Category Archives: Faith

Tears in My Crockpot

My morning was hijacked by a FB post. I found out that lead could be leaching from my Crock Pot and contaminating my carefully planned meals.  I couldn’t be sure whether or not said Crock Pot might, in fact, be poisoning my entire family, but I spent most of the morning gripped with fear.

So while I was working hard to purchase wholesome, preferably organic food, all my efforts may very well have been voided completely by a malicious Crock Pot.

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Welcome to the 21st century.  It’s a roller coaster ride of mad efforts to stay ahead of the latest information: are cell phones killing our brains and giving us cancer?  Does technology make us more or less smart? Are my kids getting the right food, exercise, sleep, stimulation, friends, teachers, education?  Is my marriage all it’s supposed to be? Am I really a good mom?  Are the candidates really who they say they are?  Who is lying? Who is telling the truth?  And just when we think we MIGHT have a few answers, the rug is pulled out from underneath us.

It’s enough to make a grown woman cry.  And I have. Again and again.

You see, in the midst of all this mayhem…all this pain of life, what our souls are really crying out for are peace and rest.   We NEED peace and we NEED rest.

So as I remind myself to breathe (because, yes, sometimes I forget to do that) and I let the tears flow, I realize this is not my home.  I was made for so much more. WE were made for so much more.

And we will only know peace when we take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be quiet. We need to feel his hand brushing the tears away and whispering words of comfort…”Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you REST… Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find REST for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said,”In the world you WILL have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  He never said it would be easy, but He did promise that He would be right there in us to help us rest and trust and to show us what to do next.

The problem is that we tend to borrow trouble.  God told us in Matthew  6:19-34that we should not worry about tomorrow because it would be too much for us.  Instead He reassures us that He values us more than we know and that HE will take care of us.

Mom, you are precious to Him.  Your families are precious to Him.  Never stop knowing and believing that He is GOOD and that He LOVES you.  He has your best interest in mind and promises in Romans 8:28 that if you are called according to His purposes,  He WILL work everything out for your good and His glory.

And so that morning I shed tears over my Crock Pot, I prayed.  I named that lie that the enemy was trying desperately to get me to believe and I declared out loud that HE IS GOOD.  I asked God to protect our family, give us wisdom and I told Him that I trusted Him.

I found out later that my Crock Pot isn’t out to kill us.  But I can tell you that the enemy IS.  God says that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly!  Put on your armor, moms, and fight the good fight!  He is good and He is ON YOUR SIDE!

Easy Bible Journaling Ideas

Perhaps you’ve caught on to the whole Bible Journaling Craze.  If you Google it or go on Pinterest you see beautifully illustrated Bibles EVERYWHERE!  Some are pretty spectacular and obviously created by talented artists. You’ll also find words of encouragement for Bible Journaling “Beginners” and lots of templates/coloring pages you can use if you don’t consider yourself an artist.

bible-journaling

I have been Bible journaling for 7 months now and I absolutely LOVE it.  From the time I was little, I have always had a passion for art.  Coloring was my favorite pastime and so I entered a lot of coloring contests as a kid (and won some).  There were also art classes I took in high-school that taught me things like how to blend and layer with colored pencils.  Although I found much pleasure with art, I never pursued it as a career, because I felt like my true gifting was with music, playing my flute.  Now that I’m a busy mom I hardly have time to play my flute, let alone sit down to draw a picture… UNTIL, I discovered Bible Journaling!!

Bible journaling is something that gives more meaning to taking time out of a busy day to create art.  Finding a scripture that resonates with me and then copying it with creative lettering, adding colorful illustrations in the margins of my Bible make God’s words even more beautiful than they already are.  The Bible verses leap off the page and come to life for me!  But, this post is not about what I can do in my Bible.  This is about what YOU can do in YOUR Bible.  So, if you’ve thought at all about starting to Bible journal but wondered how to start, here are a few simple and easy journaling ideas for you…

USE A PENCIL:  I don’t know about you, but I was a little hesitant to start drawing in my Bible.  What if I didn’t like the outcome?  It’s not like you can just throw the page away and start over!  That’s why I always use a pencil before outlining in pen or coloring with colored pencils.  It definitely helps with planning a good layout for your page.

TRY DIFFERENT FONTS:  I like to use a combination of different fonts when I copy a scripture.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  Try writing a few words all in UPPERCASE letters (especially words that are important to you like GOD, JESUS, HOLY SPIRIT).  By using all caps it really makes those words stand out on the page.  Then, try writing in all lowercase letters, or making your letters tall and skinny.  Remember in high-school when we wrote in block or bubble letters?  That’s fun to do in your Bible too!  And, of course we all have different styles of handwriting.  Don’t be afraid of yours.  USE IT!!  It’s who you are.

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FLOWERS:  You don’t have to be an artist to draw flowers.  If you can draw a circle, you can draw a flower!  Even the simplest of flowers can be beautiful in the margins of your Bible.  For the more intricate flowers, try pinning some photos on Pinterest to refer to for inspiration.

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LEAVES:  I can never draw enough leaves in my Bible :)  They can be a simple border around your words or they can get wild and crazy like a vine that grows every which way!  All you have to do is draw a few long squiggly lines with little oval shapes attached to the lines in random places, and voila… LEAVES!

COLOR, COLOR, COLOR:  For me, colored pencils are the perfect tool that make your art come to life in your Bible.  I started with an inexpensive set of Crayola colored pencils.  But, then I treated myself to a set of Prismacolors that were on sale and that is what I use all the time now.  They are definitely worth the price!

PIGMA MICRON PENS:  They are awesome!   Amazon usually has these pens on sale.  They come in different tip sizes and colors. They even have brush pens, which are lots of fun to use.  The pens are good quality and won’t bleed through the pages of a durable journaling bible.

I hope this gives you a little motivation to give Bible Journaling a try.  If you’ve already been journaling, what are some of your ideas?

How to Hang On to the Knot at the End of Your Rope

 

You’ve heard the old saying, I’m sure:

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.

It’s a great visual, isn’t it? But here’s my question, “What do you do next?” I mean you can’t just hang there at the end of your rope, holding on to a knot forever, can you?

I recently found myself nearing the end of my own rope. Living life as a  a wife, mom, and homeschool teacher, who also works from home, blogs, attempts to love my neighbor, and suffers with chronic pain . . well, it all just took it’s toll on me. There were days when I literally felt like a knot was not going to be big enough for me to hang on to. Have you ever had that kind of anxiety, where you feel like you’re on the edge of a cliff, and one small breeze is going to knock you over it. That was me.

How to hang on to the knot at the end of your rope

Something had to change. Actually some thingS had to change. But I had to begin, and I quickly discovered that figuring out where to begin was the hardest part. The following are the steps I took, and if you, too, are finding yourself at the end of your rope, or standing on the edge of a cliff trying to keep the wind at bay, I hope you will find hope and useful action steps here.

Evaluate

You may need to write this stuff down in order to really see the big picture, but begin evaluating your life.

  • Where are you spending your time? Be honest with yourself.
  • What is the focus of most of your energy?
  • Whose needs are you expected to meet on a daily or weekly basis. Are you doing so?
  • Why are you over-committed?

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was spending much more time and energy on projects outside of my responsibilities as a wife and homeschool mom, than I should be. While I was serving my clients and readers well, I was doing a poor job of serving my family. The house was a mess, not enough homeschooling was getting done, we were eating more take-out than home-cooked meals, and I was not sleeping enough. This upside-down way of living will cause tremendous stress, not only because you will not have enough time in your days, but also because it will cause your relationships to suffer. Not to mention the exhaustion. Eventually, the lack of sleep will catch up with you. It did with me. And as a middle-aged woman living with auto-immune disease, this is probably the part that was tipping me over the edge the most.

The cause of your upside-down living might be different than mine. Perhaps you’re spending too much time serving your church (you can do that, really) or your community. Maybe you’re allowing friends or neighbors to take advantage of your time because you have a hard time saying, “no.” After all, you’re just a stay-at-home-mom, right? You have all the time in the world!

Whatever it is, write it all down. Be honest with yourself.

Eliminate

Begin eliminating what you can, as soon as you can. I was in a position with my main work client where I needed to finish out a project for a few months before I could step out. There were a few smaller jobs I could drop much sooner though, and I did. Right away, I began turning down new offers.

Purpose yourself right now to begin saying “no” to anything that does not benefit your main goal — for me that was serving my family better and getting more rest. Within a couple of weeks of finally getting to a good place, I was offered 3 more jobs. These were great opportunities that the old me would have jumped at. But I was firm in my resolve, and today, there are no regrets for saying, “no.”

Equip

When you have been accustomed to living at breakneck speed for a long time, and then find yourself with time on your hands again, it will be easy to slip back into old habits. Equip yourself now to prevent that from happening. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Purpose to put first things first.
  • Practice saying, “no.”
  • Pray before saying “yes” to any new opportunities.

Enjoy

If you’re hanging from a knot, then chances are you have not been enjoying life much. It is not as easy to slow down as one might think. You will suddenly feel as though you are wasting time by not filling every minute with some kind of purposeful activity. You’re not. Take time to begin enjoying life again. Spend time with your family, see a movie, go to the park, bake cookies. Seriously . . . these were things I struggled to find time for. I could not even take a vacation with my family without either working double time before and after, or working from the hotel room at night. It was crazy. Everyone needs down time. Don’t feel guilty about taking some for yourself.

It’s been a few months since I made some major changes in how I’m spending my time and how I serve my family. I still have work to do, but there has been much progress.

How are you doing, busy mom? Are you hanging on to a knot, trying to figure out what to do next? Take heart. There is a way out. Trust me . . . if I can find it, you can do.

Are You Waiting for Spring?

waiting-for-spring

I’m sitting on my porch this morning, drinking a cup of coffee.  I’m wrapped in a blanket, and it’s breezy.  But, the signs are there, in the slightest little ways.  My little girl just brought me flowers she found by the pond.  There are birds chirping and pecking for bugs in my backyard.  The sun is warmer on my face than it has been in recent days.  And it does something to my heart.  It feels like hope. I can feel it coming, days playing outside with my little ones; the relief from months of being inside, missing activities because of one more sickness passing through.  Does it ever feel this way to you?

This spring comes at a unique time for our family as I have been on bedrest awaiting the arrival of our littlest since shortly before Christmas.  It has been a long season.  In more ways than just the weather, it has been a winter of sorts here.  It has felt dark, hard, and confining.  There has been grace in so many ways, and I am so grateful for it! But it has still been hard for our whole family.  It has been a day after day trudging through, anxiously waiting for the day when the burden is lifted, when the sun breaks through the clouds.  My son captured it well this afternoon as we were chatting and he told me “It’s just going to be great Mom.  She’s going to make all our lives better when she’s here.”  Yes she will little man, yes she will.

I’m so grateful to live in an area with seasons.  The shifting, inevitable change.  His hand over all of it is palpable.  There is no way for me to imagine that any of it happens without His control.  A beautiful song by Steven Curtis Chapman captures it so well as he sings

“Feel the sun on your skin
Growing strong and warm again
Watch the ground: there’s something moving
Something is breaking through
New life is breaking through

Spring is coming, Spring is coming
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear”

Is your heart anxiously awaiting spring?  Physically or metaphorically?  Know that He brings it.  And nothing on this earth can stop His hand when He declares its’ impending arrival.

How Does a Mom Become a Strong Woman of Faith?

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There have been so many amazing women throughout history who have been courageous, faithful and stood strong in the faith through severe trials and suffering. I’ve admired them and prayed that I could someday become like them.

Then God made me a mom.

I thought having children would hold much reward and gratification, and I was right. But what I didn’t realize was how much God would use motherhood to help me become a stronger woman of faith.

I’ve experienced the depths of sorrow as I lost 5 babies to miscarriage. I felt the height of joy and thankfulness as each of our eight children was born.  I felt the grip of overwhelming grief while walking alongside our oldest daughter as she gave birth to her firstborn and buried him a week later.  I felt helpless and out of control as our young newborn recovered from major open heart surgery, spending 2 months in the hospital with his life hanging in the balance.

God grew me during these trials, but He also used them to show me how He had already greatly increased my faith in the simplest of ways through motherhood. As I daily mothered our children, He used those daily struggles – the ones hidden from everyone else’s eyes, the ones He and I walked through together – to lay a firm foundation of faith that would uphold me and glorify Him when I walked through the fire.

God is in the big things, but He is also very much in the small, seemingly insignificant things.

Being a mom brings us to our knees for so many reasons: sleep deprivation, wayward children, struggling marriages, physical challenges, being “on” 24/7, physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and so much more.  The one thing we all have in common, though, is that we love our kids to the moon and back. We want only the best for them, but we realize about three seconds after they are born that we really don’t know exactly what that is. And so we run to our Father over and over and over again. He continues to lead us, one day and one decision at a time.

Our prayers are often simple, desperate pleas for mercy, for wisdom, for grace. They really are more childlike than “adult.” Why is that? Because our hearts are raw when it comes to our children. There is something so instinctive about crying out on our children’s behalf that we no longer care about fancy words or pretense. We are desperate and needy, and that’s exactly where God wants us.

In Matthew 11:25, Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

It’s in these vulnerable moments, when we come in childlike faith, that God reveals Himself to us. As that happens several times a day, for weeks, months and years, our crying out and God’s subsequent revealing become a way of life for us. In that process we become familiar with what Jesus meant when he said later in the same passage,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28,29)

It’s in this place that we become strong. The world tells us that we have to be strong, but God says that in our weakness He becomes strong. His mighty power surges through us when we are submitted to Him at our weakest point.

So relax, Mom. You don’t have to make yourself strong. You don’t have to be everything. You simply need take on His easy yoke and His light burden. Let God use your weakness to help you become a strong woman of faith.

So You’re Thinking of Having Another Baby?

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I have three amazing daughters, ages 12, 9, and 7.  The oldest is very creative, independent and a good leader.  When she was born, she immediately had a curious look in her eyes.  Everyone commented on how alert she was even at one day old.  I remember holding her in my arms at the hospital as she quietly took in the world around her with those thoughtful, pensive eyes.  She is still that way today; always thinking deeply and longing for friends to connect with on the same level.

When my middle daughter was born, she let out a cry that was so heartbreaking and pitiful sounding!  It was like a high pitched moan that went up and down and up and down, kind of like a siren.  A cry that I would hear many, many times over the years!  She is my sensitive daughter.  So, tears are naturally part of having that sensitive spirit.  But, with that sensitivity also comes an abundance of LOVE.  She is like a wellspring with unconditional love bubbling out of her every day.

My third daughter was a surprise pregnancy.  I think I may have cried when I found out I was pregnant!  Let me tell you… having an infant, a 17 month old and 5 year old daughter is tough work!  And this baby was unlike either of my other two girls.  When she was born, she let out a ROAR that was quite aggressive.  I called her my “baby dinosaur” because of what her cry sounded like. It’s interesting because just like my middle daughter’s pitiful cry as a baby represents her sensitive spirit, my youngest’s roar represents her aggressive personality.  Not only is she aggressive, she is also very dramatic about EVERYTHING.  When she is physically hurt from falling down or stubbing her toe, everyone within a mile radius hears about it from her shrill crying that lasts FOREVER.  When she is mad, you better get out of the way and give her some space to cool down, or before you know it you find yourself yelling even louder than her.  (Sorry, Lord!)  When she is happy, she can practically squeeze the breath out of you as she embraces you in a hug that lasts FOREVER!!  She is my passionate child and I love her to pieces.  But, oh, what a journey we have been on together.

Since my third daughter was such a challenge, I spent most of those first  few years feeling anxious and overwhelmed. In fact, I tried to convince myself that I was done having kids.  About six months ago a member of our church that my husband pastors shared a dream he had about us.  He said that in the dream, Chip and I were moving into a big nice house.  Our oldest daughter was grown and moved away and our other girls were in their late teens…. and we had 3 BOYS!  YIKES!!!  Well, that planted a little seed in my head about possibly having another baby (NOT that I want triplets).

Around the same time as the dream was shared with us, my girls and I joined a homeschool co-op.  Soon, I found myself surrounded by little red headed boys (I have red hair and was hopeful for a red headed baby but have never had one).  Little by little, I started having more thoughts of having a baby.  I thought I was crazy at first and that the thoughts would pass.  Well, they didn’t :)  In my spirit I kept hearing the words, “LIFE… NEW LIFE.”  I would go to take my birth control, put it down, walk away, come back, put it down.  I heard the words, “You are keeping him from coming.”  Then, I found out that my middle daughter had been praying for a few months that she would have a baby brother!

I am now 9 weeks pregnant with our 4th child.  I spent the last 8 years convincing my husband we were done having kids, only to find out that my husband knew I would eventually change my mind.  I was actually growing comfortable with how independent my girls have become.  So, knowing I am about to enter the baby season all over again, makes me a little nervous.  But, I know this baby is going to be a huge blessing to everyone around him/her.  I am excited to meet who God is developing inside of me!!  And, I am looking forward to savoring every moment with this new little one, and this time mothering with a peaceful spirit instead of an anxious and overwhelmed one.

Do you have a story like mine? Or are you still wrestling with being done, yet not really done? I don’t think I’m alone.

Dear Christians, Who Are We Living For?

Dear Christian, who are you living for? Heidi St. John talks about the desensitization of Christians toward sin in the culture

 

Well, here’s something I’ve learned: the entertainment industry has Christians around the throat. It’s the new “sacred cow” that we dare not touch. When I was a kid, it was the church worship pastor and his horrible “rock music.” When I was growing up, sacred cows were things like organs and hymn books. Methinks we have been focusing on the wrong things!

Recently, I posted a warning to parents about the movie, “Deadpool.” You can see it here:

So, there I was, just casually listening to the radio while I put my makeup on this morning when I heard an ad for the…

Posted by The Busy Mom on Saturday, 13 February 2016

 

I was shocked and saddened by the responses I received over something that I assumed Christian (and non-Christian) parents would appreciate. Then next day, I posted a reply:

*WARNING* EXHORTATION AHEAD:On Saturday, I casually posted about the new comic-book-turned-movie “Deadpool.” I was…

Posted by The Busy Mom on Monday, 15 February 2016

 

Today, a Christian woman messaged me, upset at what she perceived to be my “judgmental” attitude toward other Believers with regard to areas of personal freedom. She went on to list several verses she hoped I would read about not judging others because then would understand that she is “free” in Christ to watch whatever the heck she wants to watch.

I am stunned at our disregard for Christ’s clear instructions on how we are supposed to live.

CHURCH: WAKE UP! We are called to judge each other! That’s right: we’re supposed be be judging things like movies and behavior. Why? Because our hearts are prone to wander, that’s why. Because our flesh wants to drag us off into the mire and muck of movies that bring dishonor to God and quench the Holy Spirit within us. Because God clearly says that engaging in such things is wrong.

We have allowed ourselves to become desensitized to sin. We allow it in our churches and call it “progress.” We watch it in theaters and call it “entertainment.” We excuse it in others and call it “freedom.”

How far we have fallen! No wonder our nation is in such grave danger: there are no watchers on the wall. Personal holiness is no longer a priority.

This is not a gray area, men and women! Those who claim the name of Jesus should know His Word and long to bring honor and blessing to the Lord. Instead, we toy with things He died to save us from and then cry like babies if someone suggests that we might be crossing the line.

It’s time for Christians to grow up in Christ. These times need more than lukewarm faith. It’s time to seriously ask ourselves who we are living for. As Believers, our lives are to be a reflection of the One who redeemed us.

Whatever happened to “be holy as I am holy?” Whatever happened to Christians NOT wanting to be like the world? One day, we are going to give an account to the the Lord for the way we lived our lives before men on this earth—and God has made it clear what He expects.

Watching filth (yes, like Deadpool and 50 Shades of Porn) clearly falls outside of “whatever is good.”

I hope that my fellow Christians will continue to hold me to the standard of righteousness that honors the Lord because they care not just for me, but for the One who died to set us free from “the sin which so easily entangles” us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Anything else is cheap grace. My Lord’s death was anything but cheap.

It cost Him everything.

Surely we can honor Him with our bodies and our minds.