One blip of a moment that showed why simple traditions matter

In our first year of marriage, Steve played on a church softball team. One crisp Friday night, I sat on the bleachers cheering him on. A group of teenagers surrounded me. They were discussing Friday night plans. We had no children yet, so naturally I leaned in to spy on their conversations.

Lighthearted laughter, bantering back and forth. I smiled. I hope my teens have sweet spirits like this one day, I thought. A girl called out to one of the guys. “Hey, we are all going out to grab something to eat tonight. Want to go with us?”

“Not tonight! It’s Friday. Chicken and rice Friday. I never miss mom’s chicken and rice.”

My heart melted right into those hard as a rock metal bleachers. A teenage boy declining a Friday night out to go home to his mom’s meal. Because that is what Friday nights held in their home.

That was a turning point moment for me as a not-yet-mama.

I saw what I wanted to create in our family. I wanted a connected family. One filled with simple, yet meaningful traditions.

Start with the end in mind.

When an architect draws up a house plan, they ask their client what it is they want. The client will tell them their dream home and what they envision. They may say things like “I want to host large parties. Entertaining is important to me.” And the architect will draw up a plan that includes a design fit for their dreams and ideas.

When building begins, the builder works from the plan. The plan lays out the steps needed to reach the end goal and final result. Each step is intentionally taken to create the vision cast by the client.

In the same way, creating a family culture and establishing connected relationships involves looking down the road and deciding what is most important. Then you make a plan. Not a perfect plan. But. A plan.

With our families, we start with the end in mind too.

 

Here are a few ideas:

  • read aloud together. Start early and keep going when you think they’ve outgrown it. We are never too old to listen to stories. Some of my favorite memories are around books we’ve read together as a family. We’ve laughed and cried and celebrated.  We have a collection of memories around stories. It’s a favorite summer tradition in particular.
  • a simple weekly meal – like chicken and rice Friday. Taco Tuesdays are pretty popular. It’s simply nice to have something to all look forward to together. It’s steady and sure. Taco Tuesday arrives each week without much hurrah. Just a regular meal everyone counts on in a world that often is filled with setbacks and disappointments.
  • family dinners – sitting together to eat is important to me. Creating schedules to make that a priority is hard but worth it. For some families this is exceptionally hard. Try for at least one night a week. Or 2 or 3. Just set what works and stick to it.
  • weekly family night- Pick a night of the week for some family activity. Game night. Movie night. Go get ice cream. Again it’s that repeated activity that everyone counts on and looks forward to.
  • holiday traditions – The simpler the better. You don’t have to consult Pinterest and go over the top. Kids are typically quite pleased with less than we adults realize. It really is about the little things.
  • birthday traditions – My motto is always simple. I have a birthday banner from Zachary’s 5th birthday I saved. I hang it for everyone’s birthday. They all expect to see it when they wake up.

We have so many traditions, but they are super simple. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they are so simple, my kids wouldn’t call them a “tradition”. But to me a tradition is something we repeat together and come to expect we will continue to repeat.

My almost 16 year old son was invited to something recently. When he told me, I quickly said, “Go! You should go.” He responded, “No mom, that night is the same one as our annual tradition. It’s a tradition. I don’t want to miss it.”

And my heart did that melting thing it did some 18-19 years ago as I eavesdropped on teens I didn’t know realizing that I wanted to be a mom who created simple moments and meaningful traditions to foster connected relationships.

Traditions are a reminder of belonging. They connect us one to another.

You may remember I wrote a Christmas devotion titled Seeking Christmas. The heart of the book was to provide families with simple family traditions tied to the true meaning of Christmas. While the book is no longer in circulation, the spirit of Seeking Christmas, along with the ornaments and hide and seek activity, are alive and well.

I created Seeking Christmas to counter the materialism and consumerism of Christmas, while simultaneously creating traditions centered completely around why we even celebrate. My kids rarely remembered a material gift from year to year, but they never forgot the simple moments we built into our holiday season.

It was the experiences and activities they asked for. Not the presents.

So here it is. A 7 day Christmas ornament hide and seek activity. 1 ornament a day you hide, let your kids find it. Then you open the Bible together and read the scripture. Over 7 days you unfold a small part of the Christmas story.

It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s a tradition. It’s for the busiest of busy families. It’s made to stand alone or build upon however you choose. It’s flexible. You don’t have to start on a certain Sunday or December 1st.

You can buy the download to create your own ornaments for $1. I will also be loading some printed, ready to ship ornament sheets on the shop so stay tuned for those. I only have a few sets leftover from my recent Pop-Up shop. So grab them while they are here.

 

 

How to move from burned out to renewed energy

When the soul lacks rest

White space and quiet.

Peace and tranquility.

These are the things I crave.

Our souls are living crushed and overwhelmed by busy schedules and information streams that never sleep.

We consume. We produce. We race from here to there. We wave our busy flag with pride, while inside our soul begs for slow.

God whispers. Do we hear? He speaks. Do we recognize His voice?

God says fast

Last weekend God whispered for me to rest from the constant stream of information and the hum of social media. He extended an invitation to fast from the noise of the world and come back to Him in the quiet. I responded with a quick yes. My soul is not meant to carry the weight of all information it receives via the internet.

When I take these fasts, I enter burned out and tired. I leave renewed and energized. I often wonder why I wait so long.

Running from fear and exhaustion

There’s a fascinating story in the Bible. 1 King 19. Elijah flees. He’s burned out. He’s scared.

He laid down and told God he’d had enough and wanted to die.

God answered by sending an angel to provide food and water. Elijah took it then lay down again and slept. Again the angel returned. He told Elijah the journey ahead was too much for him and gave him more food and water. Elijah received the strength he needed and continued 40 days on his journey. Then he came to a cave.

I relate much to Elijah through this story. At times I feel so on fire for the Lord and give and give and pour and pour. Then in exhaustion and fear, I want to run away.

I get burned out. Burned out in my callings, my ministries, my passions. I get burned out in my simple day to day, ordinary life too.

Where do we find our retreat?

I crave the cave.

All I want is to retreat to the safety of my cave.

The Lord came to Elijah and asked him a question. You know, God always knows the answer. God knows the truth and at times will ask us so we are forced to face the truth we are ignoring.

In verse 9 God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I love the intimacy God uses when He speaks. The sound of our own name can be a beautiful thing.

Verse 10 ‘He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord instructed Elijah to leave the cave and stand on the mountain. He tells Elijah the Lord is about to pass by.

God meets us in our hiding place

God wanted to pull him out of his dark hiding place.

God pulls us out of our darkness as well. He wants us to hear Him speaking.

I noticed something I never noticed before as I read this passage. Watch this.

’11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’

I always envisioned this story with Elijah coming out of the cave first. But he didn’t. He waited until he recognized the voice of the Lord.

God speaks

God used the ordinary over the miraculous to speak. He does the same today. He can speak however and whenever He chooses. But do we hear Him?

Elijah recognized that gentle whisper and stepped out of his dark cave.

And when I retreat from the world and tuck into my personal cave, the Lord meets me too. He invites me out.

When Elijah recognized God’s whisper, God spoke. He asked the exact question He asked Elijah the first time.

‘Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”‘

Elijah answered the EXACT same way. So God asked the same question. Elijah gave the same answer.

Did you see that??? This struck me.

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

At this point, God gave Elijah specific instructions to go back the way he came. God told Elijah what to do and how to do it.

Fear fades. Strength returns.

Elijah left renewed. He followed God’s instructions.

He went from fearful and burned out, to renewed and strengthened. Not by the cave, but by an encounter with God.

What I need is more of God. What I need is Him alone. What I need is to recognize His voice and listen to His words.

I need less world, more Word.

Less world.

More Word.

When I break away from whatever is weighing down my soul, I receive refreshment from God. Often, He responds for me to go back the way I came, but He gives me Himself so I can take the journey back.

You know what I think? I think if we spent more time focused on the character and heart of God, we’d experience less fear, less anxiety, less worry, less burn out. Because in light of the awesomeness of who He is, all else shrinks.

What we focus on grows.

When I focus on my problems, they grow bigger. When I focus on my anxious heart, the anxiety triples in size. When I focus on my fear, I’m consumed by the darkness it lives in.

But when I focus on who God is, my heart rate slows. My breathing evens. My shoulders relax. I can be still because I remember just who He is.

Maybe you

  • are in need of a renewal of strength and energy.
  • are burned out craving a cave to hide in.
  • are trying to outrun your fear that won’t give up the chase.
  • feel you can’t hear God speak anymore.
  • are looking to hit a restart button.
  • just need to be renewed.

I have something I think will help. Let me be clear. God alone is all you need. His Word.

But sometimes we find we need something to nudge us a bit, remind us, or help us reconnect.

ebook devotional

If that sounds like you, I invite you to grab a copy of Illuminate. Illuminate is a 14 day devotion that will be a soothing balm to your soul. It is gentle and kind and will redirect your focus from your fear and worry onto your Creator. It will help you to remember how to maintain your focus on Jesus.

Illuminate is a mixture of devotions centered on the character of God and scripture readings and meditations. It’s available as either an audio devotional with pdf transcripts that arrives in your inbox once per day over a 14 day period. Or as an ebook download you can receive all at once. Your choice. One price. Yours forever.

I find myself going back to it at various seasons when I feel my distraction level and stress levels rising. It calms and quiets my soul. And I hope it will do the same for you.

It’s available on sale for 50% right now too! Grab a copy for yourself and a few friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is to lean in and point them to the cross.

The struggle is real.

Life is a struggle. If we as parents continue to step in and right their world and make everything fair and perfect, what a disservice we offer them in the long run. Because ultimately we are creating a false sense of reality for them.

In my fierce attempts to protect my child from failure, mistakes, unfairness, and hardship, I elbow Christ right out of the way. I step in and say to the One who wants to be my child’s Comforter, Defender, and Rescuer, “I’ve got this. I’ll smooth this path for him and make it all better.”

Sadly, Christ is left out. Our kids aren’t pointed to the cross. Rather, they begin to see the world as a place that is supposed to be fair and good to them. In reality, this world is fallen and broken. In God’s mercy and love, He sent His son to make it all right. And on this earth, we won’t experience perfection and goodness in all situations. This is when we turn toward Him in faith and say, “I trust in You. You love me. You care for me. One day I will stand with you in eternity and see the world as it should be.”

I had a friend tell me stories of parents calling him when their adult children didn’t get the job. They wanted to know why their child wasn’t chosen. Parents calling the coach and demanding their kid be placed on a team they simply weren’t cut out for. Parents racing to school after the child left homework at home. AGAIN.

It is ok for our kids to struggle. It’s ok for them to fail so they can learn. If we consistently rescue them, how will they ever grow strong?

It’s hard to watch our kids struggle. But if we don’t let them now, while we can talk them through it, they will not be prepared when it really matters.

7 years ago I wrote a post about the importance of struggle. I shared a story in which I struggled to allow my child to struggle. 7 years later, I believe in this more than I realized I would. Click through to read that post with me. The Struggle with Struggle.

 

Books I’ve Read in 2019

 

I should really become more systematic with sharing posts about what I’ve read and am reading. It’s far too sporadic. Nonetheless, here’s a few books I’ve read since my last post Books I’ve Read This Year and Why We Read Aloud.

 

Personal Growth/Non-Fiction/Christian Living

  • Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf

It’s a game changer kind of book. I borrowed my friend’s copy which she had underlined and highlighted unlike anything I’d ever seen. The main thing I learned here is that I’m not an active enough reader, clearly.

But seriously. I think everyone should read this book. It’s really that good.

  • Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

I loved this book. I actually listened on Audible and finished in about 2 days. It was a fast, practical read about goal setting and habits. Apparently, a theme for my year so far. I approach these books as a cynic, sadly. But a trusted friend recommended, so I went with it. I’m glad I did.

  • Cozy Minimalist Home

This is another book I would typically not find myself drawn to for a couple of reasons. I don’t decorate continually. I literally decorate my home when I move and never again until the next house. Not kidding. It’s just not my thing. Also, we are in a 2 year spending freeze, so why would I want to read a book that could cause me to want what I don’t need.

Ok, but that whole minimalism thing drew me in. And the library had it.

It took me by surprise. I finished in a day and would definitely recommend. I particularly liked the writing style.

 

  • Remember God

I didn’t LOVE this one, but it wasn’t bad at all. I just don’t think I was the target reader for this book. I read it because the title appealed to me. If you recall from last year, remember was the word on repeat. I believe if we spent more time remembering who God is, much of our troubles would fade.

However, this book didn’t really address that as much as I’d hoped. Instead it was a part of the author’s personal journey. Her writing life/career, singleness, etc. I think someone in that same season of life would really love and connect with this book.

  • The Soul of Shame – Retelling the stories we tell about ourselves

“We’re all infected with a spiritual disease. Its name is shame. Whether we realize it or not, shame affects every aspect of our personal lives and vocational endeavors. It seeks to destroy our identity in Christ, replacing it with a damaged version of ourselves that results in unhealed pain and brokenness. But God is telling a different story for your life. Psychiatrist Curt Thompson unpacks the soul of shame, revealing its ubiquitous nature and neurobiological roots. He also provides the theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle shame, based on years of researching its damaging effects and counseling people to overcome those wounds. Thompson’s expertise and compassion will help you identify your own pains and struggles and find freedom from the lifelong negative messages that bind you. Rewrite the story of your life and embrace healing and wholeness as you discover and defeat shame’s insidious agenda.”

This book was a powerful read. I only picked it up because a friend mentioned it in passing. I recommend it to all christians.

  • Take Control of Your Life – How to silence fear and win the mental game

“With humor and wisdom, Mel Robbins expertly tackles the fear of change, rejection, and being alone, as well as imposter syndrome and feeling trapped in the wrong career. Each session is a goldmine of discovery as Mel guides you to find your purpose, improve your relationships, and ultimately take control of your life. In these times of high anxiety, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – that changes right now. If you want the tools to break free from fear and live to your fullest potential, this is a must-listen.”

I read this as part of an accountability group. The title gave me pause, but it wasn’t what I expected. Each chapter I found helpful in learning to cast out fear and embrace the person God created me to be and the callings He has placed on my life. While this book isn’t written from a christian perspective, I still found much wisdom and nuggets to take away.

  • The Power of Habit

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.”

I loved this book. I love learning new things and the way he told the stories was so captivating and enthralling. I finished that book more aware than ever how powerful habits are and how we hold the power to change and shape our habits. Habits don’t have to control us. Great read!!

Parenting

  • What a Difference a Mom Makes

I basically like anything by Dr. Kevin Lehman. He’s one of my favorites. The beginning I devoured, but then it quickly became much of what I’ve read in his previous books. I love it because I love his advice, but I’d read much of it already.

 

Fiction

  • Roses

Well, this one I struggled to put down. I didn’t want it to end at all. I fell in love with the characters, the plot moved not too fast and not too slow. If you like historical fiction, add this to your list.

“Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.”

 

  • Spark of Light

I’ve never read a Jodi Piccoult book I didn’t like until this one. I really had a hard time with the abortion subject matter as I shared in my Instagram post below. Sadly, I would not recommend this book.

 

  • Number the Stars

This is the 2nd time I’ve read this book. I read it aloud to Zachary and Andrew. Such a good read aloud.

 

  • The Story Keeper

I read this because I really enjoyed Before We Were Yours. It was a fairly quick read but wasn’t as gripping as I’d hoped. But fiction for me is tough because it really has to be a page turner to keep me sitting still.

  • Somerset

This is the prequel to Roses. Equally as good as Roses!

“Born into the wealthiest and most influential family in 1830s South Carolina, Jessica Wyndham was expected to look appealing, act with decorum, and marry a suitably prominent and respectable man. However, her outspoken opinions and unflagging sense of justice make her a difficult-and dangerous-firebrand, especially for slavery-dependent Carson Wyndham. Jessica’s testing of her powerful father’s love is only the beginning of the pain, passion, and triumph she will experience on a journey with the indomitable, land-obsessed Silas Toliver and headstrong Jeremy Warwick to a wild new land called Texas.”

  • Until We Reach Home Lynn Austin

I’ve loved all Lynn Austin books, and this one kept me coming back. A sweet, while at times heartbreaking, and moving read.

“Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America . . . the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?

ONLY IN CROSSING A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS OCEAN WILL THEY FIND THE TRUE MEANING OF LOVE, FAITH, AND HOME”

  • Titans, Leslie Meacham

Great book. I liked Roses and Somerset better. However, Titans was worth reading. It was filled with a bit less heartache     than her previous books. A more predictable ending. A sweet read to wind down my summer fiction spree.

Do you enjoy these posts? I don’t know how many of y’all are readers???

Which are you trusting more? Your faith or your fear?

 

The pier seemed to stretch to the middle of Lake Michigan. It was a clear divide. One side still as a summer night. One side as rambunctious as a toddler thrown down in full declaration of his will.

As I stood at the start of the pier, the end seemed completely out of reach. To reach the end, I’d have to face the strength of the wind to my right and the force of the waves as they pounded the walkway. Rather than a peaceful pier stroll, for me, it was a walk filled with the taunts and distractions of fear. The wind roared in my ears. My heart drummed so loudly I was certain it could be heard over the crashing waves.

“Why haven’t they closed this pier?” I wondered. It seemed far too dangerous. No guard rails held up their protective embrace.

My family felt none of the emotions I struggled through. They laughed and played all the way to the clear end. I, on the other hand, baby-stepped my way plank by terrifying plank.

“What if the wind sent Andrew in the water?”

“What if the brothers are goofing off and someone accidentally falls in?”

“What if they don’t see how slippery the pier is and end up fighting the lake that behaves like a sea.”

I never made it to the end of the pier. Fear kept me barely past the start, never progressing. Fear won.

Later I looked at the picture and videos I captured of that scene. If I turned to the left, the water was calm, still, and peaceful. If I turned to the right, the wind slapped water across my legs as it landed on the pier in repeat.

A clear divide separated peace and chaos.

On the side of peace, all lay still. The water glistened. Facing the side of peace, the wind was behind you, so the sound much less threatening. A turn in the opposite direction, the noise intensified, the danger warned to stay back.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Faith and fear don’t mix. When we choose faith, we silence fear. When we choose fear, we silence faith.

It’s a trust issue. Do we trust faith or fear? One way or the other, we are making a choice. Intentionally or not, it’s a choice. Whose hand will I reach for to hold me steady? Will I reach toward my faith even though I’m scared to death? Or will I reach toward my fear with trembling arms?

See, either way I may be scared at the start.

It’s all about focus. If I am fixed on Him, I experience His calm, soothing voice. If I’m fixed on my fears, all I hear are the threats of what-ifs.

On the last leg of our family road trip, we each shared favorite moments. The pier walk did not earn a spot on my favorites list because it was clouded with fear. But you know what? It did earn a spot on the list of everyone in my family who silenced fear and enjoyed the stroll.

If I live my life with the voice of fear constantly allowed to speak, I will remain stuck and never arrive at the end of the pier and experience the beauty waiting. I’ll stand at the beginning and watch everyone else lean towards faith as they experience the joy of watching fear fade into the shadow of lies from which it dawned.

 

How do you handle when someone else gets what you want?

Have you worked so hard on a project only to watch someone else receive credit for the work hours you labored through?

Have you watched a co-worker receive a promotion you felt was undeserved? Maybe you wonder if the powers in charge realize how much time she wastes on Facebook on company time?

Have you poured your heart and soul into a career path only to watch others receive what you can’t seem to reach no matter how hard you work?

Have you done all the “right” things but can’t seem to catch a break?

Depending on our mindset, if we aren’t careful, our thoughts can lead us to grow bitter heart roots. At the very root is often envy and jealousy. I recently listened to a devotion on the Abide app on healing from jealousy. I shared this, which I heard on this app, on Instagram. “At the root of jealousy is the belief that God is not good. It says ‘If God is good why won’t he give me what he’s giving other people.’”

Jealousy leads to bitterness.

I attended a convention recently where the keynote speaker, Bob Heilig, gave this challenge. Get better not bitter.

If you follow me on Instagram and my personal Facebook page, you know I’m passionate about proactive, natural health, particularly gut health. I spend a good deal of time corresponding with people who reach out to me. I send videos, ingredient sheets, testimonies, basically whatever they are requesting. This typically leads to the person deciding to try what I’m suggesting or deciding it’s not for them right now. Occasionally, something else happens.

At times I spend time answering all the questions and helping them however I can for them to respond something like this. “Thanks so much! I have another friend who does this so I ordered through her.” When I first started, this drove me bonkers. I wondered if they didn’t understand that I get paid commissions and bonuses but not a salary.

Recently, I experienced this scenario with a twist.

Turn vent session into prayer session

When the person thanked me for all my time and help and informed me they reached out to a friend they knew who represented my company, I felt immediate disappointment. I vented for a minute then prayed. I’m working on praying out my vents to God so He can speak to me in the middle of the feelings and thoughts I need help with.

My prayer went a little like this: “Ok, God, I’m super frustrated. You know how much time I spent and how I’ve prayed to help more people. She wanted help and now I feel I wasted that time that could have been helping others I could continue working with toward their health goals.”

Immediately Bob Heilig’s words popped in my head, “Get better not bitter.”

“God, don’t let me grow bitter roots. Thank you for all the people you’ve brought my way. And I pray blessings over this person and the friend she will work with. I pray blessings over her business. Thank you that with you there is always more than enough.”

God steered my thoughts instantly by showing me a picture of a gal like me. One who is praying big goals and big dreams. He showed me I don’t know the whole story.  He reminded me that He loves me and cares for me, and that is enough.

He is enough.

The company I’m part of is unlike anything I’ve experienced. The culture is of true oneness with generosity at the very core.

If I had stayed frustrated and focused on the negative, no good would come from that. What we focus on expands. I heard this multiple times at convention. I find it true in my life. When I focus on what I don’t get, my feeling of lack only grows. But when I focus on gratitude, my joy increases.

After my vent turned prayer session with God, I walked away feeling free and light. I felt true joy, true happiness. I didn’t have to carry the burden of jealousy and bitterness in my heart. I was free to walk hand in hand with God knowing He is for me not against me. He is the giver of all good things to all His children. And I really love that about Him.

 

Go deeper with God

Are you looking for a way to connect and grow with God? You are invited into a 14 day journey to know Him better, His character and His heart for you. Illuminate is available in audio and ebook versions. Grab your copy today! Maybe one for a friend as well!!

When death and life happened at the same time

About a month after moving into our Nebraska house years ago, in a hot second, all chaos broke out as one of our boys began crying out that dead bunnies were in our backyard. It all happened so fast. Boys screaming and crying. Us trying to figure out what killed all the bunnies. Seeing blood on our sweet dog’s face. Us screaming at the dog. The confusion of how something like that could happen.

Then one of my boys began to cry as he relayed the sadness of the mama bunny nearby watching all her babies die. He was t0rmented by the sound of their death. To Bristol’s ears, it was nothing more than a squeaky toy he might play with on any given day. To us, it was pure sadness.

A nest of bunnies lived in the protection of one of our hosta plants. A freshly sprouted and blossomed spring hosta. A place of new life, for the plant and the bunnies. And in a second’s time, death happened where new life lived.

I associate that particular hosta with the death scene of that day I wish I’d never seen.

Spring arrived this year as it faithfully does. I walked by this site and stopped. In the middle of the dead from last year, new growth sprouted. It happens every year. We know this. But I felt the Lord remind me that I can focus on the death or I can focus on the new life.

Christ had to die before He resurrected. We celebrate His resurrection power every day we take a breath. I ponder His death. But daily I raise my heart in praise over His resurrection.

How often in my life am I focused on the death of something rather than the life produced later?

When God renews something in my life, I typically find something had to die first. A sin pattern perhaps. An idol. A false belief about who He is. Something died to make room for the life God desired to grow inside. If I stay focused on what died, I fail to celebrate what lives. I miss out.

I see this in relationships at times. They change over time. We change. People change. Life shifts. Parts of us die. Parts of us are refined or renewed. In the process this can be painful as we look back at how things “used to be”. Sometimes we realize that something has died and will never be again. Despair enters when we fail to mourn and then look at the new growth opportunities taking place.

So God reminded me to focus on the life blooming before me rather than the death that took place first. For too long I see that spot and think death. Yes, death happened, but new life comes over and over with each year.

When a relationship or situation shifts seasons, maybe it’s time to properly grieve what we’ve lost. And then. Open our hands to the new thing giving birth. Sometimes in that very same relationship or situation. Sometimes in something completely new altogether. Wherever our paths lead, if we are holding hands with Jesus, we can trust He will keep us steady along the way.