Keep going

My last post was very emotional, and in many ways I still am in a heightened emotional state.

I had a miscarriage.

Since then, I have:

  • Been on a little family vacation to the mountains – very encouraging and refreshing
  • Watched some new-to-me movies/shows – Knives Out, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Hamilton. All of which I loved!
  • Had a much needed and long overdue girls night with my sister
  • Finished draft three and began draft four of my book
  • Celebrated the 4th of July with BBQ and fireworks

I’m still a little raw, and sad. Yet, I am so encouraged by my husband, and my children. (See above: my youngest snooping on my coffee and my “phuun-eh”, a.k.a. “phone”)

I think that losing one baby has made me hold everyone in my life a little closer (all my family, not just my kids).

I have had three smooth, healthy pregnancies, and have three beautiful children. I have a wonderful, sweet, lovingly supportive husband. I have a wonderfully caring family. I have dear friends.

As my life, emotions, and mind are comforted and soothed by these precious people, the balm for my soul has been the Scriptures.

In the depths of very strong emotions, the very hardest thing for me is to sit and read. My God knew that, and what has been peppering my heart has been all the passages I have memorized over the decades.

Isaiah 54:10 (my “life verse”, memorized in NIV) – ” ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, but my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who had compassion on you.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah 53:3-4 – “… man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows…”

Psalm 56:8 – “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

John 11:32-35 – “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” 

The most comforting, mind boggling, wonderful, and amazing-but-true things about having all these passages (and so many others) come to mind is that these passages are all talking about the same God.
The same Jesus who wept over the death of his dear friend, and over the sorrow that death had on his sisters, is the same God who keeps count of my tossings, bottling my tears, is deeply acquainted with all kinds of griefs and sorrows, so much so it is a title of sorts: man of sorrows.
He’s the same God who has good plans of hope for his people, who promises to guard my heart with his perfect peace when I keep my mind on him and not on myself and not on my worries.
He is a faithful, steadfast, loving, patient, merciful, and unfailing even in the face of our broken, fallen, fractured, deadly world.

Because of who God is, what he has done throughout history, and in my life in particular, I can keep going.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Patience? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

During this season of mothering littles, I find my number one prayer request being “that I would be more patient with my children”.

Man, I love these kids, and they never stop. I think the constant motion is pretty standard for littles, but it’s exhausting!
My youngest is still in diapers, and doesn’t have all her teeth in yet.
My middle has colossal meltdowns where no one but Daddy can calm her. My oldest is turning five at the end of the summer and will start kindergarten in the fall. I have a whole new set of things to think about! Have I prepared him enough? Does he know enough to be independent at school? Will he be kind to others? Will he listen to and obey his teachers? Will he get teased? Will he get in trouble?

My worries for my oldest, have often turned normal parenting moments into this “do or die” test, to see if he is really ready for school. Many days, my patience is gone before I even wake up, because I’ve lost sleep worrying.

But, God calls me to be patient.
Actually, He calls all believers to be patient, not just the “extra holy ones”. Patience is a characteristic of God we are called to have ourselves as his children. It is one of the many ways we image our heavenly Father to a broken world. This world has no patience.

So what is it? What is biblical patience?

Well first, let me tell you what it is not: patience is the not the same as waiting.

I don’t know why we think just waiting this is “good enough”. When we think about it, the act of waiting cannot be the same as patience, it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, have you ever seen a someone wait impatiently? Therefor, waiting cannot be what patience is.

Biblical patience is this: a Godly attitude towards circumstances and people, which is founded in and completely resting in God.
It’s an attitude of trust.
Why do I struggle with being patient with my kids? Because I am not trusting God. How did I diagnose that? Because I am worried.
More often than not, my attitude of anxiety has replaced the God-trusting attitude of patience.

When I get off, I need more of God, I need his word.
God’s word is our living water, our primary cause for heart change, and our gauge for our lives.
Here are some passages I found to do a quick study on what practicing biblical patience looks like:

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Practicing biblical patience means not worrying about circumstances or even about evil people, but focuses on the LORD, rests in God’s goodness, in God’s good promises. Therefore, we can be still before him, and wait patiently for him.

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Practicing biblical patience shows up in how we love others. See all the “not”s that follow? All three are me-focused. Therefore, a love that is patient and kind is others centered, it is God’s-will centered.

2 Corinthians 1:6
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Practicing biblical patience is playing a long game, an eternal game. It is seeing our world for what it is, temporary, not our true home, knowing that the relatively brief pains now pale in comparison to a joy-filled forever after.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Practicing biblical patience is remembering that those around us have an eternity ahead of them too. Dealing with others with patience infused love, focused on their good, not your own desires, or schedule.

How can we possibly do this? (That’s what I’m thinking, I’m sure at least some of you are thinking the same thing!) I lose my patience with my family all the time.

Here’s the progression: our love is shaped by our attitude of patience, which is caused and motivated by our remembrance of who God is and what he’s done for us. It’s all about perspective, and our perspective needs to stay fixed on God or we will get off track. On our own, we could never do it, but because God was gracious, loving, and patient with us first, and continues to be everyday of our lives, we can refocus our perspective, readjust our attitude, and restart our actions in a way that glorifies him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What I’m filling up with

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit drained these days.
Turns out, even introverts need people!

My husband is home, and thankfully is still working. It’s a tricky situation in our little house, but we have found a sort of groove with it, and the kids have adapted.
What has been the hardest is being home, inside, and away from family. It’s especially hard on my kids, which breaks my heart.

This new isn’t normal. This will change, but we don’t know when, and man can these days feel long.
So, what do we do?

Fill up! and fill up with truth.

Here’s what I’m doing to help fill me up, and maybe it will inspire you to fill up too: (the first one daily, but the others are scattered throughout the week pretty much)

  1. Bible – There is no way I, or you, or anyone on the planet who can make it through life, much less through stress, suffering, change, hurt, brokenness, without God’s Word. (I’m currently reading through Exodus, and seeing how God provided for his people is amazing, even through the law!)
  2. Sufficient Hope: Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox – Having a solid, bible central devotion has helped me immensely. This book is perfect because it’s relatively short, full of scripture, has questions at the end, and has a prayer written out at the end of each little chapter. The prayers are my favorite, because they are so solid, often praying the words of scripture, and give me words to pray when I’m out.
  3. Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham – Maybe an odd choice for being secluded away from friends, but man has this time also revealed some of the idols that have crept up in my heart, especially in the area of friendship. This has been a very convicting, and comforting book always pointing to the truth.
  4. Risen Motherhood Podcast – Hands down, my favorite podcast. No matter what, these ladies are always pointing to the truth of the gospel, from make up, to marriage, to parenting, and everything in between that falls into the realm of motherhood. Go listen. So good. The resources page on their website is also fantastic.
  5. Journey Women Podcast – In the same idea and purpose as Risen Motherhood, but aimed at young(er) women. Topic and interviews to encourage and point women to God in our journey through life.
  6. Foundations Podcast with Ruth and Troy Simons – This is centered on biblical parenting, and I have just started listening to this with my family (husband and kids).
  7. Biblicaltraining.org – I’ve listened to a few good classes and seminars for free on this site. I love learning and this free resource is great for that. They also have some certificates you can earn (these are not free).
  8. “Marks of a Healthy Church”, teaching series by Ligonier Ministries – This has been a balm to my soul, though I’m missing my church soooooo much right now, I’m enjoying this series about church. Ligonier Ministries also has a ton of other free teaching series, and other resources too.
  9. Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This is what I have been reading to my children everyday at lunch time, and they remind me when I miss! They are into this routine of ours. Their little hearts are anxious and scared in this time too, recounting promises, hope, and truth of Jesus is just what they need now, and all the time! It helps Mommy’s heart too 🙂
  10. Any/all music by Keith and Kristyn Getty and/or City Alight – definitely favorites right now for our whole family.

There you have it!
I’m also reading some fiction for book club, an audio book for fun, and have at least three more books I’ve started, and set down for now. Trying to be better about finishing what I begin. 🙂
What are you filling up with?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Finding a Peace-filled Schedule

Spoiler alert: I haven’t found it.

Schedules and routine are glorious things.
When I was a new mom, I followed a sleep training schedule just to keep me sane (postpartum emotions are no joke). Second baby came 15 months after the first, and getting my babies to sleep at the same time was my end-all-be-all goal.
Now, with three children ages 4.5 years, 3 years, and 16 months, schedules have been an vital part of our home for just about 5 years!

Schedules = sanity

Or do they?

For all of my motherhood, I have searched for peace and security in schedules. Yet, I still battle with anxiety (the kind where you just sit alone and cry for no reason, or can’t find it in you to get off the couch or even out of bed).

Why?

There is only one place where we can find peace, security, sanity, purpose, and all the other things we really are looking for in our ideal schedule.
That place, is actually a person, it’s Jesus.

Jesus is the source of lasting peace.
Jesus is the anchor for our fluctuating emotions and circumstances.
Jesus is the only cause for life-long and minute-by-minute purpose.

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Schedules are good and often very helpful, they are fantastic guidelines, and give us (and our kids) things to look forward to. However, helpful tools were never meant to calm our souls, give us disaster-proof security, or motivate us with an all encompassing purpose that would fill every moment of our days and last our entire lives. Nothing on this earth can do that, only God can.

The book of Romans has a lot to say about peace, where it comes from, and where it does not come from. Let’s take a look at a few verses:

“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”

Romans 3:13-17

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 5:1

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:33

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace  of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Romans 16:20

True, lasting, unwavering peace comes when our trust is in Jesus alone. Why? Because unlike every other thing in the universe, including ourselves, he is unchanging. Peace founded in Jesus Christ because no matter what we go through no matter our circumstances, our emotions, our relationships, our mistakes, our health, any of it, he remains steadfast. He is our peace.

No matter what faces you today, tomorrow, ten years from now! God remains faithfully the same. We can rest secure in that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pandemic, Manna, Contentment, Anger, and the Idol of Me

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Exodus 16:1-3 (emphasis added)

This was my Bible reading this morning, and it got me thinking….

Two months after the miraculous ten plagues, Passover, and crossing through the middle of the Red Sea on dry land, the entire congregation of Israel is grumbling.
This is more than the casual complaining, “just saying”, or venting type attitude we excuse ourselves of now. Or was it?
They were a good two month walk from the greatest civilization at the time, the only place they had ever known, and were now on a never ending camping trip in the middle of the wilderness. Oh, and they had run out of food. The people had some legitimate concerns! Food is important! Being in the middle of nowhere lacking food is deadly!

So what’s the problem?
Instead of seeking God’s guidance, instead of calling out to him for help (he clearly had the power and willingness to help them out), they looked to their own knowledge, their own understanding, and their own situation as being ultimate.
They had grown discontent. Following a miraculous pillar of cloud by day, and warming, light giving pillar of fire was not good enough.
They had let that discontentment take root, and now they were angry, with Moses and Aaron. Really? No. They took it out on Moses and Aaron. They had seen in Egypt what happens when you shake your fist at God directly, people die!
But God knew their hearts. They were angry with God, not Moses. They were not trusting God. They were trusting their eyes, their heads, their stomachs.

Those silly Israelites! Come on guys!

Well, how different am I? Just two weeks into public spaces being closed because of this current pandemic, and I feel discontent, a little angry. Justifiably so! A lot has changed in a short time, but if being in the wilderness and running out of food was not a good excuse for idolatry, then safer-at-home orders are not a good excuse either.

Idolatry? Whoa, hold on there. I see no statue worship, no fist shaking at God, no out right denial of his work.

Yes, idolatry. Whenever our peace, our hope, our security is relying on something other than God it’s idolatry.

Comfort, control, predictability, family, community, health, finances, “me time”, independence, whatever! If you are willing to sin to keep whatever it is, then it’s an idol. Not trusting God is the foundational sin, it’s what got Adam and Eve in the garden.

Yes, things are crazy. Yes, it is scary, nerve wracking, and we need to exercise caution (extreme caution in some cases). Yes, there is suffering (there was before COVID-19 and there will be after it).

But! God is not surprised, this is not outside of his plan. His good, pleasing, and perfect will for the good of those whom he has called, and for his glory forever and ever, has not changed and will not be stopped. Nothing can thwart his will.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Romans 8:35

What happens in the next verses of Exodus? God gives them Manna, literally raining bread from heaven to feed them. Just before giving them the Manna, God gave Moses instructions about the Manna. God said to only collect enough for one day, except for the sixth day of the week collect enough for the seventh day also because the seventh day is the Sabbath, the day of rest. Even in God’s provision, he is requiring that the people trust him.

God did not take the people out of the wilderness. God did not lead them on a quicker path to the promised land. God did not have them settle down and start growing crops to solve their food problem. No, God did not change their circumstances, but came to them in the midst of their circumstances and provided for them even in their difficulty and even provided for them in their disobedience.

Praise God he comes to us before we come to him! Praise God he gives us grace before we ask for forgiveness! Praise God he allows us to see our weakness, so that the beauty of his provision is vibrant! Praise God he permits suffering so we stop clinging to our flimsy idols of self, and cling to our all sustaining, holy Savior!

Soli Deo Glroia!