I never claim to know everything there is to know about walking with the LORD, or about the ins and outs of Christianity.
I’m definitely not a professional speaker on theology or the Gospel. I’m still learning many of the stories and people who are the bread and butter of the WORD, and I spend a lot of time worrying how I’ll ever minister to others when I know so little myself.
In an average week I’ll message my dear sister-n-Christ; who has studied the WORD in so many ways, who has an understanding I can only pray to acquire some day, and whose husband is as knowledgeable as she is– just to clear up my own confusion on a concept, verse, or strongly held and shared (whether in church or social media) belief or opinion.
God Has a Plan
Each of us has a gift, divinely appointed to us before we were born. Knowing this is one thing, but trusting in the LORD to peel away the layers and show us is quite another.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I spend too much of my time worrying about how I’m going to do what the LORD calls me to do. I’m called to write and to share, but I waste precious energy each day worrying about finding the words.
I spend too much of my time worrying about how I’m going to do what the LORD calls me to do. I’m called to write and to share, but I waste precious energy each day worrying about finding the words.
Days will pass without me so much as touching a keyboard, or writing anything more profound than a text message about needing to run errands. During these days, I tie myself up in knots over the mere action of NOT writing.
I need to write, to let the LORD do His work through me, but I fight it, because I can’t get out of my own way.
Get Out of the Way
Friends, I’m sure I’m not alone; in a world filled with so many people, I can’t be the only one who has this issue.
We’re all sinners who can’t move past our need for control. We alienate ourselves, because we’re afraid of rejection, afraid of not being “good enough” or “smart enough”. We forget He created us in His image; He created us for a special purpose and will provide us with all the tools we need to be successful.
We forget He created us in His image; He created us for a special purpose and will provide us with all the tools we need to be successful.
His Word Tells Us
It’s time for us to get out of the way and let the LORD take the reins.
With Him beside us, we can move mountains.
Why then are we forever getting in the way and tripping over ourselves?
Nine years ago when I became a mother I never expected to become the kind of mother I am today.
When my eldest was born everything I’d read said to sleep-train. To place my child in a crib in her own room so she could learn to sleep on her own.
She did great, and we never had a problem.
Not So New Moms Make Mistakes Too
When my son was born nearly four years ago we continued on as we always had, but this time there was more difficulty.
He displayed a need for more contact and more connection. Where my eldest slept in the bassinet beside my bed in the hospital, my son wouldn’t sleep without being in my arms.
Sadly, instead of realizing his needs and accommodating them, I stubbornly trudged ahead. I had college classes beginning three weeks after his birth and anxiety clawed at me. How would I manage the requirements of school if he insisted on being held all the time?
It took years to realize this was just another symptom of my on-going battle with anxiety.
Looking back now, I realize how the choices I made then affect our family everyday.
You Can Teach an Old Mom New Tricks
Last year, when my youngest was born, things were different.
I had drastically changed in the three years since my son was born. The Lord had softened my heart and shined light into the dark corners.
The military base house we live in only has three bedrooms, and the age range is so wide between my children I quickly realized there was no place except our bedroom to place her.
A bassinet was placed on my side of the bed, within quick reach, since we were trying to breastfeed.
After her birth I had severe postpartum anxiety, and holding her in my arms was the only thing that calmed me. Feeling her heart beat, and her breath against my cheek slowed the panic that clawed at me. Often this would lead me to fall asleep, content with holding her, and knowing she was safe in my arms.
Years ago I would have made sure she went to bed in that bassinet and slept in that through the night. I would have loved her, snuggled and fed her, and then put her back to bed.
Like I mentioned, I’m no longer that mother.
Returning her to her bassinet started happening less and less frequently.
One night as I snuggled her beside me, and buried my nose in her downy soft hair, I realized I’d been missing out on something amazing. I had been so concerned about suffocating my babies while I slept, that I had denied us both the love and connection we needed.
I had become a co-sleeping, bed-sharing parent, by accident–or by His design. Something I never would have considered before.
My prayer that night was one of wonder and thanksgiving. The Lord had blessed me with another little girl, and in doing so, had opened my heart to something new.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
As she has gotten older she has slept in her crib off and on. Each night after she falls asleep between us, we’ll transfer her to her bed. Most nights she will still end up in bed with us again.
Now that she is bigger and takes up quite a bit more space, because she sleeps like I do, our snuggles in bed aren’t always as comfortable or relaxing.
What those nights lack in comfort, they more than make up for by filling my heart with happiness, peace, and the knowledge that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
God has once again changed me. I may be continually sleep deprived, but I’ve got a different kind of connection with my youngest than I ever imagined possible. She is just as independent as her older siblings, but she is happy snuggled against me as she drifts off to sleep.
I’m not sure how things will be as she gets older, but I know this is the path Our Heavenly Father has placed me on.
I will walk it in faith.
Did you co-sleep with your children? What is a memory you enjoy from that time?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or recieved or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you.”
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When I discovered Facebook almost a decade ago, I never imagined it would be something that took on a life of its own. I sure didn’t expect that a social media platform would be something that could ever require the need of a hiatus.
Then one day, not long before the election, I realized I was in desperate need of cleansing myself from the constant updates, notifications, and interactions. During the four(ish) months I was away I learned a lot about myself, and the effect Facebook has on me. Here are six of them:
Facebook Can Bring Out the Worst in People
For every positive post on my feed, I found five negative ones. During the months leading up to the election even those people I counted on for encouragement and a Christian perspective suddenly posted less lighthearted and loving messages in favor of angry, judgemental, political posts.
This negativity while not directed at me, was still affecting my own spirit. There was so much darkness that it started to permeate every part of my day.
Facebook Worsens My Anxiety
Since I have already been dealing with heightened anxiety since the birth of my youngest, it doesn’t take much to push my anxious feelings to another level. Reading all the negative and hateful posts had me in a constant state of anxiety. I was having trouble sleeping–worrying about people I didn’t even know, and things I had no control over.
I could give my personal worries over to God, but for some reason, the worries of the Facebook world were never given to Him.
Facebook Made Me Less Social
Given the negativity and anxiety Facebook was bringing to me, I guess it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that it led me to avoid most physical interaction with friends and relatives.
With depression and anxiety comes a desire to be alone–or at least the belief you want to be alone.
After being bombarded by the cares, worries, and desires of those people on Facebook, I couldn’t afford to expend the energy on anyone else. Not even on myself.
I also fell into the false sense that I could be just as social through Messenger as I could in the physical company of a friend.
Though, to be honest, some of my nearest and dearest friends live too far away for me to sit in their presence; in that case Messenger has been a wonderful tool.
Without Facebook I Could Focus
During those months without Facebook, I found a focus I hadn’t had in years. I had removed the Facebook App from my Android devices, and without the ease of single touch, I no longer felt the overwhelming need to check-in several times (or more) a day.
It was too much effort to actually have to go through the website.
Much to my husband’s surprise I could actually make it through a movie or a show without my attention drifting to my phone. In many cases, my phone wasn’t even with me– a wonderful side-effect for both of us.
I Was Present With My Family
Without Facebook (or my phone) taking my attention away, my family and I had the chance to make more memories. True, they aren’t photographed or chronicled on Facebook, but during those times we were one-hundred percent together.
I experienced so much joy watching my children grow and change; snuggling with them as we read books, laughing together over the antics of characters in movies, and discussing whatever was important to them. Being able to focus on them without reaching for my phone was by far the greatest blessing I experienced.
I Had So Much “Free” Time
For the first time in too long, I finally had time. I wasn’t rushed, and if I wondered where the day had gone it had nothing to do with getting sucked into social media.
I read books.
Not just a chapter or two here and there, but actual books. Instead of being glued to Facebook, I was able to lose myself in the worlds of great writers and storytellers.
Crocheted blankets, booties, hats, and washcloths were started and finished. And each Tuesday a friend came over and we enjoyed an hour of chatting and crocheting.
I spent time with the LORD.
Without Facebook calling my name, losing myself in the Word became easier. I had time to not only read a verse or two, but could actually carve out time to dive deeper into books of the Bible I’d been neglecting.
Finding Balance With Social Media
I’ve slowly began to re-enter the world of Facebook. I still haven’t replaced the app on my phone (and I’m not planning on it).
There is so much joy and living to do outside of social media, that I don’t want to find myself suddenly trapped in old habits again.
I know there is a balance needed, especially as a blogger, and I’ve learned valuable things about myself these past few months. There is a place in my life for Facebook and other social media platforms, but they no longer have the pull on me they once had.
It’s a brave new world out here, folks.
One where I’m not controlled by social media.
One where it is controlled by me.
Have you needed to detox from social media before? What changed for you? How long did you do it for? I’d love to know.
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Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard
Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.
I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.
I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.
The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.
Summer Makes Me Come Alive
Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.
The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.
Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.
Making the Connection
I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable; when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.
During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.
The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day. It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.
I’m Worried Too
My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.
If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.
You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.
Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.
Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.
I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.
When I first started writing this blog, the original plan was to show all the happiness and joy this walk brought me.
The only problem with that idea is that nothing good comes without at least a little pain. I wouldn’t be true to my Heavenly Father, or myself, if I skipped over the dark places; those trips, falls, and downright cliff-diving moments that take me off His path, and make me as imperfect and human as each person reading this.
You’re Not Alone
I want everyone who reads this blog to know that they’re not alone.
Not alone on this planet, and certainly not alone spiritually.
The LORD pulls me out of each mess I find myself in, and He will do the same for each person who calls out to Him.
So, I’ll share my stories, the good and the bad; I’ll let the light of Jesus shine from me.
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Each year I compile a stack of books–some paper, some digital– to help me grow as a person. This year I’m particularly excited about my choices. I’m also honest enough with myself to know I might not get through them all. However, I thought I’d share them (in no particular order) with you. Maybe you’ll find a few new additions for your own “to-be-read” pile.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ve been known to add more books to the pile as they catch my eye; my husband spends a lot of time fretting over the lack of space we have and my never ending fascination with having my own library.
What are some books you have on your reading list for 2017? Please share them in the comments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.