This weekend I walked in the damp Pennsylvania woods while the wind rustled the branches and the leaves surrendered drops of captive rainwater. Tink, shh, woo, tink. Maple, dogwood, oak, and beach, all letting go of their holdings, adding to the colorful canvas on the floor of the woods. I drew near to God who created these trees as I stared in silence.
More than 25 years ago I wandered these woods—lost and searching, not knowing what my heart ached and grasped for. The golden hues of the Maple tree whispered something of majesty and I wondered, “Does God exist? And if He does, I want to know Him.”
Looking back over more than two decades of following Jesus, I see times when I simply just lived. Rushing from one “important” thing to the next—barely breathing, let alone wondering at the hue of the golden maple—or leaning in to recognize God’s whisper through the rustling of the leaves.
Are you rushing this Fall? Here is one simple thing we can do to draw closer to God.
My Instagram feed splashes images of quick quotes and inspirational verses intended to remind me of living for Jesus. But this week they seemed to skim my soul rather than refresh it. There is something deeper needed for powerful living than quick tips— the same thing is needed for powerful parenting.
Mom was not known for her domestic prowess, but with all the Martha Stewart she could mimic, she mixed the ingredients according to the handwritten note—slid the bread pan into the oven—and we played cards.
She checked the bread. Hmm… the bread’s not puffing up.Well, maybe it needs just a little more time to cook…maybe more…or more?
She finally pulled out the bread pan to reveal a burnt unidentifiable mass.
We threw out the bread—and the pan.
Turns out, Grandma’s list was missing flour—’cause she knew how much she started with when baking a loaf.
Sometimes one simple ingredient can change the whole loaf.
Same is true in life. But what ingredient are we missing?
Sometimes Jesus-following looks crazy—like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute kind of crazy. Our loved ones shout, “Don’t do it!” or “Come this way for safety,” but you think Jesus is telling you to jump in obedience towards a new job, ministry, location or relationship—or is He?
When following Jesus looks crazy, but the road seems unsure, who do we listen to? How can we know for sure which way to go? Jump off? Climb down? Or not leave the comfort of the solid-footing at all?
This week’s video encouragement from Mark Chapter 3 explores making cumbersome decisions in following Jesus when we have competing voices telling us what to do—sometimes competing voices even within ourselves.
God bless you mamas. I pray you have a non-cumbersome week following Jesus in motherhood and beyond.
My Costco marinated salmon with beef flavored Rice-A-Roni seemed simple enough (I know, healthiest meal ever). But as I pulled the salmon out of the oven—with a crying baby grasping my ankle, another kid in time-out and the third screaming from the bathroom for help—I realized the fish had a crispy outside and a raw center. I started seeping tears.
Dinner time was 30 minutes ago and our stomachs and attitudes needed food.
This is motherhood for me. Everyone needing me at once and trying to accomplish a simple task sometimes feels like 10th grade algebra all over again. Why do they put letters and numbers together? So confusing.
I called in hubby for back-up, took care of urgent parenting matters, and then marched back into the kitchen and stood staring at the half burned—half raw salmon, and my pot of rice. “What should we do?” I asked the hubs, who usually cooks because he is amazing like that. “I’ll make something,” he consoles.
Today I almost lost it—I wanted to yell, wanted to spew hurtful words at an obstinate child. I drove to church to worship Jesus while my wonderful “Gift from the Lord” picked at my self-control resolve like woodpecker. Peck. Peck. Peck.
But the Spirit yelled within my soul: Be still. Strengthen yourself for love.
So instead of cracking, I cracked down—on self-control, loving words, and firm consequences.
WHEW! THAT WAS HARD.
Sometimes I feel like this parenting job is more like a dodgeball-throw-everything-at-mom game. And I end up crying through the bruises once the kids hit the bedtime sideline. Some days I throw back a ball (or two), but today—today—God gave me the strength for Holy Spirit resolve.
That is why I love the prayer from Paul to the Philippians. It is a wise field strategy packed in an empowering prayer pronouncement that suits us up for the ability—through Christ Jesus—to be blameless in the field of motherhood. No matter how many tantrum, name-calling, or rule-breaking balls slap against our legs.
Prayer is powerful. May this prayer from Paul to the church in Philipi be ours this week so that we can parent for the glory of God.
My family continues to encounter various trials. Death of loved ones. Broken car doors. Sickness that stretches out into weeks. Joblessness. Not knowing where to live. Saying goodbye to my childhood home—and the list goes on. No matter what the trials—big or small—they can leave us weary and discouraged. But I see progress in my own soul. Last summer I handled the trials very differently.
When we encounter hard challenges, is it possible to consider it joy?
This week’s reflection comes from James 1:1-4. I hope it encourages you.
Mamas, I thought I was the only one who struggles with mommy guilt. Ha! Just joking. But to read from another mama the tug of mental war about what we do and tell ourselves when we mess up—again—and lose our our calm and kind tone with the kids? Refreshing.
Sometimes God feels far. He feels far for me right now. I feel like a ball in a ping ball machine, bounced around in a chaotic rattling, but not really going anywhere. Only to return from where I came from, the bottom.
When life feels dark and we are pinging off of anxiety, depression, grief, and other threatening emotions, how can we find balance, peace, and truth?
Listen to this week’s video reflection. I hope it helps you and those you love.
God, I know Your Word says you never leave me, but you feel far away. Do you see me? The way ahead is clouded and I am overcome. Please help me. Please show me the way, even for just the next step. The noise and the chaos clouds me from clarity. Please, be my clarity. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Question:How do you experience God in the darkness? Please share. To leave a comment, just click here.