Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hero Maker

"When it comes to accomplishing great visions, it's never the dreams you dream but the small decisions you make." -J.D.Greear

My husband was invited to attend a church-planting conference near Chicago.  Did I want to go with him?  My first response was to say no.  It was going to be a quick trip: drive 6 hours, sit in a conference all day, share a hotel room with women, and drive home.  Not very appealing.  Plus there were logistics of finding childcare for our kids.  It was easier to say no.  But God had other plans.

I began to feel guilty, as if I was letting an opportunity slip away.  An opportunity to connect with my husband, to create memories, to open myself up to something God may want to teach me.  So I decided to put in the effort to make the trip memorable.  Through the help of our family, my husband and I were able to drive up early and explore the city of Chicago!  It was fun to sight-see and enjoy time alone together. 

A few days later, we met up with a group from church to attend the conference.  I was looking forward to hearing the speakers, but to be honest I was not expecting to gain much from it.  While I am involved in church leadership and am all for people spreading the love of Jesus, I wouldn't say "church planting" is one of my passions.  My heart is in helping people walk in obedience and strengthen their faith, not in starting new churches.  So when I'm at these conferences, I constantly fight the feeling that I don't belong.  The theme this year was Hero Maker.  The basic idea being that instead of us being the "hero", we should be Hero Makers - investing in and empowering others and thereby multiplying our impact.  I took what was said and began applying it to parenting and leadership in general. 

Out of all the amazing speakers, there was one line from a video that spoke straight to my heart.  A man was talking about the last words his father said to him, which were "No matter what happens, don't lose your vision."  Those could have been God's words to me.  I had been sitting there thinking that my vision was too small, too selfish.  That my vision should be something else.  But I was reminded that it wasn't meant to be.  My vision to take two people who have been given a legacy of family brokenness and redeem it.  To empower our boys to be heroes who can carry that forward.  I truly believe that healing the world begins with healing the family.  And it starts with me, with us.  It requires making intentional choices and does not always come naturally.  I want to do it right, and influence other couples along the way.  In that moment I felt the approval of my heavenly Father and knew that I was where I should be. 

Looking back I realize all that I would have missed out on if I would have taken the easier route and simply stayed home.  I feel incredibly blessed. 


It's hard to believe that this is only the 3rd blog post I've written this year!  I could use the excuse that my boys keep me busy (which they do), but I'd like to be more consistent.  If there is a topic that you would like me to write about, please feel free to share. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Very Next Thing

"To dwell in the place I have been given.  To do the things I have been given.  To love the people I have been given.  This is not mysterious or far reaching, yet this is the truth of a God-ordained life.

Slowly, I was beginning to understand that it wasn't my productivity that God desired; it was my heart.  It wasn't my ministry God loved; it was me.  God was glorified, is glorified, when we give Him our hearts, give Him ourselves, and faithfully do the thing right in front of us, no matter how small or trivial."

These words were written by Katie Davis Majors, a missionary in Uganda.  Her story is much different than mine, as is the place God has called her to.  But what we share is our struggle in motherhood.  The struggle of wanting to be used by God, yet feeling like we are caught up in the ordinary and mundane routine of life.  Whether we are making meals, changing diapers, breaking up arguments, cleaning up messes, or carpooling all around town, being a mother takes a lot of effort and is often unappreciated by our children.  But did you know that in all that activity we have the opportunity to grow in faithfulness?

Katie describes faithfulness as what we repeatedly do, whether or not we see the results.  "Faithfulness is when we pour into hard people over and over, when we continue to serve in difficult situations, when we intentionally choose to lean into Him in our troubles as well as our joys.  Faithfulness is a habit formed in our hearts when no one is looking, when the day is done and the stars creep out and our call isn't easy but we don't turn away."

I sometimes get overwhelmed by all the things I feel that I should do.  I want to eat healthier, exercise, memorize Scripture, do regular devotions, invest time in other people, spend quality time with my kids, strengthen my marriage, keep a clean house, serve others, and the list goes on....  And quite honestly, when I get overwhelmed, it seems nothing gets done.  These are all good things, but what is it that God really expects of me?

What I keep coming back to is that God just wants me to do the very next thing, the thing right in front of me.  He wants me to be in relationship with Him and then simply to walk in obedience.  Being a task-oriented planner, this is sometimes challenging.  I get so focused on what's to come, that I have a difficult time just being present.  My goal now is simply to be faithful to what is right in front of me...or to whatever He puts on my heart.  When I think a compliment, I try to speak it.  When I feel a burden for someone, I stop to pray or reach out.  When my kids want my attention, I try to stop what I'm doing and give it. These things may seem small, but I believe God is glorified through them much more than me going through my schedule on auto-pilot.

What is the very next thing that God is asking YOU to do?  Be present.  Be faithful.

We're in this together.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Secret To Affair-Proofing Your Marriage

Okay, so this may not really be a "secret", but it is something married women generally don't talk about.  I won't hold you in suspense, here it is....Have sex with your spouse!  Regularly.

It was actually Scripture that got my wheels turning on this subject this morning.  So let's start with that.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church on some issues concerning Christian marriage.  He writes " Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."- 1 Corinthians 7:5

Whether we do it intentionally or just because life gets too busy, not having regular sex with your spouse is an open door for Satan to walk through.  The best illustration I've heard on this came from Gary Thomas.  I'm going to paraphrase his story from memory because it's been so long that I don't remember which book it came from!  Gary is a runner, even dedicated enough to run on vacation.  One year he was away from home in a much more humid environment than he was used to and he failed to bring enough water on his run.  He became so parched that as he ran by houses and saw a hose out front, he considered going over to take a drink.  A while later, he passed a discarded Coke bottle on the road that still contained a small amount of liquid.  Even that began to be tempting.  Can you imagine how gross that would be?  But dehydration can cause your mind to consider things that normally would be unthinkable.  When we deprive our spouses from meeting their physical needs in a healthy way within our marriage, even what was unthinkable before may become a temptation. 

What do I mean by "regular"?  That could vary for each individual couple.  If you don't know what your spouse needs to be fulfilled, you should definitely have that conversation and find out.  For me, anything less than once a week would be a huge warning light.  I understand that sex is more than a physical act, it has a large emotional component (especially for women).  If that warning light goes off in your marriage, the time to act is NOW.  Find out what the problem is and take steps to fix it.  In every failing marriage that I've come across, the couple does not seek help until the "we haven't had sex for MONTHS" stage.  That is heartbreaking and so much more difficult to come back from.

Because this topic can be so uncomfortable to talk about in person, there are a few books I can recommend that would be a good starting point if you struggle in this area.  Every Woman's/Man's Marriage and Every Woman's/Man's Battle.


Shannon Ethridge writes in a very vulnerable and honest style.  She has several books on marriage/sex that may be helpful in restoring your perspective and giving you hope for the days ahead.

Craig Groeschel is known for saying "When your car runs out of gas, you don't go sell it and buy a new one.  You put gas in your car."

While my marriage isn't perfect, it has always been a priority for me.  I didn't have an example to look to growing up, so it's been "learn as you go".  I've been blessed to learn these lessons early.  I pray for those of you who took the time to read these thoughts of mine, that I will have given you something to think about and that your marriage would be strengthened because of it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gospel-Centered Mom by Brooke McGlothlin

I think it was the sub-title that captured my attention for this book: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need.  The title of Mom comes along with so many overwhelming responsibilities that it's easy to feel like we're not enough.  And then we compare ourselves with other women and feel even less adequate.  One of the blessings of this book is that Brooke shatters the illusion that we are in this alone.  Mothers deal with the same emotional struggles, and each one of us can be encouraged by the truths found here.

"Why does it bother me so much to feel inept at mothering my boys?  Maybe because it's the thing that I most want to get right."

The Gospel-Centered Mom helps us to reset our perspectives.  Of course we're not enough, but God is.  It's easy to get our parenting priorities out of whack.  Maybe we spend most of our energy on providing our kids with a good education, a healthy diet, opportunities to excel in sports or music, or happiness.  But what is it that's most important to God?  How do we partner with Him to raise our kids?  And to what extent are we responsible for their choices and the people they grow up to be?  These are some of the issues explored in this book.

One area that I struggle in is how to spiritually inspire my boys.  I liked what the author had to say about this.  She writes, "Living the Christian life and influencing others for Christ is really as simple as studying the Word for yourself and then telling others what you've learned." Lead by example.  At times I don't feel like anything sinks in, but I trust that one day I'll see the fruits of my efforts.

A feature that I really appreciated in this book are the re-caps.  At the end of each chapter appear 2 summary statements called a Hard Truth and a Beautiful Truth which reinforce the theme of the chapter.  There is also a conclusion section at the end of the book which summarizes the main points of each of the 10 chapters.  If you are reading this as a group, discussion questions are provided as well.

Overall, I found this book to be easy to read, honest, and thought provoking.  I recommend it to Christian mothers who desire to raise godly children without being burdened by unnecessary guilt! 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.