I shared on social media this message:
I shared on social media this message:
For nine months I planned the trip of a lifetime. A road trip west through Utah, Idaho, and Montana. The pinnacle destination being Glacier National Park. I ordered a travel book and read it cover to cover. I didn’t just read the book, I studied it.
I wanted to understand the regions of the park, I wanted to understand the lingo used in Facebook groups, which by the way are an amazing source of information. I wanted to be sure we saw everything we could possibly see. My biggest fear in planning this trip- arriving home to hear, “Oh you didn’t visit the double dip star trail? What a shame! It was by far the most beautiful scenery of the park.” Can you imagine!
I had to be sure we were prepared to experience everything Glacier had to wow us with. In my mind, this would be our one shot. We may never have this opportunity again. Therefore, I would be sure to plan it to perfection.
Research was my first stage. By research I mean reading my travel book and scouring the internet for hours a day. I read travel blogs, joined Facebook groups and stalked the posts, and planned and dreamed away. There was a span of a few weeks my children became concerned with my obsession. I rarely sit during the day. But here I was sitting hours a day for weeks researching this trip to death.
I dove so deep into my imaginings of this vacation that it dominated 90% of my waking thoughts. In the evenings, I’d attempt to share my newly discovered insights of the day with my family and would find them glassy eyed within minutes. We weren’t speaking the same language because they weren’t studying and eating and breathing all things Montana.
Once I’d completed my reading, the planning began. We stayed in four different locations, I planned multiple excursions. I memorized trail maps and plotted out which trails we’d hike on which days. I planned where we would eat for each meal. It was the most planned out adventure I’d ever undertaken.
It consumed me. Day and night I dreamed all things Glacier. And then a day came where a thought slipped right into my mind. That kind of thought that comes with such speed, it stops you in your tracks.
The whisper I heard said, “What if you planned for eternity the way you are planning for this trip.”
I was in the middle of making my bed when this thought whisper interrupted my morning routine. I stood up and simply froze for a moment. What if.
The thought whispered on repeat all day. What if you planned for eternity the way you planned for this trip.
This life is temporary. We forget so easily as we try to build our best life now. But the best is not now. We are living in the middle of the story. We are living in brokenness, hurt, anger, fear, and sin upon sin even while experiencing tastes of goodness and glimpses of heaven on earth. It’s fleeting. We must remember this is not the final destination.
I wrote this post 7 years ago titled Sometimes We Don’t Outgrow Homesickness. I think sometimes we live with a low grade homesickness that we attempt to assuage by focusing on creating our dream life now. However, we were created not for this world, but for the one to come. We are only passing through, and our job is to glorify God in how we sojourn.
“Even when I’m home with my husband and my boys, there is this subtle aching. This little voice that whispers to me about home. My true home.
It’s so easy for me to get caught up in life. Daily life. This family right here in front of me. We build our home, we build up our kids, we build our marriage, we build our 401K, we build our future.
More exciting than all that we build is what is being built for us. The home we will spend eternity in.
Investing in this earthly home is important. It’s necessary. Much of what we invest in here, is an investment towards our eternal home. Not a gaining of an eternal home, but a placing of our treasures into that home where we will spend forever.
Investing in my marriage, I’m placing my treasures into the home I’ll spend forever after death. Investing in the spiritual growth of my children, I’m placing treasures in the home I’ll spend forever after death. Investing in my 401K, it’s important, but it’ll burn. It’ll be eaten away and devoured. It won’t make it into the treasury of my eternal home.” Excerpt from Sometimes We Don’t Outgrow Homesickness.
It’s one year later and God continues to remind me of the day He whispered to me the question that will direct me everyday going forward. What if I live my life as an eternal wanderluster rather than merely an earthly wanderluster? What if my love for travel was always to reveal to me there is a grander destination to plan for that my mind can’t even conceive. What if I studied and obsessed over eternity the way I do over my travel plans that come and go so quickly? What if.
Joy would overflow. Gratitude would pour forth. Hope would never wane. Grace would grow. Love would ignite. Anxiety would decrease.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
Six years ago I wrote a post titled The Tension Between the Beginning of the End and the Beginning of the Beginning. At that point we were saying goodbye to six years of private full time classical school to embark on a homeschool journey. We didn’t know if the journey would last one year or six more. Turns out, we homeschooled through graduation with our oldest. Our middle son will graduate in two short years from our homeschool.
We are again at the beginning of an end and the beginning of a beginning.
I believe it’s fairly typical to look back on an experience and realize the worry and fretting were useless. That is my experience at least. I have falsely led myself to believe that enough worry on the front end can lead me to preventing failure and regret. It’s a lie.
What worry really does is steal the joy of the journey. It clouds our vision from seeing the magnitude of an awesome God at work in the details of our days. It significantly limits my ability to trust God by turning my trust toward myself and my worry. It takes my mustard seed of faith and crushes it to nothing.
My one regret through homeschooling….allowing worry and fear to have any voice. I wish I’d rested more. I wish I’d trusted God more. But! I’m thankful for the opportunity to choose differently today.
Jacob finished his last day of high school in February. Between February and May, when we’ve celebrated his graduation officially, I’ve had quite some time to reflect. Initially, I played the what-if game. What if we’d chosen a different path? Did we choose the right path?
In the Lord’s patience with me, He allows me to wander about my thoughts, wrestling them down until I come to a clear place of understanding. I thought back to a podcast I heard on Focus on the Family years ago where a pastor talked about how we can know which path to take. He said often we pray and ask God for His will regarding which job to take, which house to buy, which school to choose, etc. But often our choices are equally in line with God’s will, so He gives us the choice and what He cares most about is who we become in Him as we walk that path. Hearing that opened up my understanding to the goodness of God and the beauty of this life. It also allowed me to feel free.
Our life path is filled with opportunity. Most importantly, we are to simply abide. As we abide, He will grow us wherever we are.
When Jacob was in sixth grade, he encountered some unexplained health issues. The doctors had no real answers, but felt reducing as much stress as possible would be crucial in his body healing. Interestingly, that is one of the very things God used to confirm our homeschool path. I sought a friend’s advice as we prayed through our next steps. I remember saying to her how life is filled with extreme stress and removing it may not be the best for our kids. Her response I’ll never forget. “Yes, but limiting it in middle school may be what God uses to prepare him for what he will carry in his future.” In other words removing school anxiety isn’t setting them up for life failure.
On this side of the path, I’m speechless at all God has done. Jacob is an incredible human being. I’m highly biased and feel incredibly blessed by all three of our children. Jacob is so highly motivated and driven. He is wise. He is discerning.
After Jacob’s graduation party, God took me back through the years and all I could do was cry. I’m so incredibly grateful we homeschooled. I’m so thankful I didn’t let fear push me down an alternate path (and it nearly did every single year).
So here we are. Jacob is working full time gaining incredible experience in the business world. He has plans in the future with real estate investing and financial trading.
I posted this on Instagram the day before his graduation party:
“Last week God gave me a verse for Jacob. Today, the eve of the day we celebrate his graduation, I’m sitting on the sofa and My Utmost for His Highest is centered around the very verse God showed me for Jacob last week.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
This is my prayer for Jacob who is already walking in his future having jumped into the full time workforce in February. He is so highly motivated, so driven, such incredible grit and work ethic.
Of all things to pursue in this life, pursue God with everything you have. Seek His Kingdom. It’s the ONLY thing that matters. The true picture of success is the one who is so firmly rooted in who God says they are that they can abide in Him, seek Him, and watch the Kingdom grow.
The world tells graduates to go do great things and change the world and chase your dreams and live your best life. God says, Seek Him. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Are you facing the end of a current season? Sometimes the end of a season sneaks up on us, but what I hope to remember is that a new season is ready to dawn. God is doing a new thing. Do you see it? Do you believe it?
When God delivered rebellious Israel, He said to them in Isaiah 43:19 “Look, I am about to do something new, even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
God is a Creator, He is in the business of doing something new. As we journey through our seasons, we can trust that God is at work, always ready to do something new. Lord, give us eyes to see you!
Do you have a graduate in your life? Send them into the world with what they really need. God’s Word.
You hear stories of a loved one passing away, the will being read, disgruntled relatives fighting over inheritance expectations and rights. It destroys relationships. We are so self-focused we believe we are “owed” something in this life. We spend our earthly lives building our kingdom here.
Contrast this with God’s words to the Levitical priests in Deuteronomy 18:2 “They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.”
What a striking verse.
The greatest gift, blessing, or inheritance is the very presence of God, His absolute nearness. The Levitical priests spent their time serving in the presence of God. They experienced what others didn’t. That blessing would never compare to an earthly gift or inheritance.
Do I believe that? Deep down in my soul? You see it’s easy to say I do, but do I REALLY? I want to. And desire is the first step towards the shift.
“…As He promised.” His promise we can take to the bank. It’s guaranteed. He is also our inheritance. Because of Jesus, we have a priest in Jesus. We have direct access to the throne room of God. We can experience His nearness daily. Do we believe it? Is He enough? Am I satisfied with Him alone so that I live being owed nothing by the world?
The words portion and inheritance are often used interchangeably. This is my prayer from Lamentations 3:24 and Psalm 73:26 today: Lord you are my portion. Therefore, I will hope in you. My flesh and my heart may fail but you, God, are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. May you truly be my portion. Amen.
We stopped at the guard shack before starting our Arizona hike. The kind couple working the gate was a wealth of knowledge. Their love for their jobs was apparent in how careful they were to inform us of all the interesting wildlife and vegetation we should expect to encounter.
As the sweet lady completed highlighting our route, she handed the map over to me. She warned, “Oh, I must warn you. There is one thing you must not touch or even get close to. It’s called a Teddy Bear Cactus. It looks like something soft and cuddly, like a teddy bear you’d want to grab and hug, but it’s not what it seems.”
The warning didn’t stop there. She told us that a teddy bear cactus could actually leap toward us if we moved too close to it. My mind was spinning trying to envision this man-eating cactus that might attempt to chase me up the path. Apparently, this type of cactus has stems that disconnect quite easily. The spines have barbs that burrow into the muscle fiber and make it painfully difficult to remove. Needless to say, we spent our hike looking more closely for a loose teddy bear cactus stem than we did watching for rattlesnakes.
I’m grateful for the warning about the cactus and even more grateful for the warnings we find in scripture: “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs’” (Luke 12:1-3).
The danger of hypocrisy is how it can lead people astray. It can fool and blind those who are unable to discern. The teddy bear cactus appears to be soft and cuddly, but in reality, it is harmful to us. The Pharisees Jesus warned about were guilty of hypocrisy, and in His kindness, Jesus warned His followers.
Warnings found throughout scripture are there to guide and protect us. They are filled with God’s love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and blessing. Sometimes we hear warnings and choose to ignore them. Sometimes we disbelieve there’s true danger. But when we believe we are hearing a warning from God, we can focus on His nature and character. He loves and cares for us. He desires us to follow truth and not find ourselves at the hands of deception or a prickly, barbed cactus.
In order to strengthen our discernment muscles we can do two things: pray and read the Bible regularly. God delights in answering our requests to become greater discerners in a culture filled with competing ideas to Biblical truth. The more time we spend soaking in God’s Word, the more equipped we are to spot hypocrisy when it presents itself to us. We must be on our guard as Jesus warned us.
As I reflected back to our hike among the prickly teddy bear cacti, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s faithful warning and protection. He kept me safe from a plant that appeared soft and cuddly but in reality would pierce my skin and cause severe pain. His heart is to keep us on the safe path. His “word is a lamp for our feet, a light on our path” (Psalm 119:105). On His safe path, we can trust that little by little we will see growth.
Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday. But Saturday happened too. On this side of the resurrection 2000 years later, we can rest on Saturday because Sunday happened. On Good Friday we rejoice because Sunday is coming.
But His mother and disciples who lived on the day of waiting before Sunday arose. What did they do?
Luke 23:56 “Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” WHOA!
As we worshiped on Good Friday the Lord whispered to me about Saturday. It’s barely mentioned in the gospels. But it was there. An act of obedience.
To rest is to lay down our strive and to abide and trust. It’s easy for us to rest on this Saturday because we know the outcome. The question is can we rest in our “Saturdays” in which we haven’t lived through our “Sundays” just yet. So we haven’t seen the outcome, the hope risen, our circumstance redeemed or resurrected.
Today may we mourn the death and rest in the wait of our hope. Saturday, between the death of Friday and resurrection of Sunday, is a day of deep trust, obedient rest, and the wait.
May we wait well. May we trust and obey. For there’s no other way.
How do any of us grow? By walking through circumstances that require it. As a young mom, I lacked patience with my kids. I was quick to snap. After praying for patience, God called me to homeschool. Years of day in and day out trying my patience, and I see growth in that area. It’s been H.A.R.D.
Growth is a process filled with growing pains. As parents we have a role to help our kids grow. This is the opposite of setting them up for an amazing, success-filled, perfect, Disney World like life. I fear many parents in today’s culture are trying to create an amazing life for their kids rather than prepare kids who can function in a harsh and often cruel world.
As parents we want to raise strong kids. We want them to be able to withstand the storms life will bring them. We’ve heard the saying, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” Are we doing that?
There’s a trend in parenting of cleaning the road of all obstacles so the child doesn’t trip, and when they do, mom and dad swoop in to make it all right.
When we hear of a kid being mean to our kid, we jump in and work out the problem for them. When a teacher gives a low grade on a paper, mom and dad email the teacher wanting answers. When the teen didn’t get the job, mom and dad call the employer. When our kid is cut from the team, we demand answers and work to fix it.
Yes, we should advocate for our kids, but at the same time, there are times we need to step back and see how they move forward. We can advise and guide them. We don’t want to raise victims who look at life as always being against them. We want to raise adults who realize life is hard, but with the grace of God we can manage hard things well.
As a parent, when our child faces disappointment, we have an opportunity to empathize, while pointing them to Jesus.
We have a job to raise adults. As adults we face losses, unfair circumstances, disappointments, and failures. This is life. What’s important is how we handle them when they come. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
In 2010 Steve and I vacationed in Hawaii to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Awakened at 5:00am by the report of an earthquake in Chile, which would result in a Tsunami in Hawaii, I went into full melt down mode. The message I received was one of imminent death by drowning. I’ll never forget the words of the news anchor, “It’s not a matter of if, but one of when and how bad.” I’m embarrassed to say, I did not handle our situation well at all.
As a mom, I want my kids to grow into adults who understand that life brings hard moments. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad. I want them prepared to handle it by the grace of God.
A few weeks ago Andrew texted me from school. He was having some difficult interactions, which led to him feeling sad and wanting to leave school. We’d talked through these issues before. As the texts increased I realized he was looking to me to be his rescuer.
Our role is not to be our child’s Rescuer or Savior, but to point them to the One who is.
My mama instinct was to swoop in, bring him home, comfort him, and make it all right. But this would only help him in the short term. One day mama won’t be there to make it all better. However, there is One who will always be with us and will never ever leave or forsake us.
I responded to his text, “You can’t leave school. Pray. God will help you. I will pray too.” And I did. I prayed and prayed. His text later let me know he felt much better.
Our children need God more than they need a mom and dad to solve all their problems. Yes, we have a high calling to comfort, protect, nurture, advocate, and help. But we are not their end all answer, or at least we shouldn’t be.
Children and teens need to learn to have their own faith, not an extension of our faith. My faith can’t hold my kids up. It has to be their own. It has to be real and genuine. Real faith usually develops out of necessity. I’ve decided I’m ok with my kids experiencing hard times so they can learn to grow in their faith.
I took a trip to Florida recently. I wanted to take Andrew with me, but he had his first baseball game. The day of the game the weather called for rain. I began praying it wouldn’t rain. I mean PRAYING. The thought of Andrew’s disappointment over not going to Florida with me because of a game that wasn’t played bothered me more than it should have.
I took a step back. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Plain and simple. I wanted him to have everything go the way it “should” go. But that is not reality. That is not real life.
Rather than praying away possible disappointments, I should pray my child has a strong enough faith to turn those disappointments over to Jesus, the one who cares about every hurt we face and comforts us when no one else is there.
The pressure of culture today in our see all social media world is to present a picture perfect picture of our kids and our family. If our kids fail, what does it say about me as a mom? Did I fail too? If they make bad grades, does it mean I am a failure because I didn’t support them enough? If they don’t make the team, did I fail to get them the help they needed?
I believe one of the reasons we try so hard to create a smooth road for our kids is because we fear what it reflects on us. What will people think of us?
One of my more embarrassing parenting moments happened when my kids made their own volcano for a science project. It felt as if my kids were the only ones who brought in a project that looked like a kid made it. I was embarrassed wondering if all the parents thought I was a slack mom who doesn’t spend enough time helping her kids out.
But I got over it. I realized it was ok if my kids were embarrassed because they didn’t put in more effort. If they care enough, then next time they will. And if they don’t care enough, well that is ok too. It’s ok to not be amazing at everything. It’s ok to do the best we can without pushing ourselves to be the absolute best.
Our role as parents is to love, support, nurture, guide, discipline, and more than anything point them to Jesus.
Our role is not to make sure they have a smooth road to travel. It’s to be there when they fall, tell them we love them. It’s to be there when they are disappointed and empathize while reminding them there is only One who doesn’t disappoint. It’s to support them on their journey without pressuring them to be more than God created them to be, which is simply a human loved by Him.
If you want to read more on this topic, I wrote a post years ago about letting our kids fail. Dear Son, Why I Want You To Fail
Looking for a special gift for Easter? Add Scripture pillowcases to their Easter basket to remind them of the One who never fails!