book recommendations, When "Everything" Goes Wrong, I Choose Joy in the One True God

When “Everything” is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God

When “Everything” is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God

Then you will find your joy in the LORD…

Isaiah 58:14a

Just a side note, this post became a bit longer than intended, and may end up becoming a series of posts in the future.

When Joy Is Hard to Find

2019 has been an intense year. There has been joy, but there has been a lot of “hard” too.

Though, if I’m honest my family has been in a rough season since 2017 when my husband left Active Duty. It appears we’re not quite ready to reap the harvest yet.

If this past weekend is any indicator, we’ve got quite a bit more sowing left in this season.

To those who know us personally, it isn’t a surprise to know we’ve been struggling. The move from Active Duty to civilian life has not been an easy experience. There have been more bumps in the road than either my husband or I ever expected.

Life without the security of the Marine Corps is a constant act of faith.

Never have we been what you would call financially “well-off”, but we’ve always been able to provide for ourselves and our children without too much struggle.

Until we no longer could.

Becoming Humble

When we moved from Washington State to Virginia, we left nearly everyone we knew.

My children left their friends and Sunday school teachers they loved. I left my sister, my cousin, and my childhood best friend.

We also drove away broke, because of a paperwork error that took months to straighten out before the Marine Corps would release my husband’s final paycheck.

Driving across the country nearly penniless, heading to a state where we still hadn’t found a place to live, could have been terrifying.

Instead, there was joy.

Okay, there was some fear too, but whenever the fear would claw at me I’d remember that everything comes from God. That He would provide in His way and His time.

So, I gladly accepted the joy He provided.

I shared adventures with my favorite people as we explored amazing sites, both created by God and made by man; the joy of giggles and drinking too much caffeine; staying in questionable hotels that would be safer if they were condemned; and cramming three kids, a cat, a dog, and two adults as well as everything we thought we might need, into a minivan.

With excitement like that, who had time for fear?

Joy in God is Accepting Help

After arriving in Virginia things became more complicated.

We needed to find a place to call home.

What should have taken only a couple of days turned into a two-month ordeal.

During this time, God once again provided for us, by opening the hearts and home of our dear friends.

Looking back, I believe God led us to explore Classical Conversations in Washington simply so we could connect with Rachal and her family, because once she moved to Virginia He led us away from CC and in another direction with our homeschool.

When Rachal and her husband offered us a place to stay while we looked for a house, neither our family or theirs expected it would be more than a weekend affair. So when place after place fell through and we were led to purchase a home instead of renting, my heart was filled with such gratitude and love when they welcomed us with open arms.

Let’s just say, there are times I think they deserved a medal (and possibly a parade) for that alone.

Having never needed to rely on others, accepting that my husband and I couldn’t do this on our own was difficult.

Especially since he was in a completely different state going through federal training.

Joy in God Comes When He Provides Family

When "Everything" is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com

Rachal and I weren’t close when we lived in Washington. We were friendly, and she was always willing to swing by and get my kids when I was dealing with rough moments during the pregnancy with my youngest daughter; we just didn’t spend time together outside of CC or our small-group Bible study.

God Knew What We Needed

Suddenly my kids and I were part of her family. We did pretty much everything together for those two months. My eldest daughter celebrated her 10th birthday sitting at their dining room table. She finally had older brothers, and she was thrilled to be there with them.

When I discovered I was pregnant with my youngest, Rachal and her husband were the first to know. In fact, they knew before I did, since they were convinced I was pregnant before I ever considered it. Later she was there holding my hand during the early morning hours as I gave birth to my youngest son.

Through every hoop we had to jump through while purchasing our house, to being hit with a stomach bug while pregnant, God filled me with joy.

There was joy in little things: having a second set of hands to snuggle my youngest daughter; someone to love on my “spirited” and struggling son, a church that had everything we were looking for. Things that would often be taken for granted just kept leading me right back to God, and the joy that comes from knowing He is taking care of each and every one of us.

God always provides, and my joy is always because of Him.

I Chose Joy in God Anew This Week

On Sunday as I prepared the kids and myself for church, I received a phone call from my husband. He’d been in an accident on I-95 and his car was totaled.

As the kids and I drove to pick him up, I sang praises to God. My husband’s car was totaled, and I thought I knew the hardship that would cause, but he had walked away from it without physical injury.

My children didn’t have to visit their father in the hospital, and I didn’t have to explain to them why their daddy wasn’t coming home.

Worries, Stress, and Choosing to Be Positive

When "Everything" Is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com

Each day since the accident more and more obstacles have been placed before us. Some of them God immediately removed.

When He answers a prayer, the only thing I can do is praise Him and focus on the joy flooding through me.

Monday was especially rough, because my husband was trying to process what had happened, and I was as well.

The first wave of adrenaline and relief had past.

I woke up to a panic attack that only God could calm as I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, until finally the panic subsided and I was able to sleep again.

My husband was frustrated and bitter, and all I felt was an overwhelming sadness and heaviness of heart.

It didn’t take long before I was irritated with myself and decided to give it all to God.

I wrote out my prayers, my concerns, my frustrations, and my overwhelming belief in God. I wrote out my praises to Him.

Then I spent time in the study of Isaiah.

Isaiah 41 reminds us to stop lamenting and to return to rejoicing. That God provides for all our needs even during our struggles.

His testimony is that He will never forsake us.

We are to trust God as our shepherd and allow him to do it in the His way.

God Trumps Fear and Worry. Every Time.

While I immersed myself in God’s word, the fear and worry began to fade. Nothing had changed about our situation, but I gave that stress to God and accepted the peace and joy that replaced it.

Today things are still “bad” and there are no answers in sight. We don’t know where the next days and weeks will take us.

What I do know, is that I have joy.

Not because of any physical or material thing, but because I know joy in God.

The joy only experienced when you know God is in control, and that this isn’t our forever home.

Joy isn’t just a feeling.

It’s a knowledge that you’re never alone, and Our God is bigger than any problem we will ever face on Earth.

Until next time,

wellofaith

For more on the topic of joy check out this post.

When "Everything" is Going Wrong I Choose Joy in the One True God--wellofaith.com
God +Love > Sweatpants--wellofaith.com

Fallen World “Beauty”: God + Love is Greater Than Sweatpants

God+Love > Sweatpants

This article was originally posted in 2015.

This is Why the World Can’t Have Beauty

Recently I stumbled across and interview Eva Mendes gave where she stated that the end of a marriage can be directly related to the wife wearing sweatpants.

If you want to read the original article that led to this posting click here.

Say what?

Normally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to what celebrities talk about.

I especially don’t tend pay attention to celebrities who feel qualified to give marital advice when they’re not married.

However, reading many of the comments linked with these articles on social media made me reconsider.

In Society Today, Beauty is Only Skin Deep

There are a lot of women–too many women–who feel Eva Mendes is correct.

They believe in this day of Photoshop and plastic surgery what a wife wears is the true key to the longevity of their marriage.

I need to clear this up.

For everyone.

Or, at the very least, for the people who read my weekly ramblings.

What We Wear At Home Should Not Be a Deciding Factor in the Strength of Our Relationship With Our Spouse.

God+Love>Sweatpants--wellofaith.com
No, this isn’t my husband or me. It is a great photo, and captures exactly what should connect a husband and wife.

Marriages are a contract, yes, but they’re a contract that should be tied to a deep and abiding love and faithfulness– to not only our spouse, but to God.

When I got married, I distinctly remember the minister mispronouncing my short name, but getting my husband’s long, long, long name correct. the words, “for better or for worse” among the words my husband and I repeated.

I’m sure there are people who will smirk and say, “For better or for worse doesn’t have anything to do with bad style choices.” I disagree. Completely.

If my husband’s love for me were directly tied to the way I looked, our marriage would have ended years ago.

I may not wear sweatpants, but I also don’t wake up each morning before my husband so he doesn’t see me without my ‘face’ on.

For that matter, I rarely wear make-up, so there’s that.

He’s seen me with bedhead, fighting the stomach flu.

I’ve had chronic migraines, that have done nothing for the way I look; and long ago, he saw me when I drank too much.

None of these sights were pretty, and they’re all a heck of a lot worse than him seeing me in a pair of sweatpants.

Love Isn’t About the Way You Look, It’s About the Connection You Have With Someone’s Heart.

Love is the butterflies you get in your stomach when you know you’re going to see them; it’s the comfort their presence brings you, without them saying anything.

It’s knowing that you don’t have to doll yourself up all the time to impress them, because they’re impressed with the way God created you.

God+Love>Sweatpants--wellofaith.com
I can guarantee I’m wearing work out leggings in the picture. Possibly baby spit too. Also, pretty sure my three year old is wrapped around my leg.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

1 Peter 3:3-4

They don’t love you because of the adornments you use to be fashionable or beautiful for a materialistic world.

I understand what she ‘might’ have been trying to say.

Women Should Take Pride in Themselves.

The biggest problem with associating this with a type of pants, is that people miss the bigger picture.

Pride in yourself is fine–as long as you remember everything you have is God’s.

Be careful about having too much pride in your good looks, your perfect body, or the clothes you wear.

All of those things are fleeting.

The beauty God created inside you–your heart and soul–those are where the true strength of your marriage will come from.

So, ladies if you feel like your husband (or boyfriend) will leave you if you don’t look your best, walk away.

He’s not the one for you.

Don’t sell yourself short for someone only interested in the outer trappings.

Find that person who will love you even when you’re looking your worst, because he’ll see the beauty God created.

Besides, no one wants to be worried about their hair or make-up at two in the morning–when they’re in labor.

No one.

Trust me.

God + Love > sweatpants. Always.

Until next time,

wellofaith
God+Love>Sweatpants--wellofaith.com
How the Military Strengthened My Faith--wellofaith.com

How the Military Life Strengthened My Faith in God

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God

The Military Life

My entire life has been connected in one way or another to the military.

I grew up the daughter of a Master Chief in the United States Navy. I joined (albeit shortly) the Army National Guard, and in 2005 I married a Marine.

All these years later, I realize just how much that military life strengthened my faith in Our Heavenly Father.

Each situation, transition, and experience added another brick to the foundation of my belief in God’s almighty power, His endless love, and boundless wisdom.

God is Always There

When my husband and I first married, we were immediately stationed on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This sounds like a dream destination, but for us it wasn’t.

We struggled, and there were times it didn’t seem possible for us to make it through together.

Looking back it’s easy to see, God had a plan for us; we just weren’t listening to Him or leaning on Him.

We experienced many different things during our eighteen months there.

Most of it separately.

My husband spent a good portion of the time we were stationed there deployed to Afghanistan–or preparing to deploy.

Because of this, we relied heavily on ourselves, and then expected each other to fill the empty spaces in our lives.

It was rough.

I’d never been away from my family or my friends, and living on an island–basically alone–showed me a weakness in myself I’d never known.

Even though I wasn’t intimate with God during this season of my life, He was there.

Taking the hard moments and using them to help build a strong foundation for my future faith.

The LORD Does it Again

When we left Hawaii we were stationed in Virginia.

We struggled to build our relationship, because neither of us understood the other. We didn’t communicate, and we hurt each other deeply time and time again.

Military Life Isn’t Easy.

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God-- wellofaith.com

Not even for people with strong marriages.

Being young made it harder.

The Marine Corps was a tough employer, and my husband worked long hours and was rarely home.

When he was home he would unwind by playing computer games.

A solitary activity that didn’t include me.

Between the stresses of his job, and our lack of connection I was emotionally exhausted.

After two years, I was ready to call it quits.

Then a Miracle Happened.

I’d been told after the loss of my son I’d likely never carry a child again.

God, however, works miracles all the time; in His time it happened.

With our marriage on rocky ground, we made it through the pregnancy and birth of our eldest.

It wasn’t easy, and we still didn’t turn to God or acknowledge Him in our lives.

We continued to go it on our own, and made each day harder than it needed to be.

Again, the LORD wasn’t deterred.

He used our experiences in this new place to add more bricks to the foundation of my faith.

Deployments, PTSD, and Selfishness

My Husband Deployed to Afghanistan Twice.

The second time he deployed, our eldest was a toddler, and that changed everything. His absence was no longer only affecting me, but was affecting a little girl who didn’t understand why her daddy wasn’t home to tuck her in.

This wasn’t the first time he’d been gone from our lives since her birth, but it was the first time the military had taken him to a war zone.

Those seven months were both a struggle and a blessing.

I just didn’t realize the ‘blessing’ part until years later.

While he was gone I experienced a number of things that would have been so much easier with God actively in my life.

Learning Experience: God is Faithful

My daughter ended up rushed to a children’s hospital when her temperature elevated and the local hospital didn’t feel capable of caring for her. We rode in the ambulance for over an hour, to a hospital in the middle of the desert.

I’d left my car at the local hospital with no idea of how she and I would get home.

Without knowing it at the time, God was there.

Her fever broke and we made it back home.

A problem that seemed insurmountable was solved.

Back to Back Deployments Are Traumatic

When a service member returns from a deployment it takes time for reintegration.

Not only for the member, but for the family he left as well.

We’d spent seven months apart, and during that time both our daughter and I had grown and changed.

He’d changed too.

You can’t deploy somewhere, see death, destruction, and misery, and not be irrevocably changed.

It was really hard to connect.

He and I had never really been great at communicating in the first place, add in the stresses of his returning to a safe place, and the communication was practically non-existent.

God used these struggles too.

I couldn’t see it at the time, and if you’d asked me during those days I would have scoffed at the idea of any god, let alone the God.

Then He Deployed to Okinawa

How the Military Strengthened My Faith in God--Wellofaith.com

Within weeks of his return, my husband was back scheduled to deploy again.

Granted, this time it wasn’t to a war-torn country where anyone could be planning to kill you; it still meant he would leave his family for another seven months.

Prior to any deployment, service men train for what might happen while they’re on mission.

This training takes months, and at times feels like a deployment itself.

We never saw him, and when we did he was angry.

I was angry.

Something was going on with him, I knew it and so did our daughter. He didn’t agree.

The week before he deployed to Okinawa, the dam broke. I was tired of seeing my baby girl hurt by her father’s indifference.

It was the first (and only time) my husband has ever sworn at me.

He was in pain, I could see it, but I couldn’t fix it.

I couldn’t help him, and he wasn’t willing to help himself.

My Decision: To Love

The night before he left, I made a choice.

It was time to stop being selfish. To stop placing blame, and just do what I should have done all along.

The same thing Jesus would have done.

I wrapped my arms around him, and loved him.

Regardless of my anger, my confusion, and my own hurt, I felt peace wash over me.

This was the right thing to do.

He wouldn’t leave our home with an angry, bitter wife. He would leave with a wife full of love for her husband.

It’s obvious now what that peace was.

That change wasn’t because I’m a naturally forgiving person.

God had wrapped His arms around me, and said, “trust me”.

Another Miracle

Seven months later when my husband returned, he was a different person, and so was I.

This time however, I saw something better in him.

There was a light in him again. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was receding.

God had worked on him too, it seemed.

In the solitude of long runs around Okinawa, God had started to heal my husband.

Military Life: Relocating Time and Again

From the East to the West and Back Again

Our active duty military career continued until 2017.

During those years we moved from Washington State to Hawaii.

From Hawaii to Virginia

Then onto California.

Back to Washington State, just to do it once more– across the Continental United States to Virginia.

We grew our family from that first miracle to four miracles.

How This Helped My Faith

Soon after we had our second child, our eldest son, we were given orders to return to Washington State (where our relationship originally began).

Just like that, a light came on.

Like a program working in the background of your mobile device, God had been working on me.

I’d discovered what had been missing from my life.

For so long I’d been trying to fill the empty space, and nothing had worked.

With the knowledge I was heading back to the home I’d run away from, I surrendered.

God broke through my stubborn pride, and with open arms accepted me: scars, bad choices, confusion, and all.

Through it All, He Remains

Since that summer day in 2013, many things have changed in my life.

I’d be lying if I said my marriage suddenly became perfect, and all our problems magically disappeared once I accepted God back into my life.

That we never struggled.

I’d be lying if I said our lives have been perfect and there hasn’t been a day of worry.

It doesn’t work that way.

There has been pain and loss (My father passed away in January 2015), and there were times of deep fear within this Momma( when the doctor discovered on Mother’s Day 2018 that my youngest daughter has multiple VSDs in her heart)

Being a Christian is hard. Really hard for so many reasons.

Jesus never said it would be easy.

But, I can tell you without a shred of doubt it’s worth it.

He’s worth it.

We’re worth it.

Through all the ups and downs, God continues to strengthen my faith. Not in myself, but in Him.

My family grows, matures, and loves each day, because of His love and righteousness.

And through everything–including the change from active duty military life to reserves–God continues to love me.

When the Marine Corps payment doesn’t come in when its supposed to, and the bank account is too low to cover everything, I trust God.

I know, without fail, God will provide.

Keep praying, I know I will.

Until next time,

wellofaith

P.S. For a book to help you reconnect I suggest: The Five Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts

How the Military Life Strengthened My Faith in God
Full-Fat Tea

Becoming a Woman of the Word: A Journey Through the Bible

This post contains affiliate links. Click here for the full disclosure.

For Christmas 2015, I received a Bible study book titled, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.

At first I wasn’t sure what to expect from the pages of this relatively thin book.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading study guides for various themes or books within the Bible, and I figured this would be similar.

I was correct on only one part.

It is a book on studying the Bible.

What it ISN’T is a manufactured Bible study.

Within the first seven chapters of the book, the author shows you how to approach the study of any book in the Bible (and preferably every book in the Bible) for optimal literacy.

This includes studying with the five “Ps”:

  • purpose
  • perspective
  • patience
  • process
  • prayer

Bible literacy isn’t a phrase I was familiar with.

What is Bible Literacy?

According to the Northwest Centre for Biblical and Theological Literacy,

Biblical Literacy describes the ability and motivation of people to read the Bible with sufficient understanding so that they can explain its basic meaning, having sufficient knowledge and skill to use resources that enable them to discern the basic meaning of a biblical text. It includes the ability to apply this discerned meaning, i.e. biblical wisdom, to contemporary life.”

Since I’d focused on the word Joy for the year, I realized I need a better scriptural understanding of it.

I didn’t want to understand how a single verse on “joy” applied to me, but how that verse applied to the bigger picture of God’s love and plan for everyone.

Only then would I be able to see how it applied to me in the present and future.

Why You Should Become a Woman of the Word

In a day and age when more and more people are not only turning away from God, but are antagonistic towards anyone who dares to trust in Him, it is important for us to have a clear, educated understanding of God’s Word.

Becoming a Woman of the Word: A Journey Through the bible @wellofaith.com

The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

It doesn’t change.

It isn’t corrupt.

People will tell you you’re wrong.

They’ll offer you opinion stated as fact.

Some will twist the scriptures to fit their personal agenda.

We must know what the Bible says and what it means–both historically and applicably.

Our own relationship with Christ might not be affected by their misunderstandings, but our children’s relationships might be.

The Bible is Not a Fairy Tale

The Bible was provided for us so that we would know what was expected of us, and what we could in turn expect from our God.

Within the sixty-six books of the Bible we learn how to raise our children, love our spouses, and how to love our neighbors while not loving or applauding their sins.

We see the great love, righteousness and compassion of God who created EVERYTHING, and loves us without fail.

People read these stories and consider them fairy tales.

Stories made up to explain away situations they otherwise had no answers for.

As Christians we know this isn’t the case.

The Old Testament gives us a detailed account of all the things we shouldn’t do–and how God loved the Israelites so much that he forgave them time and time again; finally disciplining out of love when they refused to listen.

In the New Testament we see the miracles.

The unbelievable, awe-inspiring, miracles of Jesus.

Jesus Performed Miracles: The End

There are people who will latch on to these miracles and claim they didn’t happen.

That they couldn’t happen.

The only problem with their argument: It’s wrong.

Jesus performed miracles.

This is a fact.

A fact supported by historical research; not just research done by people predisposed to seeing miracles, but also by secular historians and scholars.

If we don’t study the Bible, we won’t be able to respond to those who haven’t discovered their faith in Jesus.

As a mother I need to be able to guide my children; to help them find the answers they seek, and to know how to articulate the truth when confronted by their secular peers.

We also need to study the Bible, because it’s the voice of God speaking directly to each and every one of us.

Daily Study

When you have a relationship with someone, you spend time with them. You talk to them, ask questions about them, and seek answers to who they are.

The same thing needs to happen when you want a personal relationship with Christ.

You can’t expect a relationship–or an understanding of the scriptures–to happen if you’re not spending time together.

Women of the Word makes it possible to do more than just scan a verse and take it out of context, because it sounds like a verse to make you feel better about yourself.

The more time you spend with God (in prayer, in study, in contemplation) the closer you’ll get, and the more you’ll understand.

You don’t always need to spend hours diving deeply into the Word, but you need to meet up with God, in peace and quiet, each day.

There are dozens of ways to “fit” God into your day; between scrolling social media and running your kids to their activities.

However, we shouldn’t have to squeeze God in.

He should be our top priority.

After all, we’re His top priority.

I know it won’t be easy, but learning a new habit–especially one that will help you grow each and every day, isn’t always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it.

First thing in the morning, before you get overwhelmed by your ‘to do’ list, grab your Bible, colored pens and pencils, and a notebook.

Then take a breath, and say hello to the only one who has loved you without ceasing since before you were born.

He’s been waiting for you.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” -Proverbs 1:5

Until next time,

wellofaith

Check out I Plant My Roots in Jesus

Becoming a Woman of the Word--wellofaith.com
parenting love

That Time As A Teen When I Was A Perfect Parent

I once was a perfect parent. Before I had children of my own.
When I was a Perfect Parent

I Was a Perfect Parent

As a teenager, one who obviously knew everything about everything, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.

*Insert slightly insane laughter here*

There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate.

Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus.

My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.

When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me.

I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.

I’m sure God chuckled at my plans.

My parents did.

When I was still a perfect parent--living under my parents' roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn't keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I'd understand them, and treat them with

The Reality Of Parenting Is Drastically Different

Before the birth of my youngest daughter, my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound.

The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches. It was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months.

Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the Lord created, and to truly appreciate it, helped relax my anxious heart.

It also helped me understand something about myself:

I’m not a perfect parent, and I don’t really have this parenting thing down.

In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me.

I always thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent.

Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it.

Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.

God is the Perfect Parent

God has blessed us with four beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous.

Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys.

It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.

Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have.

Our eldest is only eleven, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago.

Yes, she can do solitary things without constant supervision, and she has experienced the joy of middle school ministry events (where her mother wasn’t invovled), but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored.

This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car or abducted (see, anxiety).

I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.

The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children.

We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can.

Have some people lost their way?

Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge.

There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen.

Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.

How Patience Helps Us Grow



Each morning as we sit around the breakfast table we do a devotional as a family. Once in a while the topic will spur deeper discussion with my nine-year-old daughter; usually she remains silent while she drinks her milk and stares at me as if I just asked her when she was leaving for the moon.

This morning, the topic was patience, something I’ve never been particularly good with. I’m more of an instant gratification person. Of course, three children later, instant gratification seems more like a fairy tale, and patience is still something I’m struggling with.

Often I wonder what lesson the LORD is teaching me on the (many) days my children conspire to make me crazy. I assume it is patience, but until today, I didn’t truly understand what that meant in a spiritual, Christ-centered way.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

Romans 5:3-5

It’s such a wonderful feeling to know how much God loves us, even when we aren’t patient. The Bible is always here to help; to remind us to rejoice even when we’re struggling, because we have the Holy Spirit, and it continually fills us with His love.

Blessings,

Sare

I Am Loved By God, But I Still Have Anxiety, and That’s Okay

Hello Anxiety, My Old Friend

Anxiety can make you feel like you’re all alone in a room full of people, while simultaneously drowning you in wave after wave of everyone else’s needs and wants.

Anxiety

Even having the comfort of a compasionate and loving God, can often get lost in the mire of panic, exhaustion, and worry.

I’m not sure when I first experienced anxiety, but I’m pretty sure I was in elementary school. Possibly as early as first grade. It likely reared up the same time as the pecking order at recess.

I do know, it hasn’t gotten better with time or maturity.

Instead, it ebbs and flows, but never really goes away.

The older I get, the more I notice it in my everyday life.

It is no longer confined to the moments of show-and-tell, reading aloud, class projects, or being called on to answer a question.

Now it is present anytime I have to be around people other than my immediate family. It happens when I know I have to run errands, change my routine, or participate in a social engagement for my children.

Being Anxious Isn’t Confined To “Real Life”

It even happens in online discussion groups in college.

The day I found out my school was moving from chat boxes to video conferencing for our class meetings, I had an epic anxiety attack. I don’t do videos, or anything that requires me to record my voice. At least not voluntarily, or without a whole lot of stress and, you guessed it, anxiety.

Though I pray about it continually, the panic and anxiety rarely disappears completely.

Since the birth of my youngest, what once started out as a moderate inconvience has become something almost debilitating in its occurance.

Sundays have become a struggle, because I’m torn between the need to fellowship and worship the LORD, and the desire to hide away because of the panic squeezing my heart.

Add this anxiety to the SAD that plagues me, and there are many days when the only place I want to be is curled up in bed, under a warm blanket.

This might seem like a good way to spend a day, and it is when it is a choice.

When it isn’t a choice the joy that would normally come with it is missing.

I have faith the LORD will help me through this season of life. He will give me the strength when I am weakest. I just need to remember to give it to Him.

After all, I am only human, yet, He loves me.

Blessings,

Sare

2017: Listen

In December of each year, I prayerfully focus on what word will be my focus during the upcoming year. Each year this single word keeps me focused, not on myself, but on God’s will for me. This year, that word is LISTEN. It’s such a small word. Just six letters, but it will be a tool during the next twelve months to help me focus on the LORD.

Each day when I wake up, I’ll pray He will use it to teach me, to guide me through the day. This one little word will be a reminder each day–not only to listen to Him, but to listen to my body and to those around me. This year is a time to truly listen to Him, to be silent so I can really hear His words. It is a time for less talking and more listening.

I’m blessed to have the  love of the LORD, and to get this time to worship Him through this One Word.

Blessings,

Sare

Joy During the Darkness

Each day the media gives us detailed accounts of how dark and broken our world is. Whether you get your ‘news’ from television news reports, printed newspapers and magazines, or social media–you’re being bombarded with doom and gloom. The worst minutes of strangers’ lives are plastered, shared, and argued over. There is so much heartache, and no answers or solutions coming from the people participating in the often lengthy and irrelevant comment section. Everyone has an opinion, and while we are entitled to an opinion, shouldn’t we think before stating it?

Yes, this should be obvious to everyone, but so often it isn’t. These actions can’t be laid at the feet of the unbeliever either, but rest at the dusty soles of each person. I’ve seen loudly proclaiming Christians tear people down in the guise of fellowship just as I’ve seen athiests and agnostics do it.

God created all of us, and our job is to share His gospel with others. This doesn’t mean we’re supposed to browbeat unbelievers or malign their name. Our world is currupt enough without turning our faith into a tool of corruption. When we do that, when we use Jesus as a way to bully others, we aren’t doing His works, we’re doing Satan’s.

Instead of pointing out the faults of each other maybe we, as Christians, could spread around some joy.
That’s the amazing thing about Jesus. He brings joy. People loved Him and followed Him. They were willing to give up their material possessions and their careers to join Him. They were willing to give up their lives to follow in His footsteps, to spread His teachings. This didn’t happen because He condemed each person He came in contact with. It happened because He not only had joy–even through His trials, He was joy. He was and is the light.

You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
2 Samuel 22:29

During the last eight months I’ve focused on joy. Not just the word, but all that it signifies, and so far I’ve realized one very important thing. Even in the darkness that has been covering our world, there is still joy. There is still light. God is still here, with us. During each and every trial, during every painful experience, He is beside us.

That’s joy.
Knowing that this world is temporary, that the life we live on this earth isn’t the best there is, that’s joy.

Instead of pointing out the faults of everyone and adding to the darkness, choose to add light to the world. Choose to add JOY.

This day is holy to our LORD. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

Blessings,

Sare

You’re Never Alone

In case you’re feeling terribly alone today, please realize you’re not. The LORD is with you. He has been with you since before you took your first breath. He never leaves you or forgets you. Those are human failures, and Our LORD doesn’t fail.

Be peaceful today, dear friends, and let His wonderful light shine through you.

Blessings, Sare