Living a Guilt-Free Blessed Life

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Dear Reader,

Stop what you are doing.

Step back for a minute and mull over this question because it’s too important to pass by.

What prevents you from asking God for MORE?

I had a writing friend ask a similar question this past week, except in his situation he was addressing the worth of one’s work. But it got me thinking… I have no problem asking God for help. I’ve got Him on my heavenly speed dial. 😉 But when I want to ask God for blessings, I have a harder time. I begin to believe I’m selfish. I start to step back. It becomes a real battle, and I’ve come to realize my hesitation isn’t built on logic. It’s built on guilt.

I feel bad asking for more when I’ve already been blessed so much. I imagine God shaking His holy head in disappointment, wondering why I would pray for bountiful harvests when others’ fields are worn thin. I feel greedy. I begin to think it’s wrong. How can I ask for more when there are so many who have less?

But this train of thinking can be dangerous to the Kingdom… If we believe we are in charge of deciding whose needs or longings deserve more attention, we border on playing God. Instead of asking what He can do, we inadvertently put Him in a tiny box. It’s not our job to be God. We are called to imitate Him and live our lives like our Savior. But it’s not our job to decide who deserves His provision and favor. Sometimes we forget that God cannot be contained. He has never operated within limits because He is beyond them. Our generous Father doesn’t have a quota of resources that will run dry and leave others lacking. His blessings and grace are sufficient to cover all people at all times. And He is really good at doing His job.

To top this off, even though we are trying to show compassion by not asking for more, we can actually trivialize our own trials. When we buy into the lie that our needs are not as important as others, we devalue worth. We minimize our requests. And while God wants us to provide for those who are struggling and stand with those who are hurting, He doesn’t want us negate our own hearts in the process. He doesn’t want us to bury our God-given desires for the sake of manmade guilt. Our walks with Jesus do not involve human tradeoffs, with one need superseding the other. God has already made a sacred exchange through His Son, which means our salvation, as well as our favor, are based solely on Him. In His eyes we all stand at the same level. We are all loved. We are all forgiven. We are all saints. We can’t EARN more of God’s grace, but we can approach our Maker and ask for more of Him. We shouldn’t feel bad for bringing our desires to Jesus. We shouldn’t weigh ourselves down with guilt when He has already made a way to provide for every single person’s need. It’s been freely given. It’s up to us to freely receive.

I, like every other human on this planet, recognize that our world that is not yet Paradise. Because of this fact, our reality is two-fold. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven. But we also live in a fallen place where suffering and beauty coexist. On the same day I celebrated my brother’s wedding I found out a friend passed away. On the same day my husband received a work bonus another’s husband was laid off. When I was running in perfect fall weather, a hurricane was crashing into small islands. This ground we walk on is made up of BOTH life and death, blessing and brokenness, praise and pain. On our journey into eternity we become wounded worshipers – people who raise their hands in the storm, knowing their God has promised a rainbow at the end. He is faithful. He will give us a new song to sing.

Psalm 67:5-7 says, “May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Then the earth will yield its harvests, and God, our God, will richly bless us. Yes, God will bless us, and people all over the world will fear Him.” In a fascinating twist of events, our wounded praises actually help usher in the blessings of God. We aren’t praising to receive more favor. On the contrary, when we praise our King, He opens up our hearts and shows us the blessings that have always been ours. Thanking God helps us see life through the lens of God, and it makes us want more of Him.

Sweet friend, don’t worry about asking too much from your Father. Don’t let guilt rob you of the opportunity to see God come through. Praise Him. Ask. And then receive. He really does have the whole world in His hands. Let’s show the them how good our God truly is.


I’d love to connect with you more over at www.beckyberesford.com where you can receive my FREE GIFT – the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE for your copy. So glad you are here!

 

Dear Fellow Mom, I Need Your Friendship As I Parent a Child with a Disability

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When I became a mom, my life changed in expected and unexpected ways. I never imagined having all boys, coming from a female-heavy family. And I certainly never imagined having a sweet boy with autism.  His extraordinary life has helped transform me in ways I never knew possible. But this journey has also opened floodgates of challenges, leaving me with a new definition of the word overwhelmed.

Here’s the thing, I never thought having a son with a disability would affect my ability to make friends, but these past years have been a struggle. Even though I’ve been pretty good at making friends in the past, developing authentic relationships with moms right now, in this stage of life, has been an uphill battle.

And irony of all ironies: this is the most crucial time for a “village.”

This is the time when I crave sisterhood and support like never before. Contrary to our culture’s opinion, parenting should never be done alone. And even though it happens all the time, it doesn’t mean it is the right way. We should be doing this hand-in-hand and heart-to-heart. I know making momma friends is hard for everyone, but when you have a child with a disability, the desire for a caring community becomes more than a desire — it becomes a need.

I realize there are many good people out there, people who smile and ask “how are you?” And while that is nice, what my heart really needs is someone who will pursue me (and my kids) past the surface level. I can honestly count on my fingers the number of moms who have initiated spending time with me and my kids… besides large birthday bashes or parties. I have tried to make playdates happen and have continually put myself out there, hoping that for once, we would be asked over to their house for a cup a coffee and some life talk. Because it’s been few and far between.

I could sit here and try to guess why. Why do I see other moms hanging out around me without extending an invitation to join them? Our family is a little more intense and unpredictable, and it comes with the territory when one of your babies has autism. I get that we are not the safest bunch, and that can be scary for other families, but it is also scary for me to invite myself into their world. Meltdowns happen, we are loud, and we are disaster-zone level messy. Still, I promise you this: my boys all remember those who have opened their homes and lives to us.

And so do I.

To those beautiful ones who have loved my boys without hesitation and shown them grace upon grace, I want to thank you! They remember you and your children and ask about you often. And I remember how you cared about my sanity that day I was crying outside, and you dropped off my favorite Starbucks latte because I was losing it. You cared about what I was going through, and you sat long enough to hear my heart. You are not just friends, you are family. And the impact you’ve had on our lives goes far beyond what you could imagine. It is precious to us.

I know nobody is perfect, and I put myself at the top of that list. I never want to judge another based on their actions, but it’s really true that our choices matter. We have the ability to choose to engage in the lives of others, especially if their situation is unlike our own. And if anything, it will require us to be courageous. It isn’t easy to be the people-pursuers; to be the ones who walk towards the unknown, pushing past fears for the sake of understanding. But it is worth it.

I’m speaking to myself as I write these words, but I pray they point us all towards love and compassion, even when it’s easier to stay in the safety of similarity. Because our differences make us unique, and the diversity of our stories can help us learn and grow. I think we can all agree, this world doesn’t need more division and separation. It needs connection and people who are bravely willing to close the gap.

And trust me, my friend… kindness will always be the bridge.

(This post was originally featured in The Mighty on March 11, 2018)


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There’s No Hurry in Heaven

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As I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed I see all these lovely women I admire packing up there bags and heading to one of the best writing conferences in the nation. SHE SPEAKS. Just a year ago I was there, nervous and practically peeing my pants in excitement. I had two meetings scheduled with acquisitions editors from different publishing houses, and I was ready to present my book idea. I felt pretty prepared.

They opened the first session with a stunning worship song, What a Beautiful Name It Is. I don’t know if I have ever felt the Holy Spirit’s presence like I did among that group of women. It was beyond powerful. The rest of the conference and all of the teachings did not disappoint. So much so, I wish I could go again this year and EVERY year. As I watch my friends heading out, my heart is happy for them, but it’s also sad. I feel like I’ve missed the cut. I feel like I’m missing my chance.

A few months back I set a goal to try and re-tweak my proposal and then send it out to various literary agents. I picked a deadline. July 12th. My birthday. I told myself that THIS was when everything had to be done. It was a few weeks before She Speaks would begin and I knew agents would be receiving tons of proposals from other women. I thought if I got ahead of the rush, I wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. Sounded like a pretty idea… But life had other plans.

Writing in the summer, with littles running around, is never an easy task. So there was that reality. But then our family got sick, starting with my husband. I was taking care of everything in the home solo for the first few days, and then I felt feverish. I tried to force myself health (AKA: denial), but that just landed me in bed. A small virus my body could usually kick to the curb ended up turning into pneumonia. For two weeks I fought this sucker off, and it left me utterly exhausted. Sure I was drained, but I was more so MAD! Who gets pneumonia in the summer?! Why did it have to happen now?  The fight with this infection lasted right past my birthday. Right past my self-assigned deadline. I felt defeated. I felt like life (and maybe the enemy) had won. It was settled. I would never get my proposal out.

Yes, Dear Reader. I was being dramatic. I tend to do so on occasion. But for some reason my heart had felt this huge sense of hurry. I thought THIS was my time – this was when I was supposed to do the hard work and send my words out into the publishing world. And since She Speaks is officially here, all my insecurities and fears are emerging from their hiding place.

Am I missing my opportunity?

Will someone else write my book?

What if all the agents are taken?

Have I missed my chance?

God does this thing with me. He cuts through the noise circling around in my head and answers my questions with a few tender words.

There’s no pressure in my Kingdom. 

To rephrase it… there’s no hurry in heaven. No need to perform. No rush towards achievement or manmade goals. The only sense of urgency I have seen in God’s Word deals with reconciling people to God and then reconciling to each other. There’s a relational urgency because God wants what is best for us, but otherwise He tells us not to hurry. Could you imagine how this type of living would change things? How it would change us?

I would say the opposite of pressure is peace. And Jesus is our ultimate peace-bringer. He makes our burdens easy and our souls light. He is also the life-giver. He wants us to experience His goodness based on the faithfulness of His character, not our circumstances. He wants us to know Him more abundantly. He wants freedom. Being weighed down by the pressures of this world (or from ourselves) can feel a whole lot like chains. But trusting in His love is always the key. For me, God’s provision may not look like immediate healing from illness, but He does promise to heal my heart. He will hold my disappointments and alleviate my fears. He will transform my mind and help me be still. He will remind me of what He’s done and who He really is.

Because this is what I know… God finishes what He starts. He brings dreams into fruition and orchestrates His purpose. He promises to go forth and then makes a way. He parts seas, levels mountains and brings down holy fire. Nothing is impossible with Him. Nothing can stop His movement. Whether it’s sickness or finances or other hardships, God is going to get His way. He is going to come through for us. He is going to prove Himself true.

We can’t run out of chances with God. No situation is above His redemption. If things didn’t work out, it’s because He has something bigger. It’s already lined up. He’s orchestrating it now. And even though we can’t see it, we can rest assured it will happen exactly when it should. If God is in it, nothing can stand against it.

Isaiah 26:12 puts it perfectly…

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” 

Friends, He’s the accomplishing One. Let’s trade the heavy pressure for His well established peace.

 


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Living With Holy Grit

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It’s finally summer here in the Midwest, and all God’s people said AMEN.

I welcome the warmth and the sunshine and the wildflowers by the side of the road. But one thing makes me wish it was still cooler…  I came home the other week after shopping for my husband’s Father’s Day gift. One of my littles was refusing to come inside the house, so I scooped him up (*tantrum and all*) and stepped inside, dropping my diaper bag right on the foyer floor. I glanced down to make sure I didn’t smash anything when I saw THEM.

Ants. Swarming. Scurrying. Roaming around my home like it was their own.

It was an invasion, but this girl wasn’t having it. They had made their way into my babies’ playroom, crawling on their toys, devouring leftover goldfish crackers. A few minutes later one of them bit my youngest son’s foot and that settled it. IT WAS WAR.

If I’ve written about my annual ant massacre before, I apologize. It’s a condition, and I know I’m probably a little more crazy about these stinkers than the rest of humanity. But that afternoon I spent TWO HOURS killing as many ants as I could. I moved the boys’ toys around, found their secret hiding spots and used my stellar detective skills to stalk them back to their places of entry. I used disinfectant, essential oils, ant traps and 6,000 rolls of toilet paper. I was determined to get rid of them and flush as many invaders down the toilet as I could. Meanwhile, my children stared, wondering what was wrong with their mother.

But in the midst of my madness, I realized something about ants. Are they annoying? Heck yes. Do they gross me out? For sure. Are they resilient? Without a doubt. They kept moving forward towards their goal, collecting as much food as they could, even when they saw other friends disappearing to the left and right. They didn’t care. They kept pushing on. They kept going.

These little buggers were the essence of resolve. So much so, I actually found myself wishing my grit was as strong as theirs… especially in the face of danger. You heard that right. I wished I was more like an ant. Like the ones I was trying to snuff out. The ones whose stubbornness made my job a lot more difficult. I was frustrated, but I was also impressed.

And while I am semi-embarrassed to claim ants as my teachers, God does say He uses ALL things to for the good of those who love Him and that includes my insect wars. My mind began to remember all the stories in the Bible where people were given the power to stay the course and trust God for His good promises. And then I began to think of my family and friends, how they have endured so much pain and hardships, and yet, they keep walking forward in faith. Maybe God made me the same way. Maybe He made us all with His holy grit.

God’s kids have always been persevering people.

Time and time again, we overcome obstacles and jump through rings of fire. We don’t give up without a fight and with God we never give up. When Satan throws attacks our way, we push past his aggravating antics and point him back towards the Cross. We make him remember the place of his well-deserved fall and public defeat. Jesus died to reconcile God’s children to Himself, but He also died in order to make something very clear to His enemies. He wanted to show them that nothing, not even a tombstone covering a manmade grave, could keep the Kingdom of God from prevailing. He died to show them His resurrection power and highlight all the glory that would be given to the King. He died for us, but He also died for them. He died to show them WE WIN.

In the face of fear… we win.

In the middle of chaos… we win.

In the darkness and storm… we win.

In every situation and trial, no matter how our current circumstances appear, WE WILL ALWAYS WIN. This gives us the ability to put one foot in front of the other. This gives us the opportunity to turn to God when we feel downcast or weary or scared and say, “I may not see it right now, but I know WE WIN.” His promise helps us persevere and His Spirit sustains our hearts, but His love has already made a way. Our path may not be easy, but the road is paved in sacred stone. We are walking out our victory, my friends. We are God’s triumphant… reigning… completely persevering people.

May every creature, both big and small, know who we are. May the forces of hell see what happens when the Sons and Daughters of God set their sights on heaven and claim what is rightfully ours. May our determination make the enemy’s job difficult and our resilience change the world. May we do life with purpose. May we live with holy grit.

And all God’s people said AMEN.


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When Prayer is All You Have Left

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Today’s post was originally featured at the Print Collective @printcollective.org.  Enjoy, friends!


To say the first few months of this year have been ‘hard’, would be an incredible understatement.

I can’t remember if I’ve been in a more challenging place… a place filled with heartache and hardships I never asked for.
Relationship problems. Health issues. Financial debt. Parenting struggles… just to name a few.
I know life isn’t perfect, but all of these incidents have me so confused. Why now? Why us? Why are these things happening, especially after the word God had given me for the year?

Word for the year

I’m not sure if you are obsessed with the ‘word-for-a-year’ thing like I am, but every January 1st I ask Jesus for a theme He would like me to pursue for the next 365 days. It gives me vision and motivation to move forward into the future.
And so, when God laid the word “miracle” on my heart, I immediately got excited.
And then I wanted to hide…

You see, people remember the miracles.

They love retelling the stories of God’s faithfulness and goodness.
But, here’s a catch: miracles aren’t needed unless there is a reason. And what would be my reason?
Was this year going to be full of problems and that was why God gave me this word?

Our Creator’s Kindness

I could feel my chest begin to pound. Panic was rearing its ugly head.
Because, if my family’s pain was the predecessor to God’s power, then all I had to say was HARD PASS.
I’d rather strive my way into solutions and still have control over my situation.
The unknown was too scary. Uncertainty too fierce.
I didn’t want to need God’s miracles. I didn’t want to walk through the fire.

But, God saw me.
He knew my fears and held me close in His arms.
He steadied my beating heart and asked me to trust in His love.
Because yes, the need precedes the miracle, but a gift is also entwined within.

In our Creator’s kindness, He made life so that it would be out of our control. Circumstances arise that make it impossible for us to fix, alone.
We may look around and gather all of our strength in hopes of making things right.
But, God wants more for us.
He doesn’t want us to be faced with that much pressure.
Instead, He wants us to loosen our white-knuckled grips and hand our cares over to Him.

Ill Health

A few weeks ago, my husband was having difficulty walking.
It’s been getting worse throughout the years, even though we’ve visited a plethora of doctors. Still no answers.
No one has been able to tell us why his mobility and muscles are failing… why he has to be careful while wrestling with his boys or walking up the stairs.
It’s so hard to watch, as his wife. He’s in his 30’s. This is supposed to be his prime, and yet, he needs me to take out the trash and carry the laundry to our room.
As I’ve taken on the extra loads, the weight of what I’m carrying almost keeps me down. I’m exhausted. The physical wear is catching up with my body.
This isn’t what we asked for. This isn’t the miracle we were hoping for.

Everything is out of my control because, no matter what I do, I can’t make my husband’s body mend.
I can’t strive my way towards his healing. And so, I do the only thing I have left.
I pray.

Pray first, not last

Sweet Reader, I want to tell you something important. Something we shouldn’t easily forget, especially when times get tough.
Prayer was never meant to be ‘last’. God has always wanted it to come first.

When we feel helpless, we first need to seek our Helper.
When we need provision, we first need to ask our Provider.
When our strength is disappearing, we need our true Sustainer.
And when we require more holy manna, we need our Miracle Maker.

Prayer in the bible

As I’ve read through the Bible recently, I’m amazed at the number of times prayer is used by the apostles.
Paul and Peter were constantly talking about prayer, even asking for prayer themselves. It was never secondary. It was always primary.
And that is because they saw it modelled.
The disciples personally witnessed Jesus talking with His Father, the Word reciting the Word back towards heaven.
We are told as God’s children to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonian 5:17) and I believe God says this in order to bless us throughout our lives, but particularly during the moments we need Him most.

Dear friend, prayer is not mediocre.

When we open our hearts and minds to God, we experience a sacred connection directly to His throne.
We come boldly into His presence, just as we are.
Free from shame. Free from fear. Free from guilt.
He waits for us eagerly, ready to hear the longings of our souls.
This is something He desires. This is something He chooses.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (NLT)
Confession is meaningful. Prayer is potent.
And, even more than this, prayer works wonders!

Because we are crowned in the righteousness of Christ, we all have the ability to shake things up in the heavenly realm.

Prayer: A gift from God

As God’s beloved Sons or Daughters, we can come to our Father and ask Him to move mountains on behalf of our ourselves, our loved ones, our community and our world.
Prayer changes everything.
Prayer brings God’s Kingdom, down.

Brothers and Sisters, we have been invited into God’s glory-making business. It’s a treasure. A precious gift.
And when we come before our King, He gives us even more.
He gives us His peace.
He gives us His power.
He gives us His promises.
As we pray, He gives us more of Him.

Maybe the biggest miracle isn’t the one we seek in front of us.
Maybe it’s the prayer-filled transformation of our surrendered hearts.
Maybe the miracle is us.
Maybe the miracle is you.

 

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When God Opens the Floodgates

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Our basement flooded last week, which was both surprising and confusing. It really shouldn’t have happened. Our home is in its preschool stage, coming in at less than 5 years old. We thought important things like sump pumps were supposed to last longer. It’s even hidden in the dark corner of our basement, far away from the little hands that have put holes in my walls and ripped apart my nice window blinds. #boymomlife

But alas, while we were gone on vacation it apparently rained 5 million inches. Our plumber laughed when we told him where we lived and informed us that the company who built our home with “integrity” and “efficiency” was also crazy cheap. So, there’s that.

For three hours my husband and I took turns sweeping water into the emergency drain on our basement floor. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a seemingly pointless job looks like, I’d suggest grabbing a broom and going at it. More and more water kept pouring in, and there was no sign of it stopping. We continued to redirect it towards a small hole in the ground instead of the (now smaller) remnant of our undamaged baby gear. The flood was definitely winning. As I stood there counting our losses, my writer brain started turning… Water is powerful thing.

Storms. Tidal waves. Hurricanes. The way of the ocean and rivers. So much capacity to wreck and weaken. God Himself hit the restart button on earth with fierce rain and surging seas. (Side note: I NEED to write a post on what I’m learning about the great flood because it’s mind blowing. But we’ll save that for another day.)

The thing is, besides praying to our Creator, nature is out of our control. We can’t physically stop it from raining. We can’t redirect the weather. We can predict and prepare and possibly prevent. But even then, sump pumps fail. Basements are filled. Possessions get ruined. 

But you know what… Our God isn’t afraid of life’s floods. 

He doesn’t shy away from the storm or avoid the sudden surge. When Jesus walked on earth He also walked on water. He calmed the raging waves and stilled the mighty winds. Instead of fearing the downpour, He decided to pour out more of Him. Jesus promised an abundance of LIVING WATER for all of God’s children… Water that would revive and empower and, ironically, set their souls on fire. In a glorious turn of events, God chose to unlock Hisfloodgates and let heaven’s riches shower upon His kids. They wouldn’t understand just yet, but soon the power of the resurrection would reside in their own hearts. Soon they would experience “immeasurably more than all they could ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within them.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) And this same truth extends to us today.

Dear friends, when God opens His floodgates, nothing is held back. He opens His arms and welcomes us in. He puts His full character on public display. Nothing can redirect His mission and nothing can stop His passion. He shows us more grace than we deserve, more peace than we can hold and more love than we can comprehend. This is the power of the gospel. This is the beauty of the BEST news that’s ever been. It washes away our stains and removes our deepest sins. There is nothing God’s kindness cannot touch. There is nothing God’s forgiveness cannot make pure. And we get to be the recipients! We receive the glory of heaven when we open our hearts to Him.

That wet afternoon God shifted my eyes from our basement floor towards heaven’s throne so I could truly see Him. As I stood watching the water press in, all I saw was grace. We were back from vacation and not out of town. We caught the flooding before everything was lost. My husband heard the words ‘sump pump’ while praying the night before. I had moved a good chunk of boxes from the flooded corner two months prior. My husband’s work gave out a bonus that covered the cost of our new sump pump. A sweet neighbor let us borrow their dehumidifier and blessed us with pizza for dinner as well.

Our God was there. He showed up in the storm and was pouring out His love. And it was all grace.

Grace like rain.


Thank you for reading! I would LOVE to connect more and be email friends! Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter with recent blog posts, updated resources and a few extra doses of encouragement. As a special thank you, you’ll receive the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things You Need to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard for FREE! Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the BRAVE WOMEN BIBLE STUDY coming out later this year.  *insert happy dance here*  Sign up for more info and availability.  🙂

 

Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters (Review)

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Growing up, I knew I had a good mom. We talked and bonded and shared our lives together. But it wasn’t until years later, when I became a parent, that I realized I had a GREAT one. All the sacrifices and hard work she invested now became my own, and suddenly I couldn’t stop wondering how she did it. I have three young children, but she had (and still has) five. So many needs. So many hearts to nurture and help grow. And yet, somehow throughout our lives, she has managed to pour her love into each of us kids in immense ways. I know I could never thank her enough, but I still want to try. This was one of the reasons I wanted to read Mended by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh. Written as a mother-daughter team, this seemed like an intentional way for me to take care of my relationship with my mom because connected and healed hearts are worth it.

But I have to be honest…

When I started reading the first chapter I thought, “Hey, we’ve got this. My mom is one of my best friends, so I’ll read this book mainly as a reference for others. I’m sure I can pass a lot on to them.” And I was right. But also wrong. This book is full of wisdom that needs to be shared. But it also needed to be share with me. God purposefully placed a book focused on restoration in my life right when I needed it most. Right when I was about to go through the relational ‘ring of fire.’ Because for me, Mended hasn’t just been about my relationship with mom. It’s been about ALL my people. Every relationship, every person, every heart. And let me tell you why.

First off, this book contains copious amounts Biblical advice, prayers and practical applications for how to repair and restore the mother-daughter relationship. I loved the scripts/ literal wording Daniel and McIntosh provided in order to help the reader verbally process and communicate constructively. I found myself highlighting like a mad woman in order to keep these scripts easily accessible for future conversations with others. The authors also ended each chapter with a challenge/ activity to complete that encouraged the reader to live out the truths she just encountered within the text. So very good!

Every chapter had a different theme including: taking responsibility, putting your relationship first, finding common ground, asking permission to share, changing/ controlling the other, breaking generational strongholds (you NEED to check out the “Drawing Your Family Line and Erasing Lies” application!) and so much more. My favorite chapter (Aka: the pages with the most markings… ) was the one on forgiveness. God has been speaking to me lately regarding this subject matter because I am in the thick of it. When I read this chapter, I knew He had some things He wanted to show me. It wasn’t an easy section to read. In fact, it was probably the hardest. And it wasn’t because I had to forgive my mom. There have been other relationships recently that have caused me deep pain – accusations and actions that have tempted me to close the door, bolt the locks and throw away the key. But Daniel and McIntosh’s words on the importance of forgiveness really hit home. For example:

“You don’t have to receive the words “Will you forgive me?” in order to issue them yourself…” (p. 95)

“In the end, it isn’t about who did what, but how you reconcile.” (p. 97)

“…know that when you take this step to free yourself of someone in your family – mother or daughter or others – you will be setting up freedom for those in the next generation.” (p. 99)

“The magnitude determines the extent of damage. And, in a similar fashion, the magnitude that you forgive others determines the degree of healing that occurs.” (p. 102)

“Forgiveness isn’t just an act we walk through; it’s a way of life we choose.” (p. 102)

I just stared at these pages, pondering the extravagance of grace and love my Savior bestows upon me. If He loves me to the depths… if He died on a tree in order to bring me closer to Him… maybe I could do the same. Maybe I could continually choose to live a life of forgiveness, which, in turn, would be a life of freedom. And maybe if I extended my hand towards them, regardless of whether they would accept it, I would see the love-scarred palms of Jesus reaching back towards me.

This book was a precious Godsend. And I pray, Dear Reader, you will feel the same way. No matter the size of the relational rift, whether it’s a small tear or a gaping hole, God promises to restore. And He will.

One mended heart at a time.

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Mended is available where all books are sold, but I’ll give you a link HERE so you can order your copy today! You’ll be so glad you did. Also, follow me on Facebook and Instagram to enter a GIVEAWAY for a FREE copy of Mended. You’ll get instructions to enter the giveaway there. Thanks, all!

Naps Can Be Holy Too

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Hi guys.

I know I’ve been MIA here, but let me reassure you I’m alive and mostly well.

It’s been one heck of a week with my husband gone in Florida and me solo-parenting. *mad props to all the single parents out there by the way* All three boys were sweet and my home is still standing, so that’s a mom win! But my body is flat-out trashed. Sleep, you say? What is sleep? They tell me one day I will remember, but I’m not holding my breath.  😉

Unfortunately, this week has been more than physically draining. My heart has been through literal hell and back, and I’m still trying to recover. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced a relational heartache so intense that your body shakes and the tears just don’t stop flowing and there’s nothing you can do about it. I hope you have no idea what I’m talking about because it’s truly something fierce. I’ve wanted to defend myself and clarify an already messy situation, but God has continually asked me to hold my tongue. Words are my thing, and when I’m angry and hurt, I can wield them into some pretty lethal weapons. So, remaining silent for now is probably the wisest thing I can do, but it’s still hard and energy-draining. Once I let things settle down, I promise I will talk a little more about what God is teaching me through this trial, but right now all I want to do is eat chocolate and watch mindless romantic comedies on Netflix. And honestly, I think that’s okay.

I remember when I was a graduate student in seminary one of my professors, Dr. Thrasher, said something to our class that I will never forget. In the midst of our crazed exam prep and paper writing, he looked out into a sea of overwhelmed faces and gave us permission. “You know, sometimes one of the most holy things you can do is take a nap.”

We all laughed, but he repeated himself and made sure we understood he was serious. In that small boxed-in classroom, I remember feeling so free. All the striving to be my best, tackling project upon project, left me in this constant state of pursuit. Always going. Always moving. Always trying. But in those precious moments we all took a collective sigh of relief and recognized that as God’s ministers, we needed to let go and let the Savior of the world minister to us instead.

My professor went on to talk about Jesus and His divine need for rest and refreshment. Can you imagine? The Son of God who was able to do all things, including healing the sick and casting out demons and walking on water… this same man, the physical embodiment of God, actually took the time step away and nap. He paused to let His Father pour into His body and soul because He knew it was not only needed, it was GOOD. If we think we are too busy to stop busting through our calendars, we’ve unintentionally shifted our focus from the peace of the eternal.  We’re more interested in the hustle rather than the holy. It’s so easy to do, and I am preaching to myself here, but I really think God’s children need the blessed permission to PAUSE. REST. REFILL.

If Jesus needed time with His Dad in order to function, why would we not welcome the break as well? If Jesus chose to sleep during storms and pray in the midst of persecution, why would we not accept the same invitation to imitate Him? Jesus didn’t fix His eyes on anything besides the Father and His will, and it is definitely His will that we rest… especially when we feel depleted. Jesus was sure of His relationship with the Father. He knew He was loved and accepted and that nothing He could do would ever change the Father’s opinion of Him. That same assurance has been extended to us, His Sons and Daughters.

We are in Christ, my friends. That means we get to experience the realities of Jesus in our own life. We get to rest in His grace and faithfulness. We get to refresh our spirits with the truths of heaven. We get to embrace our worth as the Father embraces all of us. I don’t remember where I heard this, but we are human beings not human doings.

So, let’s be with our Comforter. Let’s calm our hearts and take a divine step back. It’s more than okay to let Him revive our spirits and bodies in whatever way He deems best. We need Him. We need to soak up His kindness and feel the freedom to relax.

Here’s your permission slip, child of God.  Go on and take that holy nap.

For The Days You Feel Left Behind…

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Yesterday I was doing puzzles with my youngest two boys. As in true toddler fashion, we got to the very end and realized one puzzle piece was missing. Emotions started to rise, cries started emerge and then there were tears. I tried to console my littlest as I grazed about the table. I was completely confused.

If we were doing an old, worn-down puzzle, I would have left it at that. But we weren’t. This was a brand, spanking new one, never out of the box. The kids hadn’t gotten their mess-making hands on it yet, so logically this was going to be the one puzzle in our house that could have a satisfying resolution. But here we were again. Staring at another unfinished task. Focusing on the hole. Wishing Chase’s face would magically appear in its Paw Patrol place.

It felt a whole lot like my life. Like all of the pieces were floating around me, never able to find their final landing spot. Everything I’d been trying to do lately was adding up to incomplete. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many cups of coffee I drank, I could never keep up. Not with the house. Not with my writing. Not with my relationships and work. I felt like I was missing it. Missing the mark. Missing the opportunities. Missing the people. And I found myself wanting to sit on the floor and cry with my toddler.

There’s really so much going on in our culture. At least, that’s what they try to make us believe. There’s always something more we can do. There’s always something else to pursue. Things rarely feel truly complete. Most days I feel desperately behind, like I’m stumbling forward trying to find the right path to take. Trying to find the best next step. And sometimes when I finally decide, it seems like it’s too little too late. Instead of experiencing new ventures or finalizing plans, I’m met with closed doors and ‘try agains.’

And I’m starting to feel exhausted.

Because who has time to keep up with all the things? Who has time to do everything wonderfully well and find all the missing puzzle pieces? I don’t. They don’t. And if we are honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure all of us feel like we are behind in some areas that require serious crushing. Slay all day, right?

But what it we are looking at the puzzle wrong? What if the pieces aren’t together for a purpose? What if the process is more important than the product. I’m not sure when I started believing incomplete projects meant I was incomplete too, but I did. I’ve assigned my own worth according to how much I can get done, how much I can please people, how much I can do for my family and even God. And it’s incredibly inaccurate.

My Creator knows me. He sees my days and understands my struggles. He doesn’t want me to feel like I have to prove myself to Him or anyone else just because I check off a box on a checklist. Sure, it feels fantastic to finish things and finish them well, but it becomes dangerous when we start to define ourselves by our successes instead of our Savior. We are worthy of His lavish love regardless of our performance. We remain His precious children even when we feel like failures. We are held together even when we feel like we are falling apart.

And maybe… just maybe, our good God sees our lack as an opportunity to fill us with more of Him. Maybe our missteps make room for Him to step in. Maybe when we feel left behind or the unfinished pile looms overhead, that’s when we can turn to Him and ask Him what He sees. Because His wisdom knows no end, and His judgment is true. If He allows for things to be imperfect, it’s because He understands the beauty of redemption. He understands how growth can lead to greater gain, more than instant gratification could ever generate. He wants to give us His best. And He knows exactly how He is going to get us there.

So, next time we see life’s holes, let’s choose to walk in the footprints of our gracious God. We aren’t behind, lovely friends. As long as we are standing with our Jesus, we will always be right where we need to be.

When New Years Freaks You Out…

 

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It’s here. The time of well-intentioned resolutions and goals.

It’s the season of change and pursuing dreams.

And while I’m all for living with purpose and determination, this time of the year also stresses me the heck out!  Should we make lists and step boldly forward? Totally. Should we dream big and hope for abundant futures? For sure. But things start to get murky when we look around, get freaked out and proceed to haul loads we were never meant to carry. Let me explain.

I was on Instagram on January 1st, and I was stalking hard. I fixed my sight on my Instafriends, and I was amazed at their gumption. Their goals were dead set, with clear direction and drive. Meanwhile, I stared at my computer screen and could barely muster up enough energy to make breakfast (aka: pouring cereal in a bowl). I immediately started to heap on the guilt, so I made a brilliant decision. I was going to copy their lists.

So, let’s see: I’ll add 20 min of Bible reading each morning with a dash of Weight Watchers and then some 30 minute daily exercises because why not. And while I’m at, let’s throw writing goals and speaking engagements and building an author platform into the mix. Wait. I forgot about purging my home and reorganizing all of my dreaded ‘dear-God-don’t-open-that-door’ closets! Oh, what about the kids and husband? I forgot to put them at the top of the list… well right under God because He comes first… wait, hold on… I totally spaced on my friends! I need to invest in these sweet relationships more too. That will be my third priority, I mean fourth… Agh! I don’t remember the order. Did I get enough sleep? Shoot. I need more sleep. Add it to the list.

After almost inducing a panic attack, I made another decision. A better one. I decided to ask God what He thought. What did He think of all these resolutions and resolved minds? Was He the author behind these grandiose lists and longings? He answered me with a single sentence. “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” (Romans 12:6 NLT). As I read these words, I felt my spirit sigh with relief. Different gifts for different people. Unique callings for certain things. All done with one purpose: to do it lovingly well. How kind of our King? How thoughtful of Him, to let us know He does not expect us to do it all. We don’t have to imitate one another’s aspirations. In fact, it has never been His plan to do so.

Our Creator is generous in His giving. He created the universe in all its spectacular glory, while forming His Daughters and Sons with distinct and directed precision. He placed talents and desires in our hearts that are meant to showcase His love, and no two hearts are the same. Our lives reflect His beauty in varying ways, which means our goals are going to look different as well. Really now. We can stop trying to copy and paste. Instead, how about we focus on following His lead and listening for His Voice whenever we encounter life’s opportunities and questions.

What does He wants for our days? What greatness does He have in store when we allow Him to be our guide? Because He’s got this. He has the giftings covered.

In His grace, all of our precious callings have been combined and connected in order to compliment one another… not stir up comparison.

Together, as the Body of Christ, we can show the world the diverse aspects of God’s character. And when we hone in on what He has called us to do, we can do it abundantly well.

So, this year I’m choosing the better way. I’m choosing to listen instead of list. I’m choosing to ask my Father what is needed, and let go of all the extra expectations I am tempted to lug along. He wants us to set our eyes on His good leading. He wants us to experience His gracious best.

May we feel lighter, Dear Reader.

May we fill our lives with Him.