been set in the sky. As the trees wake to the breeze they clap their morning praise. The sun seems to pulse in and out of the leaves; the heartbeat of the sky.

All creation shouts your praise and I delight to join in the chorus. What can I say? What could I sing? I pause. I simply sense your greatness in this place; the magnitude of your presence. I stand silently in awe of your glory. This is worship.

The veil is torn. The coal has touched my lips. Your love has seared my soul. Your grace has cleansed my heart. This is holy ground.

Psalm 148:5, Matthew 27:51, Isaiah 6:7, Exodus 3:5

Perfect Gift

There are days in this business where I feel as if I’m standing in a crowd, hands open, offering an incredible gift and people don’t notice. They walk by with blinders on. They assume it’s too good to be true. They’re too busy to notice. They just can’t believe it’s for them. Some are curious but too afraid to even take a closer look.

Fear. It holds us back so many times. Fear whispers doubt, pulls us back into the mold and keeps us living with only a small portion of what God has in store. Fear tells us not to move. Doubt tells us it’s not possible. Shame tells us we’re not worthy.

God. God tells us to go. He tells us to move forward because He has already made a way and redeemed us. He makes us worthy.

Imagine what Christ must have felt on the cross. Can we even begin to glimpse a small portion of what he experienced? He was the most perfect gift given by God. God himself, opening His hands to offer his only Son.
Yet, in that moment and still today, people don’t notice. They walk by with blinders on. They turn away. They assume it’s too good to be true. They just can’t believe it’s for them. Some are curious but too afraid to even take a closer look.

God still waits for so many. With open hands and a storehouse of blessings, He waits to give away the most precious of all gifts; Himself.

2 Corinthians 9:15, James 1:17, Romans 8:32

It is Well

It’s just the two of us. His greatness and my frailty are mingling together. We are one in this place, though the thought is almost unbearable and nearly unimaginable. My facades are removed. Every mask is taken off and dropped at His feet.
I am Bare.
Shame attempts to intrude but He gently pushes it away. My heart exposed, He begins to mend, restore and tend to each need. This is a process. Each time I come, more work is accomplished. Often, there are new wounds. This broken world easily produces more brokenness.
No matter to Him. It is as if He doesn’t notice. He is unshaken by anything I could bring. My worst, He makes his best. This process, so tender and so gentle, brings waves of peace and undertones of tranquility.
I rest.
I know all will be well. In this place, more than any other, I can truly say it is well with my soul. It is here I am made alive and anew. What is not complete is held in his hands, reserved for another meeting. It needs time; a process of healing. This rests well with me as He knows better than I.
I wait.
In hopeful, joyful expectance I wait. He breathes life in my lungs while the warmth of peace and the cool rush of anticipation fill my soul. There is more, much more. There is a promise; a sweet hope. For here, I see dimly. This is only a portion, just a small glimpse, of what awaits. It is but a foretaste of what He has prepared.
I hope.
My hope is placed fully and only in Him. It is well. It is well.

Lamentations 3:22-23, James 1:2-4, Psalm 23:6, John 14:3