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God is Faithful in the little Storms

God is faithful in all things, even little storms. Nothing happens that he cannot restore, redeem, & use. I love how I see His hand even in my hard places.

God is faithful in all things, even the little storms. Nothing happens in our lives that he cannot restore, redeem, and use. I love how I can clearly see His hand even in my hard places.

God used an emotional moment last fall to get my attention.

The storms of life have been extremely present in 2016. Our family has dealt with many struggles: illnesses and medical issues, difficult relationships, family needs, friends’ illnesses, broken appliances, financial challenges that never seem to stop.

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But I have seen beautiful reminders God is faithful in it all.

We spent a lot of the hot southern summer taking turns with broken air conditioners. Both our upstairs and downstairs AC units required repairs,

BUT not at the same time, so we were able to keep the house at a reasonable temperature with creative fan use.

Even in the little storms, I have seen beautiful reminders God is faithful. Click To Tweet

When the blower motor was going to be an expensive fix, the service technician suggested it might still be under the original warranty.

8 days.

Our motor was covered for 8 more days. Even in the financial strains, God reminded me He’s got this. When the other unit seemed to need thousands of dollars of work, it turned out to be a poorly wired cut-off switch.

Hundreds of dollars instead of thousands – both times.

Satan however, seemed to take that as a personal challenge. I can’t even list all the craziness we’ve experienced.

The electronic portion of our dryer now turns itself on, but only to low heat, medium dry for 36 minutes. And beeps randomly to remind you that it is on. I shocked myself unplugging it to make it stop beeping. OUCH.

BUT it will still dry clothes.

If I hold the setting I want while pushing start, I can get a few more choices and my clothes do come out dry. And we laugh about our possessed dryer.

I had to buy a new van because my van was having engine trouble. We bought a used van, no sooner get it home and notice there is a malfunction in the hatch sensor.

But, the dealership is paying for the repairs.

Despite the fact that the repairs have taken months (and we’re awaiting the fourth attempt to solve the problem), it should get done at no cost to us.

When at my wits end, God even pushed me to humbly ask my husband for help, respecting his knowledge and relishing his strength.

So far, I think I’ve handled most of these crises with peaceful calm, knowing we will be okay. We might not always be comfortable, but God is faithfully providing what we really need.

But then, I updated my phone. I had to update my laptop’s operating system to update my iTunes to then update my phone. Knowing the inherent dangers of updating technology, I was frustrated by hundreds of daily reminder notifications, so I bit the bullet, plugged in, clicked update, and . . .

Turned my phone into a very expensive paperweight.

I called Apple support on Friday night at 8:45 p.m. because I couldn’t see how I’d get through my weekend without a phone.

Despite patient and friendly help, we were getting nowhere after two hours. Mike, the tech supervisor, gave me one last suggestion before I had to repair/replace, but he was not optimistic.

I had intentionally focused on honoring God in how I handled the stressful situation, reading bedtime stories and putting my child to bed while on hold. I stayed positive and hopeful while praying my iCloud back up had actually saved all my precious pictures and videos of my sweet girl.

Waiting to see if this last ditch effort would work, inwardly I was emotional and trying not to panic. I madly prayed for peace in this frustrating situation.

At midnight, my husband said goodnight, hugged me and told me he was proud of how I was handling the situation. Before Christ, that never would have happened.

In that moment, I knew my witness was worth WAY more than the phone.
God may allow the storms in our life because it allows for His work in us to be evident. Click To Tweet

God is faithful.

He used that long, awful evening to speak volumes about His work in my heart and life.

 

God is faithful in all things, even little storms. Nothing happens that he cannot restore, redeem, & use. I love how I see His hand even in my hard places.

And then I prayed.

“Lord, thank you for peace during a difficult time. Thank you for helping my actions be evidence of your work in me. Help me continue to handle challenges with grace, but if possible, fix my phone.”

I asked some friends to pray, I’d really like my phone to work and not have to replace it.

Seriously, only minutes later, the computer dinged. And I held my breath when I pressed the home button.

After hours of nothing, my daughter’s face grinned back at me. Relief flooded my heart!

Compared to world peace or salvation for people I love, my broken phone was unimportant.

But yet, God demonstrated He’s in control and was glorified by the faith and peace of Christ I was able to demonstrate. I learned to keep proper perspective and trust Him no matter the size of the obstacle.

In my little storms, God is faithful.

This experience reminded me of Matthew 8:23-27. The disciples and an exhausted Christ set out on the sea after a long day of ministry. A terrifying storm arose while Jesus slept.

Jesus knew the storm was coming, so why did He have them set sail at all?

Despite all they had seen Jesus do, the disciples freaked out.

When the disciples finally woke Jesus, He stopped the storm with His words. Why hadn’t he just prevented it in the first place?

They needed to know who their Jesus is! The one the wind and waves obey.

The storm taught the disciples the power and providence of Christ. They learned to have faith in all things, in all times. They would need this faith after the crucifixion.

The disciples learned to trust Him in the storms to come because they survived this one.

The storm wasn’t an accident for the disciples or for me. God isn’t surprised when things happen to us.

And we shouldn’t be either.

God uses the storms to instruct, prepare, demonstrate, witness. God is faithful, beautifully working through all our little storms, so our faith is strengthened and our lives reflect Him.

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When is it time to shut up?

Shut up isn't very nice. We try not to use it in our house, but sometimes it is the only way to get someone's attention. God used it to get mine.

Shut up isn’t very nice. We try not to use it in our house, but sometimes it is the only way to get someone’s attention.

God used it to get mine.

This month has brought me some personal challenges that have broken my heart, left me wracked with sobs wondering if things will ever be okay again.

And in my little external processing way, I start trying to use my words to grapple with my tornado emotions and thoughts that keep me awake and make my blood pressure skyrocket.

But in this hurt, I can’t even hold onto the words. Nothing is making sense. I feel completely discombobulated.

My prayers are mostly groans, but I’m begging Him to tell me what to do.

And again, He guides me through my parenting moments, loud and clear.

My daughter was having a day her emotions were too big for her to handle. She was exasperated at everything and not doing a very good job of letting small frustrations slide.

She came to me sobbing and proceeded to go on a tirade about her toys, exploding verbal diarrhea so violently I could barely understand her. I struggled to get her attention over the storm she was brewing.

She was so loudly upset that she couldn’t hear a word I was saying even though I just wanted to comfort and calm her.

I looked at her and YELLED – “STOP! You’ve got to shut up.”

Shut up isn't very nice, but it can be the only way to get someone's attention. God used it to get mine. #BeStill Click To Tweet

I wasn’t harsh, but I was loud enough she paused, a tad stunned. When she got quiet, I said, “You can’t listen while you’re talking.”

Shut up isn't very nice. We try not to use it in our house, but sometimes it is the only way to get someone's attention. God used it to get mine.

The words had barely left my mouth when I realized what God had been trying to tell me all week.

I had to shut up to hear Him, too.

I had been so loudly upset and exploding in my own way that I couldn’t even hear Him, much less be comforted and calmed by Him.

Job 6:24 ESV “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.

I couldn’t hear God’s instruction through all the noise I was making in my head. All the mental scrambling to get past the hurts wasn’t bringing me any peace and the pain kept getting louder.

It was time to put up and shut up.

If God is my refuge, my portion, I needed to prove it in the midst of distress, not just when life is easy.

I was reminded of one of my favorite verses when my emotions get out of whack.

Psalm 46:10 ESV “Be still, and know that I am God . . .”

I got still. Despite my hurt feelings, despite the panic surging inside, I just sat still for awhile, physically and mentally, ready to listen.

What I heard was just grieve. It’s okay to be sad for awhile. The image of Jesus weeping over Lazarus flooded my mind. Even though He knew He would restore him to life, Jesus grieved His loss.

Be sad about the conflicts and failings, humbly do your part in this world to get along with everyone, but leave the rest up to Him.

Exodus 14:14 ESV / The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Again with the shut up. 😉

But God is reminding me that in the quiet, He is there. In the silence, I can hear His instruction.

And when I shut up instead of letting my hurt feelings overwhelm me, the quiet will solve more conflicts than arguing back ever could.

When I let a gentle spirit speak for me, God will be glorified more than my words could bring.

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Contemplating my 20s – What I would do differently?

My 20s? Looking back twenty years on who I was at 25 and who I wish I had been. What would I do differently? Everything! and nothing. . .

My 20s? What would I do differently?

Everything! and nothing. . .

A younger friend is reading a book (20-Something, 20-Everything) and asked me about my 20s.

So first – the EVERYTHING I would do differently in my 20s

Being single in my 20s felt like a disaster, I was “supposed” to be married and having babies so I could be the energetic, young mother of my dreams.

I chased that ideal at the expense of everything else.

Nothing has ruined my life more than trying to match it to the idealized version in my head.

I wish I spent more time just living than worrying about plans. Focusing on the ‘plan’ put a razor pendulum over every decision. I raced to match a calendar, instead of seeing the beauty of things happening in the right timing.

Nothing has ruined my life more than trying to match the idealized version in my head. Click To Tweet

Waiting on God is never second best. I wish I had learned that sooner.

I regret not spending more time just being obedient to the person I am called to be in Christ.

You will never regret time spent in obedience to God’s will for your life.

Independence is overrated.

Trying to prove my independence lead me making so many terrible decisions: little things like trying to hard boil eggs in the microwave (don’t do that!) to larger questionable choices about dating, finances, and friendships.

I surrounded myself with people who were muddling through life with me and I relied way too heavily on my own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

It’s okay to BE DEPENDENT on older, wiser Godly friends and family. God’s design is for us to learn from those who’ve walked this way first.

Independence is overrated. Find #yourtribe and build a village of love and support. Click To Tweet

The lessons of Titus 2 are twofold, directions for what the elders are to demonstrate and teach, but also for what we are to learn in our youth.

Asking for advice is the second smartest thing you can do. The smartest is TAKING that advice. Always test advice against scripture, in prayer, and through walking in the spirit, but listening to sage advice and building knowledge has never been something I regretted.

Good advice is sometimes hard to hear.

Listen anyway. God’s truths are unwavering, while our emotions are deceitful and changeable.

Make the most of your time and energy!

On the physical side, you will never be this young again. Eat better, wear sunscreen, and adopt healthy habits for the rest of adulthood, but have a piece of cake now and then.

Time moves faster the older I get. The amount of time I wasted just feeling melancholy, listening to Sarah Mclachlan is EPIC.

I really wish I would have traveled more, taken a missions trip, been more adventurous and less concerned about what others thought of me.

My 20s? Looking back twenty years on who I was at 25 and who I wish I had been. What would I do differently? Everything! and nothing. . .

Don’t waste time worrying about what people think of you.

I still worry about it more than I should, but I’m learning my responsibility is how I live, react to life, and doing both in God’s will. How other people perceive me is up to them.

Nothing I do will ever get 100% approval from the people in my life. Nothing. Human perceptions and biases color our opinions on just about everything. Trying to make everyone happy is a waste of time and brings too much heartache.

Nothing I do will ever get 100% approval. Worry less about what PEOPLE think. Click To Tweet

Do what is Godly to the best of your ability. The right people in your life will be by your side or will catch up.

So what about the NOTHING part of my answer?

I have TONS of regrets, but doing something differently would change where I am now, the wisdom I’ve gained, and the people in my life. And I really can’t imagine changing anything in the past that would affect being a mother and step-mother to these children.

I have learned that God didn’t waste my wandering years, even though I did. He has masterfully woven the pieces of my life into a beautiful tapestry I couldn’t imagine changing. He uses even the darkest moments of my life for light.

I’ve often considered that God placed me in this place, as an older mother in a peer group often 10-20 years my junior, and in this moment for a reason.

Esther 4:14b ESV  .  .  . And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Maybe sharing my wisdom, helping others not walk down the path I did is fulfilling God’s plan for my life through my obedience now.

I can’t know for sure, but the more I know Him, the more I understand His character and see how my life, broken pieces and all, are part of my story that can honor Him.

Contemplating my 20s was difficult, but I’m encouraged to see how God has taken a broken heart and made it whole.

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Why Tragedy Makes us so Quick to Criticize Parents 

WHY are we so quick to criticize parents in the wake of tragedy? What is it about alligators, gorillas and car seats that turn rational human beings into armchair parenting quarterbacks moments after tragedy strikes?

WHY are we so quick to criticize parents in the wake of tragedy? What is it about alligators, gorillas and car seats that turn rational, compassionate people into cruel, armchair parenting quarterbacks moments after tragedy strikes?

When I hear about a child’s death, I immediately imagine the pain of losing my sweet girl. Even in the middle of the night, I’ll go scoop her up, kiss her face, smell her hair, knowing it is only by the grace of God my girl is healthy and alive.

It certainly isn’t due to perfect parenting. I fail daily.

So why are people so quick to criticize parents?

Because we’re afraid.

In the wake of tragedy, we see their pain and grasp at any straws to prevent our own losses. Just the thought of such grief horrifies us, clutches at our hearts, stops our breath.

Irrationally but passionately, we believe our love for our children would have been enough to protect them.

So we pretend.

Why so quick to criticize parents in the wake of tragedy? We want our illusions of control. Click To Tweet

We pretend our parenting is the difference between joy and grief, that our constant vigilance is completely responsible for our children’s health and well-being, forgetting split-seconds can bring disaster.

All we can do is our HUMAN best. And that scares the snot out of us, if we’re honest.

WHY are we so quick to criticize parents in the wake of tragedy? What is it about alligators, gorillas and car seats that turn rational human beings into armchair parenting quarterbacks moments after tragedy strikes?

Because we know how utterly flawed we are.

We criticize so we can pretend our parenting choices are the difference between joy and grief. Click To Tweet
We criticize parents because we want to believe it was their fault.

If it was their fault, we can believe we could have done something differently to prevent the tragedy.

Because we are terrified to acknowledge we are largely powerless to protect our children from every possible danger in the world.

Honestly, there’s no hope in believing it is all on us. We’re left manically trying to control everything.

My only real hope is God’s sovereignty and His love for His children.

Learning to trust Him with MY life is hard; it’s a daily letting go of my plans and hopes in exchange for His.

Trusting God with my daughter and stepsons means understanding bad or terrible things may befall them. It is scary.

But God has used even the most tragic circumstances in my life to reach, change, and use me. I have to pray for peace, knowing He won’t let anything be wasted in their lives either, even tragedies or my parenting failures.

Genesis 50:19-21 ESV /  But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good .  .  .  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

God comforts and reminds us not to fear. He will provide for us and our children, even beyond our understanding.

Instead of being so quick to criticize parents, what if we recognized our deepest fears and just grieved with them, prayed with and for them?

Maybe, we could demonstrate God’s peace and grace to those facing the most unspeakable grief, losing a child.

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The Harsh Truth about being a People Pleaser

Are you a People Pleaser? I have been. I struggle against striving to please people almost daily. But the struggle has gotten easier since I learned the truth.

Are you a people pleaser? I have been. I struggle against striving to please people almost daily. But the struggle has gotten easier since I learned the truth.

Know what you get when a ‘recovering’ control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?

Me.

And it was messy and hard. And made me completely crazy! Didn’t do much for my family either.

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God’s been working on this area of my heart for some time now. I’m finally ready to grow past this selfish need to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

That’s right, selfish. People pleasing is at its root self-centered, worrying about what others think of me all the time, worrying about MY reputation, how people talk about ME.

The first harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it’s SIN.

Harsh truth about being a people pleaser? It's selfish, proud, and sinful. #peoplepleaser Click To Tweet

Pleasing people sounds so selfless, being intentionally considerate as much as humanly possible, weighing the feelings and needs of everyone, trying to make sure people feel loved and important.

Phew! Honestly, it’s exhausting.

and it’s crap.

Trying to be perfect isn’t selfless; it’s really pride.

In my arrogance, I felt like the happiness of everyone around me was my responsibility. If I failed as a person, then I failed as a witness for Christ.

And my human failings cause me to stumble. The weight of all this self-imposed stress drags me under the swirling waters of life, and my emotions get the better of me – what I intended doesn’t come out right at all.

Then I’m left running this crazy dialogue in my head, “How did this happen?  Is this MY fault?”

I strangle myself with guilt over having failed someone unintentionally and damaged my value in their estimation.

When in fact, I damaged my witness more through my false perfectionism than I ever could in my humble brokenness.

And I was taking responsibility for things that were not mine to own.



The second harsh truth is – We are not supposed to please people.

Being a people pleaser detracts from our true identity.

When we focus so much on how people perceive us, we aren’t keeping our focus where it belongs. Everything in my life starts to unravel when I take my eyes off Him.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting and detracts from our true identity in Christ. Click To Tweet

My sole responsibility is owning my identity as a child of God.

John 1:12 ESV  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

God has convicted me that all I’m supposed to do is strive to live pleasing Him, continually growing in gentleness and humility, wisdom and discernment. As I do that, my attitude toward others becomes naturally kind, intentional, loving in a way that isn’t about me at all.

He has shown me the daily need for spending time in my Bible. Even missing one day changes the way my flesh reacts to my daily life.



Colossians 3:12 ESV  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

When I worry about pleasing God ONLY (not first, ONLY), I put on compassion, humility, patience. I practice kindness and gentleness. Living those values will serve those in my life.

As I continue to change, some will be so pleased and encouraged by my righteousness and gentle spirit. Some won’t be pleased at all. They’ll be angry that I’m not running myself ragged, jumping through their hoops. That’s okay. I can’t do everything that everyone needs. I have to prioritize the mission field that God gave me. 

  1. My own spiritual walk
  2. Serving and loving my spouse
  3. Being a mother
  4. Caring for my family and friends
  5. Mentoring/Discipleship
  6. Serving in my community/church

Dividing myself and my attention into a million pieces isn’t healthy. God asks us to serve and work hard for Him, but we have to pay attention to the jobs that He has given us. And leave the rest to Him.

Jesus didn’t please everyone. He lived a peaceful, sinless life that made some people hate him all the way to the cross.

Because you can’t really please people.

We misunderstand, fail to communicate, and filter our thoughts through our own human brokenness and perspectives.

The third harsh truth about being a people pleaser is – that it doesn’t work!

Often, when I try to please people on my own, I end up hurt and rejected, wondering what happened.

One of these days, I hope I’ll truly learn that apart from Christ I am wholly incapable of bearing His fruit.

The harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it's not our job to try to please PEOPLE. Click To Tweet

John 15:5 ESV  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Only abiding in Christ and His word releases me from my hamster wheel of doom; because in Him alone can I find the peace of knowing His truths over human feelings.

I can’t force anyone to love or respect me, accept my apology, see my perspective, or be my friend.

I have to do my best to humbly try to please God, knowing He loves me from the inside out.

And let the rest go. That isn’t my side of the equation.