Giving Your Kids the World When You’re Running on Empty

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Sometimes the things we do to bless our kids end up blessing us even more. We serve a God who shows up in unexpected ways.

A few months ago, my firstborn started taking piano lessons. He has an amazing musical instinct and was playing songs in no time, filling our house with Christmas carols in December.

Since we welcomed our third child around Thanksgiving it’s been increasingly difficult for me to get him to his lessons on time. Most days I sit in the car and nurse our newborn while little brother sits in the back watching DVDs, popping his head between the front seats every now and then to tell me about the scene in a movie.

One afternoon I was feeling defeated and overly tired. I almost forgot about firstborn boy’s lesson altogether.

When it was over I debated whether I should walk in and chat with his teacher. Baby girl was sitting in her car seat, happily fed, so went to the front door and found my son there, putting on his shoes.

His teacher told me they’d been learning movie theme songs. Superman was a big hit.

My son had explained to her how there were some movies his dad and I wouldn’t let him watch yet.

“You’re really smart for doing that,” his teacher said. “They’re so vulnerable at this age.”

It was a small affirmation, but in that moment it was huge. Even in the struggle and transition, she gave me confidence we were doing something right.

And each week she continued giving me little nuggets of encouragement.

It reminded me how whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always planting seeds. And the good seeds we plant in our kids will always yield a harvest, whether it’s immediate or years down the road.

That same week, I began reading a beautiful children’s introductory bible called Bible Basics to our baby girl. She fussed a few minutes after I started and I admit I wondered why I even bothered.

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But even through my discouragement, I know I’m planting seeds.

She may not understand the words yet, but her little mind is expanding like a wet sponge. If some of the first truths she hears are about a Creator who adores her, I know I’m doing something good.

Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is filled with colorful, vibrant illustrations and staple verses for children to learn as they grow. It is perfect for a baby or toddler-aged child. It teaches kids the core tenets of Christianity in a way that is easy for them to understand. I am confident that the more I continue reading it to my daughter, the more she will enjoy it.

I know there will still be days when I wonder if I’m doing anything right. I will forget to sign homework and lose my patience with the kids. But when I doubt, I’ll continue planting seeds.

I’ll keep telling them about the amazing God who created the universe, but is still compassionate enough to care about each hair on their heads. I’ll keep looking for ways to make faith part of their everyday lives.

If you’re looking for a way to introduce faith to your kids in a simple, easy-to-understand way, I highly recommend Bible Basics. It is a great resource for parents of young children, and the illustrations are captivating.

Let’s keep sowing those good seeds. You never know when God will show you the fruit of your harvest.

Sometimes it’s in ways you least expect it.


GIVEWAY:
bible-basics-coverHey friends, I’m giving away a copy of Bible Basics to one of you lovely readers! To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment below. You can be entered multiple times by sharing this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Make sure to let me know you shared the post in your comment.

I will announce the winner next Thursday, January 26th.

 

*Two copies of Bible Basics were provided to me by The Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to provide a positive review.

 

 

The One Truth That Can Silence the Voice of Doubt

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“You’re always my number one,” my hubby said.

I put my head against his chest and let his affirmation sink in, resting in his strong embrace.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so tired. Adjusting to life with three kids and finding balance was a struggle. I was flailing in a sea of failed expectations in others, but also fighting to maintain healthy expectations in myself.

When I forgot to sign my son’s homework, I felt defeated. When I was unable to spend as much time with my boys, I felt guilt.

As we encounter difficulty navigating new seasons in life, the voices of doubt often creep in.

You can’t get this mom-of-three-kids thing down. Why did you ever think it was a good idea?

 That book proposal will never get done. You may as well not even try.

 And the scary part is, we often listen to that voice-the one who confirms our worst fears and dark thoughts we don’t talk about with others. The one who brings out the worst version of ourselves.

Instead of pursuing our dreams, we convince ourselves failure is inevitable. We shrink away from the edge of the next leap of faith before we even see the drop off.

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So what do we do? How do we silence the voice of doubt when our eyelids are heavy and the road is weary?

If we want to drown the source of lies, we must look to the source of all truth- Jesus. He didn’t just speak truth. He lived it.

When I look at his life I often wonder, how did he keep discouragement and doubt at bay? When the Pharisees and naysayers questioned his every move, how did he stay strong? It’s quite simple, really.

Jesus knew who he was.

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

John 16:28 ESV

He not only knew who he was, but who he is, and is to come. One with the Father. His Son. The One he was “well pleased” with.

And when he looks at you and me, he’s pleased too. Not because we’re perfect or flawless, but because he sees his perfect Son.

You don’t have to compete for God’s attention. Like my husband said to me, you’re his number one.

When we face a mountain of doubt and discouragement, we can choose to listen his thoughts about us instead of the lies that invade our peace. Even when others around us are pointing out our flaws or being negative, we can immerse ourselves in the voice that speaks truth and love.

And when we abide in him, he calls us daughters. He gives us a crown and says, “Come to me, you who are weary.”

I don’t know about you, but those voices of lies are making me weary. Let’s come to the only One who can give us true rest today.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and remember not only who we are, but Whose we are today.

He Doesn’t Have Second Thoughts About You

second-thoughts

I swear whoever coined the term “buyer’s remorse” was thinking of me.

I spend the next day second-guessing major purchases. I’m quite sure if you looked up the term on Wikipedia you would see a picture of me pacing over a recent appliance purchase.

Even an expensive pair of boots can leave me wondering, “but what if I find another pair I like better?”

It makes my husband a little batty sometimes.

“Do you think I should send them back, hon?”

His answer is always the same.

“Do whatever makes you happy, Sweetheart.”

This response makes me even crazier because I want someone to tell me what to do. To make the decision for me. But no, he forces me to make the choice myself, and although I hate to admit it, I know he’s right for doing it.

The real problem comes when I project my indecisive nature onto our ever-constant, unchanging God. I mess up, drop the ball or miss an opportunity and think, “Surely, God must be done with me.”

I wonder if the eternal relationship comes with a free return policy. I disappoint the buyer and he sends me back to my sad life, no strings attached.

Perhaps you’ve been there?

We can’t seem to get over this one hurdle in life and we think God’s looking down at us with all his perfect holiness, utter disdain on his face. Maybe he second-guesses his decision to adopt us into his family.

It is eternal, right?

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And thinking this way doesn’t just affect our relationship with him. It affects every aspect of our lives. Our friends, family and colleagues feel the insecurity of our souls. We may convince ourselves ourselves the effects are isolated to the spiritual realm. But our souls are an outflow of our relationship with the One who created them.

When I thought about my word for 2017, my mind was all over the place. My sleep-deprived, newborn baby brain almost decided to forego the exercise this year. After all, my word last year was “awake” and we can see how that went.

I’ve never wanted sleep so badly in my life. Yes, thank you God.

But in all seriousness, that word was a blessing. I realized in many ways, my spiritual life was asleep and God awakened me to new ways to grow in my relationship with him.

For 2017, I thought God was going to challenge me with a word like “bold” or “fearless” because both are characteristics that need growth in my life. I know the only way I will be either of these things is because of his Spirit working in me.

But then I asked myself what the root of my fear was. What keeps me from being bold and fearless?

I realized I will never be either of those things until I fully embrace who I am in Christ: loved. Daughter. Secure. Safe.

Christ doesn’t have a return policy on his relationship with me. The security of my soul is written with his eternal blood.

When he looks at me, he doesn’t second-guess his choice and think, “Wow, I really screwed up when I sent my son for her.” He sees his beloved child, and he delights in his creation.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps the gospel message seems a little too good to be true sometimes and you find yourself feeling insecure.

This year, may the words of John 3:16 not fall on deaf ears. May they sink deep into your soul.

For God so loved….

Say it. Believe it. And let it transform your life.

This is my word and my goal for 2017: living loved.

Are You a People Pleaser? {A Guest Post}

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Today I am delighted to share the words of my dear friend Kelly Balarie with you. I can’t tell you the number of times this woman has encouraged me to be brave in my walk with Christ. I’ve been blessed to be part of the Purposeful Faith family over at Kelly’s website for the past two years, and it’s been an honor to watch the community grow as Lord moves and transforms hearts. Today Kelly releases her first book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears! Make sure you check it out and please give her a warm welcome!

Are You a People Pleaser?

God told me to pray with all my heart. So, I did. I don’t think they liked it very much.

I think they had thoughts about it. Opinions. Perspectives. Perceptions.

Ouch!

What do you do when God prompts your heart, but man judges it? They may not say it. They may not whisper it. They may not even admit it, but somehow you know, under the cover of their Christian guise it brews. What do you do with that?

This is what I’ve been considering. Do I take care of man or do I take care to follow God’s lead?

There’s risk, big risk, in following God. Moving outside norms, beyond bounds or having an air of “different” can feel like a punishment waiting to happen.  It can feel like you’re letting people down. It can feel like their charge over you marks you condemned.

Even more, the fear of being judged, ostracized or talked about behind your back – is real. It is really real. Even worse, in some cases, it is likely to happen. Add that to the enemy, who spits out ugly words, like: “Bad child, you are messing things up and stirring up problems,” and, at this point, you can be thrown into the sea of doubt, in a split-second.

Still, I want to do what is right by God, don’t you? I want to live for Him – first. I want to answer to Him – above all. I want to be like Christ – in every way.

God knows, I want to be brave. I think he sees my heart. So, like a gracious father, He leads me, his child, to truth; He brings me to these words:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10

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I can either with the approval of man. It’s fleeting and tiring.

Or, I can win the approval of God. It’s enduring and up building.

I can either please people. It’s short-lived and peace-depleting.

Or, I can serve Christ. It’s long-lasting and peace-giving.

What man gives today, is gone tomorrow. What you put in to satiating him, is eaten up by his desires for more – the next day. However, the will of God, does not waver. It does not grow old. It does not change course. It has a destination. There, lives joy, His glory and grand purpose.

Will we push into it? We can’t do it if we are sitting on man’s lap and eating up the delight of his face of approval. Jesus didn’t get a face of approval on the cross. His on-fire pursuit of doing God’s appeared nuts to man. It appeared worthy of their highest condemnation.

Still, Jesus didn’t change course. He stood fast to his belief in what his Father had called him to. He walked the road assigned to him, anyway.

What road do you need to walk anyway? What person’s demands do you need to release? What calling of love do you need to pursue?

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” Jo. 12:26


Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.inddAuthor and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

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“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people. Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

The Gifts We Miss in the Transition {Anchored Souls Series}

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Thank you to all the beautiful souls who joined us over the past few weeks for our Anchored Souls series. I loved seeing God stir and connect hearts in ways only He can. As we count down the final days until Christmas, I want to share with you how God moved in my heart as we faced a big transition of our own: the welcoming of our third child. In the midst of the sleepless nights and the healing, He showed up. He always does, when we’re willing to invite Him in.

The Gifts We Miss in the Transition

She entered this world screaming. Arms flailing, mouth open wide as the first taste of air entered her lungs, she grasped for something safe and familiar. The cold, metallic environment of the OR was no match for the warm cocoon she was pulled from, and she was mad.

She screamed for five minutes straight as the doctors prepared to close my incision. I laid on the operating table with my arms spread wide, waiting for them to bring her to me.

She quieted at the sound of my voice. I kissed her cheek and willed myself to lift my hands to her, but they were still numb and tingly. I kept my face turned toward her and took in the softness of her features, the curve of her nose and cheek until the nurse took her away.

I looked at the clock and watched the seconds tick while they sewed me up.

Later, as I lay in the hospital bed cradling my new daughter in my arms, the nurse told me her second night would be the worst. More crying. More fussiness. I remembered the sleepless nights with my boys and nodded.

In my groggy state, I thought about how we grow up but our behaviors don’t really change all that much, do they? I mean, we may not scream like a newborn but we all fight against the unfamiliar.

We long for the safe, warm cocoon we were torn from as infants, and when unexpected change comes, we struggle.

Over the next few weeks as I entered life with our third child, I became like my crying infant. My body was healing, but I fought those who tried to help me. We stayed home during the first few weeks to protect our newborn from germs, and I complained about the holiday celebrations we were missing.

Images of Christmas fun on Facebook invoked jealousy. Even when I was tired and running on fumes, I thought about how it was the first year I couldn’t make our annual trip to the tree farm.

One night as I sat in the rocker nursing our sweet daughter, I felt God whisper, “You’re missing it.”

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I didn’t even have to ask what he meant. I already knew. I breathed in the soft scent of her and felt my body relax and little. She smelled like Dreft and baby powder. Her hair felt like silk.

This was the last child I would birth. I could focus on what I was missing, but then I would miss her.

Her first smiles and coos. Those big eyes that looked up at me in the wee hours of the night.

When we fight through the transitions of life, we miss the blessing God is giving in the midst of it.

We miss the joy and the sweetness. We focus so much on what we’re missing that we don’t see the gift right in front of us.

As much as I hate to admit it, most holidays I’m struggling under the weight of other people’s expectations. The presents, the cards, the travel- it all adds up to someone’s hurt feelings or disappointment.

But this season God gave us a precious gift and said, “Here. Slow down. Stay in. This is all that matters.”

As the days pass and I watch our daughters features change like clockwork, I know he’s exactly right.

 

The Worst Christmas Ever {Anchored Souls Series}

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As we continue our Anchored Souls series, I am glad to be welcoming my friend Christy Mobley back to the blog. Christy’s heart for hospitality and encouragement have blessed me more times than I can count, and her loving spirit shines through in her writing. What I love about her style is her ability to cut through any pretense and fluff and get straight to the heart of the matter. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares a very personal story with us today.

The Worst Christmas Ever

Christmas 2002 promised to be the best Christmas ever.

Two months prior we had moved into to a new home and on December 3rd, I was busily planning my husband’s office party to be held there while waiting for him to come out of his colonoscopy. Believing my husband was strong and healthy I wasn’t a bit worried about the procedure (which is actually unusual for me), instead I turned my attention to the upcoming event. Today, the last thing on my mind was cancer. But It’s amazing how our focus can do a 180 in a heartbeat.

And just like that, with a few hard words the party was over and our world took a drastic turn.

David was a young 44 when diagnosed with colon cancer. We were told he was lucky he had the colonoscopy when he did, another couple of weeks and the tumor would have perforated his colon. Surgery was scheduled for December 13th, and if all went well, he would be home for Christmas with me and our two boys. Our church, family and friends bathed us in prayer and David and I held a strong faith that God would see us through this.

After surgery, he was in the hospital for eight grueling days during which time biopsy results came back and the choice to do chemo was decided.

David made it home on the 22nd and I thought surely the worst was behind us but my once strong man was now markedly weak, frail, and frightened. Like coming home for the first time with a newborn and not knowing quite how to handle things, his condition disarmed me.

Feeling out of control we gave our control to Jesus.

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I knelt beside the bed and held David’s hand and both of us knowing where our hope was hidden, we surrendered this awful thing, this cancer, the healing, to the Lord.

In the middle of the night David woke up with a searing pain in his back, gripping him with every breath. By the next afternoon he was back in the hospital with not one but two pulmonary embolisms. Blood clots meant a mandatory three day hospital stay (which included Christmas) with heavy doses of blood thinners.

Most people don’t make it through one PE but two is most definitely lethal. I made several attempts to get a hold of the on-call doctor that night but he never returned the page. Perhaps if he did we might of given the doctor credit but David’s survival was clearly nothing short of miraculous.

But we weren’t done.

Christmas morning came and around six or so the phone rang. When I picked it up I heard David’s voice.

“I’m in so much pain. I don’t know what’s wrong and I can’t get the nurse.”

By the time I got to the hospital the nurse was in the room. She told me, “Honey you need to call some family for support. You don’t need to be alone.”

I’d never seen him like this. David and I both feared he was hemorrhaging. I called my in-laws and our closest friends to pray.

After a CAT scan his surgeons decided to open him up again.

Before the doctors took him into surgery he whispered to me, “Heaven will be a better place.”

He thought he was dying.

I did too.

Now completely exhausted, my eyes depleted of tears I thought about my sister. Would I be a widow too?

In a silent prayer I surrendered, “Thy will be done.”

As I was escorted through the double doors separating all things antiseptic with the outside world I felt the anxiety lift off me and replaced with a peace. And God said, I’ve got this. I will take care of you.

It’s been 14 years and God has done just that. You see our story together was far from over.

Yes, David missed Christmas with us but if he had been at home perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to get him to the hospital in time to drain the fluid that had gathered in his abdomen threatening infection. In a strange way the pulmonary embolisms were a blessing.

Looking in the rear view mirror here’s what I gleaned from the worst Christmas ever.

God has a purpose and plan for our lives.
God wants us to trust Him completely with it.
God is in control and sovereign over all creation.

And

Jarring realities hit hard sometimes putting the value of each precious day into proper perspective.

And with the proper perspective in hindsight, maybe 2002 was indeed the best Christmas ever after all.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

 


for linkedinChristy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, writer and speaker. She’s also a girly girl who chases teens balls for recreation and at the end of the day she does her best thinking in the tub.
Her greatest passion lies in encouraging women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and twist in the road.

You can find Christy at her blog, Joying in the Journey, on Twitter, and on Facebook.