About that whole never say never thing

Have you ever said there is something you will never do only to find yourself doing that exact thing at some point in your life?

These nevers sometimes are spoken only inside the quiet of our own hearts. Yet, the Lord hears them.

I wonder if it’s His kindness towards us that draws us to face the nevers we proclaim with such staunch boldness.

I wonder if the nevers I proclaim are sometimes the voice of my own fear? My pride? My will? My way? My desires and likes.

I forget He is so good. When He stands me face to face with my spoken or heart-muttered “I’ll never”, it’s because He is good beyond my wildest ponderings.

Let me share some of my nevers with you.

“I’ll never speak in public. Thank you, Lord, you called me to writing and not speaking.” I uttered this prayer of thanksgiving as a manipulation tactic to the Creator of my soul. 3 months later guess where I stood? You got it. At a MOPS group speaking on enjoying the journey of life.

You know what happened that day? Something inside me came alive. Like alive in a way I’d never experienced. I’d spent years leading women online. But standing in front of their precious faces, speaking with them, connecting eye to eye, changed my ministry.

That first speaking event my voice shook and cracked, I stood on trembly legs, my sweaty hands clung to the microphone as a lifeline. But the Lord knew I needed to stand face to face with my fear. He knew I couldn’t live life bullied by fear. He needed to see I left gifts He had for me on the table if I allowed fear to keep me behind a screen only.

Here’s another. “I’ll never homeschool my kids. Thank the Lord we have a school we love that loves our kids right back.” Guess what happened? Yes, again. We are entering year 3 of homeschooling. I specifically said I could never homeschool my youngest because his strong will and his learning challenges. I felt sure I’d ruin our relationship forever.

The Lord saw more at stake than I could ever know. In this post, I can’t even begin to tell you all the Lord has done in our family by this act of obedience to homeschool when He led us this direction. But I can say it’s changed everything. I believe one day I’ll look back and shudder to wonder what life would have been like if we’d not listened to God and done what we wanted instead.

I wanted to write and speak more. The Lord wanted me to lay down my dreams and desires at the cross. He wanted me to submit those plans to Him and trust Him to keep them safe for me. He wanted me to know that He wouldn’t take a dream away from me for the sake of taking away a dream. He had bigger dreams. I dreamed too small. I needed to trust and wait.

Sometimes the biggest dreams come true from the smallest of daily sacrifices.

I needed to learn to let God shape my dreams. I needed to allow Him to break my own strong will so He could use me more fully.

“I’ll never write another book again.” I wrote Seeking Christmas naive to the publishing world. I thought I was obedient to write the book and the Lord would do the rest. I had no idea how much marketing would be involved. It was incredibly challenging and I never ever ever wanted to do that again. So I told the Lord in the secret space of my heart to count me out.

audio devotional

Well, I wrote Illuminate. It wasn’t a book. It wasn’t published by a traditional publisher. You know what? I’ve had to do the exact amount of work sharing Illuminate that I did for Seeking Christmas.

Here’s some smaller nevers.

  • I’ll never stop drinking Coke
  • I’ll never lose my sweet tooth and intense love of desserts.

Ya’ll these two right here came from a place of wanting to hang tightly to my own likes and fleshly desire. I gripped so tight and said I’d never let go.

The Lord knew how tight I clung and with the most gentle touch I’ve ever received He removed my Coke addiction before I ever realized it was gone. This is an entirely separate post altogether and I will write out more of this journey soon.

But there is one more thing I said I’d never do again and I think you can guess the outcome. I’m doing it.

A little backstory first….

In 2005, after 2 years of praying for a way for me to stay home with our kids and help me find a way to replace my income as a CPA, God brought an opportunity. It took work. Money didn’t fall in my lap. I went for it, worked hard, and in 5 months I replaced my salary, earned a car, and 3 months later began staying at home with our 2 year old and newborn.

You know what I was doing during those months? Leading a team of women. I’d never been in a leadership role before. Suddenly, I found myself with all these women looking to me for guidance, encouragement, and motivation. I fell in love with this team of women. I fell in love with leadership.

Saying yes to that opportunity changed the trajectory of our entire lives. Financially for sure. But serving in that role prepared me to lead women spiritually in the years to come. I never guessed God had bigger assignments down the road to lead women closer to Him.

After the season of working with this company, building a successful business, life got busy. We moved states. I started writing and stopped working my business. I looked at it as having served its role and time in my life. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart. Then secretly said, “That was awesome. I’ll never do that again.” Because, well, it’s work.

Back to the point. I said I’d never do it again. The first time around we desperately needed the finances. As it stands today we are in a different place financially than 13 years ago. But over the last 9 months, God has been drawing me towards something. I started plugging my ears initially.

“God, I don’t hear you. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.”

Then He brought me face to face with two things. One is bringing all my experiences with health issues in our family, all the research over the last 13 years I’ve done in this area, my passion for helping people, my desire to share all good things all the time, and then something so unexpected in a doctor’s office. But all these things came together and the Lord said, “Look. Pay attention.”

I sat with my husband in the office of an eye specialist. Andrew had weeks of testing done to determine the level of his visual processing disorders. It was clear we were about to spend the next year in weekly therapy to train his brain and eyes to communicate and process properly.

This therapy could change his life forever.

It’s expensive. Incredibly expensive. The Lord provided the money via the sale of our home in North Carolina last year. I began to wonder, how does the average person who didn’t just sell a home pay for this type of therapy?

I’d read an article recently about the percentage of children who have these disorders who never receive therapy services. Many are in low income situations and have no access. The statistics were frightening about the children who without intervention would go on to become involved in drugs, gangs, serve time in prison, etc. I felt that familiar movement in my heart. The one that says, “We have to do something about this!”

As we sat in the doctor’s office, God began speaking to me. He showed me the why behind what He was drawing me into.

I’d felt God drawing me toward a particular business. But it made zero sense at all. None. Not an ounce. I homeschool, which is full time. I write. I just launched an e-commerce business. Nope. Didn’t want to hear it.

The Holy Spirit is quite persistent though.

As we left the office I asked one of the staff members if there were scholarship opportunities for these children who need services and can’t afford them. The answer. No.

I stood at a point of intersection. All of my experiences of leading women, leading a business team, researching and learning so much about health over a 13 year period that all began when I began having unexplained stomach issues, hosting orphans causing my heart to never be able to ignore the hurts of children again, watching God shape me into a person who wants to help people all the live long day. And then there was this extended hand of opportunity waiting. All while I’m leading a bible study by Priscilla Schirer, Discerning the Voice of God, in my home.

I got in my car and began to cry. The Lord has grown, changed, shaped, and molded me since the very first I never was uttered by my heart. Each never He’s pushed me towards has turned into blessings I can’t bear to think about having missed. And yet, here is another one. I have a choice. I can go my way. Or I can take the road of opportunity. I can release fear. I can live freely in Him. I can receive all He has. Or I can walk the “safe” road. But oh what we miss on that path of “safety”.

I stepped into another “I’ll never”. I said yes to building another business. Not because I have extra time. But because when I saw how the products were changing me and I saw the potential I had to use this business to change the course of the lives of others, I simply couldn’t say no.

My big why is that I want to live free in the abundant life He promises. I want to live a healthy and whole life so I can pour out my healthy life for the sake of others. I want to create a scholarship fund for kids who can’t afford vision therapy that can change the rest of their lives. I want to watch my friends and family gain their health back because that is the life we were intended to live. Abundantly. Bearing fruit.

Why do I share all this with you? Because I process my heart as I write. Because my desire is to encourage and inspire you. And because I trust as I share my stories with you, you are finding your own stories tucked inside mine.

So what “I nevers” are you carrying in your back pocket? Might it be time to lay them at the foot of the cross?

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself & Why You Are Worth It

Invest in yourself.

These were the only words written on a page of notes my son wrote at a youth event.

I focused on these lone words and paid attention because I’ve been pondering this exact phrase recently.

I think the tendency for many of us is to focus on investing solely in our families or others at the expense of ourselves. The money we spend on youth sports, the time we give sitting at recitals and tryouts, the hours we spend taxiing our kids to their friend’s house, their job, or next activity. The time we give serving in all areas we are needed. The hours we spend cleaning or organizing to invest in a warm, comfortable environment. The time we spend meal planning, preparing meals. The hours we spend at a teen’s bedside talking that we’d plan to spend asleep. All of these daily duties play a role in investing in the lives of the ones we love most.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

May we not grow weary. May we not lose focus and hope. May we also see the value in the investment of ourselves. Because others deserve the best version of us we have to offer.

Investing in ourselves isn’t selfish. It’s life-giving to everyone we encounter.

The temptation in this culture is to wear the busy badge and play the martyr mom or wonder woman role. The one where we give all we have and run ourselves into the ground as a sacrificial offering. While this may look noble for 5 minutes, the long-term effects aren’t so noble.

How is there time to invest in ourselves when life is so demanding? How can we squeeze in one more thing?

This is where I’ve been camping out recently. For me, I’ve found it means letting go of a few things. Some of those “things” are actually expectations. I may simply not be able to do all the things I want to the level I want. I’m learning to be okay with less in order that I have the energy for the things that matter most.

Last year I shared about my journey through a stomach ulcer. This was a major wake up call to me. What I learned is that my physical body will break down if I don’t care for my total body – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.

I invest in taking care of my car because it’s paid for, and I want it to last for as many years as I can get out of it. I invest in caring for my house because I want it to offer to our family and others the best it can. I take care of my family because I love them and want to see them flourish in life. Why would I not think investing in my own well-being is as important as investing in anything else I invest in?

Our Heavenly Father’s heart is that we love ourselves, children of the King, seeing our worth in Him as so valuable that we invest in caring for ourselves because we know how loved we are. Caring for ourselves is critical if we desire to care for others.

Before I share 5 ways to invest in yourself, I may need to share with you why you are worth the investment of both time and money.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

1 Peter 2:9

You are worth the investment because you are:

  • a child of the King
  • created in the image of God
  • loved enough that He sent His Son to die for you.
  • His prized possession. A holy treasure.
  • special.

How do you handle the things in your life you deem as special and valuable? Probably with extreme care. You might even spend money on taking care of them so they last.

So the why is simply because He says you are worth it! And then – so you can be poured out for the greater work of the Kingdom.

5 Ways to invest in yourself

  1. Pay money for something you believe will be good for you.

  2. Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive.

  3. Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  4. Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship.

  5. Add one spiritual discipline.

Here’s the breakdown:

1- Pay money for something that you believe will be good for you. Pay actual real dollars. Why? Because it holds value and when we pay our hard earned dollars for something, we are more likely to treat it seriously.

What could you pay money for? Well, is there a talent you want to develop? A craft? A hobby? Something for your profession?

I paid actual real money investing in myself over the last few months. I’m taking an online course to learn all things Pinterest in order to learn how to use it effectively in sharing my writing and my shop. I paid actual real money to join a writer’s membership site because I want to grow in the areas of writing, marketing, and entrepreneurship I feel stuck in.

Typically, I wouldn’t spend the money on myself in these areas. But I began feeling God’s leading in these areas and realized how quick I am to pay for my children to get better in a sport or hobby or anything they love.

2- Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive. Seems hardly an investment but it actually is. Doing something simply because you enjoy it helps you to experience rest and joy in doing what you love. We often neglect ourselves from having fun because we take ourselves too seriously.

One way I’ve been doing this is by reading fiction. Reading is something I love and is totally fun to me, yet it seems to be the thing I’ll never take time for. However, recently I’ve heard the boys remind me to take some time to read. They see I am a better mom when I’ve taken even a brief time out from chasing life to simply sit and enjoy it.

This is an investment in a time out of sorts for ourselves. Time out from the seriousness of life in order that we find the fun and lovely again. Investing in our souls.

3- Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  • Replace one can of soda with a glass of water
  • If you don’t exercise, add walking 3 mornings a week
  • Eliminate desserts and sweets
  • Add in an extra vegetable everyday.

The options here are limitless. No matter where we are on this journey, we can all make one small adjustment today that will invest in our physical bodies. Often this requires dollars spent for me. When I invest in healthy supplements or healthier food options or a gym membership, I feel held accountable to stewarding that investment well.

4- Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship. Simply be with a friend.

  • Invite one friend or several friends over for coffee.
  • Call a friend on the phone and have a catch up conversation.
  • Invite a friend to walk with you.

I often hear people say they don’t have time for friends or to simply go to coffee with another person. In other cultures, investing in relationships is priority over productivity.

We were created by a relational God to be in relationships with others. We were not created to be productivity machines who could create the perfect life and keep up with all the increasing demands. Yet, that is the temptation in today’s culture.

Open your home, invite someone in, invite someone out. Just go be with someone. Invest time (and potentially dollars) in building deep, meaningful relationships.

5- Add one spiritual discipline. Commit for 30 days.

  • Do you struggle to pray regularly? Set an alarm. Add in even just one minute. Starting starts somewhere. Don’t focus on where you start. Just start. It’ll change your life and become 2nd nature.
  • Do you read your Bible daily? Wake up 10 minutes early. Read for 5 minutes.
  • Scripture memory. Write a verse on a card. Keep it nearby and read it a few times a day. Tape it to the mirror or the car dash.
  • Never fasted? Choose one meal once a week to fast from.

Each of these 5 things, when added in, will invest in our total lives for the better of everyone we intersect our lives with. Investing in ourselves is worth it.

We are valuable to our Father. He knows every hair on our head. He cares deeply and tenderly for us. To invest in caring for ourselves is simply aligning with the way our Father thinks of us. We are a holy treasure. Therefore, we should handle with the best care.

When we begin to care for ourselves by investing well, we offer the best of us to the world. One step at a time we impact the world for good.

If you find yourself wanting to invest in your spiritual growth, I have something I think can help you along that path. In the writing and recording of Illuminate, I can’t tell you how much God has grown me. Spending 14 days focusing on who He is completely changed how I view every situation I find myself in.

Now when fear speaks too loudly, I’ve practiced for 14 days turning my heart and mind back to who He is. Fear shrinks. When anxiety threatens to take me down, I’ve practiced for 14 days laying down my worries and remembering the magnitude of God.

Illuminate is a 14 day audio devotion, with transcripts, with the goal of creating in you the spiritual discipline of renewing your mind. It’s practicing the art of remembrance of who God is by the light of His Word, no matter what storms of life may blow our way.

It’s gentle and kind to your soul. It’s 10 minutes or less a day. It’s yours forever. At the end of 14 days, you may find you are ready to start again with another 14 days. It’s $10 that you are more than worth. It’s one small way you can invest in yourself spiritually.

audio devotional

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Create an intentional summer the easy way – some of my favorite summer posts on life, memories, traditions, and experiences

Summer time is my favorite time. Summer is easy if we let it be easy. Spend much time on Pinterest and you will feel like you must create amazing systems, schedules, and creative experiences. But just let all that roll by you and embrace the beauty of a simple summer.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite summer posts over the last several years. Here’s links for a few of them.

We Only Have 18 Summers

“I’ve said it before – Lord willing, we only get 18 summers with our children. That’s it. 18 summers.

I do believe that living intentionally allows us to move from stage to stage with a deeper sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing we chose to live fully in the moments. Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but we can at least look back with fewer regrets over how we spent our time.”

Summer is for simple moments

Summer doesn’t have to be complicated with filled with expensive bucket list items.

Summer is for taking back time.
Summer is for championing for our families and friends. For cheering and celebrating life.
Summer is for friends. Summer is for simply investing in life-giving relationships.
Summer is for simple moments.
Summer is for slowing down and simply being.
Like all of life, summer is a gift.

Mission Mondays – A Summer Tradition

Sometimes summer can turn into a time of “all about us”. We become so focused on creating a summer to remember for our kids, we fail to remember one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is create hearts of compassion that care more about others than themselves.

Blackberry Moments (P.S. This was one of my very first blog posts when my blog turned from simply a family yearbook to an intentional ministry. While the writing has changed over time, the heart of this post remains one of my all time favorites.)

“To grab the moments, we must be available. Life needs to be a little less complicated, a little less distracted, a little less busy. Buffers of time must exist in order to capture the moments that sometimes crop up unexpectedly, without warning.

We have one chance to paint a beautiful life. Lord willing, the day will come when we have more time on our hands than we know how to fill. Our houses will be quieted. Our homes will look the same way at 7 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm. Because there will be no block towers built, no army scenes created, no pillow forts constructed, and no sword fights fought.”

Don’t Blink, Then I Blinked

#dontblink – a common hashtag when celebrating graduations, birthdays, a new school year, or a life change.

#theniblinked -it’s like a sudden realization that time actually does move at a pace that is frighteningly slow in real time yet megafast in the replay.

One day we are wiping smashed peas off chubby cheeks, then we seem to blink as we watch that same child wiping milk from our new grandbaby’s mouth.

Each blink is a gift full of opportunity. How do we blink through life without missing a moment?

What if we never stopped playing?

I have to work to play. Work comes easy. Play – not so much.

My kids want me in the pool with them. On the basketball court. Not on the sidelines.

I’ve come to a new conclusion on play. Play is important no matter our age. In fact, maybe play is even more important for grown ups than it is for kids.

Maybe if we played more, we’d snap less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d grumble less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d let the little things go with ease.

Maybe if we played more, we’d sleep sounder.

Maybe if we played more, we’d laugh harder and linger longer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d listen closer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d love more intensely.

Maybe if we played more, we’d rekindle what’s dwindled.

How Not To Waste A Life

I’m living my life fully spent. I’m not saving an ounce for the future because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Each day I’m falling into bed exhausted with nothing left to give, yet sleeping with complete peace knowing I’m exerting every ounce exactly where He has me right now.

It’s a different kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes not from overcommitting or trying to do everything placed before me. It’s the kind of exhaustion from living fully right here.

I’m trading in being a saver of life so I can savor life.

 

Ok- so creating this post for you today was more for me than I realized. That is typically how God works in me through my writing. I sit down wanting to minister to you and serve you. But when I’m done, I feel God has given me an incredible gift. I stopped after 7 posts.

I don’t intend you to sit and read them all in one sitting. Save today’s post and read one or two a day. Let the Lord move you in the direction of intentional simplicity. Living life to the fullest. Life is a beautiful journey. Each moment is unique and will never exist again in the same exact way. Embrace and live.

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve created a tool to help you simply sit with Jesus. There’s a sweet joy in letting go of the frantic pace of life for 10 sweet minutes to sit at His feet. I tend to be more like Martha than Mary, working more than sitting. Jesus loved Mary’s offering.God is inviting you to simply sit at His feet. You don’t need a book, or a group, or an extra night carved out of your schedule. You simply need an email address.

When you order Illuminate, it will arrive quietly into your inbox. It will patiently wait on you. And when you listen, God will speak to you. I’ve prayed for your time with Him as you allow Illuminate to help you to focus your heart and mind simply on God, the lover of your soul.

It’s $10. It’s yours forever. It would make a sweet gift to someone the Lord brings to your mind who could use some encouragement and reminders of who loves them with a reckless love. Click the picture for more information.

audio devotional

 

 

 

 

How to literally rest on the Word of God

May we rest on the very Word of God, turning our attention and affection to Him, the Alpha and Omega, with the first and last of our day.

Did you read yesterday’s post? If not, read it before today’s post.

So I told you my big news yesterday, but I promised to tell a little more today.

My favorite item in my shop right now is the scripture pillowcase. A place to literally, physically rest on the Word of God.

The Story of the Instruct Me While Sleep Scripture Pillowcases

When my youngest son was a little guy, we often found him asleep with his head on his Bible or the Bible laid over his chest or wrapped in his arms. It was as if he knew how desperately he needed the Word of God near him always.

My scripture pillowcases were born out of a desire to give my son something a little softer for his head while reminding him of the nearness of God.

I found myself praying over my children at night, “God, instruct their hearts with truth even as they sleep.”

I based this prayer on Psalm 16:7 “I will praise the LORD who counsels me– even at night my conscience instructs me.”

I also found myself praying key verses to help them rest into sleep. So I’d post sticky notes on their beds, nightstands, and doors.

I created a scripture pillowcase for one of my sons when he faced a particularly challenging season. That pillow became a prized possession of his.

These scripture pillows are now a staple in our home and a reminder of the One who holds us and protects every minute of our day, even while we sleep.

My desire is to offer you a tool for training up your children in the way they should go while also creating something for you to enjoy as well!

Why Scripture Pillowcases?

-It’s prettier and longer lasting than post it notes with scripture on the headboard and nightstands.
-It reminds us to remember God.
-It aids in scripture memory.
-It helps us overcome fear as we place our focus on His Word.
-Because we face a long day of the world wearing us down. We need constant encouragement from God’s Word.
-It’s a fringe spot in the home to claim for intentional spiritual training grounds.
-Because scripture centers and transforms us. The more places we have it, the better off we are.

The Bottom Line

“Mom, why are you doing this business?”

“Because God instructs us to instruct our children with truth as we walk along the road, sit at home, as we rise up, and as we lie down. He tells us to put it on our doorposts. I’m taking God’s instruction to heart. This culture is filled with godlessness and I want to give families a practical way to use God’s Words in places that might be empty.”

“Mom, tell them that.”

I smiled. This conversation happened after I spent time reading and explaining all the information to them about my why. But my simple why is all he really wanted. And he reminded me it’s all you really want as well.

So the bottom line is this. Your home is full of fringe spots ready to be claimed. You lay your head on a pillow every night. It’s the first and the last thing your eyes see. So why not have God’s Word right there?

May we rest on the very Word of God, turning our attention and affection to Him, the Alpha and Omega, with the first and last of our day.

I’m so fearful to share this with you, so here goes!

Although I belong to a gym, I’m not a big gym person. I do one thing at this gym. Kickboxing. Sometimes I branch out and take a strength class. But mostly, I take a class from my favorite instructor.

After a couple of busy weeks out of the gym, I made it back to kickboxing. The instructor stopped by to chat as she made her way to refill her water prior to starting class. I removed my jacket, revealing my sleeveless arms,  and her eyes grew wide as she gave a tiny gasp pointing to my biceps.

I thought in that brief moment, “Well. They aren’t enormous, but I am pretty proud of the growth of these old biceps.” I had increased my weights by a mere couple of pounds.

As I met her gasp with my proud nod and a slight flexing of these scrawny biceps, she said, “Oh my goodness! Your arms!”

I looked down thinking they must have grown much larger than I remembered. As I looked at my biceps, I instantly realized what had her so astounded. My almost 3 week old, sunburn turned tan which left a distinct farmer’s tan right across my bicep area.

The immediate embarrassment set in. I just played right along like I knew what she was talking about the entire time. I know you’ve been there too. Insert laughing emoji.

Oh embarrassment. Some moments are much more embarrassing than others. But none feel particularly good at the moment.

I rarely post two days in a row, but today I felt compelled to write to you. Mostly because God is showing me how my fear is holding me back, and I need to push straight through it.

What am I fearing? Embarrassment! Failure. All of it. I may fail right before your very eyes. But if I never try, I automatically fail.

I have a dream in my heart, and I’m following it.

So I’m just going to blurt it right here at you.

I’ve started a business. So now that I’ve actually told you, there is no going back. Here goes my story and my why. I’m fighting the temptation to fire hose you with everything I’m holding in. Sometimes my passion is a bit off-putting.

WHY?

I write to inspire and encourage your journey of life. My desire is to cheer you on as you intentionally step day by day with God. The same is true with my shop. My goal is to inspire families to be spiritually intentional in every nook and cranny of their life and home.

We live in a culture that is saturated with messages we don’t want penetrating and affecting our families. Therefore, we must take extra measures to saturate our homes and our lives with Truth.

I’ve found that what I place before my children’s eyes, over time, becomes ingrained in them.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol[a] on your forehead.[b] 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

In our home we take this instruction seriously.

Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

I wrote a post titled Total Immersion is the Way to Bathe Our Kids in Truth. The culture we are raising our kids in is set to devour them. We have to be on the offense in our parenting. Truth must be before them always.

There are fringe spots in your home you need to claim as spiritual training grounds. That is why I’m starting a product based business full of inspirational items to have before your eyes everywhere you turn.

For today I have scripture pillowcases, inspirational tea towels, and an audio devotion. But down the road, my vision is much bigger. In fact, my favorite product is still in the design stage.

I have so many ideas in my head. But today I’m staying here where I am. The pillowcases are my very favorite. I’m sharing my story of these treasures tomorrow. I may set a record for the most posts in a week. Ever. But don’t unsubscribe. This is highly unusual for me. And my sister’s here next week, so you won’t hear a peep from me for about 9 days!

My shop is right here on my blog. It has an incredibly unique name. Renee Robinson Shop 🙂

Check it out.

 

audio devotional

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About disappointment and the moment that almost was

 

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As I pulled away from dropping my son off at his work orientation (I can’t believe I just wrote that and we are in this moment of life), I headed toward the practical, good use of one and a half hours – the grocery store. Instead of my car sliding into the open parking spot, it seemed pulled away, as if it had a mind of its own. I gave into the urge and left practicality behind.

This is so not who I am. Spontaneous and unpractical.

I pulled right out of that grocery store parking lot, and my car happened upon the coffee shop. I had a book in my car, and suddenly the thought of a cup of coffee in my silent car with only a book to keep company with seemed more than my needy soul could handle.

The drive-thru line moved at a summer pace. I was unbothered. I had an entire hour and a half. When it was my turn at the window, the wait continued. I smiled, chatty with the window worker. Who needed to be bothered by impatience and time on this beautiful afternoon? I breathed slow and deep. Sunroof open, windows down. Smells of fresh cut grass and coffee wafting in and out.

I leaned back into the headrest and released a long held breath. I was just at this coffee shop last week with a friend. A conversation popped in my head. She told me about a nail salon around the corner she’d heard great things about.

I leaned forward considering the idea. An hour and a half I’d planned to grocery shop and wait in the car for my son could turn into an hour and a half of a pedicure, book, and cup of coffee. The giddiness began to rise right on up.

She handed my coffee through the window as I offered back an exuberant thank for an insanely overpriced latte. I pulled into the nail salon, picked out my color, and took my seat. The kind man led me to a chair waiting just for me. I pulled up the legs of my jeans, lowered my feet into that soothing, smell good water, turned on the massage chair, and opened my book.

My phone rang. Jacob Robinson. I thought to myself, “That’s weird. He still has at least an hour of orientation.”

“Hello?”

“Mom, I need you to come pick me up right now, please.”

“What? Why?”

“Mom, orientation moved to another day. Please come get me now.”

I closed up the book, removed my feet from the relaxing soak and began to dry them off. I found the kind man preparing to pamper my feet. “I’m so sorry. I have to go pick up my son. I don’t have time to stay.”

Laughing he waved me on, “No worries. We will see you again soon.”

Some moments in life are right there. Right within our reach. We see it, we are touching it. It’s almost….then it’s gone. And like that it’s gone before we ever held it. Or we held for a moment, only to have to release it before it belonged fully to us.

These life moments are sometimes trivial like a pedicure and coffee. But sometimes they are the biggest moments of our lives. Sometimes they are moments we can simply accept and move through. Sometimes they seem to steal our breath and drive to move forward.

I developed a habit as a kid from divorce. I taught myself to prepare for disappointment so the sting wouldn’t last as long. As I’ve grown up, particularly in my walk with Christ, He’s invited me to stop blocking the pain, and instead let Him become for me what I can’t be for myself. My Comforter and My Healer.

As a kid blocking pain, I told myself I was okay. It would be okay. Everything would be okay. It was the only way I knew how to cope.

Christ offers something radically different. He tells us it’s not okay, we aren’t okay, but it’s all okay because He is here with us.

If I continued on my childish ways, I’d continue growing in self-sufficiency. This is the very thing in my life I’ve been slaying.

It’s anti-cultural. The messages that tell us we are enough, we are strong, we are brave. They focus on us, building us up. But I am not enough. I wasn’t created to be enough. I need Christ in every moment of my life.

Christ wants to be our everything. He wants to take our disappointment, our pain, our hurt, our loneliness. He wants to hold us right where we are in order that we can get up and move with hope.

He’s tender and kind.

When my son got in the car, I could relate to his disappointment. He had a day of similar disappointments.

I didn’t try to fix his problems. I simply kept company with him. God will be for my child what I can’t be. He will be the ultimate comforter and healer. As I’m learning to allow God into this space of my heart and my soul, I’m seeing the beauty of watching Him do the same in the lives of my children.

My tendency has always been to try to fix things for people. Mostly because I don’t want them to hurt or feel disappointed. While God will at times use me as an instrument of healing in someone’s life, I’m learning instead to wait on His voice to direct me. Sometimes He gives me words they need. Sometimes He tells me to sit quietly.

Until I’ve allowed God to be who He is to me, it’s hard for me to see Him be that to the ones I love. Releasing my need to block the pains of disappointment, I’ve opened myself more fully to God. His loving arms pull me tight. He whispers to my heart, “You are loved, Daughter. You are loved. I will care for you when you hurt. I will touch the painful sores in your soul. I will heal you and comfort you.”

It’s a process. Some disappointments and pains are easier to heal than others. Some take days, weeks, months, and years. I know He is faithful. I keep redirecting my mind to who He is apart from what He does. His nature and character, revealed in His Word, center me.

He is my Comforter.

Lord, I surrender. I lay down my desire to comfort myself. I lay down my fight to be what I can’t be. Today, I will walk through whatever comes my way and allow myself to fully feel the weight of it. Without trying to fix myself or someone else, I will turn to You and allow You to do what You do best. Thank You I can rest into You. Thank you that You will faithfully comfort every single time and wipe away every single shed tear. Amen

I’ve prayerfully created a resource for you to guide you as you journey more intimately with God. Our souls long for us to tenderly care for them. Take a 14 day journey with me through Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve created it in such a way that you will receive 14 emails, one per day. Each day will include an audio and a print link. You can simply hit play and allow yourself to relax and listen. Or you can read if you aren’t an audio lover.I’ve heard from many Illuminate listeners that it’s become their favorite part of the day. It’s a break from the race and a redirect to the One who desires to walk with us intimately.

For the month of May I have something really special for you so you can share Illuminate with your friends and family. Once you’ve purchased a copy of Illuminate, you can purchase up to 4 copies at 50% off. Basically, get 2 copies for free! This applies to any who has already purchased a copy as well.

Simply reply back to this post or contact me directly with your original purchase date or email address and I will give you a unique coupon code.

Purchase your copy today.

 

audio devotional

 

Before Mother’s Day arrives try adjusting your expectations

At the intersection of expectations and reality can be disappointment depending on our perspective and perception.

We have a choice in how we choose to view life.

Mother’s Day on social media can bring a vast array of emotions our way. So I thought I’d share a post I wrote after Mother’s Day a few years ago – So How Was Your Mother’s Day?

I wrote this post because some Mother’s Days are simply ordinary days. We do what we do everyday. We kiss skinned knees, we prepare lunch, we read bedtime stories, we change diapers, we breakup arguments. Some of us will go to work on Mother’s Day. Some Mother’s Days will be ordinary to the fullest.

In our social media driven world, ordinary isn’t post-worthy. What seems to be worthy of the attention of the world are the pictures and captions to show a mom pampered and showered with affection. A day set aside that is not ordinary at all. A day that calls out “Look at me. I’m special.”

If we aren’t careful in our own hearts, we will miss the beautiful ordinary handcrafted for us. We will miss stepping into our ordinary with full awareness of the nearness of God.

There is no guilt and shame here. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t post our spectacular moments we want to share with our social world. This is to say that the moments we see in the lives of others do not define our own moments. They don’t judge our moments. They don’t belittle our moments. They are simply not our moments.

It’s hard to stay in our own lanes these days isn’t it? The other lane is before our eyes all day long. We have to choose how we view that lane because the reality is, we can’t focus on our lane only.

I choose to view my ordinary days as holy days. My ordinary life is His holy ground.

Motherhood is sacred. Every single drop of it.

As I wrote Illuminate, God continued showing me the holiness of ordinary life. Each moment is new life. Each moment is one that will never happen again in the exact way.

Time doesn’t have a rewind button. It moves forward. As I step with time, I step with God through mundane, ordinary life that is anything but ordinary if I choose to see the holy ground where I stand.

Step into your Mother’s Day and your everyday with eyes open to the fingerprints of God. His hand is all over your life. Even in the painful moments.

It’s easy to see God’s blessings when life is going the direction we hoped. Remember how I started this post? At the intersection of expectations and reality can be disappointment depending on our perspective and perception.

Some relationships and situations are painful, making it hard to see the hand of God. It tempts us to sit in disappointment because it isn’t what we expected. Step by step God asks us to hand it to Him, to renew our mind, and walk one step at a time.

You are held and loved by God. I felt God wanted me to remind you of this.

Maybe you should give yourself a little Mother’s Day gift today. I’ve created something that will light a path for you to begin seeing God with fresh eyes. Illuminate-Seeing God by the Light of His Word.

My boys asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I fired back, “A massage.” That just sounds luxuriously wonderful.

The fact is as moms, we don’t often give ourselves treats like massages and pampering retreats. So today, I want you to give yourself a gift. It’s actually a 14 day gift that will continue to give to you moment by moment.

When you order Illuminate, it will arrive quietly into your inbox. It will patiently wait on you. And when you listen, God will speak to you. I’ve prayed for your time with Him as you allow Illuminate to help you to focus your heart and mind simply on God, the lover of your soul.

It’s $10. It’s yours forever. It would make a sweet gift to yourself. You could use some encouragement and reminders of who loves you with a reckless love. Click the picture for more information.

audio devotional