When Fear Makes Us Miss What’s Best

MK

Two weeks ago our family took a trip to Orlando to see the Atlanta Braves Spring Training. We surprised the boys with an unexpected day at Disney on one of the off game days.

We arrived at the front gate before the sun had fully risen, one of the first to enter the opening gates. About 3 minutes into walking down Main Street at Magic Kingdom, Andrew moaned, “When can we finally go home?!”

My head whipped around as I looked at him astonished. “We JUST got here. This is Disney. It’s SO MUCH FUN!”

Here we go again, I thought to myself. This is not at all how this is supposed to happen. What kid isn’t thrilled at walking the streets of Disney? Look at all these other kids – smiling, happy, jumping with delight. And look at my child – sulking, pouting, clearly unhappy to be in this place where dreams come true.

As we made our way to Tomorrowland, we each took a turn selling Andrew on our day ahead. Arms crossed, arguing with everything, refusing to ride or even enjoy himself was his response to us.

Our saving grace was grandma, who sat with him while we rode rides. Once we promised him we would call grandpa to come pick him up, he was fine. He wanted out of magic land fast.

Apparently, Magic Kingdom isn’t magical for everyone.

Once his mood began to offer a glimmer of hope at lifting, my anxiety began to wane a bit. I tried desperately to squash the reminders in my head about how much money we wasted on his ticket. I tried to look for anything that would help me from speaking to him with such a frustrated tone of voice.

It wasn’t simply that Andrew wanted to be difficult. It wasn’t as if his 6 year old brain determined to ruin our day. It was fear. Simply fear.

Andrew fears rides. He can’t handle the thought of being strapped into a ride and losing all sense of control. Locking himself into a situation where he relinquishes every ounce of control and placing himself at the mercy of mechanics is not his idea of adventure.

As we walked along, Jacob said, “Mom, I’m so just sad for Andrew. I’m sad because he has no idea what he is missing. We know what he is missing. He will go home and never know how much fun he could’ve had today.”

“That is what fear does to us. It causes us to miss out on surprises God has for us, and we never know what could’ve been.”

The fact is fear wins in my life everyday. In little ways, ways I fail to see most days. I wonder what I miss out on each day because I’ve allowed fear to persuade me to stay in the shadows of what I think I know to be best for me.

We grabbed a couple of those Mickey Mouse ice creams and headed to the Jungle Cruise, but we were careful to eliminate the word “ride” from our vocabulary. “Come on, Andrew, let’s go hop on this boat after we eat our ice cream.”

boysdisney

Andrew loves boats. Andrew fears rides. We took a boat ‘ride’, and he loved every second of it because he thought it wasn’t a ride.

Isaiah 41:13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, “Fear not, I will help you.

God doesn’t need to trick us. We just need to trust Him. Trust that He knows what is best. Trust that He wants the best for us.

He holds us by the hand. He tells us not to fear. Today, may we stop holding hands with fear, and hold His hand. Fear is our enemy, and fear persuades us to cling close by. God tells us to let go of fear, for He holds our right hand. He will help us.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

I Want To Raise Boys to Be Culture Warriors

nyc

We were in NYC a few months ago- me, my sister, niece, and mom. The cold rain could not stop us from hopping on and off that tour bus to get us to the next shopping location. Finally shopped out, we hopped on and didn’t want to hop back off.

We had the whole bus to ourselves, and I sat relieved to sit in dry warmth. My achy feet thanked me profusely. We welcomed the next 20ish minutes to sit, thaw, and relax.

The bus stopped at the next stop, and the next thing I knew I was exiting the bus not at our stop, which was still many stops ahead. The driver said something I couldn’t understand, we filed out and hopped on the bus waiting at the stop ahead of us. This bus was packed full, standing room only. And the standing room section dripped water. Cold and wet again.

Then it dawned on me to ask what in the world we were doing. None of us really knew why we got off and got on another bus, so we asked the attendant to explain. She had no explanation.

The longer I thought about it, the more I fumed. Not so much at the bus company, but at myself for blindly following and asking not one question.

The very next stop, we hopped off that crowded, cold, wet bus and hopped back on our dry, warm, full of open seats bus. We asked the attendant why he instructed us to get off. He offered no really good reason.

I couldn’t help but think about how we so often do this in life. We just follow the ways of the world. The paths others follow. We assume because they are going that way, it must be safe for us to follow.

God gave us brains to think critically. I want my boys to think. Really think.

Our culture can at times forget to think. We let others think for us. We believe every new study published is truth. Or we believe because it’s available to us, it’s safe for us. We believe every article posted on Facebook is laced with wisdom. We follow the masses with each new wave of thought and change that presents itself.

We fear being different. We fear being wrong, so we keep our thoughts quietly locked away. We silence our questions and tell ourselves if everyone else is doing it, it must be ok.

Culture is always changing. It’s changed since the beginning of time, it will change until the end of time.

I read articles in the news that cause me to gasp that we’ve come so far. As we drove to school one morning, Jacob said, “Mom, I just don’t get it. Our nation was built on Biblical principles. We are a nation under God, but we are trying to take “In God We Trust” off our money, and we are taking prayer out of schools. Why are we doing these things?”

Small steps, one by one, we follow the way of the world. And one by one, we can take small steps that oppose the way of the world that leads back to God.

I reminded Jacob of a friend of mine who defends religious liberties, who stands up for the voice of the unborn. And then I reminded him of the most important tool we have. Prayer. Prayer is what can change a nation, a culture, a generation. Prayer changes everything.

He is seeing it first-hand. He came home from school sharing about some issues that are weighing heavily on him. They are out of our control. So we decided we would pray so God could change the situations. And He is! Jacob is seeing God work out what he was powerless to affect.

Raising kids seems intimidating in this age, but it’s really an unbelievable opportunity and privilege. We get to be part of standing with God, laying our requests at His feet, and watching Him perform miracles.

We can’t stop believing that God is at work in our nation and in our homes. We can’t stop praying for this generation we are raising. We can’t just pray for our own kids, we have to pray for all kids. Praying they love God wholeheartedly, use their brains to think and act for God.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

When We Wonder When It Will Finally Be Our Turn

andrewbaseball

When you are the youngest of 3 boys, you watch your big brothers with exuberant anticipation for the day you can stand in their shoes. When your older brothers play baseball, you can throw and catch before you can recite your ABC’s or write anything legible. You learn the rules of the game before you understand that life is a never-ending, always learning game where we win some, we lose some.

When you are the youngest, you spend years outfitting yourself in another’s uniform. You watch the big guys play. You learn from their errors. You study their batting stance, you understand to always be baseball ready.

As you watch the ones who go before you, you long for your day to play. You’ve spent years running the bases for sheer delight. You’ve tagged along to someone else’s practices, knowing one day your time will come, and when it does, you will be ready to play.

Last weekend, Andrew was ready. 8 hours we spent outside in the freezing cold, wrapped in blankets as we watched back to back baseball games for our 3 boys. Andrew’s game was last.

When his team took the field, I scanned the players, who all look alike in uniform. I got to the little boy on second base and saw an expression of sheer and utter joy, smile that kidnapped his face, and waving arms that wanted to be sure I didn’t miss him and his moment.

All the thoughts of my misery in the cold, a back ache that had me up all night the night before, fatigue that wanted to get home and warm up disappeared. My boy had found his place, the place he’s longed for for years, the place where he feels joy unlike other activities and moments in his life. I know this because a year ago he was playing catch with Steve in the yard. He stopped, grabbed his chest, and exclaimed, “Dad! Dad! I feel something in my heart! I think it’s joy!”

When we walk in our gifts, talents, and the desires He placed in us, we feel a deep sense of joy unlike at other moments of our lives.

The entire game presented moments that melted my heart. The moment they asked who wanted to be catcher, and his hand shot up. Watching him wobble to home plate, catching my eye with that smile that captivates my heart. I flashed back to his 2nd birthday when he asked for catcher’s gear. The toddler years watching him dress up, the catcher’s mask that sits displayed on his shelf now. The moment he hit the ball and ran with every ounce of speed in his body to slide into first base! He’s always wanted to slide and couldn’t resist the opportunity. The moment he smacked the ball into outfield. It was everything he’d dreamed of. He was ready. He’d spent years getting ready for the day the Lord said, “Go.”

Driving home from dropping his brother at practice Sunday afternoon, Andrew said, “Mom, it felt so gooood to hit that ball. When I hit the ball, I felt Christ in me.”

I turned to Jacob, sitting next to me in the car, “Did you hear that?”

His expression told me he knew exactly what Andrew meant.

“When we are walking in the gifts and talents He placed in us, that joy can only be described as Christ in us.” Whether the gifts and talents are “good” compared to the world doesn’t matter. It’s walking in the gifts and abilities He placed in us, matched with giving it all for Him.

But sometimes it seems our time hasn’t come yet. Sometimes we become inpatient waiting for that open door to use those gifts and talents in the way we want to use them. Sometimes we look at others around us and become discouraged when we don’t see our open doors, yet our hearts are filled with bursting desire.  In the meantime, we prepare, we watch, we practice. God doesn’t waste an ounce of anything. Our waiting, our preparing, our practicing isn’t wasted time.

One of our all time favorite family movies is Facing the Giants. Please take 2 minutes to watch this inspirational clip. Such a beautiful reminder to bloom where He’s planted us, and that we are to walk through the doors opened for us. Only God opens and shuts doors.

Facing the Giants video “Prepare Your Fields”.

When I started writing, I remember talking to a friend, expressing my impatience in my waiting. I said, “Maybe I should just stop.” My friend said, “Only God has the right to open and close doors. He hasn’t closed that door, so you shouldn’t either. He has opened doors for you, just not the one you wanted. Walk through the doors He has opened.”

In the waiting season, we prepare our fields. And when God moves, and we move with Him, we are ready to work the fields. The joy we experience through Him is unlike anything the world offers.

Along our way, we are inspired by those God puts in our path, those He places in our lives to encourage us to get ready. I reminded Jacob how in someone else’s journey, God uses us along the way as well.

“Jacob, God used you in Andrew’s season of waiting. In his time of anticipation and getting ready, you were there to teach him and encourage him.”

Smiling, he leaned back into the chair. A perspective he’d never considered. To be used by God in ways he’d never paid attention to.

God is in everything. Everything. One day I hope I can stop looking for the purpose in everything and be satisfied that it is all for His purposes, some I may never see or understand. And that is ok.

I can’t resist posting Andrew’s hit that he describes as feeling Christ in him. I hope I never forget the look of joy in his eyes. I hope I never forget that only God is our everlasting joy. Moments in our life offer us a sampling, a tiny serving of joy. A joy is coming unlike anything we will ever experience here on this earth. Isn’t God sweet to let us taste a little, itty-bitty, teensie-weensie nibble of joy here and now?

Andrew’s big hit- here’s the video. video clip

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

Raising our kids to be leaders

numbers1424

He threw his full weight on the couch, slouching into the leather. Arms crossed, he groaned, “I don’t want to go. I’m tired of going.” He continued listing all the complaints he held about attending his running class that evening.

My hand pulled a quick zipping motion across my lips and my eyes sent a clear message about what I wanted him to stop doing that very moment.

“What? I just….”

“Nope. Stop right there. We will continue this is private. I’ll meet you upstairs.”

“Am I in trouble or something?”

“Nope, just wait for me upstairs.”

The two younger brothers stared back at me. They had running shoes on, water bottles filled, and suddenly their excitement seemed to fade away. I offered a quick smile, told them to play, and I’d be back in a bit.

I sat on the bed and faced my 11-year-old, Jacob. In his eyes, I see such a strength of character, such a heart for God, such tenderness holds guard around that heart.

I always start by assuring him I’m not upset (when I’m not).

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader, but God chose you to be a leader.”

His eyes raised. Curiosity awakened, so I continued.

“To be a leader doesn’t mean you simply choose to be a leader. Sometimes you don’t have a choice in whether you are a leader or not. Your only choice is whether you will lead well. Will you be a good leader or a bad leader.”

“List for me some leaders that come to mind.”
He rattled off some well-known great leaders. I reminded him of some poor leaders. Then I reminded him of some leaders that became leaders simply because others began to look up to them.

Each of us has been created with roles to lead and roles to follow. We were created by God to follow. To follow Him. We are His sheep. He is our Shepard. At the same time, He gave us dominion over creation, we rule over it. And in those roles, we will often have people who look to us to lead them in their roles.

We may be a leader at home, a follower of our teacher at school, a leader of our friends on the playground, a follower of our older friends in the neighborhood.

We are both leaders and followers. Our choice is what kind of leader we will be and what kind of follower we will be. In that conversation we focused on leading.

“Jacob, you didn’t choose to be a leader of your brothers. God chose that you were the firstborn brother. By that given right, you were placed in a leadership position. Your choice is how you will lead. Do you want to be a good leader or a bad leader?”

“Of course, good, mom.”

“Do you remember how God described the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land?”

“They were grumblers and complainers.”

“What happened to them? When they reached the promised land, how many entered and how many were not allowed to enter?”

“Like 2 million got there, but only Joshua and Caleb got to enter.”

“What do you notice about Joshua and Caleb that is different than the other Israelites?”

“The Israelites grumbled all the time. Joshua and Caleb didn’t.”

“One thing I want to point out about Caleb, he kept his focus on God. The Israelites focused on their circumstances. When we focus on God, we can lead well, we can follow well. When we focus on ourselves and our circumstances, we can become grumblers who can’t lead or follow. Look how negativity and complaining spread like wildfire. It took over the camp. It infected all but 2 people! It’s a nasty disease, which at its root is ingratitude, selfishness, and pride.”

“Your brothers, whether you like it or not, look to you to lead them. They adore you. They love you to pieces. They look to you to guide them. They base their likes and dislikes on yours. They are following your lead. When you stop liking something, so do they. When you complain, so do they. When you talk negatively about a person or situation, they start looking for the bad as well. On the flip side, when you point out something positive you took notice of, they take notice of the good around them to.”

His slouching shoulders straightened.

“Don’t worry. This role God gave you isn’t hard. It shouldn’t stress you out. Really all you have to do is be like Caleb. The Lord described Caleb as having a different kind of spirit, one who followed him with his whole heart. It all boils down to loving God with our whole heart. When we do that, leading become easy.”

To be a good leader, we have to be a better follower. We have to follow God with our whole heart. Then we will be a leader we could never be on our own.

As a mom, if I plan to lead my kids well, I have to follow God better.

I have to follow with my whole heart as I pray my children can do the same.

Lord, bless our children with a different spirit that is able to follow you wholeheartedly. Despite the voice of fear that mocks them, let them charge forward knowing you lead the way. Rise up a new generation of children who passionately follow you because Your truth is planted so deeply in their souls that following you isn’t a struggle. Use them to lead well those who follow them. And use them to lead those people straight into your arms.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $25 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

 

 

Treating the Flu Naturally and Other Hidden Blessings

flu

Today’s post is a bit off topic from what I normally write about, and I am no expert or authority on the world of health. But when I find things I love, and that I feel have been instrumental in our family, I have a hard time not sharing. And when I see how God has created things in nature that work to heal our bodies, I’m astounded.

We have had 3 kids sick with something similar to the flu. Maybe it is the flu, but we didn’t go to the doctor to make it official. In my experience, we go to the doctor and pick up something far worse than we went in with. We try to stay far away from the doctor this time of the year! And we NEVER go for well checks during flu season.

The Lord was so good to us through friends who are well-educated in all things natural. Whenever possible, I like to treat illness with natural remedies.

One of my favorite places to stop is The Bradford Store in Huntersville, NC. In particular, I like the little house that sits to the right of the Bradford Store, McLeod’s Organics. The man who runs it is full of knowledge in all things healthy. By the way, I believe he ships, so check out his store.

On Day 2 of Zachary’s fever, I sent him an email to see if he had any suggestions for fighting the flu naturally, made a stop in his store, and that day began the process of nursing Zachary to health.

Here’s what helped us. And we ended up with 3 kids down with it.

  • Epsom salt baths with 6-7 drops Somatherapy Cold/Flu essential oil blend
  • Diffuser running in the room with Somatherapy cold/flu essential oil blend
  • Lots and lots and lots of water. No other drinks, especially anything with sugar (gatorade, sprite, juice, etc). Water with lemon is a good detoxifier.
  • No food while no appetite. No sugar at all.
  • Face over steaming water with 2 drops of Oregano oil to open up sinuses.
  • Manuka Honey– I think this was the key for us. I’d never heard of it before. We used it in hot tea or when we couldn’t get him to drink the tea, we put on a piece of bread when his appetite returned.
  • Hot teas/drinks – below for recipes
  • Increase Vit D dosage
  • Increase Vit C
  • Probiotics
  • Avoided any fever reducing medications. Fevers are good.
  • Collodial Silver – 1/4 teaspoon in water once a day

Hot concoctions that worked well

  • Hot water, 3/4 inch ginger, 1/2 tsp manuka honey, 1/2 lemon
  • Hot water, 1/2 tsp manuka honey, 1 TBS Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, 1/2 lemon

When I visit McLeod’s Organics, I come away with more than tips on healthy living. I come away with these little nuggets of wisdom from T., the man who runs the store. He is a wonderfully kind man who loves the Lord.

T. reminded me to remind Zachary that God works all things for good. Of course I should have thought of this, but I hadn’t been looking for the good. While discussing with T., he saw some of the good, which sent me looking for more.

God working all things for good in the visible:

  • Jacob misses his brother deeply. There is a deep void with Zachary quarantined. Jacob shared several times how he understands now why I tell him to be careful how he speaks to his brother and the reminders not to take our time together for granted. Blessing. God instructing Jacob’s heart through Zachary’s sickness.
  • Zachary’s heart turned to prayer when Andrew came down with the illness. He prayed and prayed for his quick recovery. Andrew bounced back much faster than Zachary. But I saw a tender affection as Zachary cared for his brother through prayer. Blessing. God instructing Zachary’s heart through his sickness.
  • Thankfulness. A new appreciation for health, something we take for granted, forgetting it is a gift when we have it.
  • Comfort. A chance to lean into God and receive comfort.
  • For me, eyes to see how love is truly more important than anything. How out of love for my Savior I can care for my family with joy and a realization that out of my own strength and own love, it’s impossible. A blessing as God is teaching me about love.
  • Through walkie talkie, Andrew beeped me, and with his raspy voice said, “Mom, I love you. Thank you for taking care of me.” Blessing. Pure sweetness.

God really does birth good from all things. Sometimes we are given the gift of seeing those things, sometimes we are not. Sometimes they aren’t revealed to us, sometimes they are revealed many years later. Sometimes we simply aren’t looking, so we miss the good God did through the bad. That is what I fear. That I will stop looking for God and miss seeing Him in every moment of my life.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $25 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Kisses From Katie

kissesfromkatie

In 2008 we moved from Georgia to Virginia. I remember a friend of mine from Georgia emailing me and telling me about a blog I must start reading. She described a young girl who left everything straight from high school to become a missionary in Uganda.

Over the years I continued hearing about this story and this person. She published a book, and I continued to hear about it. Then this year my sister and niece fell in love with the book and a friend’s daughter left to serve with Katie’s team in Africa. It was time I read this book. Kisses from Katie.

It’s one of those that God uses to dig down into the deep spaces. I can’t stop thinking about it. The last book that affected me this much was David Platt’s Radical. I see a theme here.

This from the Foreword, “When the child had been bathed to her aunt’s satisfaction, Katie wrapped her in a towel and carried her to a nearby bed. She knelt in front of her and began to remove jiggers from her feet. Jigger was not a word I’d heard before. In Uganda, jiggers are everywhere and they cause much trouble. They are small insects that burrow painlessly into a person’s skin and create a tiny egg sac, leaving a little bump that appears as inflammation. While having jiggers doesn’t hurt until they have practically infested an area of the body, having them removed can be excruciating. But the child didn’t wince, scream, or jerk in any way as Katie removed the jiggers and cut away dead skin around them. She simply sat silently as a few tiny tears made their way slowly down her face.”

God is using this book to burrow into me like jiggers. As I become inflamed with this message, it hurts. Yet throughout this book the theme that stands out over every story she shares is love. LOVE. Katie, with extreme love, removed those jiggers one by one from that child. The love Katie shared, which was a manifestation of God’s love, is what truly heals. The jiggers that are making a home into my heart, love will heal those too. Sometimes, we have to become inflamed before love begins to heal.

From the introduction, “Slowly but surely I began to realize the truth: I had loved and admired and worshiped Jesus without doing what He said. This recognition didn’t happen overnight; in fact I believe it was happening in my heart long before I even knew it.”…..”So I quit my life.”

People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid. I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable.”

Yes! I get this. My heart cries out when I read this. I wrote for 30 days on this in 2013. Yet, what have I done about it?

More from the introduction, “I am surrounded by things that can destroy the body. I interact almost daily with people who have deadly diseases, and many times I am the only person who can help them. I live in a country with one of the world’s longest-running wars taking place just a few hours away. Uncertainty is everywhere. But I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amid things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.”

Yes, me too. Yet I’m still very comfortable in the American life. This books challenges me in new ways. The most surprising is that this book is revealing something far greater than what I realized when I opened the first page. I expected the entire book would be a beautiful story that would inspire the reader to reach out and stretch our limits in serving the poor. And while it does, it does something far more radical than that.

The word that whispers in my soul with every page I turn is this: Love. It’s love.

Katie Davis is very clear about one thing. She isn’t a hero. She isn’t brave and courageous. She isn’t an extraordinary human being. She is no different than you or me. Except she is different in my opinion. She has a love for Jesus that is worth giving her entire life to share. She has experienced His love to a point she can’t contain it. She must give that love back out. It’s too big to keep inside. She couldn’t possibly keep it inside. That’s the kind of love I want for my King.

When Katie got to Uganda, she had no idea she would be where she is today with her ministry. She didn’t go with a strategic plan for establishing a ministry. She went with a plan to love.

What if every moment of my day here in America looked like Katie’s days in Uganda? What if my entire strategic plan could be summed up in one word – love?

Well, it would change everything in my world. And if we all did that, it would change the world.

Katie isn’t changing the world because God has made her super awesome and amazing. Katie is changing the world because she has a love for God that couldn’t be physically contained within her. She let it flow into each person she crossed paths with, and along the way she obeyed God. She loved, she obeyed.

Out of everything I’m reading in this book, I can’t help but put it down each night and say, “God, let me love you like that.”

Loving God more is a process. It’s not an overnight snap of the fingers. It comes from spending time with Him, from seeing Him repeatedly show up at unexpected moments, from calling out His name in distress and realizing He was right there all along, from whispering His name through tears and feeling His hands wipe the tears, from praising Him throughout the day, from laughing so hard your side hurts when He allowed His sense of humor to shine at just the time you needed to laugh the most.

I started the process of loving God more when I started looking for Him harder. He’s not hard to see, except yes He is if you live in affluent America. He is kind of hard to see because we can at times pat ourselves on the back for working hard and smart and creating a super comfortable life. So, yeah, He can be hard to see.

When we intentionally move through the day looking for Him, we are blown away. He’s all over our day. All over our lives. Over the last few months, I’ve felt God doing something in my heart that I’m not sure what it is. I still don’t really know. All I know is that each day, I find my love for Him becoming more passionate. Then I look back at my prayer journals and see the years of prayers that said, “God make me love you more than I love anything else in this entire world. Make me love you so passionately, I feel I might burst.”

Do you want to change the world? I do. Want to pray a prayer we know God will say yes to? Let’s pray He lights a fire in our hearts for Him that grows bigger, brighter, and bolder everyday.

If the most important command is to love Him and the second is to love our neighbor, then let’s pray to love Him more. Only when we love Him more can we love our neighbors. Only because Katie loved the Lord could she love on the least of these in Africa.

And many of us can’t go across the ocean to serve the least of these, but God’s world is mighty small and His love is mighty big. What I’m learning from this book is that loving Him is the first step to changing the world.

I want to do more, love more, serve more. We sponsor a child, we’ve hosted orphans in our home, we give generously, but none of that is uncomfortable. None of that is hard. In fact, it can be quite easy. 

Loving the world can seem hard, but I think it’s because we start backwards. We try to love the world before we are madly in love with the Creator of the world. Maybe if we loved our Father more than the world, then loving on the world wouldn’t be so hard.

It would be quite easy. Then doing what is uncomfortable wouldn’t be so difficult. It would seem natural. Maybe that is how we were created to live.

Love really can start a fire. One that can’t be put out.

Lord, light a fire in my heart for you. Let the world not dampen the flames. Burn so that it can’t be physically contained any longer.

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $25 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

 

The overwhelming moments of God hidden in the small

worry

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

There are moments where God completely overwhelms me. Times breathing is difficult, words are inadequate. These moments catch me by surprise. I’m surprised by my surprise. When will I cease to be amazed that God can and will do whatever He pleases? That God delights to surprise and amaze? That He is uncontainable, unfathomable?

Sunday I sat on the 3rd row of a sanctuary in Georgia and watched my 60-year-old dad baptized. A man who would be considered a “good man” in the eyes of most. Not perfect, but good. A man who believed in God, believed Jesus was the son of God, and for 60 years believed and hoped that was enough to spend eternity in Heaven. I shared his story here in the fall. When his eyes were opened, and he turned to the One who’s been pursuing him all these years, gave his heart and life, and now stands a changed man, not in his power but in the power of the cross, he realized believing in God, going to church, being good, none of those were important. It was a true, genuine, heart changing, saving relationship with his Savior.

Overwhelmed doesn’t describe what I felt. I have no words. 14 years I’ve prayed for this.

Only God. Only God can take the heart of a man who has built a decent life and reveal his need for a Savior. Only God can open the eyes and heart. We must never stop praying for the ones we love to have their eyes opened.

Overwhelmed.

If we opened our eyes minute by minute, we would spend our lives overwhelmed, shaken. He never stops working. He never stops amazing. Sometimes God’s biggest moments are disguised as small gifts.

Last week we had 3 days off from school. I’m behind in every way with writing projects. The next few weeks are busy and will put me further behind. Therefore, snow is the last thing I wanted yesterday given the fact I will spend 2 days this week mostly at school with my kids and more snow is predicted. I needed two solid days to work. But God gave me what I needed more than what I wanted. Only God.

I tiptoed down the stairs carefully selecting which parts of the wood to place my weight on so as not to accidentally wake a soul in my house. Coffee brewing, fire burning, I wrapped in a blanket, grabbed my Bible and journal, and sat with the Lord.

An hour later, I felt refreshed and ready to see my kids out the door and work hard for the next 6 hours to try to accomplish about 15 hours worth of work. I began up the stairs when I noticed what looked like white outside. This couldn’t be since I looked when I walked down the stairs just to be sure. It happened. In one hour, a light blanket of snow descended. In those moments, I wondered if I should laugh or cry. So much for writing, so much for projects barely started. So much for anything other than more days inside. So much for MY plans.

God had a plan. God always has a plan. His plans are always better than mine.

I put on my excited face, snuck into Jacob’s room, and delivered the news every child dreams of. No school, you can go back to sleep!

I tiptoed downstairs and settled back into the Lord. Minutes later, Jacob rounded the corner, Bible in hand, a tiny smirk on his face. “Can I join you?”

Only God.

God gives us what we need despite what we want then changes our wants to match our needs. I needed time with Jacob, but I didn’t want a snow day on this day. God gave me what I needed in a way I didn’t want and changed my heart in an instant to want what God wants for me.

Jacob opened up his Bible and shared with me his favorite passage. “Mom, in the entire Bible, this is the one I always go back to. I don’t know why. But it’s the one I find myself going to frequently.”

“Only God, honey. Only God. Only He can direct us in ways we can’t understand. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is always working.”

He opened his Bible to Matthew 6:25-34. And He read to me.

I sat overwhelmed. A little moment no less overwhelming than watching my 60-year-old dad baptized, watching my 11-year-old son discovering how very intricate and personal is His God. Only God.

Not only that, but God knew that verse, which has become much too familiar to me, needed to find a spot in my heart that very minute. Because if I’m honest, it was worry that caused my plans to become more important than God’s plans. Only God.

My eyes opened to see God that morning. I wanted to see His constant overwhelming Presence. Moment after moment, He showed up. In the little ways. Andrew, always first to rise, slept 2 extra hours, giving me extended time with the older boys. A gift. I had conversations with Jacob and Zachary about the awesomeness of God we wouldn’t have had if we’d been on our way to school. A gift. Moments unfolded throughout the day, tiny moments, that caused my overwhelmed soul to thank God for always allowing His plans to prevail.

He is as overwhelming in the small moments as He is in the big. We sometimes don’t recognize His hand at work in the small moments. But the small moments are sometimes the greatest gifts we receive.

I want to love God more. I want to have a love that is careless and carefree.

Days like yesterday make me love Him more. When I see Him, I can’t help but love Him. I just need eyes to see Him in every.single.moment.

Lord, let me not be so busy, I fail to see the small moments meant as gifts to overwhelm my soul. Never let your overwhelming spirit go unnoticed by me, turn me to you, and hold me right there, eyes on you. For I know when my eyes remain on you, I fall madly in love. 

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $25 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]