Thursday, October 27, 2011

Waiting Well

Eden has recently made the unilateral decision that nap time is no longer necessary in her schedule of daily activities, which has brought a certain level of sadness and loss of solitude to her tired mother. Part of my sadness comes as a result of the realization that she is growing up, despite my efforts to freeze time and preserve these years where life is simple to some extent. The remaining part of my sadness stems from the fact that my hour or so of "peace and quiet" has transformed into something entirely different. While I firmly believe that a midday siesta should be filtered into the everyday routine of preschooler and parent alike, Eden does not seem to agree.

I have observed that in the moments before nap time commences, Eden will ask on multiple occasions, "Is it time for Caroline to go to sleep yet?" There are days when she is so anxious for her little sister to drift off to dreamland that she truly wearies me with her inquiry.

And then, at long last, it happens.

I pick Caroline up and place her in her bed, and Eden is free to enjoy her time without the distraction of her younger sibling. She does a pretty decent job of entertaining herself for a while, but once that first hour passes, she changes her tune. Suddenly she becomes more interested in when Caroline will be waking up. At various intervals and with mounting intensity, she will ask if it is time to awaken her sister from her slumber. It is then that I remind her how eager she was for Caroline to take her nap. Her memory does not always serve her well.

My memory isn't always the best either.

As I have traveled this sod, I have learned that no matter who you are or what season of life you are living, you are always waiting on something. That "something" is different for each of us. When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to go off to college. When I was in college, I couldn't wait to get married. When I got married, I couldn't wait to begin having children. When I gave birth to that first child I couldn't wait for her to learn her days from her nights. The list goes on and on.

Waiting has never been my forte. I am actually one of the most impatient people I know. Sometimes I get so frustrated with waiting that I run ahead of God and end up begging Him to pick up the pieces later. Through various trials and tests, I have discovered that waiting is a process designed to hone me into who God wants me to be. The Lord does not ask me to wait because He is unkind or because He has forgotten me. He does not place me in a holding pattern to play fast and loose with my sanity. He every every season...asks me to wait for His greater purpose. He can see the big picture. I cannot. He knows what is best.

I desperately long to be able to say, like Paul, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13). What is the secret? I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Everything that happens to me is filtered through the loving hand of my Savior. If he has placed me here, then He will give me the strength I need to endure His molding process. Lord, please help me to be content in every season and embrace Your strength to delight in each day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Help Wanted

I am a mega-multitasker. The spell checker is telling me that is not an actual word, but I think it should be. I spend most days running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I've never actually seen a chicken run around with its head cut off, but I imagine it's not a pretty sight.

Sometimes I take this multitasking mania to an extreme. I have been known to have dinner cooking, while I'm shoving clothes into the dryer, with the cell phone perched between my shoulder and my ear, while the girls parade by wearing my shoes and their fancy princess dresses. It doesn't look like much when I see it written in on this page, but in the moment it is happening, it can be overwhelming. Especially when you add in that I'm sometimes doing all those things fifteen minutes before I have to drive into town for a meeting and I need to change my outfit before I go. (Others might gawk at me if I walk in with food splattered on my shirt and sticky hand prints on my jeans.)

In the midst of all that chaos, there is one thing that can successfully stop me in my tracks. All I need to hear is, "Mama, will you help me?", and it's like kryptonite to my Wonderwoman veneer. My heart literally melts when Caroline asks me that in her little chipmunk voice. Who cares if dinner is beginning to smoke? My girls need me! It's not a's not a's Mama to the rescue!

Did you know that our Heavenly Father feels that way about us too? He sees all (even when we wish He couldn't) and He watches us scurry around trying to accomplish fifty million things in one day. He knows all our anxieties and He waits patiently for us to come to Him, place our worries at His feet, crawl up in His lap, and breathe a sigh of relief.

Here are some reminders of this fact from His Word...

"In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears."  Psalm 18:6

"O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me."  Psalm 30:2

"I had said in my alarm, 'I am cut off from your sight.' But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help."  Psalm 31:22

"When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."  Psalm 34:17

"As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!"  Psalm 40:17

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

"For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."  Psalm 63:7-8

"If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, 'My foot slips,' your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."  Psalm 94:17-19

This is only a small representation of the many verses that make reference to the help of God. He is truly our Helper, our Rescuer, our Deliverer, our Protector...our Daddy. I am so thankful for His tender care. May I remember to run to Him FIRST.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Me and My Shadows

Do you ever feel like someone is following you?  I have that sensation all the time, and usually it is because I AM being followed.  No, I am not paranoid (about that, anyway).  As I walk around the house throughout the day, there are many times when I will have one or two little girls tracking me.  And they are great little detectives.  Their internal radar can hunt me down in three seconds flat, especially if I am enjoying a brief phone conversation or if I happen to be in the powder room.  They really need to come up with some sort of mommy camouflage for those times when we need to escape, breath, and/or count to ten.

As my children follow me around and mentally record every word I say and action I take (for blackmail during their teen years), I rejoice as they imitate the good that they witness, and cringe when I make my many mistakes.  I am going to shock some of you, so hold on to your hats.  I am not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be.  I am a sinner just like everyone else, and I struggle with anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, and a whole host of other vices every day of my life.  It is difficult to hide these problematic sins from my daughters as they watch everything I do and listen to everything I say.  There are many times when I have to humbly ask their forgiveness for the way that I have acted.  Hopefully, they will continue to be as quick to forgive as they are during this stage of their lives.  But there are also moments when I actually do something right.  And I jump for joy when Eden prays a passionate prayer over her sandwich and grapes or Caroline treats her sister with tenderness and compassion. Thank you, Lord, for helping me be like Christ.

Jesus had people following Him around as well.  When He called His disciples, He said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).  What was the disciples' response?  "Immediately they left their nets and followed him" (Matthew 4:20).  Immediately.  Scripture doesn't say they took a few days to consider all their options.  It doesn't say they went home and asked Mama what she thought was best, or that they tried to tie up all their loose ends before embarking on the greatest journey of their lives.  They just dropped their nets and fell in line.  Was it easy?  Nope.  Just because they were walking with the Author of Life does not mean that everything was coming up roses.  But it was so worth it.  Because of their obedience, they accomplished much for the kingdom of God.

We are not always going to do what is right.  Sometimes we will fall flat on our faces.  But Christ is there, inviting us to repent of our wicked ways, embrace His far-reaching forgiveness, and continue down the path with Him.  Lord, please help me to hear Your call, leave the nets that hold my own selfish desires, and immediately follow You, no matter where You lead. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Countdown to the Castle

We waited.  We planned.  We counted down the days on our calendar.  We discussed and decided the details.  We pondered all the possibilities.  We giggled and dreamed about all the fun we were going to have.  And then the moment arrived.

The long-anticipated day came to fruition as we loaded up the family vehicle and began our trek to the magical world of Disney.  Who cares that we spent nine hours crammed into a car with all our precious belongings plus two squirmy preschoolers?  We were about to have the time of our lives, meeting Mickey and floating with Dumbo and watching fireworks every single night.  We could not stand the excitement.

We skipped onto Disney property and began a whirlwind week of rides, food, and the occasional toddler tantrum.  And as the moments flew by, our five days of family festivities were over in the blink of an eye.  It seemed like we had just unpacked and settled in before it was time to shove our Disney loot into the car and head home. Sadly, we could not live at Disney World like good ole Walt originally dreamed we would.

While we were busy scurrying from one attraction to the other, the Lord tugged at my heart and gave me some food for thought.  (He likes to give me deep thoughts to chew on when I find myself reveling in the wonders of the temporal.)  As a follower of Christ, this world is not my home.  I am only here for a brief moment in time to accomplish as much for God's kingdom as possible until He chooses to whisk me away to the place He has prepared for those who belong to Him.  That place is heaven.  Heaven is a thousand times better than Disney.  Because although Disney has Cinderella's castle, shows where bubbles are constantly released above you, and those yummy frozen lemonade treats, it could never ever compare with all that is waiting for us in the perfection of heaven.  We truly cannot even fathom it.  No tears.  No pain.  No fears.  No waiting in line in the oppressive heat while the children whine and touch every bacteria covered surface within reach.  Seriously.  Heaven.  Ahhhhh.

So do I long for my heavenly home?  Do I wait with joyous expectation for the Lord to say, "It's time.  Let's go!"  Do I become giddy and restless as I anticipate the incredible place He has promised for me?  Not nearly as much as I should.  I find myself getting bogged down in the things that I can see and touch, and I sometimes forget about the amazing place that awaits me.  Lord, help me to embrace Your joy today, knowing that You love me and that once the strife and sin is over...heaven is my future. And absolutely nothing can compare to the beauty and perfection that it holds.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Murder and the Mystery

My husband and I are complete opposites.  He is easy-going and laid back.  I am tightly-wound and high-maintenance.  He enjoys being spontaneous every now and then.  I have a panic attack if the schedule changes without 24 hours notice.  He is perfectly happy just hanging out for hours in his pajamas on Saturday mornings.  I am awake and showered by 6:30am every single morning without fail.  He delights in science fiction.  I really could not care less about Star Trek.  Make me laugh or make me cry, but please do not make me scared, grossed out, or confused when I pay good money to see your movie.

Because we have different personalities and temperaments, there are times in our marriage where conflict arises.  The loving banter that flows through our everyday conversations suddenly takes an ugly turn and selfishness and anger abound.  Let's just be honest - there are moments when I want to choke that sweet, precious man of mine.  (And I'm sure I drive him to the brink of insanity on a regular basis.)  When I am filled with rage, no matter if it is truly his fault or if it is the result of my own indiscretion, it is sometimes difficult to move past the rage and embrace forgiveness.

Jesus taught about the consequences of our anger.  In Matthew 5:21-22 He says, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire."  Clinging to a spirit of wrath and bitterness towards my husband is a great offense to the holy God.  As a follower of Christ, I am called to honor God in all of my relationships.  When I choose to let anger accumulate in my marriage, it affects not only my husband, but it also affects my daily walk with my Heavenly Father.

So how should I view the relationship I share with my husband? One of the most well-known passages regarding the interactions between a husband and wife can be found in the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians.  Paul makes it clear that wives are supposed to submit to their own husbands, "as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22).  And husbands are called to love their wives "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25).   Paul goes on to say that "this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph. 5:32-33).  The marital bond was designed by our Creator to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church.  Therefore, husbands must love their wives in a sacrificial way, and wives must respect and honor their husbands.  In doing this, we radiate the truth of the gospel message to a lost and dying world.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I love books.  I am an avid reader, even though the circumstances of life sometimes prevent me from indulging in this pastime.  I can remember reading the entire Babysitter's Club series and I loved Nancy Drew novels with a passion.  I cannot wait until my daughters reach the age where they can enjoy those books as well.  They already have a substantial book collection, which they love to peruse on a daily basis.

For the past couple of weeks, my book of choice has been a biography about the life of Amy Carmichael entitled A Chance to Die, which was written by Elisabeth Elliot.  Amy (love her name, by the way) was a missionary who settled among the people of India and rescued little girls and boys from those who would have taken advantage of them.  Amy had no children of her own, and did not consider herself the mothering type.  Yet the Lord blessed her with a family of girls and boys, young ladies, and older women to care for and lead.  She was a remarkable woman of God.

A few days ago, I read a passage from this volume that tugged at my heartstrings.  It says that Amy and the ladies that aided her in taking care of their ever-growing household were learning that if Jesus Himself was willing to wash the dirty, street-worn feet of the disciples, "then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning" (Elliot, 182).  She goes on to say that "it is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which is important or unimportant - he is not greater than his master" (Elliot, 183).

It can be very frustrating to walk the road as a stay-at-home mommy.  There are times when I think, "If I have to pick up one more Cheerio, or change one more yucky diaper, or break up one more argument over a 25 cent toy from McDonald's, I think I might scream."  Sometimes I welcome a phone call so I can go sit on the bathroom floor and talk to an adult for five minutes while my children sit outside the door trying to figure out how to break in. 

It can also be extremely rewarding to be a stay-at-home mommy.  Cuddling in Eden's princess tent as we read a book, caring for bumps and boo-boos, hearing Eden and Caroline giggle as they play together, and being able to share spiritual truths as we encounter the basic elements of our day are some of my favorite moments.

Jesus was more than willing to serve in many capacities in order to show His love to those around Him.  Am I greater than my Master?  Absolutely, positively not.  So I should follow His humble example and view every moment as an opportunity to bring glory to Him, whether I am singing His praises in front of hundreds of people or changing the fifth dirty diaper of the day.  May He receive honor, no matter what the task.

As Amy Carmichael wrote - "Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will, O Lord our God" (Elliot, 242).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I affectionately call Eden "The Guinea Pig" and Caroline "The Copycat."  As my firstborn, Eden was a bundle of novelty and wonder, which left me with a constant stream of questions and doubts about my effectiveness as a new mommy.  The beginnings of her delicate life were filled with trial-and-error attempts at doing whatever I could to help her grow into the best child possible without losing my mind in the process. 

Caroline was and continues to be an entirely different story.

Things are a little less stressful the second time around.  Therefore, Caroline's first two years have been somewhat divergent from those of her sister.  I remember most of the important lessons that I learned from Eden's infant-to-toddler progression, and this has provided much comfort that I'm not too far off base in mothering little Caroline.  However, Eden did not have a big sister to follow around as she embarked on those first two years of life.  Caroline, on the other hand, has the benefit of shadowing someone older and seemingly wiser than herself.

It is entertaining to watch Caroline as she interacts with her doting sibling.  One of the most adorable (and sometimes the most alarming) things that I have observed in my second-born is her desire to mimic everything Eden does.  During this current phase of her life, Caroline wants nothing more than to be exactly like Eden.  She watches Eden intently to see how she plays with her baby dolls, how she eats her chicken nuggets, how she flips the pages as she "reads" her books, and how she flings herself off the side of the stage in the sanctuary as soon as church services are over.  (I know. Scary.)  

As I witness this persistent yearning in my child to be just like her sister, Ephesians 5:1 comes to mind.  It says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."  All of us, at some point, have longed to be like someone else, whether it was a sibling, a friend, or maybe a mentor.  But no matter how wonderful earthly examples can be, there is none that compares to the model provided in Christ Himself.  As a child of the Most High God, I am called to pattern my life after the One who gave His life for me.  Although I cannot achieve earthly perfection as He most certainly did, I must strive to live as Jesus lived and study His ways daily so that I can be molded into His likeness.  Lord, please transform me by the renewing of my mind as I offer my body as a living sacrifice for You alone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Right Response

I find it quite humorous that Caroline's knee-jerk response to almost every question I ask is "No."  Do you want to go to bed, Caroline?  No.  Are you ready to go for a ride, Caroline?  No.  Are you having fun, Caroline?  No.  Do you want some chocolate, Caroline?  Uh huh.  Notice I said ALMOST every question produces a "No."  She does have limits.  And when it comes to chocolate, the answer is always yes.

I realize that this is a byproduct of her age because her older sister used to do the exact same thing.  When Eden was a wee little toddler and she would uncharacteristically become quiet somewhere in the house, I would yell, "EDEN..." And she would call back, "NO!"  At least I knew she was still breathing.

Even though I can sometimes chuckle at her misplaced negative responses, there are other times when it's not so cute.  There are circumstances when she says no and she most definitely means it.  In those moments, I usually have to exert my authority as her mother and firmly hold my ground in light of her rebellion.  This produces pain and disappointment for both of us.  However, I love my daughter and I want to protect her and help her choose the right path. 

As a child of the Almighty God, I must willingly obey His voice.  When I am faced with the option to either say "yes" or "no" to His plans, I need to humbly submit to His leading and know that His way is best.  Following Christ does not mean that I will always be comfortable or that I will always receive everything I think I want.  But being faithful to Him will produce spiritual fruit in my life that will cause me to radiate with His presence and bring glory and honor to Him.  Please help me to follow You with every ounce of energy that I have today, Lord.  Your will always exceeds my greatest expectations.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Failures and Forgiveness

I am not an easy-going type person.  I'm sure those of you that know me well just snorted Dr. Pepper out of your nose because that was the understatement of the year.  I have never been described as "laid back" least not to my face.  A better portrayal of my personality might be "high strung" or "type A."  So when I encounter situations that bring stress and frustration (such as getting myself plus two preschoolers out the door in 5 minutes when I have about 15 minutes worth of things to do), I tend to morph into my own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  This is not a pretty picture.

This morning was one of THOSE mornings.  We have had a very busy week.  My daughters are tired.  I am tired.  They do not have telepathic capabilities, so they are not able to instantly discern where mommy wants them to be and what she wants them to be doing.  As a matter of fact, on this particular morning, they could have cared less.  All they wanted to do was stay in their pajamas and watch a little bit more of Jungle Junction, thank you.  But we had an appointment and I almost lost my mind trying to get Eden and Caroline dressed and our bag packed and ready to go.  As we were making our exit to the family vehicle, I felt great remorse over my bad attitude.  I stopped and told my daughters that I was sorry for being so mean.  Eden turned and smiled at me and said, "It's okay, mommy.  I forgive you."  Then she ran over to me and hugged my leg as tightly as she could.  Caroline had no idea what was going on, but she ran over and flung her arms around my other leg as well. 

This was one of those mommy moments that spoke volumes to me about the love and forgiveness of my Heavenly Father.  I make mistakes.  I really know how to take a wonderful day and turn it into a complete mess. And my sinfulness separates me from God.  But as soon as I acknowledge my sin and seek the Lord's forgiveness, He immediately draws me back to Himself.  I do not have to jump through any hoops or work my way up any ladders.  He loves me and forgives me, regardless of what I have done.  He sees straight to my heart and knows how sorry I truly am.  I am so thankful that I can never fall out of His grace.  Lord, help me to forgive as I have been forgiven and show others the love that You have lavished on me. 

Friday, March 4, 2011


"But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.  For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress."  Psalm 59:16

Eden is my little songbird.  She is known for her ability to sing many songs of various genres.  Sometimes I will catch her standing in front of the bathroom mirror with her head tilted to the side and her hands clasped together for effect as she belts out a moving ballad.  At other times, you might find her running in circles, giggling and singing the latest kid tune she has learned at preschool.  And then there's moments like yesterday, where she sat in the grocery cart at Publix and made up a song for her own amusement (and the amusement of other random shoppers) while I did my best to focus on which brand was offering me the greatest deal.  Even now, I can hear her singing "O Christmas Tree" into her Mr. Microphone while she is supposed to be napping.  I am convinced that she will audition for American Idol someday.  And, yes, I will be one of those mothers who they will invite into the audition room so I can stand there with tears in my eyes and mouth the words while she explodes into song.

Some of my favorite moments are when Eden will quietly, or not so quietly, sing the praise songs that she has heard throughout our days together.  She lifts her voice in reckless abandon as she praises God in song.  Her sweet innocence leaves her uninhibited as she fills the car or the house with her joy.  She does not care what she sounds like.  She simply cannot resist the urge to sing.

God has given us a voice for a reason.  When we encounter the greatness and wonder of God, we cannot help but sing forth His praise.  You may be thinking that you are not the singing type.  Or maybe you feel like people might cover their ears if you were to hum a few bars.  But God is not concerned about our singing skill level.  He is concerned with the attitude of our hearts.  A heart filled with praise for the living God is powerless to contain its delight.  When we are moved by the Holy Spirit, our love for God should pour out of our souls in ceaseless praise and adoration.  Go ahead...sing a song of love to your Creator today! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I put my trust in You

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

It is reassuring to realize that the Lord does not waste our grief.  You might be walking through a valley right now, and it seems long and cumbersome.  It feels at times like it might never end.  You might begin to despair of hope and think that maybe you are the only one who has ever experienced what you are going through. 

There have been many times when I have tossed and turned in the night, desperate for relief.  So this verse brings solace in the midst of doubt and discouragement.  According to this passage, the Lord keeps "count of my tossings," and He collects my tears and places them in His bottle.  They are not going to waste.  As a matter of fact, the difficulties that I face today are preparing for me "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).  My trials are temporary.  But He has brought me here for an eternal purpose, even though I cannot see or understand His plan at this time.

Desperation gives way to fear, and fear sometimes results in hopelessness.  But Psalm 56:3 says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."  When the day has been lengthy and the afflictions many, I put my trust in You.  When I feel like I cannot endure one more discomfort, I put my trust in You.  When I want to give up or give in, I put my trust in You.  Why?  Because only the Savior of my soul is able to give me the hope, the strength, and the comfort that I so desperately need.  I put my trust in You.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweet Sisters and the Suffering Servant

My daughters love to take a bath.  When they hear the water begin to pour into the tub, they squeal with excitement and come running as quickly as their little legs can carry them.  I've noticed that lately they have enjoyed washing each other's feet.  Eden, who is four years old, will instruct Caroline, who is almost two, to hold her foot up so she can scrub it with her washcloth.  Caroline quickly obeys by raising one foot out of the water and then extends the other in like manner.  After Eden has sufficiently cleaned Caroline's feet, they switch roles and Eden offers her feet to her sister.

As I have watched this scene unfold night after night, I cannot help but think of the events that occurred during the Last Supper on the night before Jesus was brutally beaten and crucified.  In John 13, we read where Jesus "poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him" (John 13:5).  The King of kings humbled Himself and bent down to scrub the dirt off of the disciples' feet in order to model for them what true servanthood was all about.  He said, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).  Jesus provided the ultimate example.  Not only did He show His love for them by performing this act of service, but hours later He would die on a cruel cross to pay the overwhelming debt for their sin...and for ours.

Am I willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ?  Do I delight in serving others or do I allow my selfish attitude to cloud any holy desire to display Christ to those around me?  Do I willingly offer myself as a sacrifice or do I miss opportunities to see God work because I am too distracted with my own problems or plans?  Lord, please help me to be aware of the needs of those around me today and extend Your love to all those that You place on my path.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Out of my hands and into His grasp

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?"  Luke 12:25-26

I am a professional worrywart.  Seriously.  If worrying were an Olympic event, I would probably win the gold metal.  I worry about my health.  I worry about my husband and my daughters.  I worry about the future.  When I finish worrying about one thing, I just pick something else out to worry over.  I am a chain-worrier.

However, God's Word is clear that being anxious is wrong.  When I allow anxiety to control my day, I reveal my faithless heart.  When I choose fear instead of faith, I am really saying that God is not in control and He has no power to help me, which are two blatant lies straight from the pit.  My Heavenly Father is intimately aware of every detail of my life, and He knows exactly how to rescue me from peril or how to calm my spirit through the storm.  Luke 12:6-7 says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."  The Creator of the universe knows the number of hairs on my head (even the gray ones).  He is fully capable of bringing good out of my circumstances for His glory.

Do not be afraid.  Do not be anxious.  The same God who spoke the world into existence and flung the stars into space knows you by name and has placed you where you are for a purpose.  HIS purpose.  Your job is to "seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you" (Luke 12:31).  Lord, help me to seek You first and allow You to work out all the details.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping My Eyes on the Prize

"And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."  Luke 10:2

Every time I read this verse, I have a mental image of a field.  The field is filled with grain, ready to be harvested, full of promised satisfaction, but there is no one willing to go and do the work.  As a matter of fact, the workers are completely distracted with things that do not matter.  They have set their eyes on temporal pleasures instead of focusing on the task at hand.   Diversions like shopping.  Or maybe ball practice.  Or vacationing.  Or even watching TV.

Now don't get me wrong.  I thoroughly enjoy a productive, bargain-hunting shopping trip every now and then.  I love stealing away for a few days and relaxing on a nice vacation every so often.  And I have several TV shows that I DVR every week.  But when I allow these trivial pursuits to crowd out my responsibility to go to the lost and share Christ with others, I need to stop and perform a priority check.  

It's important to note that Jesus didn't say to pray that the harvest would be plentiful.  He said the harvest IS plentiful.  HE produces the harvest.  Instead, He encouraged the disciples to pray for laborers to work and bring in the harvest.  He knew we would be selfish.  He knew we would allow the flashy, shiny things of this world to crowd out His command to go and make disciples of all nations.  We must be faithful to His calling.  The need is urgent and the fields are white for harvest. 

Lord, help me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and make me aware of those who need to move from spiritual death into eternal life.  Please break my heart for the lost and grant me the courage to share the gospel message with those who have never heard.

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Matter What

My youngest daughter, Caroline, is in the throws of the terrible "almost" twos.  She is greatly afflicted with this stubborn, willful temperament that causes the rest of us frustration, and sometimes alarm, at any given moment.  Just this morning I stood patiently with my four year old, Eden, while we watched Caroline sit defiantly on the concrete steps leading up to the door, refusing to enter our house like she had been asked.  Before you judge me for letting that precious little girl sit in the cold, please understand that she has pulled this trick many times and I have had to drag her flailing body into the house, while she screams bloody murder.  I'm sure the neighbors will testify for me.  I just thought I would try a different approach this time. I'm never quite sure which method of mothering is going to help her learn obedience, so this season of life tends to keep me on my toes.
Earlier today, I made my sweet little Caroline as mad as a hornet.  As she began to revolt against her loving mother for not allowing her to have her way, I decided to try to "hug" her bad attitude right out of her.  So I sat down on the floor, and pulled her into my lap, wrapped my arms around that glaring, angry child, and told her I loved her.  She proceeded to scoot as quickly as she could out of my embrace and fling herself onto the floor.  Then she stood up and took off, going somewhere...ANYWHERE she could to escape mommy.

This moment, like many others in this season of life, served to remind me of God's unfailing love for His children.  Caroline was acting in an unbecoming way, but that act of defiance did not make me love her any less.  No matter what she does, I will love her just the same and long to have a relationship with my daughter.  The Heavenly Father feels the same way about us, except His love is pure, holy, and righteous.  His love never, ever fails.  Psalm 103:13 says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him."  No matter where you have been or what you have done, the Lord loves you.  He longs to show you compassion.  Rest in His grace and mercy today.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Do I Love Thee

"Christian purity is not the mere avoidance of evil, but the pursuit of good." John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

I am a rule-keeper.  I like to know where the boundaries are so that I can stay comfortably inside them.  I tend to impose this same mentality on my children (and yes, sometimes even my husband).  Don't climb on the couch.  Don't climb on the chairs.  Don't splash water on mommy when she's giving you a bath.  Don't feed stickers to the dog. 

But it's not enough to simply avoid things that are evil.  When I focus on the negative - what I should NOT do - I begin to feel trapped and restricted.  My focus should instead be on pursuing the good works that Christ created me to do (Ephesians 2:10).  I want to do as much good for the glory of God as I can.  Scripture says that the greatest "rule" or commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:31).  How does that flesh out in my daily life?

How do I love the Lord with all my heart?  By tuning my heart to sing His praise.  By rejoicing in Him for Who He is and all He has done.  By spending time with Him and hiding His Word in my heart.  How do I love the Lord with all my soul?  By placing my longings and desires at His feet and allowing Him to transform me.  How do I love the Lord with all my mind?  By purging the bad, mean, ugly, selfish thoughts that flow through my mind and choosing to dwell on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).  How do I love the Lord with all my strength?  By giving Him the best of me and not leaving Him whatever is left at the end of the day.  By striving to be used and spent for Him instead of giving into laziness.

I want to love You in every way possible, Lord.  I want to pursue Your goodness and live a life of purity so that others will see Your light shining in me and will give glory to my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

From Stress to Serenity

"He said to them, 'Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?' " Mark 4:40-41

It is so interesting to read about the disciples' reaction to this storm.  It must have been a real hum-dinger.  Most of the disciples were fishermen by trade, so I am sure they had witnessed some pretty powerful storms in their line of work.  And not only did they have experience on their side, they also had Jesus, who was sleeping peacefully on the boat with them.  Even in light of these factors, they were scared to death.  They actually thought that this was the end for them.
So they ran to wake their slumbering Savior who did not seem the least bit worried that they might perish in the tempest.  Scripture says that he awoke and "rebuked the wind" like he would an unruly child, and the sea obeyed its Creator.  These tough, courageous men probably stood there dumbfounded.  And Jesus says, "Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?"  Even after witnessing all the miracles that had taken place at the hand of Jesus, did they still doubt who He was?  Apparently, they did.
 But don't I do the same thing?  I praise God and rejoice in His goodness while the sea of life is calm, but as soon as the waves and the wind of struggle begin to mount, I doubt Him.  I begin to wonder if He's forgotten me or if He is even in control.  Forgive me, Lord, for taking my eyes off of You and questioning Your ways.  I trust You to see me through any storm and I know You have the power to make me stronger in You as a result.  Help me to glorify You even when faced with difficulty.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Am Barabbas

"And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And the earth shook, and the rocks were split." Matthew 27:51

As I read through the events that occur in chapter 27 of the book of Matthew, I sit in amazement.  I am overwhelmed with all that Christ endured to pay the incredible price for my redemption.  He suffered and bled, he was beaten and bruised, and He was stripped and spat upon.  The Son of God, the Lord of all things, the Word of Life was brutally killed to reconcile our relationship with God.

When I look at the circumstances that led to Christ's death, I am always struck by the scene where Pilate offers to release a prisoner to the people, as was the yearly custom.  He orders them to haul Barabbas out of his prison and gives t ! he crowd the option of either showing mercy to Barabbas, who had committed horrible crimes, or Jesus, who was innocent of any crime.  I cannot help but consider the idea that Barabbas represents me.  And awful, sin-sick murderer was placed next to the perfect, holy Lamb of God, and Barabbas was allowed to go free while Christ was taken to His execution.  It should have been me.  I am the one who deserves death.

But God, in His infinite grace and mercy, provided His sinless Son as a sacrifice on my behalf.  And as Christ completed this selfless act, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom.  The barrier between us and the Holy of Holies was removed so that through Christ's work on the cross, we can have forgiveness, life more abundant, and eternity with Him.  I stand in awe of the love and power of the Living Lord that I serve.  Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mirror Image

The other day, my sister-in-law and I were discussing the family resemblance in our children.  We compared their face structure, body style, and hair color to everyone in our immediate family tree.  It is interesting (and sometimes a little humorous) to see how much our children are like their predecessors.  The wonders of the gene pool continue to astound me as my daughters grow and develop their own personalities.  There are times when I think, "Wow, she acts just like me."  And there are times when I know without a doubt that they are mimicking their father.  Then there are those moments when I cringe because I know that what is coming out of that child's mouth is almost identical to what I said in anger the day before.  Having little miniature human recorders wandering around your house all day makes living a life of holiness somewhat daunting.
While considering the similarities between me and my children, I have become more and more aware that I am not simply a proud member of the Adams-Fletcher clan.  When I committed my life to Christ, I became a part of the family of God, which outshines any earthly family He could have provided for me.  And because I am a child of God, I should look like my Heavenly Father.  When people look at me, they should say, "Hey, you know, you look just like your Dad!"  So do I strive to be more like Him every day?  Do I long to spend time with Him like my darling daughters long to spend time with me?  Do I make Him smile as I move through the day and interact with others?  I sure hope I do.  And even though I know I don't always get it right, I know He lovingly forgives me and holds His arms open wide for me to return to Him.        

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Humility is the Key

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  Matthew 23:12

The verses that follow this declaration record what Jesus had to say about the "righteousness" of the Pharisees.  Clearly, He was not impressed at all with their strict adherence to the rules and their fancy clothes.  Their outward appearances were powerless against the presence of Christ.  Why?  Because He could see straight to their self-indulgent hearts.  He knew their thoughts and their intentions.  And what was worse, they were convincing others to fall away as well.
When I read passages that talk about the Pharisees, I realize that I have the tendency to be just like them.  I can easily fall into the trap of making myself look good on the outside, while hoping and praying that no one can see what is happening on the inside.  But God's Word teaches me to humble myself in the sight of the Lord. (1 Peter 5:6)  Humility is key to the process.  I must remember that I am only dust and a fleeting shadow.  But Christ has clothed me in His righteousness and, by His grace and power, I am able to walk worthy of His calling on my life. 

The reason for the title...

Life is not a fairytale.  I know this because my firstborn daughter lives in a fairytale world.  She delights in trying on multiple dresses in one day, wearing sparkly high-heeled shoes, and bursting forth into song at any given moment.  Her ever-growing imagination transports her to far away places where the animals talk to you and the prince is always waiting to rescue the damsel in distress.  As her mother, I realize that maybe we have shown her one too many Disney movies.  But as a woman, I understand that even if we had shielded her from that magical world of animated characters, she would still long for something more grand than the simple world in which she lives.  As a follower of Christ, I know that she (and I) have this longing because God has placed eternity in our hearts.  No matter who we are or where the road has taken us, all of us have a desire for a never-failing, all-consuming love.  And that is where faith enters the picture.
The faith that I am referring to is not faith in yourself, your strength, or your passion.  It is not a faith that shifts and changes in the light of circumstances or surroundings.  This faith is actually not based around me or you at all.  It is a gift given to me from the Prince of Peace, the Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ.  I have faith that He exists, that He loves me (and you!) enough to sacrifice His life for me, and that He has a glorious plan to bring every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself.
So if you are willing to read through this blog and walk with me on this journey, I pray that the Lord will use my humble musings to encourage you and strengthen your faith in Him.  And we will give Him all the glory He is due.