One Truth to Hold Onto When You Crave Recognition

when-you-crave-recognition

Can I make a little confession? I’m a gold star craver. I love affirmation for a job well done, and when I became a parent this need multiplied. I constantly worry that I’m messing up my kids or they’re going to need therapy when they grow up.

You can relate, right?

So this week we celebrated Valentine’s Day and after an incident at home I had no time to do anything. I’ll admit, most years we don’t do much for Valentine’s anyway. To me it serves as just another reason to give the kids sugar.

Trust me, my kids don’t need more sugar.

But it had been a rough week and I was feeling a little guilty about not getting the kids anything.

Enter…my husband. He comes home from work with two little heart shaped boxes of chocolate and puts them on my dresser. Each one has a cute, fun message on the front. Each one perfect for our boys’ unique personalities.

“You’ll always be their first Valentine,” he said.

I could have cried. He saw my need even though I didn’t express it.

The next morning when I came to kitchen table and gave each son his gift, my oldest jumped up and gave me a hug. And hugs from this eight-year-old are getting fewer and farther between.

“I love you,” he said.

I looked at my hubs, knowing this moment was because of him. But he didn’t need credit or recognition from the boys. Seeing their reaction was enough.

That’s what Christ’s love is like, isn’t it? We’re his ambassadors here on earth, but often we’re so worried about getting the pat on the back or gold star that we forget who deserves the glory.

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I’m not saying we should stop encouraging each other. Scripture says to build each other up in Christ Jesus.

But let’s not forget our gifts come from him. And at the end of the day if his love shines through us and points others to their Creator, we’ve done well.

He sees the heart we pour into our families. He sees each tear we cry for their sake.

He’s been where we are, completely human in every way.

And you know what? People didn’t recognize him either.

He wasn’t here to bring himself glory, but to do the will of the One who sent him. To give us glimpses of the Father here on earth.

Come to him today. Tell him your need. I can promise he already knows, but when we are honest we just might get that gold star we crave.

He can fill us up with the love he feels for us each day, whispering, “I know you, my child. And I am pleased with my creation.”

 

Linking up here: #ChasingCommunity

When You Feel Criticized {A Guest Post}

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Dear friends, I hope you will give my friend Kelly Balarie a warm welcome back to the blog today. Kelly just released her first book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, and today she is talking about a fear that hit me very close to home: fear of condemnation. The need to be right, and taking well-meaning advice as an insult. Perhaps you’ve been there? I hope you are as blessed by her words as I was.

When You Feel Criticized

We stood in the kitchen staring at each other. It was that moment, the moment we all hit, probably a thousand times a day. How will I respond? I had to decide.

Would I speak defensively, thereby covering my guilt and horrific mothering skills with platitudes and strong pleas regarding my goodness?

Of course, I was going to do more than this! I had big plans. You don’t know them.

Or would I, bow low, get real and listen to his words?

Yes, you have a point.

Two roads and, one, for me, is far less traveled.

I’ll admit: I am horrible at receiving new ideas and feedback. So, my husband’s comment suggesting a different type of breakfast? Well, umm… I took it as a rapid-fire slap in the face with a thick leather belt. Ouch!

It conveys: You did bad. You do bad. You always will do bad.

It reminds me I am probably the only mom on the block who goes frozen everyday – frozen waffles, frozen pancakes, frozen french toast – with a healthy dose of mom guilt whipped and delicately placed on top.

Push, then, comes to – shove back. Without a second for evaluation of response, I lean in and throw out: You don’t know. You aren’t in my shoes. You don’t have as much work as I do. You aren’t trying to manage laundry, lunch boxes and putting toddler clothes on squirming snakes, all before the clock strikes 7:30 AM (Imagine: Hands on hips!).

 I’m an expert at this talk: I divert his eyes, strengthen my stance, and deflect like crazy.

It’s not my fault. He pushed first. It’s his fault.

This is what I tell myself. He’s messing with my inner Martha Stewartness. How dare he? He pushed me!

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It’s not easy to love when you’re throwing a virtual fit. It’s not easy to learn when your mind is totally against it. It’s not easy to grow when opportunities feel like an assault on your inner character.

He was insulting my character, wasn’t he?

I think about it more. The guy suggested I make another type of meal. That’s it.

He wasn’t saying I was a flunky. He wasn’t circling my fat (although it kind of felt like it). He wasn’t stamping me bad. He wasn’t acting mean. I was.

Have you found yourself so pushed, like me – that you shove? Do your words rush out from a place of worry – you’re not enough?

I’m certainly not one to judge you. Nope. Because I 100% understand you.

But, I’m also considering the consequences of my words, the divergent paths I can take when I stand at the crossroad of – what to say next…

If I go left, I go towards a pride-filled response: heated words, barriers rising, anger flowing, discouragement, frustration and guilt. Usually, it ends, at best, with me knowing I lied a little, but satisfied because I still got away with it. Or, at worst, it ends with the overwhelming guilt I am not only the worst mom, but also the worst wife.

If I go right, I can choose kindness and love. I can find an opportunity to grow, to learn and to take risk. It’s not easy, but I can receive hard words because I trust God will:

1. Help me believe my worth is based on his truth, not others opinions.
2. Equip me to do what he calls me to do.
3. Comfort me, even when I feel hurt.

God will do the same for you, you know? When we make space to hear God’s voice, our voice speaks differently…

We make space when we ask God: What do you want me to do here? Do I need to change? What do I need to see? How should I approach this scenario where my husband feels valued and so do I?

God’s love changes our capacity to love. What he speaks is not condemnation, but peace. And what he brings is not an overwhelming to-do list, but a lesson in letting go. We react differently. We smile. We nod our head. We sit down. And we laugh at the table with our family. And, if it’s me, we eat something non-frozen.

 

Interested in fighting fear? Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!

 


About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author 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. www.fearfightingbook.com

 

kellypicKelly 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 here.

 

What I Want to Teach My Daughter About Her Right to Choose

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I teared up when the sonogram tech said the words.

“It’s a girl.”

What I’d dared to name in my prayers was now real. She had a name: Elise.

I looked over at my husband and saw tears in his eyes too. Our two boys sat on the floor, staring at the screen a couple of minutes longer until their attention turned to their video games.

For the rest of the day, I was on an emotional high. We went to Babies R’ Us and I immersed myself in all things girl- the bows, the pink, the dresses and frillies. I didn’t think I’d be so enamored with it all, but I was.

Our first girl was coming, and I couldn’t wait. But I also knew.

I knew there would be challenges we wouldn’t face with our boys. Hormones and drama and cycles and the need to be loved.

I also knew there would be the temptation to look for love in all the wrong places. And while the conversation about sex was one we would have with our boys too, it would be different. Because we are made differently.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about women’s rights lately. Social media is filled with articles about a woman’s right to her body, to not be pregnant, and to safe contraception.

Some of the conversation is needed and good. And some of it is disturbing on many levels.

Until this point I’ve stayed out of it. My goal with this blog will always be to love and encourage, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything encouraging to say on the topic.

But then I asked myself, what is at the heart of all this? A woman can claim she has the right to an abortion. She can say denial of access is a violation of that right. But where does the issue start?

Why do so many women need an abortion?

right-to-choose

I looked back on my life and the decisions I made. I spent years of my life looking for love.

I’d heard Bible stories and songs about how God loved me, but it wasn’t tangible to me. I’d never felt it or experienced it, so I assumed it wasn’t real.

I remember the first time a boy told me I was beautiful. I liked it. It meant something to me. I wanted to be seen and heard so desperately I was willing to do anything.

So now, when I type this and I think about the decisions I made, I want my daughter to know: You are worth so much more than your sexuality.

Yes, God can redeem even the most broken story. He can turn ashes into beauty and a mess into a miracle.

But it affects me even now. It affects the relationship I have with my husband. It affects the way I look at other men.

I hear all this talk about a woman’s right to choose but here’s what baffles me. Here’s what’s missing from the conversation.

A woman’s right to choose will always begin with her decision of whether or not to exploit her body. We can say it’s consensual and it’s good and natural, and all that may be true.

But when a woman uses her body to gain something she thinks she lacks- love, it is an exploitation.

Yes, sex is good. Of course it is. God created it.

When sex is misconstrued for love, we have a serious problem. And friends, women can’t separate sex from love. They can’t separate sex from their emotions. And if they can, I would argue that they’ve been hardened by the muck of life to get them to that point.

So yes, we have a right to choose. But I would argue that right begins long before the baby is in the womb. It begins with the decision to love ourselves. It begins with the knowledge of a Creator who values us more than we could ever imagine.

When I look at my daughter, I want her to know this:

  • You have the right to choose a man who will love you more than he will lust after your body.
  • You have the right to love yourself and to believe you are a priceless creation, loved by a Creator who gave himself for you.
  • You have the right to choose to say “no” to anything less than what God has for you. A God who created sex to be enjoyed within the boundaries of marriage. Not as a punishment, but because he knew this is where it would be enjoyed as it was made to be.

It may sound old fashioned. It may sound unreasonable. But as a woman who has experienced sex both inside and outside the confines of marriage, I can say I believe the God who created it got it right.

My daughter has the right to choose. And I pray she chooses to love herself.

 

Linking up here: #ChasingCommunity

When You’re Afraid You’ll Never Reach Your Goals

afraid-youll-never-reach-your-goals

I listened to the interview with the popular Christian writer, my mind reeling with questions. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was, “How?”

This woman had a slew of kids running around, and she homeschooled all of them. Her writing was not shoddy. Each syllable sang with an effortless harmony as you read.

So how? How were there enough hours in the day? Did she have on a superwoman cape I couldn’t see as I listened to the podcast?

At the time I had two kids. Now I have three, the last one two months young. There are days I barely get the laundry done and the food made, much less worry about doing anything creative.

I see women on social media who, in all the bright lights and glow of the computer screen, are pursuing their goals and dreams. They are achieving milestones I dare to think about as I’m nursing my sweet babe at night.

Before daybreak, the fear takes over and says, “You’ll never get there.”

Comparison is such a lonely place to live.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com. God met me in my place of discouragement, and I’d love to share what he showed me. You can read the rest of my post here.

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.