A Dream Deferred is not a Dream Destroyed

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Today I was thinking about dreams. Hopes, dreams, goals, and things we want to happen. We talk a great deal about our dreams and what we hope to achieve in this life. I have gone through times when the dreams I have for myself are right in front of my face. For instance, my writing. I have dreamed of being a writer for a long time. A few years ago, I started to see this opportunity come to life as a friend asked me to write for her website. It turned into a weekly gig, and eventually two published devotions! I was sure it would continue to ramp up and I would be writing regularly from then on…not so much.

The website was sold off and I shifted to a homeschool mom who had too much on her plate to really give writing the proper attention it needed. I was frustrated and a little disheartened. It’s not that I doubted that God put that dream in my heart, but it turns out that that specific path was not a straight shot to a career. I know that it played a crucial part in my journey, and I trust that I will have other writing opportunities in my life. But when a path has an end, we have to make a choice: we can see it as a part of our big picture, or we can be consumed by the end of it. I am so glad that the Bible has so many examples of deferred dreams. because I am sure the enemy salivates at the open opportunity that exists at the end of a path.


Biblical Examples

Joseph: pretty sure he had the opportunity to lose all hope sitting at the bottom of a cave that his brothers threw him in. I mean didn’t he just dream about them bowing down to him?

David: Hearing you will be king of Israel is great…but it’s hard to firmly accept while spending years continuing to be a shepherd and then being hunted my the current king.

Ruth: Marriage usually means a new chapter and the beginning of a family, but Ruth experienced loss and displacement well before her arms held her own baby.


 

There are more, but I think it is key to remember that none of us are immune from a deferred dream. If you are in the midst of a dream deferral I would love to encourage you to make sure you are pressing into the Father’s love and comfort during disappointment…or even during redirection. God wastes nothing. He will always use the opportunity to grow your faith, reestablish priorities, draw you closer to himself, set the stage for a bigger dream, or even give you a wake up call that that dream is not HIS best for you. Obviously, there are lots of things God could be doing while you are being rerouted or put in a holding pattern. The best thing to do is seek HIM! He will reveal, in His most perfect timing, some (or maybe all) of the reasons that you are not going at the pace or in the exact direction you anticipated going. Intimacy with Him is ALWAYS a part of it for Him.  Seeking God in a time of delay or rerouting will always be a good thing. Remember the infallible truth that God is good. It is as untouchable as His love for you. You can reject it (just like His love), but it doesn’t make it any less true.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5 

My challenge to you today is simple: spend time talking to God about your dreams. Then, spend time letting all the “missed opportunities” or “finished paths” go and ask God to make the next step in the journey clear. Then listen, write down what you hear. The thoughts that are higher than your own that come in your heart with a banner of love are those of the Holy Spirit. We hear from Him more often than we realize, and He is creative and full of hope.

The Reality of Change

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I am sitting in the last few days before I go back to work  add another bullet point to my job description. I am a wife, mother of 3, facilitator of everything in the home, and now I will be working outside of the home (at my husband’s office…our office) for many of my “free” hours each week. This feels big. The reason for this shift was explained in my last post, but let me back it up to begin the story from a few years ago. See this new change is not just a cut and dry move. It is one that has been developing for years. God has been working behind the scenes and I am seeing now how seemingly unrelated changes have paved the way to today.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when I started really asking God to show me how to be submissive. Or more selfishly put, for God to raise my husband up as the spiritual leader in our home. To his credit, he is a Godly man who has always sought to be in relationship with God. His faith was one of the major things I loved about him when we were dating and it is still a huge part of why we work. However, I grew up in a home that was predominantly run by my mother (for lots of reasons that made sense and it is a much bigger story than a blog post so suffice it to say, I love my parents and they provided a wonderful home where I felt provided for, safe, and loved). Anyway, she made the spiritual decisions and lead the family in faith. I am forever grateful for my mom giving me an amazing faith foundation. It is not perfect, but I consider it to be a most excellent starting point. With that said, I knew how to dig deep and follow what I believed to be God’s will for my life. This gave me confidence in the area of faith and in my ability to raise up my children in the ways of a believer.

The problem is when two become one, their individual faith journeys also become one…and sometimes this makes for murky waters. We have different backgrounds and the lens in which we view our faith. We agree on so much, but if we are not diligent, we slip into old, learned behaviors or even the mindset we had when we were single and only worried about our own journey. This has been a bigger part of this aspect of our relationship than I care to admit. Obviously I didn’t forget I was married, but when it came to growing in God, I get really single lady about it. I think about only my own growth and how fast I can go alone. Not intentionally, but the reality is, we are one and I cannot run miles and miles ahead of him. And I won’t if I am giving God room to whisper ways to serve my family in my growth. This is the hard part of change. It isn’t just me. It is my family. I have to work out my renewed mind in the context of wife and mother…which also means that the enemy will absolutely use those avenues to attack me and make me doubt the new thing God is doing in my life.

Attacks we encounter in our daily life may not be from where you think, or for the reasons you think. Sometimes the sole mission of the attack is to give life to doubt. This doubt can start small and begin in the most obscure of ways, but before you know it, you have accepted the invitation down the rabbit hole and you are now unsure of your ability to do anything you once thought God called you to do. Take heart, friend. A moment of true worship of the Father can wipe away much doubt.  Doubt whispers a false reality. Maybe it is a failed moment with your kids or a sour conversation you had with your spouse. You replay them in your mind and doubt begins to try to prove to you that you have not changed, or that this new thing is not going well. Doubt tries to burrow in and take root in your heart, but let’s pause and  worship. What happens? You begin to shift your focus on your imperfect existence and you are reminded of whose you are. You are swept up in love for God which He immediately showers you with the unwavering love that He has had for you from before you were born. It is unchanging and it is not intimidated by your imperfection or the enemy’s tactics to emphasize your flaws.

So remember, change is the constant companion of the journey into the Father’s heart. He changes our mind (Romans 12:2) he heals us (Psalm 147:3), and he will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Change is wrought with uncertainty in the non-eternal details, but the big picture is constant, in your favor, and good. The God kind of good, not the world kind of good. Be steadfast and refuse to reserve a seat for Doubt at the table of your heart.

The Never Ending Journey

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There is no arrival here on Earth. This is something I need to remind myself of often. I work towards goals, I build a life together with my husband and our kids (that is until they branch off and start their own), and I push deeper into the depths of the Father’s love. However, I am never going to reach a finish line in any of these categories–not on this side of Heaven anyway. I will never be Earth-conscience of my end point. You are here until you are not. Sounds simple, but I think we all can lose sight of that. The goals we have may not turn out the way we think, but even if they did, you would need to create new goals anyway. This life is fluid and can change, evolve, or re-direct at any given point. The thing we need to realize is that putting your faith in Jesus and the roots you place in your relationship with God will be the things that last forever. They will also be the things that give you stability when the rest of your world feels uncertain.

I have been married 10 years and I know just enough to know that I don’t know nearly what I thought I did in the beginning. The last 3 and a half years in particular have been eye opening. Not in the “secrets-about-my-spouse” way, but in the “stretching-of-love” way. I found that the marriage I am in is safe and I have freedom to go to the depths of past wounds and get even greater healing than I thought I needed. I’m talking some major, life-changing, identity repair here. The last three or so years have been more than I could ever imagine! One thing I am learning is that when you pursue God and all He has for you, there will be no end. Not now, not ever. The depths of goodness He has for you are endless! The best part about it is you do not have to wait for the pearly gates for this adventure to start. He longs to give you abundant life here and now. This doesn’t mean abundance of stuff, but abundance of lifesource. It is hard to put into words, but I am giving it my best. Your relationship with God can become like oxygen to your existence. You long to look at everything you do through the lens of eternity and your purpose here on Earth. Regardless of whether you think you are doing exactly what you are supposed to do, you seek Him and let Him worry about that.

This year I thought I would be writing more. When the school year started, I thought I would have more time to write since my youngest was in pre-k M-TH until 1. Even with my oldest being homeschooled, I thought I would get more done. I was wrong. This doesn’t mean that I missed the mark on my calling or that I did something wrong, it just means this wasn’t the time to pursue my writing as a career. However, an opportunity opened up in November at my husband’s office (he owns his own Chiropractic practice). This opportunity would be perfect for me…in August 2017 when all of my children will be in school full time. I felt torn. I felt conflicted. I also felt a divine opportunity to practice a desire of my heart: submitting to my husband. This small phrase brings up a myriad of emotions. for many of us women. I will dive into the journey I have been on with this very topic in a future post, but suffice it to say, I was given an opportunity to let my husband make the final decision on whether our son would continue at his homeschool hybrid or go back to public school. After talking and praying together the decision was made to have me take the new role at his office and put our son back in public school in January.

Truth be told, I was a mess of emotion over this whole thing and although I supported my husband’s decision, I was having doubts and waffle-y feelings about the upcoming change. The morning after we had officially made the decision, I was praying in the car–just me. My prayer went a little something like this:

Jesus, I trust you. I know that we are doing our best to listen and seek you. We made the decision last night, and although I feel good about it and I feel like it is the best move, but my emotions are wishy-washy today and I don’t want to feel this way for the next 6 weeks (when the new semester would start). Can you give me greater peace about this process? I need something to help me align my whole self (heart, mind and spirit) with this decision.

I kid you not I suddenly had a thought in my mind–the kind you know is from Holy Spirit and not your own.

You have been wanting your husband to lead. Now is the time to get behind him and support his decision.

BAM! (Hear that with an Emeril Lagasse emphasis).

BAM! Just like that a wave of peace washed over my body. I felt my whole self align with the decision. It was as if the gnats of indecision and what ifs were shooed away by a force greater than I could conjure up on my own. I knew this was right and good simply because I was supporting my husband and asking God to provide me with the tools needed to be the helpmate I dream of being.

But what does that mean for my dreams? My writing? Where I thought I would be at this point in life? What about me? I don’t have exact answers but I am not at all worried about it. God has it all under control.

If you long to be a more submissive wife, or you long to see your husband lead your family in a more confident way, I hope you will stick with me through the next several posts as I unpack my journey up to this point. It is full of pride-busting moments on my part, but I think it will give hope to those in my shoes.

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

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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!

Summer is a Season of Growth

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Summer is one of my favorite seasons…well, it’s top 3 anyway. (I love fall and spring in equal measure). Summer brings so much to our lives and as a mom, I feel it differently than I did before. There is urgency and lull in the same breath. There are different challenges and opportunities that arise between May and September. I am so grateful for my sweet friend Jen over at manythegifts.blogspot.com for bringing a truly beautiful perspective on the summer of each year and the summer of our motherhood. Please enjoy her writing and sweet point of view. I may have already read it three (or four) times. Jen is a mom I look up to and am thankful to have met. Feel free to share your words of wisdom about enjoying the summer in the comments.
God hasn’t called me to be successful.  He’s called me to be faithful.
-Mother Teresa
My friend Ashley asked me to write a guest blog post about the summer, and I was honored to do so.  Not because I am any sort of summer expert (I’m more of a November gal), but because I’m still sorting it all out, too, and writing always helps with that!  Ashley and I have a lot in common.  We’ve got kiddos in the same classes, we live in the same ‘hood, we love the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and we’re both in the “summer” of our lives.  We’re tending the garden of children: pruning, watering, digging, planting, working, waiting to see how it all turns out.  Nobody harvests in the summer.  The summer is hard work.  It’s sunup to sundown and sweat and dirt and watering and weeding and wondering.  It’s also warm and glorious and occasionally lazy and full of fellowship and sunsets and fireflies and soft grass and flowers and joy.
I am sure of one thing, that this is not my season to get anything “done”.  I hardly got anything “done” today that won’t promptly get undone ASAP.  Anything I check off of my list pretty much goes back on the list within a day (or a minute!) – dishes, laundry, sweep the floor,dry the tears, correct the behavior, pick up the toys, open the mail, pay some bills, answer the phone.  (Maybe) apply sunscreen to squirmy children.  Go to park, run off energy.  Give baths and showers.  Apply lotion.  Read stories.  Do a million tuck in’s of the same four kids.  Repeat.   Few lasting completed projects exist from this phase of my life, but the Spirit is teaching me to graciously accept that this is not my season for completion.
I have learned that I need to do two things- 1. Embrace the undone and 2. Be gentle with myself.   I will not get anything done.  As my friend Sarah says, I just need to Elsa that right now.  Let. It. Go.  The one thing on my list may be “call the doctor for a refill on the lotion” and it may take four days for me to get around to it, and the Pinterest projects can continue to be some escapism in my imagination because I have yet to do a single one of them.   Most of my grown up to-do’s get sacrificed for the urgent needs of tiny people who want me to change their wii remote batteries or give them a Band-Aid or find their blankie or put the arms on a Lego minifigure.
I am inspired always by Mother Teresa.  She said that peace and love begin at home, so my goal is that as the sun rises, I will wake up, show up, and be faithful.  Not successful, just faithful.  I will praise God in the midst of the chaos and thank God for the privilege of this season.  These four little boys are known to spill lots of milk, lose their train of thought in any sort of chore-like activity, and wrestle like tiny bear cubs.  They wipe their noses on everything but a tissue and reserve the Kleenex for squishing bugs.  They are constantly hungry and sometimes give me the strange feeling that I am tethered to my kitchen sink by an invisible string.    But, God, I thank you for their kind spirits, their innocence, the dandelions pulled and offered in chubby fists and lightning bugs cupped and offered from tiny hands.  Thank you for their boisterous energy, their surprising gentleness, their sweet little boy smell, the unique voices that call me Mommy, and the way every single one of them reaches out to hold my hand in a parking lot or tries to put a hand on my stroller or shopping cart, just to stay close.  God is showing me His glory though His four little creations, as he is through all of His children.  I’m going to take a deep breath while tethered at my kitchen sink as I watch my guys digging up worms in the backyard out the window and remember to praise Him.  The harvest is later, the season to grow is now.  They’re growing, and I right along with them.  What a privilege and a blessing it is.
Happy Summer.

My Summer Prayer

Today I sit at my computer and mentally prepare for the next 10 weeks. I LOVE having my kids at home, but I also have things that need done and I am accustomed to fitting them in with less children in tow. This means that I have to strike a balance between conquering my list and really enjoying the moment. This is totally doable. Many women have gone before me and owned their summers while keeping on top of work (be that housework or vocational work). I am blessed to work from home so I am doing both under one roof. For all the moms out there preparing for the adventures of summer, I give you my summer prayer. I looked at the prayer of Jabez and thought, what would it look like to ask God for an amazing summer?

 

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Throughout this summer do not forget where your strength comes from. When the excitement of freedom wanes and boredom beckons your kids to whine, remember that this is an opportunity to strengthen their problem solving skills…and your patience. These days will be some of the best days of our lives. We will catch some of that now and realize it more fully later. Ask God for the most aware perspective you can handle in the moment. Ask boldly for the power of Holy Spirit to help you navigate the harder times. And don’t beat yourself up if you are longing for August in the middle of June. This parenting gig is not all roses, and we are not less holy if we have a string of days where we don’t jump out of bed with a smile on our face and pour milk for cereal like it was what we were created to do. I just hope that you know where you need to go when those days come. Take time to make sure you get in the Word. Spend time worshiping. This will lighten your heart in those moments. Pray and do spiritual warfare for those little ones in your life that are victim to the Enemy without even knowing it. We are not powerless to the season of less structure. We have great opportunity to rest, make memories, and see our kids in the moment.

3 Ways to Keep your Emotions in Check

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It’s mine!!!!” Screeched my five year old daughter from the top of the stairs.

No it’s not! It’s mine! You took it from my floor!” My seven year old son bellowed back with rage.

The thunder of four feet spilling down the stairs as fast as possible and the volume of their passion assured me that I was about to become the judge in a case of stolen property (allegedly). My children were in a hot debate over the ownership of—wait for it—a nickel. Yes, five whole cents was causing this latest case of hysteria. I listened for what seemed like forever as they both pleaded their case—at the same time. Both so desperate to claim this nickel. Thankfully, I was in a peaceful place and I saw more humor than irritation in this particular spat. I mean, come on—it. is. a nickel! Five tiny cents.

By the time I gathered the circumstances surrounding the nickel in question, I was sure it belonged to my son. It was in his room and she had come in and found it, claiming finder’s keepers. Her mistake was to overlook the fact that it was in her brother’s room. (A sibling-bedroom clause if you will). Plain and simple: it wasn’t hers to take. She felt entitled to this money though since she found it. After handing down the verdict, she was a puddle of emotions. I had a hard time getting her to see the fairness of this particular situation. Her emotions had locked her perspective into only seeing what she thought was fair. I comforted her, but did not change my decision just because she couldn’t get on board. Her truth was that she deserved that nickel. Her truth was that she had a right to go into his room, and money left on the floor was fair game. Her truth felt 100% true to her. That doesn’t make it a Truth. But alas, she was certain of her position and although she gave back the nickel, she refused to accept that justice had prevailed.

How many times have your emotions been the heaviest deciding factor in your own perspective? They become this concrete foundation that hardens around your stance in a particular area. They reinforce your position. The longer they sit untouched the harder they are to change.

The story may seem silly as we all would clearly side with the brother in this scenario. But I have been guilty of this same thing. I have built my emotions around an idea and given myself support to feel a certain way. Emotions are a gift, but they can betray you if they are left to their own, selfish devices. Emotions are not interested in preserving truth. They are self preserving and seek to protect you. They welcome twisted truth if it will strengthen their case. Emotions have a way of distorting the truth to fit their agenda. Here are three ways to keep emotions in check.


1.) Be in the Presence.

Having Jesus in your heart is great! But you simply can’t put him in there and lock the door behind him. He is looking for a relationship. This means that you are actively going after encounters with the Creator of the Universe. When you accepted Jesus, he brought the Advocate—Holy Spirit—to reveal truth to you. As you seek him, you will hear his voice more and more. Spend time praying and quietly listening to hear the voice of God. His truth will never return void—it will betray your emotions from time to time.

2.) Be in community.

God gave us earthly relationships for a reason. In God’s word, he displays time and time again how having friends and safe people to go through stuff with makes all the difference in the world. Esther had Mordecai, David had Jonathan, Jesus and Peter, and Paul and Barnabas all had great friendships. Not perfect, but strong bonds that were essential in their personal growth. God wants us all to have deep friendships and one of the roles of a friend is to save you from drowning in your emotions. They deliver hard, heart-felt truth wrapped in the love they have for you.

3.) Wait it out.

Few decisions that are made strictly on emotions end up being good ones. When we have a choice to make, emotions flood in and can be strongly in one direction or maybe all over the place. If it is at all possible a cooling period should be had. This could be as quick as five minutes really. Most of the time we have a chance to think, pray, talk to a trusted friend before we have to act on big things. Time is an enemy to intense emotions. The type that flair up in an instant and demand action also burn out more quickly than others.


As a feeler myself, I am speaking to my own heart as much—if not more—than anyone else. My emotions are constantly vying for the top spot as commander in chief over all of Ashley’s actions and opinions. My spirit—that is connected to my Savior—should be the ruling party in this Earthly experience. However, I can’t let my guard down. The Enemy is always seeking to usurp the proper chain of command. Emotions need to submit to my spirit. Using these three tips will give your spirit strength to overcome the emotions.

I pray that you feel encouraged that you are not alone if you feel betrayed by your own emotions. Being a feeler comes with so many wonderful attributes! We just need to be aware of the pitfalls that come with our wiring.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.