When she dove in a dumpster for me

For the first 5 years of Jacob’s life, he had a well-loved, treasured baby blanket. It had a name. Boppy.

The shiny new beginnings.

When Andrew was born, Jacob passed Boppy down to his new baby brother. Boppy became Andrew’s prized possession. Everywhere Andrew went, Boppy followed. To bed, in the car, outside to play.

As time and life wears us down.

Over the years this treasured possession began to look more like a torn, worn, and forgotten rag. The once silky edges were no longer present. The body of the blanket began to show its age with little holes. But it wasn’t forgotten at all. It was loved very well.

No matter the condition of Boppy, Andrew’s love remained unchanged. Smelly, stinky, holey – it mattered not. Andrew faithfully loved his prized possession.

When life turns.

One dreadful day of errands, my three little boys and I ventured to Costco. As we stood in the checkout line, Andrew cried out rather loudly, “Where Boppy go? Where Boppy go?”

His cries began to rise as panic set in. I frantically searched the stroller, the buggy. Boppy was nowhere to be found. I grabbed the hands of my little boys and drug them around the store as we retraced our steps. Every last step of that enormous warehouse.

Andrew’s cries escalated as he loudly called out Boppy’s name over and over and over again.

Feeling defeated, the 4 of us gave up the pursuit of Boppy and made our way to Customer Service. I looked for someone I thought would understand. She stood before me like an angel. A mother, a grandmother. She might as well have been an angel.

I explained the situation, but there was no way I could possibly convey the value of this tattered rag. It didn’t aesthetically appear valuable. It appeared worthless. By the way I acted, I’m sure she envisioned a baby blanket covered in jewels.

“Ma’am, at one time this baby blanket was soft, edged in perfect white satin. The print was full of little yellow ducks. But now, the cloth is full of holes. Not one little duck is present. They’ve all been worn, rather loved, right off that cloth. But ma’am, if anyone finds this blanket, they will think it’s an old dust cloth. It looks like it belongs in the trash, but it doesn’t. It’s my son’s prized possession.”

What appears as trash to one is treasure to another.

Andrew’s cries never softened or lessened.

I saw compassion in her eyes as she promised me she would do everything she could to find Boppy.

We left in tears, knowing Boppy was somewhere in that store and not with us where it belonged.

For 2 solid days Andrew cried in fits. He skipped all naps crying out for Boppy. At night he’d fall asleep then wake crying out for Boppy.

We were all exhausted. My heart ached watching my baby hurt.

On the third day, my phone rang. My angel clothed as a Costco employee informed me Boppy had been found. I burst into tears, scooped up my boys, and raced to Costco.

The woman handed us a ziploc bag sealed tightly.

“A customer found this blanket on the floor. Thinking it was an old dust rag, he gave it to an employee. The employee thought it was trash and tossed it. When I described the blanket as you did, the employee remembered throwing it out. But the trash had already been taken out back to the dumpster.”

When someone goes on a rescue mission.

Ya’ll, she went to the dumpster on our behalf. She went to lengths most can’t imagine. All for the sake of love and reuniting my boy with his prized possession this lady went dumpster diving.

She handed the torn, ragged, worn, smelly rag to us. Andrew didn’t see the holes and stains. He saw that stained rag through eyes of deep, unconditional love. He saw it whole and new.

It was his prized possession. His special treasure.

God created man in His image, perfect and whole. But man chose to disobey God. Because of this disobedience, sin entered the world. Because of sin, we have heartache, disease, death, and sadness. And this separates us from our holy, perfect God.

God set out on a rescue mission. One no man could fathom. He went to lengths unimaginable because we are His special treasure. We are his prized possession. He was willing to dig us out of the dumpster and save us when we were unable to save ourselves.

God went dumpster diving to find us in this heap of a mess.

The great rescue.

Here’s how the rescue mission went down. God sent His one and only son, Jesus, to be born on this Earth as a baby. He was fully God and fully man. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and was crucified on a cross, bearing the full weight of our sin on Him. He died and resurrected after 3 days.

Jesus defeated death. Death lost its grip on us that very moment. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, union between God and us is restored.

Apart from Jesus, we are a worn, torn, smelly rag of a blanket. Yet, we are God’s treasure, and because of Christ, He sees us as a perfect, spotless, prized possession.

Boppy had a name.

We have a name.

We are children of God.

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

1 Peter 2:9

6 steps to creating fail proof goals & habits

Inspiration to set goals and habits.

I was so inspired by all the motivation I saw on my Instagram feed last week, the first week of a New Year. It seemed each post was filled with determination, clarity, and focus. I read grit in those posts.

For me the start of something new is exciting and challenging. I’m on fire because a part of me is addicted to new and change. I’m much less inspired to keep moving forward when that newness wears off or when others fall off the excitement wagon, or simply….when the plan turns down a difficult path.

Quitting when it’s hard

When Andrew was younger, he overheard me telling his brothers I planned to fast on that particular day.

“Mom, I’ll fast with you today!”

A couple hours later, I found him in the kitchen enjoying a snack.

“Andrew, I thought you were fasting with me today?”

“Oh, I decided to fast until I got hungry.” He turned his attention back to his fast turned feast without skipping a beat.

I can relate to Andrew. Without the proper mindset before moving down that path, at the first bump, I’m ready to jump off the wagon.

How long does it take to create a new habit?

I’m currently listening to the audible version of Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt.

In his book he talks about the lack of science behind the idea of a new habit taking 21, 30, or some variation of these days to create. The rest of what he explained in this chapter really stirred my mind to think about the habits I’ve created and the ones I’ve wanted to create which I’ve failed at.

The struggle is real

I began thinking about the people who have reached out to me about wanting to get healthy and how they’ve tried and failed so many times they don’t want to fail again. My heart aches because I know the genuine struggle they are facing.

I can see how we could feel hopeless if we expect a habit to take root after a mere 20, 30, or 40 days. Maybe some do. But not the more challenging ones.

As I underwent the torture of allowing heated wax to cool and rip off my eyebrows, I chatted with the gal about habits and such. We talked about our sleep habits.

She asked how many hours I sleep and I told her how I am asleep by 10 and wake at 5:00.

“Is it easy to get up at 5:00?”

Before I answered her, I paused. It’s easy for me now. But it wasn’t easy when I started to create the habit.

In fact, it was so difficult I knew I needed to handle it like I would handle a very important priority. If I had a client meeting or a doctor’s appointment, it would go on my calendar. I would set my mind that I would make that appointment. There was no doubt about it. However unpleasant it might seem, I would show up.

When I gave birth to my 2nd son, I struggled to find time to read my Bible and pray. I realized if it was going to happen, I needed to wake before my kids. Because once they were up, I was done with any hope of quiet time. Plus, I found when I had time to wake, reflect, read, and pray before I stepped into mothering, I was a much better mom.

6 steps to creating habits that stick

Step 1: Schedule it. I scheduled my wake up time on my calendar. Literally. I wrote in every day: 6:00 am Quiet time with God. Set a reminder on your phone or your work calendar or whatever you use to help you remember.

Step 2: Set the environment. The night before, I set the environment so nothing would hinder my time. I set the coffee to brew at 5:55 am. I had my Bible, a journal, and a pen at my chair. I’d light a candle, turn on a lamp, cozy with a blanket and cup of coffee.

Step 3: Set your mind. I didn’t give myself an out. I didn’t say “If I’m not tired, I’ll get up.” I’d always be tired. And satan will do anything to get in the way of this appointment. Tired or not, I’d already determined I was getting up. (PS. Days I failed at this, God woke me anyway.)

Step 4: Refuse failure. I failed some days for sure. But I refused to give up saying it wasn’t for me. I just tried again the next day.

Step 5: Give grace for falls. Falls aren’t failures. It’s a stumble. Get up and keep going. Rather than beat myself for the times I chose sleep, I told myself I did a great job on several days. Now, I could build on those successful days.

Step 6: Move the bar. Over time, I set my alarm earlier and earlier. I now wake at 5:00. But when I first started it was 6:00.

You know it took me years for this habit to become so much a part of me and my life that I never even think about it now. Years, my friends. Not 30 days. Not 1 year. Years.

We quit too soon.

Most things worth doing take time.

Is it easy?

So when I answered my wax gal, I told her it wasn’t easy when I started, and it took me years to create a faithful habit. But yes, now it’s very easy. My body wakes on its own. I race to meet with God each morning because I know He is faithfully waiting for me and our intimate morning appointments.

Part of why I race to Him is the fact I’ve come to know Him differently now. I now understand He isn’t shaking His head in shame at me when I failed to meet Him with my coffee in hand. Instead, He touched my shoulder, pulled me tight, and said, “I love you. You can’t make me love you more or less. I’m faithful, not dependent on your faithfulness.”

Hearing His whispers of love, I’d raise my eyes back to Him. No need to hide in shame over my failures. He loves me despite my shortcomings. He’s perfection when I’m not. He’s love when I’m not. He’s everything I need. And over years of spending time with just Him and Him alone, I’ve come to know Him in ways I never knew Him before.

As I’m finishing up Michael Hyatt’s book, I’m learning the difference in types of goals. He says some goals are not achievement goals, rather they are habit goals. It’s good to have both, but not too many. Too many diverts our focus.

That’s what typically happens to me in a new year. I go too wide and too strong. Then I quit.

He also talks about making the goal specific. Christy Wright talks about this quite a bit as well. Both emphasize not making goals so general. Instead of “get healthy”, make it “Drink 4 glasses of water by noon.” Make it specific, set time limits on it.

One of my habit goals for this year is weekly writing. I used to write all the time, but now I’m running 2 businesses and homeschooling. So, writing takes a backseat. But writing is a passion of mine. It’s good for my soul. It’s a creative outlet.

I want to write once a week in a free flowing way. With no real agenda. Just me and pen and paper.

Rather than my past goal of “write more”, I’m setting a specific goal with time frames. “Write every Saturday morning from 6:00am to 8:00am.”

How about you?

Do you have a habit goal you want to create this year?

Can I suggest writing it down? Just focus on one right now. Don’t look at this big whole year of 2019. Just look at this month. What’s one new habit goal you’d like to set?

  • Make it specific
  • Set a time frame
  • Write action steps.
  • Make those steps small steps. Not giant leaps. Baby steps.

Babies stumble and fall. But eventually they walk on their own.

When you begin taking your baby steps, you will stumble, trip, and fall.

Just get up and keep trying.

Falls aren’t failures. They are simply opportunities for do-overs.

If you’d like to receive weekly posts in your inbox, simply click here. You’ll receive some free downloads when you do.

Maybe one of your habits is a daily time with God. Or maybe it’s reading more this year. Or maybe you’d like to grow in your faith and get to know God better. I have a resource just for you. And it’s 100% do-able. In fact, it’s only 14 days long, about 10 minutes a day.

I’ve written Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word as a 14 day devotional to help you overcome your fears, anxieties, and worries by learning to focus on who God is before you focus on what He does. It changes everything.

Illuminate is available in 2 formats: audio and ebook. Both are only $10 and yours forever.

The audio version comes with a pdf transcript and arrives once per day over 14 days in your email inbox. The ebook version is a full download you receive right away.

Is Your Memory As Good As You Think It Is?

I’ve spent my life as a mom building traditions into our family. Even wrote a Christmas devotion to help families do the same.

So you can imagine why it shocked me to my core when I heard one of my children answer the question, “What Christmas traditions does your family have?” with “We don’t really have any traditions.”

Seriously?

We have so many traditions I actually have a notebook dedicated to all things Christmas. It holds Christmas traditions, recipes, menus, etc.

I slept on that comment and woke with it still front and center. It was bothering me because I’ve worked so hard to create in our family memories, experiences, and traditions.

As casually as I could muster, I asked my son why he answered that way. He didn’t remember giving the answer he gave. I tried jarring his memory.

“Remember, they said this. You said that.”

He looked at me quizzically. After a moment he responded, “Well, we don’t really have any do we?”

“What? Are you serious? Let me remind you and see if you recall them.”

I continued to list them all.

“Mom, why are you so upset? Those aren’t really traditions are they? I thought traditions were big things?”

“No, it’s a repeated experience. It can be something small like we have Pioneer Woman Blueberry French Toast Casserole every Christmas morning.”

“Oh, well, I wasn’t thinking that way.”

“Well, how about these? We have a gingerbread house competition every year. Or we make Rolo cookies every year. We have a competition before the baking begins to see who can unroll and stack their Rolos the fastest.”

His response, “We didn’t do it last year.”

I felt myself get defensive all over again. “Yes we did!! I even have it on video.”

I spent the next 5 minutes searching for the videos and made him watch them with me. It all came back. He remembered it clearly.

Yet, until I forced him to recall, he’d forgotten.

If we don’t practice the art of remembering, we forget.

We forget easier than we remember. And we don’t all remember the same way or the same things. We must practice how to remember well.

The Bible is full of this call to remember.

“Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected?’”

Matthew 16:8-10

Simply Remember

In 2017 the word God continued to speak to me was Remember. In 2018 the word was Simple.

And today I continue to hear these words together. Simply remember.

Remember Me. Remember My works. Remember My faithfulness. Simply practice the art of remembering.

It was the days leading up to Christmas I felt called, inspired, and driven by God to write Illuminate. The inspiration came after a time away at a writer’s retreat and after months of Him stirring a theme in my heart. One of remembrance.

This year has been a challenge for me in many ways as I’ve attempted to homeschool a high schooler, middle schooler, and a delayed learner in elementary school. All while writing and launching 2 businesses at the same time. I’ve cried many tears over all of it and the overwhelm.

Do you know when I’ve hit my wall or felt completely overwhelmed, the Lord has asked me to remember. Every. Single. Time.

It’s like He whispered, “My child, you are forgetting again. Remember. Simply remember.”

I have personally gone through Illuminate multiple times over this last year. God has used it to minister to my soul. He’s used it to restore my hope and put the tools in my hands to defeat the discouragement the enemy attempted to bury me in.

You, my precious and faithful readers, are always on my mind. When the Lord shows me something, you are the first to come to my mind. I begin to think, “I have to share this with my readers. I know they will be as encouraged as I’ve been.”

Illuminate released as a 14 day audio devotion. Meaning it arrives one day at a time for 14 days as an audio file.

I realized some people simply aren’t audio. And some people get stuck at the 14 day piece thinking they need to carve out 14 days (you don’t).

So I packaged Illuminate in 1 complete eBook.

You can now purchase the eBook and get the entire 14 day collection as one book. You can view it on any device or computer. Or print it off. I’m a paper kind of gal and printing at an office supply store is super inexpensive.

While the audio version comes with the transcript as well, there’s something about getting it all at once that some people really want.

Now you can have it both ways!

What God does flows out of who He is.

When we begin to practice the art of remembering and establish this habit, everything changes. Suddenly fear fades, anxiety shrinks, and worries wither.

Illuminate will provide the light your soul is longing for to see the path toward a deeper intimacy with God. For 14 days you will practice seeing the character of God like never before.

ebook devotional

What will Illuminate do for you?

Illuminate will teach you how to truly rest and be still like never before.

No more living overwhelmed by life.

At the end of 14 days you will have a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Creator of your soul. It’s exactly what your soul is longing for.

Who is Illuminate for?

For the one ready to:

  • live free of fear
  • release anxiety and worry once and for all
  • learn to rest even in chaos
  • grow in knowledge and love of God

Looking for a last minute gift?

Give Illuminate. No shipping. No runs to the store. No lines. And best of all, no more adding to the gift clutter. It’s a simple gift that will appeal to all.

Join my email list and never miss a post. Plus receive some fun, free downloads when you subscribe.

 

 

If I release this to God, will I ever get it back?

Clinging to what I treasure

When Andrew was a baby, his “boppy” held the position of his most prized possession. A satin trimmed polyester blanket passed down from Jacob. Boppy went everywhere with Andrew, especially into his mouth as he sucked his thumb to fall asleep.

Persuading Andrew to release his grip on boppy in order to wash it proved quite the task. A tiny glimpse into his strong-willed nature perhaps. He’d cling with all his energy, not trusting for a moment I’d bring it back in better condition.

I knew my intentions and plans. Andrew saw only his love for boppy. I saw my love for my child.

No matter how hard I worked to convince him, I was never able to truly make him understand I would bring boppy back safely. And clean. In better condition than when it left. I’d guard it better than he would because I loved my son, which didn’t compare to the love of a blanket.

I can relate. Can you?

Does God Want What’s Best For Us?

Do you find yourself clinging to what you want or hope for?

Do you grasp with the force of fear?

I think somewhere hidden inside us, we all struggle with the slight thought that God won’t protect us the way we think He should.

We have such a limited view.

Over the last year God has been speaking the word “simplify” to me. In order to simplify, I must learn to release and let go.

In the physical realm of my life, to simplify looks like purging closets and drawers. It looks like scaling back my schedule. It looks like learning to spend less money as I learn I don’t need what I think I need despite what culture and the world around me says. It means understanding that less truly is more. It’s not just a catchy phrase. Truth is bound in that statement.

In the spiritual realm of my life, it looks like a new way to trust that God is truly good and desires not to withhold good from me.

As you read that sentence, pause for a quick moment. The church-y answer is that of course we know God is good to us. But I think we sometimes say that because we know it’s what we are supposed to say.

We are tested in our beliefs about who God is when we are asked to release our grip on our prized possessions or our hopes, dreams, and desires.

All In

I shared in recent posts (Do I Give Sacrificially?) (God Dares Us To Test Him) how our church entered into a 2 year campaign called All In.

We are building a building, but All In is beyond the scope of simply raising money for a physical structure. It’s a realigning of hearts to be given to God fully, wholeheartedly.

For me to release more resources to God, I have to loosen my grip. I have to fully believe God desires good for His people.

And I have to believe He will bring back to me in better condition what I release to Him. And if He doesn’t, I must understand it is better for my heart and soul not to have what I thought I must have.

God’s love for us is beyond our ability to understand. We can’t possibly grasp unconditional love. Even love for my own child can’t make me understand the Father’s love for me.

Grieving the release

As we entered this 2 year season of All In, the first step we took was a moment of grieving the release. We had plans for our money. We had projects for our house and our family. We had trips we wanted to take. We had. We had. We had.

But God had better plans for us. These plans begin with a willing heart to trust Him.

The first days after we signed our commitment card, I felt a sense of buyer’s remorse. It was similar to the first house we bought. After we signed the contract, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Had we bitten off more than we could chew? What if’s pounded inside my head.

In a similar way, after signing our All In commitment card, I kept looking at the numbers. It would be impossible. Even cutting costs couldn’t bring the numbers into alignment. That’s when the light dawned in my understanding.

If I could figure this out, it wouldn’t be God.

If I could see the whole picture and all the neat and tidy spaces, it would simply be a created picture by our family.

No. This would become a work of God. One in which we would take a step toward Him in learning to release it all into His hands.

The moment of release

Our family has many “boppy” possessions. They aren’t bad. They are special to us for various reasons. And now we are in a season of opening our hands and handing over to God what we attempt to cling to for comfort, for security, for love.

In the first days of stepping into a season of All In, we cut every cost possible from our budget. Some were not necessities. They were just nice to have. A house cleaner service to help me keep this house in order in a season of being a full time teacher, writer, and business owner of 2 businesses. A gym membership to a really nice gym that held so many things I loved, including people (like a favorite instructor). Cancelling subscriptions. Going to a cash system of spending. No more eating out except for a super limited food budget. You get the picture.

Initially, I saw it as a challenge. I love a challenge. But as time marches on, the newness wears off. That’s the moment I really began to see God’s holy work in small and big ways.

Release Multiplied

November was our first month and the numbers didn’t work out on paper. As they never do in God’s economy. As a former CPA, this is still mind-blowing to me. Our grocery and food money spent decreased by almost half!! And no one was hungry. In all areas, God multiplied the fishes and loaves like only He can.

I felt myself relax a bit more. I could relax my shoulders as I loosened that tightly clenched fist just a little bit more.

When God Brings Back What We Released

Last night God brought another picture to my mind.

We joined the YMCA on a family membership. While it may not have the fancy bells and whistles of the previous gym, it costs nearly 1/2 of the price.

Unlike our previous gym, the YMCA allows 10 year olds onto the floor to work out, and in some cases, into group fitness classes. Andrew has begged for years to take these classes or use the floor machines. But he’s always been too young.

The YMCA near us has indoor tennis courts, several basketball courts, an ice skating arena, an amazing pool, and all the things that boys would love.

It’s a bit of a drive from our house. Last night Andrew and I had 40 total minutes together alone in the car. He and I took a spin class together. Seeing the joy in his eyes when they told him not only was he old enough, but that it was encouraged for families to work out together was priceless.

Trusting God with what we release

Watching his legs pump that bike, his arms lift those weights, and his abs crunch those crunches gave back to me in ways I didn’t anticipate when I grieved letting go of our previous membership.

When we had to release our hold on our own membership, I was convinced we’d been forced to let go of what would be the very best for us. And for some people it would be. But it turns out, for our particular family, in our particular season of life, there was something better God had in store.

He had a gym that would cost us less money, offered more in line with our boys’ interests and activity levels, more flexibility with our crazy schedules, allowed all 5 of us to work out together, and multiple locations so there’s never an excuse to not fit in a work out.

Actually, it is just perfect for us.

I never considered it. I had my fingers too tightly wound around what I thought was best for us.

God brings it back better

Last night as Andrew and I cycled our hearts out, I looked over at the determination painted all over his face, the joy pouring through his sweat, and I heard God whisper these words to me. Open your hands. If you release to me, I will give back to you in ways you never imagined.

My friends, He is good. One day I hope to believe it in the very core of my soul.

The prayer of our heart

Lord, forgive us for believing lies about You. Lies that say you aren’t good and we can’t trust you with the things in this world we value and treasure. May we open our clenched fists to you today. May we release back to you what we hold so dearly to. May we trust that You will bring back to us in proper seasons gifts you have in store. May we trust if you don’t bring back, it means you had something better for us.

Take us to new levels of trust in You. We love you, Lord. Amen

Are you ready to grow in intimacy with God? To know Him deeper?

Maybe you struggle to believe He is who He says He is. A good God.

Maybe you are tired of seeing your fears, anxieties, and problems as bigger than your God.

For the one ready to see God with fresh eyes, I have something I think you will love.

A 14 day audio devotional experience into the character of God.

You will receive one email a day for 14 days containing an audio link along with a full transcript.

LORD, You light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness. With You I can attack a barrier, and with my God I can leap over a wall.
Psalm 18:28-29

Download your copy today and receive Day 1 immediately.

audio devotional

It’s my birthday and I want to give you a gift!

 

 

No need to wait til Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Small Business Saturday to get ahead on your Christmas shopping.

  • Get those teacher gifts taken care of now.
  • Keep a gift stash on hand for the last minute gifts you need.
  • Simplify your life by shopping online and avoiding the rush.
  • Save money.
  • Give gifts with meaning that will encourage and inspire the one who receives.
  • Give the Word of God, which will never return void.
  • Give gifts with messages of hope.
  • Give them gifts they are likely already using, but now with reminders of God’s love.
  • Witness with these gifts.
  • Shine a light when you give.

What customers are saying:

“I just received the first one I ordered. Better than I even imagined! Love it!!”

“Thank you for these beautiful pillow cases. What an incredible ministry for families.”

“I want to thank you for the beautiful pillowcase you made for my uncle. I am so sad to say he passed away last week. Your pillowcase and the fact that he was resting his head on it near the end of his life gives me hope he found Jesus before he passed.

I just wanted you to be encouraged that what you’re doing matters. Your ministry through creativity matters.
It blessed me and has given me great comfort during this time of incredible grief and sadness.

Thank you for all you do. Please don’t ever stop!”

 

Here’s a few ideas for you:

Mason Gift Jar

Add a flour sack tea towel or scripture pillowcase, thoughtful note, a tea bag, a gift card, and maybe a little sweet treat. Wrap with twine, and you are good to go.

  • teacher gift
  • thank you gift
  • welcome to the neighborhood
  • get well soon

Go bless your neighbors.

Wrap up a pound cake or loaf of bread with a flour sack tea towel and tie with twine. Remind them they are loved by God. We could all use a little more kindness and blessing spread around.

 

Take a meal

Take a meal and give a sweet reminder they keep. It’s small. It’s simple. It’ll mean the world.

You can shop right here!

And for the Etsy lover, did you know I’m there too? That is just a really neat community and marketplace!!

When you shop at my shop on either platform, you are directly supporting this ministry and my family. If you read my previous post, you saw a little glimpse into where our family is headed over the next 2 years. We have committed to giving in a way that is beyond our means because we are trusting in God to provide. We’ve asked God to use our family as a funnel of blessing. When you purchase through me, you are being used of God in bigger ways than you or we will ever know!!

Thank you for your love and support to my family. Thank you that you have journeyed with me all these years. I’m blessed by by you!

Do I give sacrificially?

In the previous post, I shared 22 ways I’m simplifying, decluttering, and organizing my life.

Our church is at the beginning of a campaign called All In. It’s a movement of God’s people to give over and beyond to see His Kingdom advance. It has stirred our family. All 5 of us.

Here’s a video our church created sharing part of our story. A few side notes I must mention.

  1. Why is the video stopped on my face like this? Really??
  2. You can see who is the more talkative between the 2 of us.
  3. And who is the funny one. And the one who can land the plane. (Not me)
  4. I said I worked for a Jewish law firm. Ummm, I worked for an accounting firm. No idea how or why I said that. So, yeah.

We attended an advance commitment worship night Saturday night knowing God was asking us to sacrificially give way beyond what is not only uncomfortable, but what is impossible by our standards. It began to make sense why God has been speaking to us about scaling down, ridding ourselves of the burden of material possessions.

How far will He have us go we don’t know. We felt He gave us a number which made me scared quite honestly. It doesn’t fit in the budget. But we are trusting God on a day by day basis.

Here’s what I shared on Instagram about this:

“Being totally honest, I don’t sacrifice much. Steve and I discussed this morning after attending our church’s Advance Commitment worship night last night.

The American version of sacrifice is quite laughable.

We’ve made changes in order to give over and beyond our normal giving for the next 2 years. One of those changes is eating out less and also preparing simpler budgeted meals at home. Instead of date nights out, we will go back to the days of at home date night. Friday night we had our date night in the garage while the kids watched a movie in the basement. Last night we had an “apps” dinner. A salad, fruit and veggies, quesadillas, and pigs in a blanket. I looked at the spread and felt convicted that I considered it a sacrifice.

Around the world sacrifice is truly sacrifice. Here we grow accustomed to living beyond our means or beyond our need.

I’ve shared how God has been speaking to me about living life simply. I believe He’s been preparing our hearts to enter into a season of a new level of commitment to His kingdom work.

I watched as our kids chose to commit personally to this All In. As we left Andrew realized what this now meant for his money. His response, “Well, it’s all His anyway.”

Lord, give us a heart committed to your work. May we not be owned by the shiny things of this world. May we let go of more here so we can store up treasures that will last in eternity. Amen.”

Interestingly enough Sunday several issues popped up around the house that would cost a good bit to correct. We realized it was no coincidence. The enemy is on alert, firing his arrows to scare us and get us off course. We refused.

My computer wouldn’t power on. It’s only a year old. I tried several things to no avail. I remember reading in Beth Moore’s book Praying God’s Word that peace is our secret weapon against the enemy.

So I prayed and walked away and got busy on my next task – dealing with toenail polish that seems to have ruined my toenails. I became so engrossed in salvaging my toes, I forgot all about the computer.

When I remembered, I pulled up Apple’s troubleshooting. I’d already tried what they suggested but gave it another shot. The computer fired up and I yelled, “Oh my word! My computer is working.”

Steve came around the corner. “I literally just prayed in the basement.

Prayer works. Peace is a weapon.

So that is where we are. Entering a 2 year period of expecting God to perform miracles and provide as we trust Him, giving back to Him what is His to begin with.

What season are you in? What theme is God stirring in your heart?

If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest.  If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s a practice in remembering who He is and keeping our eyes on Him. It’s called Illuminate. Download your copy today.

Find out more here and listen to a sample.

audio devotional

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home in simple, intentional ways or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

When You Are Ready To Quit

Recently I panicked. Completely. Everything I worked so hard to do seemed to be more than I could handle. Everywhere I turned I felt I was failing someone or somewhere. I couldn’t return phone calls, follow up on important tasks.

The weight of homeschooling, running 2 businesses, writing, and simply being wife, mom, friend, volunteer, etc seemed to come down on me like a heavy weight. The pace I’d been running was unsustainable.

Here’s what I started to do. Find my escape route. My reason out. My excuse to quit everything. This is what happens when my margin narrows. It pushes on my soul, and I feel I’m suffocating.

I asked Steve and one friend to pray with me. After my panic settled over me, His peace flooded my soul. He began to speak. The rest of the week, I took it in. I continued moving forward. I didn’t actually quit anything. I just moved slowly.

God showed me 2 things.

I’m addicted to the high moments, the spiritual mountain tops, the big wins. I love change and challenges. I feed on the adrenaline rush in these times. I need newness, and when the new wears down and the hard kicks in, I begin to squirm.

I’m afraid of success. This sounded ridiculous to me the first time I heard it listening to The Secret Code of Success. In fact I retold that part of the book to Steve pridefully. “That is NOT me.”

Turns out I have some unidentified fears. It wasn’t that I actually feared success exactly. It is that when I reach a point that feels like success, I become scared of the higher expectations I’ll need to live up to. I’m afraid of failing at yet another thing. Yet, I claim I’m not afraid to try and fail.

Here’s what I discovered. I reach a point of success, and I want the control. So if I back out gracefully, it is on my own terms. I didn’t actually fail. The pride runs deep, my friends. I’m so grateful God’s not through with me yet.

The entire week God held me in a state of peace. One evening I read The Tortoise and the Hare to Andrew. We have the version from a Chick-fil-A kids meal so many years ago. I could just sense God reminding me to keep that steady pace. It’s ok if I don’t run a sprint. I just need to keep going at a pace I can manage.

When I faced resistance I began to doubt God’s direction to me. I began asking God if He was sure.

I don’t know if you do this too. But I will know I’ve heard God. I follow the direction He’s leading, but then I want continued reassurance every few steps. When I trip or stumble I immediately believe I heard wrong. I begin to question everything I thought I knew.

When we moved to Nebraska in 2017, a friend told me to journal everything God told me during the preparation and transition. She said I would need the reminders when we settled in. We’d begin to question why we found ourselves in the middle of the country so far from everything we’ve ever known. She was right. I referred to my prayer journal often in those first 6 months.

I need to spend more time remembering and less time second guessing. It’s not that God changed what He said. I’ve just forgotten. The more time I spend in His Word, the quicker I am to distinguish His voice from the bellowing of the world.

 

I spend a little less time writing these days since I’ve followed God’s direction in starting 2 businesses. One is right here on the blog. If you click on Shop you can find much of what’s been keeping me busy.

I would be so appreciative if you supported me by sharing my shop with your friends and family.

Christmas is around the corner. Maybe your gift list includes people in need of reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

My newest addition is my favorite to this point. It’s a luxurious, velveteen, zipper-closured pillowcase. The only problem is you may find it harder to get out of bed in the morning.

 

A few of my favorite items to help you journal your thoughts, prayers, ideas, lists and all the things.

Bullet Journal Planner Pens Colored Pens Fine Point Markers Fine Tip Drawing Pens Porous Fineliner Pen for Journaling Writing Note Taking Calendar Agenda Coloring Art School Office Supplies, 18 Colors

You are so often in my thoughts and prayers. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed at the community, friendship, and loyalty you offer me. It’s a noisy online world and you are still here with me. This blog is the only thing I didn’t consider quitting.

Thank you for the notes you send. And thank you for sharing with your friends and family and social media.

Blessings,

Renee