A broken Christmas

Some days it sneaks up on you. One minute you’re fine and the next you’re standing at the sink washing the dishes with your tears.

Some days seem designed to make you cry. It hits you in morning and by lunchtime you’re ready to go to bed and stay there. Forever.

This is what a broken Christmas looks like.

So many are experiencing a broken Christmas this year. I hear it everywhere I go.

People are hurting, burdened, and lonely. We’ve said goodbye to loved ones, we’ve seen families break apart, or we’re struggling with illnesses and financial burdens. And most of us are just plain tired.

The cares of this world overwhelm us as the weight of two thousand Christmases past settles on our shoulders. We see the brokenness all around us and we wonder how much longer God will leave the world this way. We thought things would be different by now. We were sure that God would make it all better.

Maybe we thought we’d be singing, “Joy to world, The Lord is come” for a different reason. After all it was supposed to be a song about His second coming.

The cares of this world overwhelm us as the weight of two thousand Christmases past settles on our shoulders. We see the brokenness all around us and we wonder how much longer God will leave the world this way. We thought things would be different by now. We were sure that God would make it all better.

But that second coming that we look forward to isn’t possible without the first coming. Neither is the cross or the empty tomb. The healing we seek began in that manger bed all those years ago. It began with a young woman who said a very big “yes” to God and the work the He wanted to do in her and through her.

While we wait for that blessed hope and glorious appearing, there will be suffering and brokenness. The day will come when He will wipe away all our tears, but we haven’t reached that day yet.

Until then we have to let The One whose hands were pierced for us be the balm for our souls.

This doesn’t happen automatically. We have to be intentional about spending time at the Savior’s feet and letting Him wash away the dirt and sorrow that we collect along the way.

This is a busy time of year and our routines are off. The kids are out of school; there are trips to be planned and packed for, last minute gifts to be bought, and a whole lot of wrapping to do. It’s almost inevitable that something will fall between the cracks.

We can’t let meeting with The Master be one of them. During this time of year when we feel the pain of our losses and disappointments more keenly, it’s important to keep our eyes on Christ.

It’s also important to cultivate a heart of gratitude for the blessing that we do have in our lives.

Cultivating a heart of gratitude doesn’t mean that we bury our hurt and pretend it doesn’t exist. It means recognizing that hurt is not all we have. It means appreciating the good things we have.

In this life there will always be both good and bad. We can’t let ourselves dwell on the bad, even if the bad appears to outweigh the good for a season.

Acknowledge your hurt, shed tears and then take stock of the blessings around you.

As Christians our hope is not in this life only. Our hope is in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is what gives the celebration of His birth meaning.

The cross isn’t possible without the manger, and the manger has no purpose without the cross. The Christmas story isn’t complete if we leave out the empty tomb.

The risen Savior is why not only Christmas day, but every day has meaning. The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Corinthians 15:19 & 20

This is the promise of Christmas. This is why we have hope that our brokenness will one day be healed, and all our tears wiped away. This is why we can celebrate in the midst of the brokenness.

This brokenness is the result of living in fallen world. This darkness doesn’t belong here, it’s an invader that made its way into what was designed to be a perfect world. One day it will be driven out entirely, but until that day the darkness is held back by the light that is within us.

The Light that came so that we could have life, and to heal the brokenness of our sin.

The hope of salvation, and the promise of resurrection is what we celebrate. That promise that began to be fulfilled that night in Bethlehem.

No matter how bleak as our circumstances look, as much as our hearts hurt now, it’s nothing compared to the joy that awaits us when we meet our Savior face to face.

Remember, your story is a God story and it isn’t finished yet. It isn’t finished yet. It’s still being written. The brokenness you’re feeling now is not all there is. Don’t run from this brokenness that leads us to the cross, turn it over to The Author and trust Him with it.

 

 

A Gratitude Filled Christmas

I’m really feeling the need to focus on gratitude this Christmas.

Changing our mindset from one of entitlement to one of gratitude is a small change with a huge impact. Someone said, “It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.” And it’s so true.

Whether or not we have joy at Christmas or at any other time is largely dependent on whether or not we have a spirit of gratitude.

The birth of The Messiah was the most extravagant gift ever given. We can never match it's greatness, but we can express our gratitude and magnify The Lord.

I plan to be really intentional about guiding my children’s hearts, as well as my own heart, toward gratitude this Christmas.

It’s a simple thing to chose gratitude, but it can difficult if our hearts aren’t tuned properly. It’s something we have to be intentional about. We have to consciously choice gratitude over dissatisfaction, especially in difficult situations.merry-christmas

To help us focus on gratitude this Christmas, I’ve created a gratitude advent. It’s more or less a book with a Bible verse and space for writing what we’re thankful for each day in December up to Christmas day. If you would like to join us you can get a free printable copy of the Gratitude Advent here.

If you have an Elf on the shelf or other Christmas visitor, I included a letter that can be used to introduce this activity.

In the first chapter of Luke after Mary is visited by the angel and told that she will be the mother of the messiah, she goes to see her cousin Elisabeth. When Elisabeth is told Mary’s news, she tells Mary how blessed she is to chosen for this task. Mary’s response is, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

She recognized that her blessing and the blessings of the nation of Israel came from The Lord. He is the reason for every good thing we have in our lives, and it’s right that we should praise him for it.

The birth of The Messiah was the most extravagant gift ever given. We can never match it’s greatness, but we can express our gratitude and magnify The Lord.

Will you magnify The Lord with me Christmas season?

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. Luke 1:46-55

Download your free printable Gratitude Advent book here, or by clicking the image below.

A gratitude filled Christmas

I’m linking this up with Christian Blogger Community.

Why we should have Thanksgiving for Christmas

I know, I know Thanksgiving is over and I’m supposed to be talking all things Christmas. I’m supposed to be writing a post that will make you feel guilty for having an Elf on the Shelf, or a post that make you feel like a Grinch for not having one. My Instagram should be filled with pictures of my neatly decorated house, while I share my already planned Christmas menu.

I’m supposed to have moved on from Thanksgiving.

Except I have no idea what I’m cooking for Christmas. I’m staying out of the whole Elf on the Shelf debate. I just am. No ones salvation rests on the shenanigans of a toy elf. And while I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree as I type this, my house is far from Instagram worthy.

Half of my decorations are still in boxes, and I still have ceramic turkeys on my kitchen table.

I’m trying to get there, but there is only so much energy and time in the day.

I’ve had mixed emotions about the approaching holidays. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, but this year is different. My emotions are all over the place.

I want to enjoy the season, but I feel guilty for enjoying the season.

But as I go to the Throne of Grace and try make sense of all these feelings, I hear that still small voice leading me to chose gratitude.

It’s a small thing, but so significant.

And what better time for gratitude than at Christmas time.

The celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday is just beginning. We need to continue the spirit of thanksgiving all the way through the holiday season. And really year round.

Last year when I wrote about giving thanks in difficult seasons, I made this closing statement, “I’m realizing that the key to focusing our hearts on Christ at Christmas might just be to focus on thankfulness at Thanksgiving.”

The celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday is just beginning. We need to continue the spirit of thanksgiving all the way through the holiday season. And really year round.

It’s so easy this time of year to get caught up in trying to make sure everything is perfect. We make sure all the right decorations are up, all the right presents are wrapped up under the tree, and all the right food is prepared, but those things aren’t what make the day special.

Christmas is special because of what we’re celebrating, not how we celebrate.

We can piously avoid all celebration of Christmas and still have an ungrateful heart. We can preach about keeping Christ in Christmas all we want, but if we leave out gratitude, we’re still missing the point.

The celebration of the birth of Christ, how ever we celebrate, must begin in our hearts, with gratitude.

Ingratitude is a disease running rampant throughout our culture. We want more, more, more and never stop to give thanks for what we already have. A look at the lines in the stores this past Friday will tell you that. If you were an alien from outer space, you’d have no idea that it was the day after the day we supposedly gave thanks.

Ingratitude is a monster that comes in and steals our joy. It keeps us focused on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. It makes us feel as though everything in our lives is wrong. Ingratitude isolates us from loved ones and makes us believe that no one cares.

An ungrateful spirit blinds us to blessings of God that are all around us each and every day.

This is why we are constantly complaining, one reason why we won’t settle down until everything is “perfect,” one of the reasons we get pouty when things don’t go our way, and why we can’t seem to find any joy in our hearts.

Joy is ours for the taking. It’s one of the fruits of The Spirit, but we have to cultivate our relationship with The Spirit in order to have those fruits. An ungrateful spirit is one of the biggest barriers in that relationship.

So many times we ignore the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all things. But if we look at the book of James, we can see why ingratitude might actually be a sin.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17

We know we should give thanks, but so many times we don’t. God’s Word calls that sin. And sin a hindrances to our relationship with Him. It grieves The Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30)

That’s why ingratitude is such a dangerous thing. It’s a deadly poison that slips in before we even know it and steals our joy.

We don’t have to let it though. We have the antidote to this poison already at our disposal. The antidote is just to stop and give thanks. Stop complaining, stop comparing, stop trying to make things perfect, stop wishing things were different, and start giving thanks for what is right now.A gratitude filled Christmas

So this year I’ve purposed in my heart to focus on gratitude. To give thanks, even on the hard days. I want my children to focus on gratitude too, and I’ve been thinking of ways we can accomplish this. I had a flash of inspiration while sitting in front of our Christmas tree, or maybe it was in the middle of church… Cough.

I printed off pages with a Bible verse and space for writing down what we’re thankful for each day until Christmas day. The verses will serve as a reminder of what we’re celebrating, and writing down what we’re thankful for help us focus our hearts in the right place.

Because I don’t want to be a grinchy mama, I thought a fun way to introduce this concept might be with our Elf so I wrote an elf letter to go with it. Yes, we have an Elf. I know you were dying to know that. We won’t be using the book that comes with the elf, so the letter will introduce both the elf and our Christmas gratitude project. (Yes, those are affiliate links.)

If you don’t think my idea is too crazy insane and you’d like to join us, you can get the free printable by clicking on the image below. You print the pages you want, and incorporate them however you wish. It would make a nice addition to a homeschool or advent study.

Have fun and be grateful!

GraceTruth-Featured

 

Click the image, or click here to get the free printable.

A gratitude filled Christmas

I’m linking this up with Grace & Truth.

Why our entertainment choices matter

I realized not too long ago that I am an easy target for the devil right now. It doesn’t take much to turn an off day into a really terrible day. And the past couple of weeks have been full of off days just waiting to turn sour.

One Tuesday, I was standing the checkout line at Walmart, when I realized that I had left all of my cash and my bankcard at home. As I was driving back to get my card and complaining about the other drivers on the road, it hit me that my attitude was part or the problem.

In fact my attitude was probably the biggest part of the problem.

All I wanted to do was go home and binge on Netflix, but that was the last thing I needed right then. That is what I had been doing.

It wasn’t helping my attitude at all.

When I’m consuming a steady diet of the worlds entertainment, my mind not stayed on Christ. It’s the spiritual equivalent of eating cake for every meal. It might seem good at the time, but it leaves you feeling sluggish and sick.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found I have to be very careful about my entertainment choices. Whether it’s music, books, or television, whatever I choose to consume influences me either positively or negatively.

A bad day can be made better by turning on music with a positive God honoring message, and vice versa. I can ruin a good day by yielding to the temptation to listen to just that one song.

Darkness breeds darkness.

The more darkness and corruption I allow into my life through entertainment, the more my attitude reflects that darkness and corruption.

It’s not necessarily about how many curse words there are, if there is any sexual content, or violence, it’s where my mind goes when I’m feeding myself from the worlds goods. This is why I stopped watching the news and listening to talk radio.

Isaiah 26:3 says:

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

When I’m consuming a steady diet of the worlds entertainment, my mind not stayed on Christ. It’s the spiritual equivalent of eating cake for every meal. It might seem good at the time, but it leaves you feeling sluggish and sick.

Sure, I might be having my daily quiet time, but opening my Bible for a few minutes in the morning then spending the rest of the day watching Netflix, is like eating a carrot before my breakfast cake thinking that will erase the effects of the cake.

There might not be anything wrong with having a slice of cake, or watching an episode of my favorite television show now and then, but there’s such a thing as too much.

Those things aren’t really doing me any good either.

Just because there’s nothing wrong with it doesn’t mean it’s what I need.

The renewal of our minds has to be constant. Instead of a steady diet of spiritual junk food, we need the wholesome nourishment of the Bread Of Life.

No, we don’t have to walk around with our noses in our Bibles. But when we’ve collected the dust of the world, we need to allow the Master to wash our feet.

It’s also true that while some forms of entertainment may be harmless in small doses, there are others that we need to avoid all together. Pornography, violence, drugs, alcohol, astrology, and music that glorifies all of that, are things that bring nothing good to our lives. Even a little bit is too much.

This is especially true when we’re struggling with depression or anxiety, and when we’re going through a season of stress or sadness. 

The entertainment of the world is so appealing and distracting, and we love it. It makes us forget for just a little while. But, when we’re depressed, the music that we identify with is only going to make us more depressed. So will that glass of wine.

I would never claim that depression is always a spiritual problem. I’ve had enough experience with it to know better. There are some things though that we do have control over, which can make it much worse.

When we are struggling with depression dabbling, no matter how lightly, in the spiritual darkness of pornography, drug use, alcoholism, and astrology will be counter productive to the healing we seek. 

If our loved ones are struggling, our dabbling will be harmful to them as well.

And all those more harmless things wont really help either. It may seem like it for a while because they’re so distracting, but when that movie is over, we’ll still be in the same place we were before.

So, what do we do? We fill those empty spaces with The Word of God, music that lifts up the name of Christ, and other things that bring light into our world.

We have to heavily filter everything.

That includes what we see on social media. You know I would end up there, din’t you? I didn’t, until now. But it was missing from the discussion, and it can be huge influence if we let it.

Social media can be dangerous because it runs the spectrum from helpful to outright destructive. It can change from helpful to harmful in an instant, and without warning. For some people it can be addicting.

For the most part we have a great deal of control over whether our social media accounts are helping or hurting us. We can choose who and what we see in our news feeds. We don’t have to read endless statuses from people who complain about everything. We don’t have to see the posts that tell us everything that’s wrong with the world.

The list people and groups I follow on social media seems to get shorter every day. If your name pops up attached to a picture of a mostly naked woman, or a meme about beer, I will probably stop following you.

If we fill our newsfeed with people and groups who love the Word of God, who have a desire to honor Him, and encourage others in their Christian walk, then social media can be a positive influence. I’m not saying that every post has to be spiritual. I love a good joke as much as the next person, but we can share jokes, food videos, and pictures of cats without being destructive.

We need to use a great deal of discernment about what we share, what we see, and when it’s time to turn it off.

The same goes for what we read, watch, and listen to.

The more darkness and corruption we let in, the more we find it acceptable. Then we let in even more, and it shows up in our attitudes and our actions. Eventually it can ruin our testimony with the world we should be trying to reach.

It’s not about a bunch of rules that we have to follow in order to make sure God is happy with us. It’s about choosing the right food for our souls. It’s about filling ourselves with the light of Christ so that we can project that light to others.

If we want to be Battle Ready, our hearts and minds have to free from the distractions of the world

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I’m linking this up with Sitting Among FriendsThankful Thursdays, and Grace & Truth.

How a princess prepares for spiritual warfare

Battles are raging around us. Whether we want to be or not, we are part of those battles.

Every day the children of God are coming under attack. Some are just the day to day battles that come with living in a fallen world, and some are attacks of the enemy that are meant to destroy us.

Some attacks are obvious, while others are more subtle. The enemy has many tools at his disposal, and he will use whatever means he can to cause us to stray from the path God has for us.

But we don’t have to let him win. We can be prepared.

We are daughters of The Most High God. We have been redeemed by the blood of The Lamb. We are more than conquerors through Christ.

There is no reason we should be conquered. There is no reason for us to live in defeat. There is no reason that we should let the battles we encounter turn us away from our faith.

But that is exactly what I see happening.

Instead of standing against the whiles of the devil, the women of God are falling under his attacks.

Maybe you don’t see it. Maybe you say women are stronger now than ever before. I can understand why we would think that way, but if we look closer, if we look with spiritual eyes, we see the truth.

Falling to the devil’s attacks doesn’t always mean falling into terrible sin. The devil is just as happy when we are distracted from God’s purpose for us. We might be living the good life, but if that’s not where God wants us, then the enemy has won.

A woman who is standing on her own is not necessarily strong. She may just have fallen for the lie that she doesn’t need anyone else. Even God.

What looks like a woman living up to the expectations of modern feminism, is often a woman who has rejected God’s plans for her life.

When we take our lives into our own hands, we are doing exactly what our enemy wants us to do. We are making ourselves our own god.

That is the way the world does things.

But God’s warrior princesses are supposed to be different. They are set apart and called to higher purpose. When a daughter of The King of kings is dressed for battle she will look very different than what the world expects.

God's warrior princesses are supposed to be different. They are set apart and called to higher purpose. When a daughter of The King of kings is dressed for battle she will look very different than what the world expects.

She relies on God’s strength not her own.

This can’t be said enough. We don’t have the strength to stand against Satan on our own.

In the book of Acts there is an account of some men trying to cast out a demon in their own strength. The demon reacted by saying, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?” Those men left that encounter bloodied, bruised, and naked. (Acts 19:13-16)

Even Michael the archangel wouldn’t accuse the devil himself. Instead he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9)

If we’re not careful we can easily fall into the trap of trying to do battle with the devil on our own, and find ourselves spiritually bloodied, bruised, and naked.

She is focused on spiritual things.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.” But I don’t think it’s really possible to be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good. If we are truly heavenly minded, then we will have a love for others that will motivate us to reach out to them and point them to Christ.

I do think it’s possible though to be so earthly minded that we’re no heavenly good.

Jesus called Peter offensive because he savored the things of men, not the things of God. (Matthew 16:23)

So many things in this world are calling for our attention. A lot of those things are good things, but not necessarily the things that God want’s for us. If we have our focus on the material things, then we will easily be led astray.

But if our focus is on spiritual things, God will lead us on the right path.

She puts others before herself.

Our culture today is very self-focused. We’re all about what we deserve.

But God wants something else for us. He knows that the true path to joy is in putting others first. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as our selves. (Matthew 22:39)

Over and over again in the Gospels we see Christ putting the needs of others before his own. In Philippians Paul tells us that this should be our model:

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, Philippians 2:4-7 (Emphasis added)

When we make our lives about us, we are missing God’s call on our lives, and handing the devil a victory.

She practices self-control.

Self-control is something else we don’t hear a lot about. We want instant gratification. We want to indulge every whim and every desire.

But some things are not meant for us. That doesn’t always mean they are bad things, just not what God has for us.

There are some things that may be bad for us, that will hinder us on our spiritual journey. If we want to we want to live victorious lives, we need to say no to those things.

We need to evaluate what we do before we do it through a Kingdom lens.

We don’t have to do something just because we think of it. We don’t have to have everything we want. We don’t have to say something just because it pops into our heads, and we don’t have to act a certain way just because we feel a certain way.

Our feelings are temporary. Our actions, as well as our words, often have lasting consequences.

She makes a point to communicate with The Commander.

Communication is a key part of any relationship. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is no different. If we want our Christianity to be a true relationship we must communicate with The One whose sacrifice made the relationship possible.

We don’t have to go through a human mediator or priest; we have a direct line to our Commander, with The Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf. (Romans 8:26)

He wants us to talk to Him. Hebrews tells we can come boldly to throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

Not flippantly or arrogantly, He is still The Creator and Sustainer of the universe, The Lion of tribe of Judah, And The Great I Am. He is more than worthy of our reverence.

To come boldly is to come as His beloved child, not the slaves to sin we once were. We can bring our burdens and lay them at His feet. He wants to carry you. Let Him.

She studies her training manual. 

When Jesus contended with Satan in the desert, He used the word of God as His defense. (Matthew 4:1-11)

This is our defense too. Against the lies of the devil, the lies of the world, and the lies we tell ourselves. Lies are everywhere today. It’s hard to sift through it all to find the truth, but when we turn to The Word of God we find the source of all truth.

The Bible is being attacked now more than ever. The attacks come not only from the world, but from those calling themselves Christians, pastors even. But Christ Himself promised that His Word would last forever. (Matthew 5:18) The Psalmist said it this way:

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Psalm 119:160

All the other promises contained in scripture rest on this one promise being true.

If we are going to refute the lies of the devil, it most only be with the truth of God’s Word.

She wears her armor.

This isn’t just any armor. And it’s not armor she makes for herself. This is another thing that makes us look at the women of the world and admire their strength. They’ve made themselves armor to protect themselves from the hurt they know is waiting for them.

What we don’t see is how that armor also chokes out truth, love, joy, and so many of the good things God wants for us.

Strength isn’t putting up barriers so that no one can hurt us. Strength is letting them in, and giving God the pain when they do hurt us.

God’s armor is perfect. Made up of Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and The Spirit, it is underpinned and covered in prayer, and can only falter if we neglect to wear it.

She is willing to obey. 

She doesn’t just obey because she’s supposed to. She obeys with a willing heart. Anything else is works that will be burned as wood, hay, and stubble. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

Obedience isn’t trying to earn our salvation, or God’s favor. We can’t do anything to earn those things. We obey because we already have God’s love and favor.

Obedience is how we demonstrate our love for God. Our obedience shows our heart not only to God, but also to the world around us. Jesus told His disciples:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

The book of James encourages us to have a walking faith, a faith that is put into action. James tells us that not only our love, but our faith is also demonstrated by our works, (James 2:18) and faith without works is dead. (James 2:20) Later in the book James tells us to submit to God.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

I don’t think that the order of this verse is an accident. James is telling us that before we can resist the devil, we must submit to God.

As we already saw, we don’t have the strength to resist the devil on our own. This is where submission to God comes in. We need His strength to be victorious over the devil, but we won’t have it if we are still trying to do things our own way. It’s also the book of James that tells us God resists our pride.

Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6

Preparing for spiritual warfare is about learning to do things God’s way instead of our way. From our source of strength to the way treat others, God’s way is so much better than ours. If we put our lives in His hands, we’ll learn to trust Him through our darkest battles, and He will lead us out victorious.

I’m linking this up with Christian Blogger CommunitySitting Among Friends, and Grace & Truth.

When the story is hard to tell

So far I haven’t used this space share many details about my family’s struggles over the past three years. We tend to be very private people, my husband most of all.

The stories of my life are not mine only. They also belong to the people I share my life with.

In the era of social media, when there are tons of Facebook pages giving play by plays of someone’s journey with cancer or recovery from a car accident, we often feel as though we have right to everyone’s personal information.

We can’t say we’re struggling without everyone wanting to know what we’re struggling with. If we won’t share, they’ll move on and find someone who will.

At the same time we don’t want people in our business.

We put our lives on display for the whole world to see, and then tell the world they have no business commenting on our lives. And don’t even think about doing anything that could be remotely considered  “judging.” Even though they’ve just changed their relationship status for the sixth time in as many months. Don’t judge.

It’s hard for us to admit that not every story needs to be told. Not every moment needs to be shared with the whole world. Sometimes it’s better to do as Mary did after Jesus’ birth and keep some stories in our hearts. (Luke 2:19)

This is especially true if we don’t want someone talking about it.

There seems to be little discernment about what should be shared and what shouldn’t.

We so easily share the smallest, and sometimes quite personal, details of our lives with the world, and then bury deep the things that matter. We’ve become so used to having our lives commented on that we hear the judgment before we utter one word. We so desperately want to be understood and accepted, and equally fear being misunderstood and rejected. And we’re afraid of appearing weak.

But some stories do need to be shared.

As much as I don’t want to, as much as it still hurts to even think about, I think I have to tell this story. Mostly because everything I write will be influenced by it, whether I want it to be or not.

There are points in all of our lives that change us forever. Sometimes it’s things we choose, like getting married or having a baby. Sometimes it’s things that just happen to us, or are done to us maliciously. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, when we get to those points there’s no going back.

There’s no pretending it didn’t happen, at least not for very long.

And I can’t get around this.

When the story is hard to tell

Almost three and a half years ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Based on the type of cancer he had, and the fact that the scans showed no cancer anywhere else, the doctors assured us it would be a relatively quick fix. They would do surgery and everything would be fine.

But that’s not how it went.

The surgery ended up being more extensive than the doctors originally thought. Which meant a longer recovery and more surgery later. The biopsy showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes so chemotherapy would be needed.

Because healing from the surgery took longer than expected, the start of the chemotherapy was delayed. In the meantime the oncologist sent him for more scans. We were told they were clear.

They told us that the type of chemo they would use wasn’t the “really bad kind.” The side effects were supposed to be minimal. For my husband the opposite was true. They actually had to stop the chemo because of the effects.

Over the next several months, there was more surgery and a serious blood infection. Then we found out that the scans form the year before were not clear after all. The cancer was in his lungs.

Later we would learn that it was also in his liver. One or the other might be manageable, but both was another story. We saw more doctors and he endured more surgeries and procedures along with more chemotherapy.

For the next year and half or so things pretty much stayed the same. The chemotherapy was keeping the cancer at bay, and my husband usually knew he could count on at least a few good days every cycle.

But then things changed, and they changed fast. We were told the cancer was showing signs of growth. They decided to change his chemotherapy. But before he ever really started the new regimen, a weakness set in that he couldn’t shake.

When he finally saw the doctor again, he told us there would be no more treatments. A week or so later he went to the hospital feeling short of breath. The doctors there confirmed what we had already been told. There was nothing they could do. In fact he only got worse.

After ten days in the hospital my husband was sent home with hospice care. As I drove home ahead of the ambulance he was being transported in, a line from a song was running through my head.

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still more than I need
You’re enough for me

I couldn’t remember what song it as from, who sang or where I’d heard it, but that one stanza became my prayer that afternoon.

I didn’t fully understand yet just what that snippet of a song that became a prayer would mean in the coming days. But it would be a comfort as well as a reminder that God is sufficient.

Just a few short hours after settling in at home, my husband took his last labored breaths here on earth and passed into glory.

No one expected it to happen that quickly. Even the hospice nurse was shocked. But in my heart I knew this was God’s timing.

God’s plans and God’s timing don’t always make sense to us. We expect them to, but we really shouldn’t. His ways are not our ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 & 9

We’re not called to understand, we’re called to trust.

I’ve reminded myself of that over and over the past three years. Does it get easier to trust?

Yes, I think it does. The more I see His hand working, the more I know He will continue to work. The more I take my life out of my own hands and place it in His, the more I see how He knows better than I do.

This isn’t a cancer story, it’s a God story, and it’s not finished yet. God is still working. I see it every day. His grace is truly sufficient.

All of our stories are God stories, because without Him our stories have no meaning. Without God there’s no reason for the stories.

What story is God weaving in your life? Maybe it’s hard one that you don’t want to tell. Can I tell you that whatever it is He’s not finished yet? The story may not make sense to us here in this life, but God knows what He’s doing. From beginning to end He knows the path has for you. Just trust Him, and see where the story goes.

Maybe your story is one that you’re meant to ponder in your own heart, or maybe there’s someone out there who needs to hear your story. Just remind them that it’s a God story, and He’s the author. Use your story to point others to Him, and to bring Him glory.

The Sunday after my husbands passing, our teen pastor posted a song on Facebook. It was the song that had become my prayer that day. I had heard it when a sweet couple sang it in our church. I still ministers to me every time I hear it. I hope it blesses you on your journey as well.

I’m linking up with Christian Blogger CommunitySitting Among Friends, and Grace & Truth.

4 ways prosperity preaching stunts christian growth

I’ve taken a break from blogging for the past couple of months, and in that time there has been major change in our family. Change we didn’t want. Change we were hoping that God would spare us from.

But God doesn’t always spare us from the hard things. He doesn’t always keep us from the fire or lead us away from the pit.

I can’t tell you why He would lead us here or tell you the reason for the pain we all suffer while we’re here on this earth. I don’t know why He allowed us to fall into this pit, but this I do know, God is here.

Just like He promised He would be. He provides manna in the desert, and quenches our thirst from the Rock Of Ages.

The prosperity preachers would say we’re not supposed to be here. They say God’s beloved children are not supposed to suffer. That’s the basis of prosperity preaching, of name it and claim it theology.

I’ve seen the memes that say just believe and it will be yours, and posts that tell us that God only want’s good things for us. I even saw a Facebook post once where the author used dollar signs to show just what kind of blessings Jesus supposedly promised His followers. Yes really.

Except Jesus never promised anything of the kind.

Jesus never said, “follow me and I’ll give you the American dream.” Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mathew 16:24)

Jesus also said if we are not willing to take up our cross, we are not worthy of Him. (Matthew 10:38) That sounds harsh I know, but Jesus was telling His disciples that the path He was taking would be a hard one, and that they needed to ready for hard, or stay home.

Yes, He promised to meet our needs, but the gap between what we think we need, and what we actually need is wide enough to hold the contents of a small galaxy.

When we let ourselves get drawn in by the flowery words and overly white smiles, we’re short changing ourselves and causing our growth to be stunted in a couple of important ways.

God wants us to be happy, but that's not His main goal for our lives. Happiness isn't a goal; it's the result of trusting God with every aspect of our lives.

1. It keeps our thinking focused on temporary things.

We often hear verses like Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 8:28 quoted in the context of temporary and earthly things, like wealth and happiness, but God thinks in terms of the heavenly and the eternal.

When we read these verses in their proper context, God is showing us the plans He has for us.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29 (Emphasis added)

God’s purpose for each and every one if us is to bring others to Him. That’s where our joy is found. That’s the good he has for us. All of the suffering we endure here on Earth is shaping us into tools God can use to build His kingdom. Jeremiah 29:11 shows us similar plans:

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. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (Emphasis added)

God’s expected end for us is to know Him fully. But we can’t know Him fully until we are searching for Him with our whole hearts. When our hearts are tied to the things of this world, there’s a part that we aren’t seeking God with.

That doesn’t mean that God isn’t concerned with our earthly needs, or even wants. It just means He has bigger and better things planned. Things we can’t even imagine.

One of the things the prosperity preachers miss, the thing that all of who are clinging to earthly things miss, is how often God wants to meet our needs with His presence.

When we have the presence of God, why would we want anything else? When we know that the God of the universe calls us sons and daughters, why would we think there could be anything better?

When we know that we deserve the fires of Hell, and are only spared by Gods enormous grace, why would we complain when He leads us into to hard places?

Maybe going into a pit is what it takes to get us to look to the eternal instead of the temporary.

2. It keeps us bound in our selfishness.

Prosperity preachers are appealing to our selfishness, and greed. When we’re listening to their wild promises, we’re entirely self focused. The Joel Osteens of the world speak to one of the worst parts of us. Not to encourage us to let God mold us and shape us into something better, but to encourage us to stay stuck as spiritual babies. They profit from our unwillingness to move beyond seeing God as nothing more than our fairy godmother.

Do we stop to consider why God should give material blessings to first world Christians, while letting Christians in the middle east be tortured and killed for their faith? Does God love us more here in the United States?

If God is good at all then that’s not possible.

Are we more righteous than those Christians suffering atrocities?

Not likely.

Then why do we expect not to suffer? Why are we offended and turn our backs on God when hard times come our way?

Maybe God has allowed us to be blessed with so much, so that we can bless others in return.

God is calling us to look outside of ourselves to the world around us, and maybe denying us something we think we need is the only way we He can get us to leave our bubble.

3. Our faith doesn’t get exercised.

But wait, isn’t prosperity preaching all about faith?

Not exactly.

Prosperity preachers may talk a lot about faith, but the faith they preach is a pretend faith.

Several Sunday nights ago our church hosted a stage production based on the life of Corrie Ten Boom. One line from the play has stuck with me. At one point Corrie’s father tells a family friend “It’s wrong to base faith on wishes.”

If I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of basing my faith on wishes more times than I care to admit. Faith isn’t believing that God will do what we want Him to do. Faith is trusting God to always do what’s best. Faith is trusting God when He does the opposite of what we wanted.

The hard truth is that it’s not faith at all to expect God to only do what we want. It’s just wishes.

If we want to grow our physical muscles we have to exercise them. It’s often very hard work, and we can’t accomplish our goals if we stay in our comfort zone and never do the hard things. The same is true with our spiritual muscles.

Faith doesn’t grow when we are always in our comfort zone. God knows this, so He allows things that will bring us out and give us chance to work those muscles.

He knows that sometimes helping us through the hard places will be much better for us than helping us avoid them.

Christ isn’t our means of avoiding the hard places; He’s the Light we take with us when we go.

4. It connects love with indulgence.

Parenting experts generally agree that parents who give their children whatever they want whenever they want it, are not acting in the best interest of their child. Children don’t need to have their every desire fulfilled. Children need to be taught limits and self control, they don’t need us to indulge their every whim.

But that’s exactly how we want God to treat us. 

I can hear you now, “but I’m not a child!” 

In God’s eyes we are all children. And like any good parent, God loves us enough to tell us “no” every once in while. His concern for our happiness comes second to His desire for us to grow and mature into a perfect image of Christ.

Yes, God wants us to be happy, but that’s not His main goal for our lives. Happiness isn’t a goal; it’s the result of trusting God with every aspect of our lives.

Sometimes we need to hear a firm “no” and experience a little discomfort so that we can grow and mature in the ways that God has planned for us. Sometimes our heart may break, but our heavenly Father is always there to give the grace and comfort we need to endure our trials.

These are just a few ways prosperity preaching stunts our growth. Have you been taken in by this false doctrine? I invite you to take a step back, and look to scripture and find the truth.

Maybe you were once a follower of some of these preachers, and are waking up to the true possibilities God has for your life. Join the conversation in the comments below and encourage those who may still be a little reluctant to let go.

We need to remember as we go through life’s trials, that our lives here are not about us, our lives about bringing glory to God and others into His kingdom.

I’m linking up at Sitting Among FriendsChristian Blogger CommunityGrace & Truth, and Counting My Blessings.

 

The One Thing That Never Changes

As I’ve been thinking about getting back into blogging after a long break and some pretty big change, I’ve found myself wondering just what I have to offer. The past three years have been the hardest of my life and the emotional tank has almost run dry.

While I’ve felt led to continue posting here, and still see hurt around me and feel the burden help my sisters in Christ to overcome those burdens, I wonder how I can.

How can I be an encouragement to and others when I’m still struggling with my own feelings?

How do I know what I’m supposed to do when I’m still wrestling with what this change means for us?

Should I even be doing this anymore?

Change is a constant in our lives. Whether we like or not, change is the thing which defines life as we know it. From the moment we are conceived, we are growing and changing.

The world around us changes too, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not. While some people love change, most of us are a little uncomfortable with it. Some of us are a lot uncomfortable with it. And pretty much no one likes it when the change is hard, and something they didn’t want.

Change is a constant in our lives. Whether we like or not, change is the thing which defines life as we know it. From the moment we are conceived, we are growing and changing.

 

The world around me feels like it’s spinning out of control right now so I look to the Word of God. It’s thing I can focus on when nothing else make sense. It’s the one thing that never changes. 

Christ promised us that not one mark would pass away until all of it was fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)

Given to us by The Unchangeable God (Malachi 3:6), we can be sure that no matter what is changing around us, or in our own lives, that the Word of God will remain true.

It doesn’t change with our circumstances, the culture we live in, or our feelings. Our feelings can change at any given moment, often for no reason, and they almost never tell the truth. God’s word will always tell us the truth, even when it’s hard and uncomfortable.

The word of God is relevant to us no matter what season of life we find ourselves in. It’s popular teaching today that some parts of the Bible are no longer valid, but God didn’t set an expiration date for any part of it. From beginning to end it speaks to us where we are. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is profitable for us.

all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I might feel as though I don’t have anything to offer, but the Word of God always has something to offer all of us.

The truth is, that’s all I ever had to offer. My faith can’t be in my own abilities. 

There are always going to be times when I just don’t feel like I have it in me to keep going. God knows that. He knows we are human and that can’t always be at our best. But He does expect us to give Him the best of what we have.

If we’re only running at fifty percent, He wants all of that fifty percent. Even if it’s only ten percent God can still do something with it. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Maybe you’ve been feeling like you don’t have anything to offer either. Maybe you’re facing hard things and don’t know where to go to find help. Maybe your tank has run dry and you need a place to fill up.

When the emotional tank has run dry, we can look to God’s Word to the strength and help we need. 

God is there waiting for us to come to Him when we’re running dry. He can fill us up, and give us what we need to keep going. Day by day, He comes along side us and helps us on our way. IMG_2811

We don’t have to let our circumstances burden us so much that we can’t do the work that God calls us to do. Romans 8:37 tells us that no matter what we face, we are not just conquerors, but more than conquerors through Christ.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

I don’t know about you, but that thought is more than enough to get through any day. I still need frequent reminders though. I can still get weighed down with the burden and feel so overwhelmed. IMG_2809

With that in mind I created these bookmarks to help remind me that God is always with me and He is always watching out for me. I’m sharing them with you because I don’t think I’m the only one that needs the reminder. I know I’m not.

He is with you too even in your darkest valleys, and on your hardest days.

If you would like to print these off, enter your email address below and the free download will be sent to your inbox. After you download and print them, you can do whatever you want with them.

I printed them on regular paper and covered them in clear contact paper since I wanted them to stay flexible. You could print them on card IMG_2813stock or laminate them in hard plastic if you want something sturdier.

I made them in color, but they still print pretty well in black and white, with the exception of the smudges from my printer.

Use these as a reminder for yourself, or pass them along to someone else who needs encouragement. One of these might be fun to include if you’re giving a Bible or Bible study book (like this one) as a gift. (Both the journaling Bible and Bible study books  are Amazon affiliate links.)

I didn’t have any new revelation to share with you today, just a reminder that when you don’t know which way is up, you can look to the Word of God as your guide. Keep your focus on Christ and He will lead you on the right path.

I’m linking this up at Christian Blogger Community and Grace & Truth.

Above the Waves

Lessons learned about prayer and service 

It’s been a long and exhausting week. Actually it’s been an exhausting couple of weeks. The days have run together and the nights have been short. So has my temper at times.

I spent all of Wednesday in a state of high anxiety not knowing whether we would make it church or not. It’s become a familiar feeling. I work in our church’s AWANA program on Wednesday nights, and although they know my family’s situation and understand that I can’t always be there, I still feel guilty when I can’t.

And this week it was my turn to teach.

I’m not sure, I haven’t counted, but I think I’ve missed more than I’ve been there this year.

All day I think over and over, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. Surely if this is what I’m supposed to be doing it wouldn’t be this hard.

I was so convinced that we wouldn’t make it that almost didn’t prepare a lesson. I had even texted my friend to let her know I wasn’t sure I’d be there.

Up until the time we’re pulling out of the driveway, I was panicking that I would have to find some way right before time to start to get a hold of someone to tell them I wouldn’t be there. It’s happened before.

All the time I’m praying over the lesson I plan to teach. It’s one I tried to teach before, but changed at the last minute. I’m sure about it this time, but I feel compelled to bathe it in prayer more so than usual.

I pray over every lesson I teach, even the ones that are prepared for me, but this time I feel pushed to pray more. I assume it’s my distracted state of mind leading me to pray this way, a desperate attempt to find focus.Prayer

I remember later that Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”

This overwhelming compulsion to pray doesn’t stop, doesn’t let up, even while I’m teaching I pause to pray.

Afterward was when the moment came. When in the stairwell in between spending hard earned AWANA bucks, and ant bites on little toes, I had the privilege of witnessing a new birth.

And God used that moment to remind me of something that my weary bones had started to forget, and to teach me a lesson or two about service.

He reminded me of the importance of prayer.

I realized that night that my prayers weren’t for me. I was reminded once again how important prayer is. Prayer isn’t preparation for the battle; prayer is the battle.

Long before I gave my awkward lesson, long before we sat on those stairs, before I felt that little tug on my arm somebody prayed. Maybe it was a mother, or a grandmother, or maybe a stranger, but this child was in someone’s prayers.

Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. Oswald Chambers

I’ve always believed in the power of prayer, but sometimes I need a reminder not to neglect this most needful thing. It’s easy to put it off, excuse ourselves from it all together, but prayer is the glue that holds the Christian life together. And it’s the tether that draws the unbeliever.

The world looks on and sneers. “What good does your prayer do,” they say. According to the book of James, quite a lot.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.                                                                                   James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

Never give up on prayer. It is the best thing we can do for anyone in any circumstance.

Service is often hard.

I had another realization when my friend that I had texted earlier in the day said, “See, you were supposed to be here tonight.”

Anyone could have led that child down the Romans road, but for some reason it was me. For some reason that night a little heart was stirred.

We sometimes think that if God wants us to do something it will be easy. But that’s not always the case. It was God’s will for Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, but it was long hard fight. In the end he didn’t even get to see the fruit of that battle.

Just because God wants it for us, doesn’t mean it will be easy or come automatically. 

I do believe that sometimes God closes doors, and when He does we shouldn’t try to open them. But I also believe that when God opens a door, He expects us to walk through it, not sit and wait for something to happen.

Where you are matters 

Maybe you’ve thought at some point, that surely you are supposed to be doing something bigger and better for God.

We see pictures and hear stories of children starving in Africa, and we feel burdened. Or we hear statistics about suicide in Asia, and our hearts break. We see news stories about young girls being abused in the Middle East, and we want to help. How can we not?

We look around at suburban Americans, with their first world problems, and think there has to be someone who needs us more.

But, if this is where God has put us, then no one needs us more than the people around us. He puts us where we are for a reason. We shouldn’t try to force our selves into situations where God hasn’t called us.

Those suburban kids matter just as much as the children in other parts of the world. And they do have real problems, hard problems, and heart breaking problems. Problems kids shouldn’t have. Trust me when I say they are in darkness just as much as the children in Africa.

I will add this though; if God is trying to move us we shouldn’t let this be an excuse to stay. If God is leading you to one of the hard places in the world, He’s already made a plan to replace you where you are now. You will risk more staying, than you will by going.

Service isn’t about us.

It’s not about us and our comfort, and convenience.

It’s about Christ, and bringing others to Him.

When we compare our struggles to the cross, we’ll see them all fade into insignificance. If He can endure the cross for us, we can endure our trials to bring others to Him.

Service for the Kingdom might not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

We sometimes think that if God wants us to do something it will be easy. But that’s not always the case. It was God’s will for Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, but it was long hard fight.

 

Meeting With The Master In The Middle Of The Messy: 4 tips to save a day gone haywire

Ever had one of those days?

You know, one of those days where you’re awakened by a tiny person in the predawn hours, and it’s one urgent need after another, until noon when you realize that not only are you still not dressed, but you haven’t eaten anything, the cup of coffee you poured yourself six hours ago is still sitting on the counter, now cold, and your Bible is somewhere still unopened.

Yeah, one of those days.

They happen.

And for the Christian woman trying to maintain her walk with God, they can be discouraging. They can even leave us feeling defeated, and spiritually dry, especially when we have several of them strung together, like when there’s an illness in the family.

There are many good reasons to start our day in prayer and Bible study, but sometimes despite our best intentions, and efforts, it just doesn’t happen.

So what do we so on those days?

Here are a few things that I’ve found that make the difference between a day gone haywire, and joyful living.

1. Don’t Complain

I know this is hard. I’m a world-class complainer. I can whine with the best of them.

But it doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t make anything better. In fact it makes it worse, because all those negative thoughts build on each other until your whole day is ruined.

It also sets a bad example for our children, and makes them feel like a burden.

When you are tempted to complain, and those negative thoughts threaten to invade, turn to Philipians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬

One of the best ways to turn your attitude around is to focus on the good stuff. It’s there just adjust your vision to see it.

2. Chose Compassion

Would it surprise you to know that Jesus had times in His life when He was interrupted? In Matthew chapter 14 we find an account of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus’ reaction to the news was to get on a ship and head for the desert. Strange right?

Not when you realize that He intended to be alone. He was grieving and wanted to talk to His Father about it.

But of course He was followed. He was followed pretty much everywhere He went. Sound familiar?

What did He do? Did He get annoyed that His “me time” was being interrupted? Did He get irritated and tell them to go away? No, He had compassion on them. He healed them and then He fed them, all five thousand plus women and children.

After they were healed and fed, Jesus sent them away, and then He went into the mountain to pray. (Matthew 14:23)

He met their needs first, and then went to be alone. Sometimes we have to wait too. There will be times when we have to meet the needs of our families before we go to the mountain to pray. But the mountain will still be there after our multitudes are fed.

Which leads me to:

3. Don’t Wait For The Perfect Time And Place

Take it from someone who knows, if you wait for the perfect time and place to connect with God, you never will. I know all the excuses. I’ve used them myself.

“I can’t wake up early enough.” “I don’t have a private space.” “My kids, or husband, won’t leave me alone.”

Maybe it’s not an excuse. Maybe you really did try, but your family had legitimate needs that needed to be met. That’s me more often than not these days.

The good news is, there’s no rule that says, if you miss your appointment with Jesus, you have to wait till tomorrow. He wants to meet you whenever and wherever. All that’s required is a heart that sincerely desires to meet with him.

So let the toddler dump the Legos on the living room floor, and pull out your Bible. Let the little ones see you doing this. They need to see you studying Gods word and on your knees in prayer. And they need to see you fighting for this time.

Our children mimic the behavior they see in us. We lead best by our example. A frightening thought when we’re not on our best behavior. 

It’s okay to let them know they have to wait for your attention sometimes. It’s necessary even. They need to know they’re not the center of the universe.

4. Reshuffle Priorities 

Most of the things we think we have to get done today can wait. Those dirty dishes don’t really have to be tackled first thing in the morning. There will be time for that throughout the day. Housework is important, but we can’t let it be more important than sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Remember Mary and Martha?

And what about all those things we impose on ourselves that aren’t really important at all?

Is it important that all the children be dressed in matching outfits? Or is it enough that they are clean and dressed? Do they have to have Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes? Or will another easier to prepare food feed them just as well?

What could we have done last night instead of watching television or scrolling through Facebook that would have made this morning go more smoothly?

A Pinterest perfect life won’t bring us the fulfillment we seek. Only our Savior can keep our souls filled and hearts watered. We can’t let the haywire days keep up from Him.

It’s probably not an attack from the devil when those days happen. It’s just life. But he loves it when we let those days make us irritated by the presence of our little ones, or resentful toward our husbands.

Jesus wasn’t opposed to being served, but he knew when that service was an act of worship and love, and when it was done out of obligation. (Luke 7:36-50) It’s our attitude that makes the difference. And He can make a difference in our attitude.

Take a deep breath and look into the face of your Heavenly Father. Go to Him and sit at His feet for just a little while. 

Right now.

I’m linking this up with Grace & Truth, and Moments of Hope.

There are many good reasons to start our day in prayer and Bible study, but sometimes despite our best intentions, and efforts, it just doesn’t happen. So what do we so on those days? Here are a few things that I’ve found that make the difference between a day gone haywire, and joyful living.

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