I am Worth It

i am worth it

The school year is officially underway! My kids are all back in school, and I can feel Routine waking from her fun (yet seemingly) short summer slumber. She is easing back into our lives like as if she never left. As this season approached, I began making a mental list of the things I would like to do on a regular basis again—as well as reworked the logistics of things that were already happening in the summer, but now need to be at different times. As the mom of the house, it is easy to put everyone else’s schedule and needs in place and then wedge my hopes and dreams in the cracks of what’s left over. I actually bought into the lie that this was noble. I felt extremely guilty when I didn’t follow this sacred protocol. Like I was somehow betraying my fellow tribesman, my Christian Mamas. This leads me to share with you one of the biggest lessons I learned last year:

I am worth it. (And I don’t love my family less for following my passion).

Here is a lot of how last year played out for me. I saw the long hours stretch in front of me and thought, “Wow! I can write and clean house and visit with friends, and still have time to pursue ministry opportunities and be at peace and fully present when the kids get off the bus etc., etc., etc.”
The dream seemed so real and so doable. Except the first few weeks I thought “Well, self care obviously (coffee date with a friend scheduled every few days because I have several I haven’t seen since school let out). Then let’s catch up on this house—sheesh! these kids are pigs still for being gone 7 and a half hours a day! Now, oh gosh, soccer keeps us really busy, it is too hard to establish a routine now. I mean my evenings are crazy with these practices…blah, blah, blah.”

I could keep going but I think you get the point. It was one thing after another and before I realized, the year was nearly over and I hadn’t even given a small percentage of my time developing myself. This had happened little by little over the course of the last few years and I did just enough for myself to feel like I was getting attention, but the big things—the things that make me come alive—I put those off and now I realize it was out of fear.

Fear of not succeeding (and then I will have wasted time that could have been spent on family needs).
Fear of being judged for spending “too much” time on my projects (too much being a subjective thing that I am not sure could be literally defined).
Fear of putting myself out there (this is akin to not succeeding, but is more about being found out as having no talent as opposed to not hitting a particular mark).

So I stopped writing regularly for the “sake of my family” and hid under self protection. I am not hiding any more. I am not hoping to squeeze in a writing session sometime this week. I am also no longer going after success, approval or a following. I am writing for God—the very one who placed this desire in my heart. In reading Girl, Wash Your Face (Rachel Hollis) she says something to the effect that no-one else will want your dream as badly as you do. This wasn’t brand new information, but when I read that I instantly knew that a piece of my hangup was that I wanted my husband and my tribe to carry my dream for me at times. That is never going to happen. Sure they are supportive and they will encourage me, but if I am expecting them to carry my vision for me, it is DOA. Once I stopped looking at them to create the motivation to pursue my dream, I have had fresh vision. I have to be the one that mans this ship and runs wild after my dream. (and I say that with the assumption that I am first seeking God’s wisdom and His vision for me). When/if my husband or family has a qualm with what I am doing, I expect them to share that with me. I can’t be super proactive and hamper my efforts to appease them. We need to work together to strike a balance. But doing it without their input and before they have voiced concerns is a false humility and rooted in excuses.

Getting to this place has been freeing in ways I never expected. Now I can turn to God and let Him lead me to the next place of revelation. For me, I think I hear Him say to schedule the writing time and go with it…even if I am “not feeling it”. Furthermore, when I am not feeling it, I can lean in and unpack that a little bit, because there is a chance that little “not feeling it” could be a small fox coming to spoil the vine (bible reference…Solomon 2:15). I am a feeler and sometimes the enemy uses them to pull me—ever so slightly—away from what God wants for me. Taking a moment to pause and acknowledge the feeling takes most of its power away. Being willing to be honest with myself takes the rest away.

I am not sure what it is for you, but you have something that makes you come alive inside. Do you give it space in your life? Do you struggle to find it worthy of your consistent time? Why?

I Get By with a Little Help

I get by BP

I met with a friend today. It was your typical playdate with preschool-aged kids. There was milked poured, sibling squabbles, and Daniel Tiger in the background. I loved it. Not because of any of those things, but because this friend and I get each other. We don’t need to pretend that this phase of life is more glamorous (or horrible) than it is. We had honest talk about the kids and the husbands. We shared encouragement and days of woe. We wondered openly about whether our parents dealt with the pressures we do to be the best parent. I believe they did not.

Social media has made an in-your-face approach to parenthood the norm. I do believe however, that the core of parents in decades past still struggled with the same questions at night.

Am I a fit mother?

Am I screwing up my kids?

Did I go too far in that punishment today?

Did I feed them well?

Are they going to like me when they are older?

Am I actually ‘ruining their life’ like they claim?

The reality is we are all getting it right in some areas and wrong in others. We never really know how this whole thing is going to turn out until it does—and then it’s too late. Too late to go back and undo the things, unsay things, and un-choose things. Sure, we can apologize and change behavior moving forward, and God has a way of redeeming things beyond our wildest dreams, but it doesn’t erase our choices.

This harsh reality is all the more reason for abundant grace. Grace for the mom who looks a little worse for wear. Grace for the mom who needs two extra set of arms (and maybe a latte). Grace for all. Grace for the ones you hear about over the internet that experienced a tragedy and you even think about making a public opinion about a family you’ve never met in a situation that you did not witness personally. Think grace.

When God put all this in motion, he did not set limits on who could be reached by his grace and love. He set out to prove that he could love anyone or anything. He did it in the supernatural capacity as well as within the confines of human skin. He has poured out his spirit on all flesh (meaning that Holy Spirit indwells in all who begin a relationship with Jesus) so that we could tap in to the awesome power that gave Jesus the capability to love all so well.

Here is a challenge for all my mom friends. Next time you are tempted to think something that is less than helpful towards another mom, do this instead: ask Holy Spirit, “What is God saying about (insert her name)?” Then listen. God only has love for everyone. He isn’t going to celebrate a sin in their life, he will highlight their heart or a strength they have. He doesn’t gossip about other moms to you…the Enemy might though.

I left my friend’s house today feeling filled up. We built each other up and didn’t need to tear anyone down. We agreed to keep each other accountable in our prayer life and I gave her a “It gets better” speech, because that sweet woman is knee-deep in three kids four and under and that is not for the faint of heart, ya’ll!

Find a way to be a friend to another mom this week. Reach out, send that text, plan that playdate. “I get by with a little help from my friends” isn’t just the title of a song used in the opening credits of The Wonder Years. It is a truth. We need our friendships. We need the “me too” of a friend who gets it. The reality is no one quite knows the plight of motherhood like another mother, and it creates this quiet bond between women. A bond that is constantly being buried under a mound of insecurity, comparison, and tough days. But in the end, we are all mothering to the best of our ability. Let’s harbor compassion not comparison.

Trust the Process

ScriptureArt_-_Philippians1_6_157x157

This is my favorite verse. I chose it as my life verse a few years back. It reminds me of the truth that we are all on a journey. Salvation is immediate, the rest is a process as unique as you. The common denominator that we all have as believers is Jesus and Holy Spirit. Our struggles, our temptations in this life will vary greatly from person to person and from season to season. The constant is Jesus and Holy Spirit. They are always wooing you and pursuing you. They are singing love over you and pulling your true identity out from underneath the world’s chains of sin and shame.

Our time to meet our maker is set. Jesus knows what his timeframe is with you. Be confident that as long as you are open to his work in you, the pace is perfect. I often get frustrated that I don’t have victory in a certain area when I would think I should. It is good to keep pressing on, but let’s not forget who is doing the work. Sometimes, we just have to trust the process and fall in step with Holy Spirit as he guides us to truth and revelation.

Here is a perfect example of my own frustrations and my need to be reminded of that verse. I have anger issues. I have struggled with them for most of my life. In my past I have flown into rages and by God’s grace was able to keep my distance from pounding on the offender. I have put my face to the ground more than once in anguish over this shortcoming in my life. I feel anger well up so quickly sometimes that I am shocked that before you know it, I am consumed with annoyance and sometimes rage.

Why? Why can’t I get total victory over this in my life? I have given it to God more times than I can count. There must be a piece missing. Or maybe it is a proverbial thorn that my insides will always have to deal with, yet God will give me the grace and power to squelch it before it comes to the surface. Maybe it will be the one thing that constantly reminds me of my need for a savior (Jesus) and a helper (Holy Spirit).
It has improved over the years and having three small children definitely gives me ample practice with controlling the issue. I have lost my temper with my children and had to go to them and apologize. This has given me great opportunities to talk about how we are not perfect, but Jesus loves us anyway. Isn’t He good?

He is supplying me with grace, knowledge, and confidence that HE IS WORKING in my life!

I can take stock of my life and see progress and know that Philippians 1:6 is true for me!

What if We Took Time to Be Us?

timetobeUs

Mamas, I have a tip for you:

Just Be You!

Everyday, I get to see about 100+ articles about this and that–usually posted on social media. I don’t read most of them because they are an opinion about another article that they read. Moms are all up in arms about ev-er-y-thing! We rush to judgment about things that do affect us, and things that don’t. And in this post-modern world where social media gives us instant access to hundreds (even thousands) of people, we feel the need to defend our position. But I’d like to pose a question:

How many times has your individual opinion swayed another on social media?

 

How many times has your individual opinion sparked a debate?


 

I still grab the bait every now and again, but for the most part I don’t put my opinion about hot-topic issues on social media. Why? Because I believe what I believe. I am who I am. Sure that is subject to change, but guess who I confer with about that?

Those that live in my actual real life, that’s who!

(That was said in my best Junie B. Jones voice, and if you don’t know who that is then forgive me as I am knee-deep in her book series with my six-year old.)

I look to God and to those I have a trusted rapport with to make a change.

I have spent many years doing work to root myself in my eternal identity. My hope is found in Christ and who HE says I am. If I pray about a topic, do my research (real research, not a flood of opinion articles), and I have peace about a parenting method, schooling method, or heck the type of sunscreen I put on my kids, then I am okay with that. And I am okay with your choices too. I am not your judge, nor have I been called by God to declare to you what is okay for you to do as a mom. I am just not. If you are in my live circle of people and I feel an open door to have a respectful discussion about something, I’ll take it with careful consideration. We spend far too much time looking sideways at the other moms in our lives (both live and in social media circles) and tallying their wins and their losses and comparing them to our own. And I will be the first to admit I was a high offender of this practice. I was super insecure as a new mom. I did NOT want to mess this up, and if you and I were doing things differently, I calculated the wins and losses at night to make sure my kid was doing well (in comparison). I hate to think of the time I wasted worrying about how I stacked up.

To keep this from sounding like a rant in and of itself, I simply want to invite you to search out your true identity in Christ and spend more energy allowing Him to love on you. When you become aware of the love He has for you, most of the need to be right and the need to be heard on the interwebs fades a bit. If you have peace with your decision, be at peace. Don’t go trading it in on some typed-up debate between someone you haven’t seen in 12 years. Let them have their opinion. Pray for them and practice grace.

Here is my rule of thumb (and I am not perfect so I ignore this from time to time):

  1. If it is your strong opinion or the article really resinated with you, that’s great share.
    • Do your best to stay away from harsh debating. As you type back and forth are you staying kind? It is hard to read a person’s inflection in type so keep your emotions in check so you don’t get defensive.
  2. If someone else posts something that is the opposite of how you believe.
    • Just let it go. If they are a close (real-life) friend and you feel truly impressed to intervene in that area, do so, but proceed with caution. Otherwise, scroll on by.

We are all flawed, we are all getting it wrong in some area, and we are all a work in progress. We as moms love our kids more than we understand and it can make us crazy sometimes. I want to be known for being loving and encouraging more than I want to be known for my strong opinions and my debating skills. Sadly, I think I have a lot of work to do, but that’s okay, don’t we all!

The best news of all is that God’s love is not even a little bit swayed by my stink or my slightly-dressed up stink. It’s all stink compared to Him, but it was never a factor in His decision to love us. He loves us because of who He is. Your “good mom points” don’t mean squat when you get to the Pearly Gates. You get to enter Heaven by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ alone. That is what matters and that is what we need to be obsessed about. Our Savior and what HE has to say about ____________.

So my challenge today is to spend time soaking in your identity before you engage in online debate. Be love and be you, before you try to be right. When we take up the call to be the taste of Christ, too many of us feel the need to be that bitter spray you buy for animals to keep them from chewing on stuff. And people walk away with that scrunched-up look on their face that indicates we left a bad taste in their mouth. But if we choose to be love, we can be a cool drink on a hot day.

This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clean away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

1 John 4:10 (MSG)

 

The Bible in Color

the bible in color

The Bible has been on my mind a lot lately. It has survived all these centuries and additions and translations. Its timeless relevance never ceases to amaze me. Honestly, I am falling in love with it for the first time in my Christian life (that’s twenty-one years of merely flirting and having flings). I have tried over the years to connect with the Word and get as excited about it as other seem to. When that failed, I tried to pound it into my routine like a puzzle piece that just wasn’t quite right. I thought that if I committed to reading it, I would begin to love it. And you know, that sort of worked. There is something to be said for those who put their bible reading into their schedule and carve out time in their day to be in God’s word. The thing about that is I have to love something or feel a special attachment to it for it to become a priority.

So how does one fall in love with the Word?

Recently, I have been reading the book, Fashioned to Reign. The author spends many chapters looking at some key verses in the New Testament that restrict women and he is diving deep into cultural context and the original language and purposes for the letters written to the first-century churches. In chapter 4 of the book, he paints a beautiful picture of how the Word of God and your relationship with Him go hand in hand:

The Bible is written in such a way that you need the Spirit of God to give you wisdom about how to apply the Word of God.

It is only when we understand the heart of God that we can apply the knowledge of the Scriptures in a way that embraces His purposes.

I have been chewing on this concept for several weeks. I began to think about the way I absorbed or even thought about the words I read before I was awakened to an active relationship with Holy Spirit. (Yes, I know people say the Holy Spirit―I don’t). Now that I have an intimate, daily relationship with God and his divine gift of Holy Spirit, it’s like going from seeing in black and white to color! These scriptures are not about reading and learning what not to do. It can be troubling if you are looking at the Bible as a cover to cover instruction guide for living a Christian life. Most of the ancient book is meant to paint a picture of the nature of God. It is a historical account of things that took place, not examples of how it is to be done. We need to see what God redeemed through the life and death of Jesus. You cannot appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made when you disregard the transgression. He paid the highest price because people were making a mess of things. There is a lot to redeem.

We also see examples of people whom we would never imagine being qualified to be used by the Creator of the world rise to the occasion and through His Spirit, they make history! If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

The New Testament is also not a book of rules. There are stories and historical accounts and parables. They paint a picture of hope and call all who declare Jesus as their Lord to a risky life of radical love. We could spend the rest of our lives just trying to do a better job of the greatest commandments.

In Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Now I happen to have a great affection for the words of Jesus. He is the purest vessel that God ever used to speak to His people. He calls us to a pretty radical life though. He calls us to be counter cultural, but not in the ways that too many of us like to be. There is not one time that Jesus stood in the city square and informed people walking by that they were on a one-way trek to Hell. He only ever seemed to condemn the religious zealots that used their religion and tradition to exclude others or put them down. He also had pretty harsh words for those who used their religious authority to push others around. You know who he had compassion for? The least of these, those ensnared in their own sin and operating out of lies they believed about themselves. The outcasts of society had Jesus’ heart. He ached for them and spent much of his ministry being the emotional salve that they so desperately needed. I find it interesting that he didn’t waist his breath or his short time on Earth being a mole in the synagogue and trying to create change from within the confines of religious leaders at the time.

I am seeing this all in a new way. I used to read the passages of Jesus and try to take in the words as the dos and don’ts of my religion. The further I get into this crazy life, I realize I don’t have a religion. I have a relationship with an active, living God and when I read the historical accounts of Jesus’ time, I am not reading a list of sins to avoid. I am learning the nature of God. I am seeing the heart of Jesus in those passages. Jesus was the embodiment of hope displayed for the world. He loved radically and went after the forgotten and downcast. We are to do the same. Love radically and go after love for others. Nothing else matters. Not politics or religion, race or sexual orientation. It just doesn’t matter more than radical love. If you aren’t doing the greatest of commandments, then the lens through which you execute everything else will be flawed.

So back to the question of loving the Word. Changing my mindset about what the Bible is and what its purpose is for my relationship with God helped me. I wanted to read it for the picture it portrays. That comes with taking it all in―even the parts I don’t quite understand. I rely on Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom concerning how I live my life. Sometimes He reveals truth through the Word directly, and sometimes it comes through a sermon or prayer time. I love reading and getting into the Word for how God uses it in my life, not for the sheer act of reading it.

Letters to Bea: Part 1

I am trying something new here. It may be a total flop and I am okay with that. The process of growing into a writer is both scary and uncharted for me. I have a small niche carved out in the devotional world (with 2 books on Amazon now), but I would like to dabble in the fiction world too. In order to do that and still keep all the plates spinning in the air, I thought I would share a fun short story with you. I have no idea where this story is going to go, but won’t it be fun to figure that out together? Now please note that this is all raw and sans editor. I am a writer, a creator of stories. The refinement process is a weak spot in my armor and I can only improve with time. So to all you grammar police out there, forgive me. I am a work in progress. Please enjoy some unrefined story telling, warts and all.

Without further ado, I bring you part one of Letters to Bea.


LTBpart1

Maggie sat at her desk with pen in hand. She stared down at the wrinkled appendages that had created so much in her lifetime. At 84, they were weathered and veiny. She had spent so many years up to her elbows in wet clay, shaping so many wonderful creations that all started out the same; a lump of cold, wet, grey clay. The end result was never fully envisioned in the beginning, but as each piece swirled around and around on the wheel, the specifics started becoming clear. She sat and reminisced in her mind about the joy that bloomed in her soul each time she put her hands on the blob in the middle of the wheel. She would slip wet hands on its silky surface and tune into its destiny. Like a figure appearing out of fog, the details would appear roughly and then with more precision with each passing minute.

This was her time with God too. She had heard him speak so clearly through her work. She herself felt like that clay in His hands. She felt loved and cared for as if He were shaping her with each trip around the sun. Her years were many now, but he was still shaping her. These days, she wondered when he would take her of the wheel of life and declare her a finished piece. She was tired and lonely. Her husband has been gone 5 years now and life still felt like it was lacking. She missed him so much at times she found herself crying in her daydreams and asking God to take her home. She wanted to be at the pearly gates with Jack to greet her. She spent hours it seemed each day fantasizing about their reunion. Why was she still here? What on Earth could God possibly have for her to do still in her advanced age?

She was still fairly active, she lived on her own and had a steady routine week in and week out, but her vitality was nothing compared to that of her prime. She fought the urge to be submerged in the days gone by. Remembering her entire life felt like a movie scrolled out across her mind. It seemed to happen a lot these days whenever she wrote to her best friend. They may live on opposite sides of the country, but that didn’t stop them from corresponding weekly. Sure they could call or FaceTime with each other (if there was a grandchild nearby to help), but there was something timeless about letters. There was something special about holding the same paper―a connection that the phone or other forms of technology just couldn’t give.

She put pen to paper and before she knew it, Maggie was back in time. It was September of 1940 when she met her best friend who would prove to be her greatest ally in this life. Beatrice, or Bea as she liked to be called, was everything that Maggie was not. She was brave, funny, and outgoing. I guess she had to be when she was always having to be the new kid. Bea was an Army Brat. Her dad was a veteran of World War 1 and had recently been stationed in their town. Bea came into third grade with high spirits and confidence to spare. Maggie, or Margaret as she was known in the days before Bea, was taken by her immediately.

Their friendship started over a game of marbles at recess. Margaret, Bea, and Robbie were all playing a rousing game that Robbie was winning by a long shot. He pointed his shooter, stuck his tongue out and shot his marble at the last two in the circle. His green shooter clacked against both marbles with professional precision. He scooped up his winnings and began putting them all in his pouch.

“Hey! You can’t do that. We didn’t say keepsies,” Margaret whined.

“Sure we did. Don’t you remember?” Robbie said slyly as he gave her a sheepish smile. Robbie knew that Margaret liked him and he was using that to his advantage.

“Now wait a minute,” Bea chimed in looking at Robbie, “We did not call keepsies. We only called ‘no quitsies,’ which was your idea. Now give her back her marbles!”

He knew full well that they didn’t call keepsies, but Margaret had a Devil’s Eye marble that Robbie had wanted to get his hands on since last school year. He had his chance now if dumb ol’ New Girl would just keep her mouth shut. Who did she think she was just waltzing in here and bossing him around? He stared her down for a minute trying to decide if he could bully his way into getting that marble. She stared back with a stone-cold expression. With two older brothers, Bea was not intimidated by this boy who she knew was trying to pull one over on her and this other girl. She glanced to her right to see Margaret looking down and fiddling with the four marbles she had won in the game. She was so small and mousy. Bea knew that if she didn’t stand up to this boy, this wet noodle of a girl would soon lose her entire marble collection.

Bea crossed her arms as if to emphasize her position in this standoff and gave a little harrumph to urge him to concede. It worked.

“Okay…Here you go, Mar-ga-RET” Robbie said with a defeated tone as he rolled his eyes. He tossed the marbles back to Margaret and she quietly put them in her pouch―never looking back up at him. Robbie walked away mumbling something about the new girl being a bossy britches.

Bea turned to Margaret and helped her put her marbles back in her pouch. As she scooped up her own she said, “You can’t let him bully you like that. He was trying to cheat you out of your best marbles.”

“I know, I just…well, he’s…I’ve known him a long time. He knows how to get under my skin, that’s all.”

“No one says you have to let him stay there. Next time, tell him to kiss off!”

Margaret blushed at the brash way she said that adult phrase with such mature air. It also made her giggle at the thought of telling Robbie Jones to kiss off. She looked up at Bea and asked, “So, what’s your name anyway?”

“Beatrice Elanor Wadell, but I like to be called Bea. And I already heard Robbie say your name is Margaret. Have you always gone by Mar-ga-RET?”

“Yeah…well, Margaret. Only Robbie says it like that. He knows it bugs me.”

“What about Maggie? It’s a nickname for Margaret and it fits you.”

With that a new identity was born for Margaret. She took to the nickname―and to Bea―like a moth to a flame. That day started the greatest of adventures for Maggie. She hoped that some of Bea’s tenacity would rub off on her. With Bea by her side, she could do almost anything!

Bea decided right then and there to be friends with Maggie for life. Moving around every few years had already gotten old at the tender age of 10. She knew that she was going to need a consistent ally if she was ever going to keep up this tough-girl act. Oh, sure on the outside she was confident and outgoing, but inside―each time they made a new city their home―her stomach did flips at the idea of having to be the new girl―again. At least this time, her new best friend had come along the first day of school. Maggie was desperate for a real friend, Bea could see that the moment she started playing marbles with her and that nasty boy, Robbie. She swore in her heart that she would protect Maggie from boys like that. Maggie needed someone like Bea in her life and Bea was all too happy to accommodate.

Humble Beginnings and Big Goals

humble beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Zechariah 4:10

When you are pursuing your dreams, the above words can be a great comfort. This verse among others drive home the point that overnight success is not the norm and that small beginnings are many times God’s way of grooming and refining you for greater things! Before I give the “but” to this idea, I want to highlight how important this is. God rarely gives someone charge over much before he is proven faithful over little. We need to honor the season that we are in and pursue what God has for us and wants to teach us in the moment. We cannot expect to build on our character and our experience without challenges and opportunities to live out what God is weaving into our hearts. Sometimes we get multiple tries at the same lesson. We start small and we may stay small―for longer than we would like. The question I have for you today is: Are you staying small because you are holding humble beginnings in both hands?

I have been thinking about this verse a lot lately. I began thinking about how solid and true it is to honor the season and stage you are in while you pursue bigger and “scarier” things. I saw it like this: You need to hold humble beginnings in one hand and big goals in the other. If you only hold humble beginnings (with both hands), you can fall prey to complacency. Your humble surroundings will become so comfortable that it is hard to branch out. You secure your place with wisdom like “do not despise humble beginnings…” and it keeps you so humble that you begin to despise lofty aspirations. This was never meant to be a piece of limiting wisdom. We need to hold these humble beginnings in their proper place. With respect as a wise beginning, not the final destination. If you are on a path to something greater, don’t get caught in the trap of humility. The Enemy can use it to ensnare you into believing that pursuing  bigger possibilities is prideful or egotistical. As long as your heart is right (which the Enemy knows nothing of) you can freely pursue your dreams to the fullest! So grab that humble beginning firmly in one hand.


 

The other hand needs to dig in and grasp the fact that we serve a big God! The God that is in charge of executing Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us.”


 

We know that God, whom we love and serve, loves us infinitely more than we can comprehend. He gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell in us and work through us to accomplish the things placed in our heart from our inception. He cares about our heart’s desires. He cares about our passions and can work through all sorts of avenues to display his love to others. Your work, your passion is one of those avenues! When you partner with God on your life’s endeavors, he shows up. He often times starts us off small. He often grows us through adversity and blessings alike. We almost all start out small, but the ones who reach a higher potential are the ones who have humble beginnings in one hand and big goals in the other. They are content with their season, but not complacent. They respect where they are, but have faith for more.

The Kingdom is in an ever-expanding state. The heart of God is to grow you. We should always be pursuing growth in some form or fashion. Your rate of growth is as individual as your thumbprint. God knows what you can handle and he sees the future. I also have learned that success is not defined the same in the world as it is in the Kingdom of God. I want to be successful according to God, not the world. However, I never want to be stagnant. My growth rate is up to God, my decision to grow is mine and mine alone.

Humble beginnings, small steps, slow growth―all good things. They are not the only things. Include big goals, goals that scare you a little (or a lot). If you could see the ways and means of achieving every goal you have within your own power, what do you need God for? Dream past your own current ability. I have yet to regret doing just that.

Beauty from Wolfie Hair

Beauty from wolfie hair

I am convinced of this, that the one who began a good action among you will bring it to completion by the Day of the Messiah Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Today I woke up with the worst hair in the history of clean, terrible hair. I half-dried it and went to bed knowing it would be a little…artistic the next day. I have natural wave which means my hair lives in a continuous state of no man’s land. The plus side is that I can help it into the land of the straight strands or the curly girlies fairly easily. However, this morning, I looked in the mirror and really wished that I had taken a picture and sent it to my dad. He always called my wild morning bed head “wolfie hair” when I was growing up. I think even he would agree today was one for the record books. The amount of volume my hair had made me look as though I had used an entire can of Aqua Net! I stared at my hair and tried to figure out what to do. I didn’t want to wet it and start over, but I wasn’t sure I could rebirth this mess from this point.

So many of us are at this very point in our lives. We were doing what we thought was the right thing, on the right path then BAM! we feel as if we have either miss stepped or the path has taken a turn that we just weren’t expecting. It is easy to at that moment look for a sign from God that what you are doing is good. The problem with that is you may be expecting God to show up in a specific way, but there is no guarantee that he will. God is not always going to affirm your steps―at least not in the same way. There will be times when you are on the right path and doing the right things, and suddenly it gets scary. The steps feel uncomfortable or the next steps seem unsure. Maturity in Christ will require you to navigate through these seasons apart from strong emotions from the Father (at times). When feelings rise up to challenge your direction the best thing to do is stop and seek God. This process should include praying AND worshipping God. These two connect you to God in ways that nothing else can! Through it all, the emotions that were rising to challenge your direction will either die down (bend the knee to the sprit man leading instead of the emotions) or they will link arms with the spirit man and he will begin to feel a need for shifting the course. Either way, you will see the next step more clearly.

Now this morning, I stared at myself in the mirror and the idea to curl the mop on top came to mind. I curled it and had one heck of a good hair day. That volume I gave myself through the night was just what those curls needed to be lively. I had fancy, curled hair today and so I decided to put the level 2 makeup on (you know, eye shadow and lipstick) in order to go with the hair. I felt great and quite amused that my hair could look so good knowing how bad it had looked before 7am.

Hair is not the end all be all, but how fun is it that God can use my wild, bad hair morning to show me that he makes beauty out of what we would call a mess!

Office Makeover: Bringing Peace to my Work Space

office makeove

One of the things that surprised me about my office makeover was the spiritual aspect of it. I used to be slightly annoyed when people seemed to spiritualize everything. Now I see that the deeper we go in God and the more intimate you become, it is hard to just see the physical realm. Once you decide to peel back the curtain it doesn’t just go back. As Bill Johnson has said, “God doesn’t see in supernatural and natural…it is all natural to him.”

I want it all to be natural to me too. I want to blend the two worlds as much as God allows. I don’t know where that line is, but I am going to keep pushing.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. I stepped into the office makeover project with  fresh eyes. I have always seen these types of things as purely physical. The tangible things sitting in this catch-all room. The lack of discipline that I had resulted in this room being chaotic. This time, I looked at it as a battle ground. From the get-go, I invited Holy Spirit to be an active part of this project. I prayed for divine inspiration. He knows what I want to accomplish in this room. It is where I write. I want to stop fleeing to the nearest coffee shop every time I have an itch to write. I want to home school our oldest in this space next year. I want to host overnight guests when the opportunity arises. I want this to be a room of creativity and peace. I want it to reflect me and the love I have for God.

So without further ado, I would like to show the before. It is about as real as it can get. The day I took these pictures, I had rifled through my Thirty-One Gifts stash (as I had been a consultant for the past three years). The stuff is everywhere, but sadly that was more the norm than the exception.

20150103_143115
This is the view from the door way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20150103_143157
This is my work space. So inviting, right? 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, I had my work cut out for me. I originally wanted to gut the whole room and start over. The desk and the shelf are built in to the wall. They are not really designed to allow two people to work at the same time. I need a space for me to write and my son to do his school work. I want him to be near, but not on top of me. So I prayed. I prayed for inspiration and to see this space in a better light.

I heard these words: Use what you have.

Not an audible voice, but as one friend described it: It’s like a thought that comes in that is just higher than my own.

It’s true. I felt inspired in that moment to try and use as much of the things that were already in the room or that we had around the house. I did buy a few things, but I tried to use my own resources first.

In the end, I bought a desk for my son, some of the wall decor, a rug, and the paint. The rest came from what we had at home.

Now, (drum roll please) I am pleased to share with you the finished space.


20150219_140331

20150219_140230

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still like stuff around. I am not sure what part of my personality needs this, but the wall space where I work is full. I also still have a few areas to go through as far as papers and stuff go. I love the feeling I get when I sit down to work. So much peace and joy.

On the other side of the room it is simple and clean. In time I may be inspired to decorate further…and then again, maybe not.

 20150219_140128

This futon was in here, but under so much clutter that I have had a few good friends ask if it was new!

Now my favorite part about the home school solution came via Wayfair.com. I ordered a murphy desk and it came in two days and I love it!

20150219_135313 20150219_135356

When the desk is not in use, it only sticks out about 5 inches from the wall. When it is open, he has plenty of space to do his school work and even some great storage!

I chose to do a small gallery wall on my right because I love them! I either made, re-purposed, or bought (for cheap) the things on this wall. The shelf is both functional and decorative. The picture in the black frame has great spiritual meaning for me. I have had it for almost two years and it finally has a place! I see it every time I come in here and am reminded of one of the most life-changing experiences I have ever had.

20150219_140409

20150219_140352

Finally, I had the opportunity to have my prayer warrior and oldest friend in town for a few short hours yesterday. She and I spent time anointing this space and praying over all God wants to do in this space. It was such a precious gift! When I went to type this all up this morning the keys still had a little bit of anointing oil on them and it immediately made my heart smile. I am excited about the next chapter in my life!

Up next in the Ferris household is the kitchen. We have been saving and waiting for two years to finish the project and I will share the results with before/after photos next month. My year of establishing order (this ushering in peace) into my home is off to a winning start!

Feeling the Shift: The Next Wave

feeling the shift-the next wave

Back in November, I shared that we were feeling a shift. We (my husband and I) began looking into alternative schooling for our kids. This journey is full of so much unknown and conflicting feelings! I almost envy those families who have a conviction about a particular educational path. Maybe it is the area I live in that has made this decision so intense. Here in central Indiana, I am blessed with the best of the best. We have a great public school system. My son is learning nearly at his highest capacity. He is in the class that will push him the most and he is succeeding. If we choose to leave the public school system for the private school sector, we have a list of top schools to choose from. He can get a private, Christian education that will challenge him no doubt. If we choose to homeschool, that community is thriving in our area as well. We can choose from lots of co-ops and enrichment classes around the city. There are lots of activities to ensure he is out and about. We really can’t go wrong no matter what general avenue we choose.

Then comes the other factor: what does God want?

I have been praying and seeking His will for this aspect of our life and I (confidently) get the sense that He is pleased no matter which one we choose. I actually believe that there is no wrong answer (in the general sense). He has grace for me and is capable of growing me regardless of where we finally land. I have asked and prayed. The solution that has come to my heart has filled me with peace and joy. I also think if I would have chosen differently based on a few other factors He would still be smiling and singing joy over me. I stopped and I asked—that is what I think He wanted most of all. To some this may seem daunting. Too many choices. God should have whittled it down for me, and I would have agreed with you just a few short years ago. Now I find it freeing. Freedom in Christ at this level is indescribable! There are many facets to this phrase. In this season, the freedom to choose the best option for us meant that because we brought it before the Father, we have the freedom to live out the choice that we make. He will be there. He will refine me in the choice. Even if my ultimate decision ends up being hard and we don’t repeat it in the future, I will not label it a mistake. I will be grateful that I had the chance to learn more about myself and my son.


Now some may ask at this time:

Have you made a decision?


I would answer that with, No. We have made a few small decisions in the bigger decision, but no definite plan is put in place. Honestly, I am enjoying the journey and feeling no rush to nail down each detail of next fall. I have time and I am doing research and talking to others in different camps. I am enjoying the insight and passion that people have for education of all forms. I am feeling more empowered that no matter how my children get the majority of their education, I can have more influence than I am having right now. I have always thought I would supplement their education, but the rigors of having three littles in four years caused that endeavor to take a back seat. This time of research and prayer has revived that desire in me! See, just the stopping and asking alone has brought so much benefit that even if nothing changes, I can say I have grown.