Potty Training and Perfection : To Every Woman Who Is Struggling To Be “Super Mom”

I wrote this post Thursday night, but wanted to wait until I had time to thoroughly edit to share it. I am finally finished!  Enjoy!


It is 9:30 at night and while I normally would be sleeping, I am settling down with the only decaf hot beverage I could find – a packet of flavored tea that I snagged during our last hotel stay. (I love freebies. It actually made my day when the hotel concierge gave me a coupon for a free latte after I asked where the nearest coffee shop was. Please, don’t judge me.)   Anyway, coffee or hot tea seems to be the thing to drink if you are a writer, so here I am. Writing and drinking a hot beverage, very cliché.

This is my first purely personal post. I have to admit, it is much easier to share what God says rather than what I have to say. After all, God is never wrong and I am often wrong. The reason I am up working so late is because of something weighing on my heart. God knows I need sleep, desperately. I am a raging crazy lady without it. God also knows that more than sleep, I need peace. Peace is the only thing that can carry this sleepless monster through a long day. Peace is something I have been lacking lately.

At first I thought I just needed a vacation. I needed some time away from the kids to get my patience and energy refueled. I knew for certain my hubby and I needed some time to just be alone together. I was sure, after a bit of time away, I would be able to come swoop back in and continue “super” mom duties (As if any mom ever really, truly and consistently feels they are super –or maybe that is just me?). Then our trip came to an end and I was whooshed back into reality. I actually did have a little more patience for the first day, but then slowly but surely the pressure started to build. After a few days, I once again felt as if someone sucked all the air out of the room and all I desperately needed was a breather.

While laying in bed tonight, waiting for the kids to fall asleep, I had a little time to browse Facebook.   A post by Lysa Turkeurst caught my eye.

Lisa TerKeurst - Facebook - 9-25-14

Wow. I love how God waits for you to finally slow down and wham, He hits you with the truth right between the eyes. Here’s my truth: Even though these past few months I have been studying my Bible, writing about God, attending church, and even though I did my habitual meal prayers and several shotgun prayers everyday, I was actually shut down. Even though I was talking to God and praising God, I did not really want to hear from God about certain areas. I did want Him to fix my problems, but I just didn’t want to sit still long enough to listen to what He had to say. You want to know why? Because He just might tell me a few things I do not want to hear. He just might tell me I have been in the wrong and fighting to be right even though it was getting me no where.

I know God loves me. I know God loves me. Hindsight is 20/20, and when I look back on the path I have walked and the dark valleys He has brought me through unharmed, I can not doubt His love for me. So why, when things get hard, do I lack trust and want to run away and try it on my own? Why do I sever the lines of communication to the only One who can help me? I have always struggled with prayer, especially taking time to listen while praying. My mind goes down bunny trails so often during prayer that I have to keep a piece of paper next to me to jot down ideas, so I can actually concentrate. (Am I alone here? Is this a product of our fast paced society? Or do I seriously have attention deficit disorder?) I know prayer is a struggle for me, and at this point in life, it is my most powerful weapon, but I ignored that fact and put off working on the problem while I tried to just make it on my own. Why do I always have to figure out things the hard way?!

I bet you are wondering what it is that I am struggling with that has me wanting to open up. Well, I struggle with many things day to day – anxiety, my “passionate” personality, patience – but the big thing I am really struggling with right now is parenting my toddler. Potty training is seriously going to be the death of me. Although, it isn’t really the potty training that is the struggle; it is what the frustration with my beautifully stubborn daughter does to me. I do not handle bumps in the road very well.

Sister was mostly trained and recently regressed. I know inconsistency is the deepest darkest evil of parenting sins, so I shouldn’t see this as unusual considering we have had a lot going on lately. Too much change happening all at once.   My expectations are what are hindering growth in this area. They definitely are hindering my growth in my relationship with my child. My expectations have hindered me in many ways through out my life.

If I look at my personal expectations, and really reflect on them, I can say without a doubt that they are ridiculously high. When I look at the personal expectations of many of the moms around me, I would say they have overly high expectations of themselves as well. When did this “super” mom junk start?   I am literally racking my brain for the big event in society that started this ripple effect. Was it World War II, when mothers had to step up since fathers were off at war? Whatever started it, this “super” mom lie is causing modern day mothers to feel like they are drowning in every day life, because the world thinks they should be able to do it all.

I know I am not alone here. I see the pressure on other mother’s backs as they rush through every day life; the pressure to do more and be more. I see the pressure as they wonder out loud how they can really stretch themselves any further. I see the pressure as they complain about their looks and their abilities. Now there will be women who refuse to take off their “superhero” cape and be real, but I know they deal with the guilt that all moms deal with when it comes to our children. Mom Guilt… We all wonder whether we are sacrificing the right things in order to make our children’s lives better. We all wonder whether we are doing a good job or whether we are complete failures. It may not be every day, but if you are not questioning whether you are doing a good job – you aren’t human.

There is nothing wrong with having high expectations, but there is something wrong when we make dishonorable sacrifices to reach them, or when we push our personal expectations on to other people. This includes our children. I know all too well the push from others to spend more time on the job – pour blood, sweat, and tears into your work – because by golly, if you aren’t putting in 2 extra hours on top of your standard work day every day, you aren’t doing it right. You better sacrifice your faith, your marriage, your family, and whatever it takes to be the best. The message – normal isn’t good enough. As a woman, I feel the pressure to be better – more slender, more fit, more beautiful. I am constantly battling the onslaught of advertisements for products that all repeat the same message- normal isn’t good enough. As a wife, I feel the pressure to please my husband, to be submissive but not too submissive, and to be more sexual. Do more, give more. Again, the world is telling me that I am not enough just as I am. Finally, there is a pressure that surpasses all those other pressures by leaps and bounds. The pressure you have as a mom. Do I even need to define the pressures that come with being a mom? Is it possible?

Mom pressures… Wow, they deserve a paragraph of their own. Perhaps they deserve a book of their own or at least a blog entry (Coming soon…). They are something you just really do not understand until you are a mom. Mostly because the judgments do not become personal until you are a mom. It is so easy to rattle off the phrase “When I have kids, they will never….” and you can fill whatever you want into that blank. I know, because I said it over and over and I am eating my words as we speak. Mom pressures are all centered around sacrifice. Sacrifice your body, your time, everything you can possibly sacrifice for your babes. Do your best, but remember the bar can always be raised. It is the hamster wheel of constantly feeling the need to do better.   Not only do we receive pressure from those who are not mothers, but as mothers we have all been guilty of sitting and picking apart other mother’s decisions. As if any of us have achieved perfection in parenting our children. We will never achieve perfection, but the next best thing is to feel good by comparison. Right? Be truthful with yourself. Every mom has done it. We have all looked down our nose at some other mother.

Mom pressure is where my struggle started. I guess it really is a societal pressure. The motto of our society – Education: the sooner the better, the more the better. (A hot topic I may cover another time.)   Caving to this pressure, last spring I enrolled my daughter in a Pre-K program. She would be turning three in August and wasn’t potty trained, but I knew without a doubt that she would be ready by September. We had been trying on and off to potty train her since she turned two.   She just wasn’t ready. She still isn’t. She struggles physically with a certain aspect of it, and because of that, she struggles with it overall. Even though I knew she struggled physically, that hadn’t changed my expectation for her. Many of my friend’s kids struggled, but they overcame it and were potty trained. If they could do it, we could do it.

If I would have even bothered to reflect on this thought when it entered my brain I would have thought back to what I learned about child development in college. We know without a doubt by watching children, that every child develops differently. What baffles me is, even with the ample research to back this up, we still try to cram children into boxes and force them to accomplish something when they are just not ready. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for certain standards to compare every child’s development to, but honestly, some of the expectations for children through out our society these days are not developmentally appropriate at all. I am guilty of putting the pressure of developmentally inappropriate expectations on my child. I am guilty of taking my high personal expectations and pushing them on her. I am guilty of thinking that my daughter not being fully potty trained by a certain age is my personal failure. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

These feelings of guilt and inadequacy as a mom have led me to have a downright shameful attitude at times towards my daughter. They have caused me to drift away from the One that could have helped me conquer the emotional struggle and her physical struggle, because I was dead set that this is something I should be able to do on my own. Guilt is one of the devil’s favorite weapons. Satan amplifying my guilt caused me to fall deaf to my Father’s voice, which has been calling out to me ever so softly. It took my heart being broken for me to hear His voice through another believer. His voice is calling out to all of us, mothers or not. He is telling us He cares. He cares about our day to day struggles in life. Even our potty-training struggles. He wants us to bring them to Him. He loves us. Even when we are not successful, we are not failures, because we are His. Our God can even redeem our missteps. If I had stopped to listen a long time ago, I could have saved myself, and probably my baby girl, plenty of heartache.

If I had stopped to listen, I could have learned my lesson quickly. I would have saw through the lies of perfection and embraced the fact that when I am weak, then He is strong. So, yes, as is the story of my life – I learned a very big life lesson through a random means. I may have to learn it more than once, but I pray that is not the case. I hope that by sharing my slightly ridiculous (and long-winded) struggle that you can feel a little better about your struggles. Just remember, next time you look at a woman and think you have finally found the infamous “super mom”, she doesn’t exist. None of us will ever dawn a cape and save the world. The world already has a Savior, His name is Jesus. He calls us to be aware of our need for Him; to be humble, not super. As Christian mothers, we can share the work of the true superhero by letting a fellow mom know that she is enough just the way she is. Let her know that she is not alone in her struggles and that God and you care about them. Instead of shunning other moms when they fail in your eyes, build them up. Help them up. We are all struggling.

Starting tonight I am going to make a conscious effort to not let my personal opinions hinder me from showing Christ’s love to other mothers. Right now, I have an opportunity to share a truth with you that is not tainted with my opinion. Tomorrow I plan on sharing this truth with my daughter, again. The truth I have to share with you starts with a bit of wisdom I picked up from the movie “Moms’ Night Outand is followed by what I know to be true through God’s Word.

You are enough – just the way you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the daughter of the King. You were knit together in your mother’s womb by the Creator of the universe. Your Creator does not make mistakes. You were made perfectly imperfect so that in your weakness His strength can shine through.

Keep up the hard work fellow momma. God knows that you have one of the toughest jobs on earth. Have a wonderful weekend friends!Potty Training and Perfection

 

 

Mark 1:14-20

Monday got away from me and the rest of the week looks to be jam packed, so we shall see if I can get any farther into Mark!   I hope to find some extra moments to write, even if it is only a tiny bit each day.  As every parent knows, some things just have to play second fiddle to the needs of our families.  I hope you enjoy today’s reflection!

The Passage:Mark 1:14-20
At the beginning of this passage, we learn that John the Baptist was put in prison, and that Jesus was preaching about God in Galilee not long after that. Jesus’ message was very simple: repent and believe. In this passage we also see the calling of the first disciples. First, Jesus called Simon and his brother, Andrew. Next, Jesus called another pair of brothers, James and John.   Both sets of brothers were fishermen by trade.

If you would like a little more information, these events are also mentioned in Matthew, Luke, and John. I find it interesting that each of them gives different details, which when read all together, paint the big picture.   In John we see that Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist’s when he first encountered Jesus. One day when Jesus was walking by, John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God. Intrigued, Andrew went with Jesus to learn more and became a believer. Jesus had such a profound impact on him that he went to get his brother, Simon. After meeting Simon, Jesus renames him Peter, which means rock. Little did Simon Peter know, but later Jesus would tell him that he would be the rock that the church is built on.   Luke connects Simon Peter with James and John by letting us know they were fishing partners. So we see Jesus meeting Andrew and Simon Peter in the Gospel of John and also the connection between the two sets of brothers in Luke, prior to where Mark picks up the story.

The Gospel of Luke also sets the scene for the event recorded in Mark best. According to Luke, Jesus was preaching the word by the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Lake of Gennesaret). The crowd listening to Him preach was pushing in on Him. He saw Simon Peter, who was by the water’s edge cleaning his nets and Jesus got into his boat.  Jesus told him to take them out into the water, so he could teach the people from the boat.   After Jesus was done, he told Simon Peter to go out into deep water and let down the nets. Simon Peter told Jesus that they had been out fishing all night and hadn’t caught anything, but because Jesus asked he would obey. Something to note here is that when Simon Peter was responding to Jesus, he called him Master. This indicates that they already had a relationship and that Simon Peter was already a believer that Jesus was sent from God. Simon Peter and his partners’ obedience was rewarded with a miracle. Their nets were overflowing with fish.

 

My Thoughts:
I will admit, when I was newly saved, I did not fully understand this story. I must have read Mark, took it for what it was worth and went with it. Two sets of brothers, see Jesus, maybe had heard about him, and when he asked them to follow, they did. No questions asked. Now that I have spent more time in the Bible, I can see the big picture. The big story is where my heart is. I am the person who would have needed to have met Jesus and spent time with him, like Andrew. I would have been a skeptic at first. God created me with a need to analyze things, so obviously that wouldn’t have surprised Jesus at all.  I like seeing that not everyone hears the calling one time and runs after Christ, because that is not how it happened for me. I like seeing stories of people like Paul, who were actually fighting against the Lord, but God still loved them enough to draw them in with His grace. That is how He drew me in. Is coming to Christ either way any better than the other? No. The wonderful thing about Jesus is that He meets us where we need to be met.

For me, the big points for this passage revolve around repentance, believing, relationships, and obedience. In Mark 1:15, we see a basic summary of Jesus’ message as He begins His ministry. “Repent and believe the good news!” is the part that stood out to me. Repent and believe. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, repent means to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong that you did, and that you want to do what is right.   I find it interesting that repent came before believe in this verse. Wouldn’t you need to believe in Jesus to even feel the need to repent? Well, not really.   People who are not believers still have some sense of right and wrong, because of certain boundaries in society, like the law of the land. First, our hearts need to be opened to the idea that something is wrong with the path that we are walking. Then we need to believe that Jesus Christ is the one who will save us from the death awaiting us at the end of that road. In Acts 2:14-41, Peter is addressing a crowd of Jews and lays the blame on them for Jesus being crucified. He calls their sin out. Acts 2:37 says that when they heard the big picture they were “cut to the heart” and asked Peter how to remedy the situation. Peter’s response was to repent and be baptized. First repent, then show their belief in a physical form.

After repentance and believing, I also see relationships playing a big role in this story. You can see how the connections between all of the first disciples helped lead them to Jesus. This was not ironic, it was designed. God has designed us to draw other people to Him through our relationships.

The last big key I saw in this event was obedience. In Luke we see what happened right before Jesus called the two sets of brothers to follow Him. After Simon Peter had been obedient when Jesus asked him to take the boat out a little way from shore and after Jesus had completed His task, Jesus asked Simon Peter to try one more time to catch some fish. Of course, Simon Peter reminds Jesus of their previous failure, but because Jesus asked, Simon Peter was going to be obedient. How was Simon Peter’s obedience rewarded? With an ample amount of what he needed.

Now, don’t worry I am not going to go all Cadillacs and Cash prosperity gospel on you. Yes, Jesus rewarded these men for being obedient, but He did not reward them with a life of prosperity. He gave them what they needed at that moment, which happened to be fish. For us it might be peace, patience, humility, or even earthly things. Yes, their blessing of fish could work out for their prosperity, but we see at the end of the event in Luke that they actually walked away from all of it to follow Jesus. That is what Jesus does to a heart. Sometimes He gives us what we need and sometimes He keeps what we do not need from us. Through that we see that we need relationship with Him more than any earthly thing He could possibly bless us with.  We start to see that even when our obedience takes us out of comfort and earthly prosperity, the spiritual prosperity that we gain far outweighs everything we have given up.  Matthew 6:33 comes to mind here: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  

Jesus’ words still resound through out the world, beckoning people to come to God and repent from their unholy lifestyles.   He is still calling people to follow Him. Sometimes even as Christians we need this reminder. Our reminder is usually more for continued obedience. None of us are perfect. We all need called back to the straight and narrow. Albeit, at times,  some of us need it more than others. Preaching gospel to myself!

I hope that you were able to draw something from my reflection today. I know personally, I started to see even more clearly the connection between believing and relationships with others. As you go about your daily tasks, keep in mind that every relationship you have or connection you make is a potential person to share Jesus with.

Mark 1:15

Mark 1:1-13

I decided to go ahead and walk through the gospel of Mark to get the Reflections section of my blog up and going. My goal is to share things that come to my mind as I read through scripture, and hopefully you can relate with some of my thoughts. The Gospel of Mark is short and easy to read.  Some people would liken it to Christ’s story in newspaper form. In fact, if you are new to reading the Bible, check it out. The Gospel of Mark gives you Christ’s life story in a very direct way.

The Passage:
Mark 1:1-13

Mark starts out his gospel by talking about John the Baptist and how he was paving the way for Jesus’ arrival through preaching on repentance and baptism. This aligned with a prophecy given by Isaiah.  Mark goes on to share that Jesus was baptized by John and immediately after that, Jesus goes out to the wilderness for at least forty days. During Jesus’ time in the wilderness, he was tempted by Satan.  As is his style, Mark gets directly to the point. Within thirteen verses, Jesus was on the scene and John the Baptist was headed to prison. If you are like me and you prefer a little more background, these stories are also told by Matthew and Luke.

My Thoughts:
The part of this passage that stood out to me was how little time Mark spent talking about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert. He used two verses to describe the whole event. It is almost like he was a newspaper reporter who knew that Satan was not front page news and Mark only covers front page news. Jesus was God incarnate. All Jesus needed to do was say, “This is the truth. Get out of here, fool” and Satan would have to leave. Also, Mark was most likely writing to an audience who did not believe in God, so there was no need to give the villain the attention. I am thankful for Matthew and Luke’s more detailed descriptions. God gave me this innate need to know why things are the way they are. I was born with a hunger for information.

Mark spent such a little amount of time on Jesus’ temptation, but the temptation to sin is a life long battle for Christians. Why did Mark not focus on this? Maybe, as Christians, we focus too much on our personal sin.  Obsession with self is a huge problem in our society.  Could that be what makes us focus so much on our personal sin?  Not that we shouldn’t strive to be holy, but how often does our inward focus stop us from doing God’s work? I do not know how often I fail and then think – “Why am I even trying to be involved in ministry?” Maybe Mark was so God-focused that he was able to come to a point where Satan wasn’t even on his radar as anything more than a loser. As I flip through Mark and read the section titles my Bible has, it seems that the majority of them are focused on Jesus’ miracles. I am interested to see if this Jesus focused theme will hold true through out Mark.

Mark may not have given us much detail on Jesus’ temptations by the devil, but the keys to victory over Satan’s temptations in our lives are seen clearly in Matthew and Luke’s accounts. In both of those gospels, Jesus combats Satan’s temptations with the written Word of God. I will take a moment here to give my plug for reading and memorizing scripture. If you do not know scripture, you are going to fail miserably when battling the devil. Satan is not going to push pause on your temptation to wait while you pull out your Bible to defend yourself with scripture. He is the sneakiest of thieves. As the Bible puts it, he is like a lion searching for those he can destroy. Have you ever watched a lion stalk prey on Animal Planet? They are not clunking around, loud as can be. They are quiet and swift. Jesus caught the lion by his tail every time. He did this by saying, “It is written.”  As believers, Christ has given us authority to call on His power to defeat the enemy.

I found this illustration on the Love Worth Finding website and thought it was a great way to distinguish between the devil’s power and our authority.  (Side note- I do not know anything about Adrian Rogers, and have only reviewed this one page.) The devil has a lot of power, but we have authority given to us by the Ultimate Authority. This example actually comes from a study of scripture, so if you are looking for something more – you may want to check it out. I like it for the most part, but I am not in agreement with the idea that believers have authority, but no power to accompany it. Acts 1:8 clearly says the Holy Spirit gives us power. Regardless of this disagreement, the illustration is still a good one.

A CLOSER LOOK AT “POWER” VS. “AUTHORITY”
From “What the Devil Hopes You Don’t Discover”

“An example from football will help make this clear.  You have a linebacker on the field, well over 6 feet tall, weighing 300+ pounds. He’s muscular. He’s strong—he’s powerful.  Standing nose-to-nose with him is a man in a black and white striped shirt. He’s 5’8 and weighs 150. He has a little yellow handkerchief in his back pocket. When he pulls it out and throws it on the ground, the linebacker—and all the other 300-pounders—stop in their tracks. What’s more, if things don’t go well, the 150-lb. referee can send the 300-lb. linebacker to the showers. The linebacker has POWER. But the ref has AUTHORITY.

The centurion (Matt. 8:5-13) understood the weight of authority when he said to the Lord Jesus, “I also am a man under authority. I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes. And to another ‘Come,’ and he comes.” That’s authority. Behind the centurion stood Caesar and the Roman Empire. Behind the believer to whom God has given authority stand the Throne and the hosts of Heaven.“

I am going to start to wrap this up by giving you a few verses to add to your arsenal. This way, when Satan attacks, you have a few grenades to throw at him. We all have different views on Satan. Some of us are deceived into thinking that when bad things happen, it isn’t Satan attacking you, but just life happening. I used to think that way, until God opened my eyes to the irony of how and when these bad events occurred. Of course the devil wants you to believe he isn’t attacking you. That mindset works out for his benefit, because you do not defend yourself! He may have others of you believing that you are pathetic, weak, and that you have no authority over him. He can do this by whispering your sin resume to you,  picking at your weaknesses, or a host of other ways. He is the father of lies and those statements couldn’t be further from the truth. You have authority in Jesus’ name. Here is the truth:

  • Satan is real.  He attacks us. We can be victorious over his attacks because of Jesus.
    1 Peter 5:8-9
    Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
    Ephesians 6:12
    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
  • The earth is the devil’s stomping grounds.
    Luke 4:5-6
    And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
  • If you have received Christ as your Savior, and if you still believe He is, you are not under Satan’s dominion.
    Colossians 1:13-14
    For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Jesus will help us with the temptation to sin. It is because of Jesus that we are no longer slaves to sin.
    Hebrews 2:18
    For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
    Romans 6:5-7
    For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
  • We have authority in Jesus’ name.
    Mark 16:15-18
    And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
    James 4:7 (This gives us a key to success – we must first SUBMIT to God.)
    Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
    Acts 1:8
    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
  • God gave us many defensive weapons, but only one offensive one – His Word.
    Ephesians 6:11-17 (The emphasis at the end is mine.)
    Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • When Satan whispers that sin resume to you, remind him of this…
    Romans 5:18-19
    So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

The final thing we need to be aware of when we are fending off attacks from the devil (and his workers) is that he is not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. He is not God. He can not read your mind. Yes, he can whisper things to your mind, but if you have given your life over to Christ, you are His vessel and the Holy Spirit doesn’t share space with the devil. So when you are doing battle, say these scriptures out loud. You may feel a little weird, but it works. When Jesus was battling the devil, He spoke and when he did he said, “It is written.”   So we should do the same.

I hope you feel empowered this morning. You do have spiritual authority and you can exercise it. You can be a spiritual warrior, despite your weaknesses. Submit your weaknesses, and Christ will shine right through them.

Your Word I Have Treasured In My Heart

Oh, Monday, how do you creep up on us so quickly?! Well, sometime today I am going to pick one of the gospels to walk through and do a series of reflections from. I meant to do that this weekend, but life happened! Just like I meant to post this earlier this morning, but life happened.

I borrowed the idea for this post from what we did with a group from our church last night.  Yesterday we met with a small group from our church for the first time and since there were two new families joining, they did a get to know you exercise. We all shared a Bible verse that was important to us and shared why it was so important. It was a wonderful time of laughing and crying, joy and revisited hurt. On the drive home I commented on how beautiful it is to see what God can do with our pain and suffering. It is amazing how God uses sharing bits of our soul with people, our hurt and joy, to bind us to them.   I came away with a new reassurance that God is good, and that no matter what we walk through in life – God is still good.

I think it is wonderful when we can acknowledge that God talks to us through scripture. I also think it is wonderful to take the spot light off of us, and give it back to the One who deserves it. The scripture passage I chose was 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.   It is actually the scripture I shared on my first post on Lord, It’s Me Again.   This passage has become applicable in so many different ways in my life. It is almost perplexing how God keeps renewing it for me. It carried me through physical battles, when my ulcerartive colitis was debilitating me and rocking my world. It also carries me through my daily battle to be a good mother, wife, and Christian blogger. The line, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” keeps me coming back to the keyboard to talk about Christ even though I may feel like I am epically failing.

The scripture my husband chose is one that is very special to both of us. Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is the foundational scripture for the Encounter experience. After the wonderful experience I had renewing my mind to the freedom I have in Christ, this verse will always be special to me. It is a daily reminder to stay on a path that keeps me far from the sin that was so easily ensnaring me before.

I am so thankful for the encouragement I received last night. We do not often see sharing our life struggles or even our joy in what Christ has done for us as an encouragement to others, but they do just that. Our testimonies encourage one another and build each other up, which is something we are called to do. They also strengthen our faith in God.

What is your go to verse? Is there a passage in scripture that holds a special place in your heart? Why? If you feel like sharing, I would love to hear! Share them in the comments section or via message.

Psalm 119:11

4 Years, 4 Lessons on Marriage

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary. As I look back at the changes that we have been through together, I feel so blessed that we have made it this far. Two children, one big move, a couple of job changes, and a home purchase later – we are still trucking along. In honor of celebrating four years of marriage, I am sharing a list of four things I wish I knew or really understand about marriage before being married.  As the years go by, I am sure I will be enlightened all the more on each of these lessons.

1) Keep God at the center of your marriage.
My hubby and I both grew up in Christian homes and both have parents with successful marriages. We knew that their marriages were successful because of their beliefs, but the world still had its claws in both of us when we got married. We believed Christ existed, had both been saved, but neither of us were walking the walk. A year or so into our marriage, we both ended up going to Encounter. It changed our lives and our marriage. How I wish I had this experience before we were married and before I had my daughter, but that wasn’t in God’s will. Who knows if it would have had the same effect? Of course it took awhile after Encounter for us each to get on the right road and Christ is still continually changing us; which is something every Christian should be familiar with. Now I can say that God is at the center and forefront of our marriage and since He has taken His rightful position, things are dramatically better. Do we still struggle? Yes, no marriage is perfect. The difference now is that when we do struggle, God has better access to our hearts to correct our mindsets and behavior. We are quicker to forgive and it is easier to show love in spite of the other person’s attitude.

2) Marriage requires a continual sacrifice of self.
I wish I really had understood my dad’s advice that marriage is not always going to be 50/50. There will be days when you are carrying the brunt of the load and there will be days when your spouse carries the majority of it. Sometimes these “days” end up lasting for a season of your lives together. Sometimes the things you carry for your spouse last your entire marriage.   This is something I believe most people do not understand when they sign that dotted line on their marriage certificate. We quickly forget the words of our covenant – for better, for worseuntil death do us part. I am glad I had good parents and a wonderful support system to remind me of those two promises!   Marriage is real life, not a fairy tale, and marriage is hard. Successful marriages take tons of personal sacrifice. Ladies and gents, your Notebook romance dream marriage does not exist. Burn that dream down to the ground. Watch something like Fireproof or Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? instead. Marriage is a rollercoaster ride, just like life. There are ups and there are downs. If you are willing to sacrifice having every single one of your desires met, you can ensure there will be more ups than downs.

3) Children will rock your marriage world.
Oh how I wish someone would have told me how children would change my life and how children would change our marriage. Wow, was I not ready for that! I don’t think it is possible for anyone to understand that you are no longer your own once you have children. Your personal space is no longer your own, your stuff is no longer your own, your time and thoughts will be occupied by little people in some way or another pretty much 24/7, and your marriage is no longer just about you and your spouse. Yes, I said it and it probably goes against the grain on what most “expert” bloggers put out there, so let me explain.

Once you and your spouse bring little people into the world, your marriage and how you are involved in it – how you treat each other, how you love each other, how much time you spend together, whether or not you stay together – no longer affects just you. Images are being burned in your little one’s minds of how to treat someone they love, whether their spouse is important, what their role is as a wife or husband, what their role is as a parent in relation to their future spouse, and also whether or not it is important to even be married to someone they care about.   Have you ever stopped and thought about how some of your habits or expectations in your marriage may have come from the example you were given?   So yes, children take a lead role in your marriage, especially when they are young.

The other part to this is that children bring a lot of value to your marriage by having it no longer be about just you two. They bring a whole new meaning to sacrifice and they also help you see your spouse in a new light. I never dreamed I could love my husband the way that I do now, since he is not just my hubby but also the father of my children. Without him I would not have my two blessings. Plus, seeing how he treats them and seeing little bits of him in them makes him all the more endearing to me . ( See #2 on this list.  It talks about seeing traits from your spouse in your children.)

4) If you want a successful marriage, surround yourself with successful marriages.
When you are single, you are not aware of how little you actually understand about marriage. You realize how much knowledge you really lacked as soon as you get married. Once you are married, you feel like you are a newcomer to a foreign land at times.  There are things that no book or counseling session could ever prepare you for. This is why I say if you want a successful marriage, surround yourself with successful marriages. Surround yourself with ample resources for help when you feel lost. The same holds true in many other areas of life – faith, parenting, work. The longer I have been married, the less single friends I find myself having and it is not because I purposefully stopped becoming friends with singles.  It is natural to start to gravitate towards people who are in the same spot of life as you – like going to couples outings once you are married or gatherings that are kid friendly once you have children. Marriage changes you. A good marriage makes you want to change. I desire to spend as much time as possible with my spouse, especially time having fun!

Make sure you surround yourself with people who value their marriage and their spouse. It is human nature to take on traits from people we interact with frequently. If you spend a lot of time with people who do not value their spouse or make their marriage a priority, those attitudes will start to work their way into your marriage. The same goes for single friends who do not value your marriage or spouse. So just be careful. Marriage is hard as it is.   Do all you can to make it a successful journey.4 Years, 4 Lessons On Marriage

Work Heartily, As For The Lord

Late Sunday evening I reluctantly decided to go pick up a package that I had waiting for me at a local store. I was tired, but it had been there for several days so I needed to go get it. After leaving the store and heading to my car I was approached by a worker who was corralling stray shopping carts. He asked if I would like help loading my things into the back of my truck. I said I would appreciate the help and as he worked he struck up a conversation. A few questions in, he asked if I had gone to church that day. After finding out that I was a Christian, we started talking about Jesus, how this man came to know Him, the church plant he is involved in, and the goodness of God. Nine o’clock at night, both exhausted from a long day, standing in a store parking lot, but both enjoying a few moments talking about the One we love. We actually didn’t even remember to introduce ourselves until the end of the conversation. Out of respect for his privacy, I will call him Mr. A for the remainder of the post. Little did Mr. A know, he provided the encouragement I needed at that moment.

On my way to the store I had been talking to my mom on the phone, complaining about my health and how tired I have been lately. After walking around the store like a drone and thinking about how exhausted I felt and how I needed to come home and work on stuff for my Awana kiddos and my blog, I was feeling burdened.

I started wondering what I was thinking starting so many big commitments at once – a blog, continuing working on my Masters degree, teaching Awanas, and joining a Life Group at church. I know all of these things were called into my life by God, but did they all need to be starting at the same time? I started to question why God didn’t guide us to where He wanted us to be church wise right when we moved here. I questioned why He didn’t have us plugged in before guiding me to take on the added responsibilities of school and a blog, all the while raising two young children. Not too many of these changes were falling into my plan for my life. I was starting to have a pity party and a ridiculous one at that.

In the midst of my pity party the story of Esther popped in my head, which was mentioned that morning during our pastor’s sermon. He talked about the rallying cry from her cousin (although he was more of a father figure), Mordecai. Mordecai basically told Esther not to let her current blessing and position deceive her into thinking she was above doing her part and he made mention that perhaps she came into this spot for “such a time as this”.  I felt a reminder in my heart that God was orchestrating something beyond my understanding and I should feel blessed that I can see it all coming together. I had a whole year to learn how to be a stay-at-home mom and to become settled and acquainted with the community before God really started to call me out. He allowed me to meet some wonderful people through the first church we tried, people I wouldn’t trade for the world. He knew I needed the time and that I needed several different perspectives on where we should be and He gave it to me without me even asking. The other lesson I learned, in hindsight, was that my life is no longer my own. I gave it to Christ, so I shouldn’t be surprised when He wants to start using it for His purpose.

Christ’s purpose for our lives is for us to spread the gospel. Unfortunately on that note, unlike Mr. A, I am not good at talking to people about Jesus. I envy others who can just strike up conversation about God without making it awkward. I know I am not alone in the struggle to talk about faith with ease, but that does not let any of us off the hook for not following Jesus’ orders in the Great Commission.   In Matthew 28:19-20 he says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” I admire how Mr. A takes what Jesus said seriously. He is going out and trying to make disciples.

God gave me the instruction I needed in a way that gave glory only to him. I believe in a divinely orchestrated life. I believe that since I am in relationship with Christ, He is guiding me through life like a shepherd guides sheep. I need only to listen for His voice to understand what is of his doing. God placed a man right in my path that was doing what God told us to do in Colossians 3:23-24. We are to do everything as if we were doing it for God.  Even though Mr. A was tired and towards the end of his shift, his attitude was one of joy. He went out of his way to do something that was not in his job description to show me Jesus. It was a lesson, plain and simple. Not only was Mr. A a great example, his story was as well. Mr. A was able to come to know Jesus because another person looked beyond their present situation and sacrificed their time and comfort to go become a missionary for God in Africa. The point of the lesson was becoming very clear – sacrificial attitudes and actions bring people to Christ.

At some point after becoming saved Mr. A left his homeland to come to America, and is now doing what was done for him in Africa here in the United States. I didn’t get to ask about his personal motivations for coming to live here, but I do know that he didn’t let his move to a place of comfort stop him from continuing in Christ’s calling. He is sacrificing time and energy to try to lead people to Christ, despite the biblical promise that many people are going to reject what he is saying and despise him for it. To top it off, he is doing it all with a smile on his face. His positive nature was contagious.   His ability to see the opportunity to use his job for God’s glory is motivating as well.

As many of you head back to work after a long weekend, I hope this story not only encourages you, but that it emboldens you to share Jesus through word and action wherever you are.Colossians 3:23-24

How Do I Start Teaching My Child About God?

After yesterday’s post on teaching our children about God at home, I thought it would be good to share some basic ideas that would help you start towards this goal. Teaching does not come naturally to many people, so I am going to lay out the basics for the easiest place to begin, which I believe is to spend time reading scripture and praying with your child.  The following are five easy steps to help you start teaching your child about God at home.

1. Obtain a Bible for you and your child
Make sure you have a Bible for yourself and if possible a children’s Bible of some sort. Even though children’s Bibles are not word for word translations, they offer pictures to help children visualize major stories in the Bible. If you can not afford either of these, call your church office (or any church for that matter) and I am confident they will have one for you or will help you find one. If you are looking for a good free digital Bible, check out Bible Gateway. They have a free app and a free website with many different translations.

If you are wondering about how to find a good children’s bible, it really depends on their age. For younger children I have heard people swear by The Big Picture Bible , but it is pretty pricey. My daughter has the Read and Share Bible and we have been pretty pleased with it. If you have an older child you may want to step up to something like the Action Bible which is in comic book form, especially if you think it will keep their attention better. I always read available reviews on websites like Amazon before purchasing materials.   Remember these are only supplementing an actual Bible. If you can not access one, it is not a big deal, nor will it hinder your child’s faith in any way.

2. Set up a routine time and place to meet.
If you are a parent, you know the importance of routine. Children thrive on routine. Even if they are reluctant at first, once you get into a habit of meeting they will know what to expect and eventually they’ll go with it. Make sure that you make this time sacred but remember to also be flexible. These may seem like contradicting requirements but they are both needed because life happens. You do not want to get into a bad habit of skipping your time together because something is constantly interfering with your schedule. This time is sacred so try to have a “we are doing this no matter what” attitude, just remember some days you need to be flexible on timing and/or what is included in your time. For example, on a night that your child attends church, you may want to shorten your scripture reading time or opt out of it to discuss what they learned that night and finish up by praying together. Or if your child is having a rough night, just spend some time talking and praying. You also may need to be flexible on location depending on the time of day.  We do our quiet time either before bed or during “learning time”.  If your child is prone to falling asleep mid-sentence every night – it is probably not wise to read and pray while they are lying in bed. The main idea –set aside at least 10-15 minutes every day to seek God with your child.

3. Be prepared.
Failing to plan is planning for failure. (A motto I wish everyone lived by!) Kids have limited “focus time” so make sure you know ahead of time where your materials are and that you have a book mark or an index card marking where you are going to study in each Bible. If you are dealing with a preschool aged child, pick out one or a few main verses in your adult Bible ahead of time that summarize what you want them to take away.  By ahead of time – I mean before you start your quiet time. You do not need to come up with some extensive written plan (if it will help you, by all means do it), just know what book of the Bible, story, or topic you want to focus on for a period of time.

Make sure to ask your children ahead of time to think of what they want to pray for that night. That way when you come to prayer time, they have already thought of some things to talk with God about. Dinner time lends itself to being a perfect time to ask this question and as it allows them some time to ponder it.

Also, if you know you are going to be out of town – bring your materials with you! Bibles are digital nowadays and many are free, so there really is no excuse for not having your quiet time away from home.

4.  Be focused.
Show your children this time is sacred with your actions and attitude.  Put your phone down and walk away, friend. Focus on them , even if it is only for 5-10 minutes.  Be positive. Show them they are important to you. Touch them while you talk. If they are young they will probably cuddle with you while reading and if they are older you can hold their hand while praying. Touch many times communicates things words can not.

If possible, use books instead of digital copies of scripture. This limits outer distractions such as emails or messages popping up. Also, there is something special about ditching electronics for the night. Unplug. Yes, books are old school but your child needs to be able to navigate a Bible and they will only learn how to navigate it by practicing. As they get older, start having them search for the chapter and verse after you find the book and then eventually have them do it all by themselves. Besides, as Charles Spurgeon put it so greatly – “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

5. Admit that you do not know everything.
Your child will admire you all the more if they feel like you are not expecting them to achieve the unachievable. Teach them that God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (present everywhere at all times). Because of this we will never fully grasp him or his ways. It is beyond our little minds. Explain to them that when we are in relationship with God his Spirit that lives in us helps us to better understand Him and what the Bible is telling us. Memorize scripture with them. This shows that it is important and allows them to feel like you are growing together.

Be willing to seek out answers to their questions about God or the Bible with them and let them research with you on the internet.  Spend time looking for fun activities to do together that relate to service, prayer, or learning scripture on a website like Pinterest. Seek out a good Bible based devotional to help in guiding your time and discussions together. Above all else, emphasize that there will never come a day when you will not need to seek God and the same will be true for them.

I hope these ideas are helpful to those of you that are starting at the beginning. If you are already spending quiet time seeking God with your child I hope this is an encouragement.   If you are not doing these things with your children and you are professed believer, please, start as soon as possible. Start tonight! There is no better investment for your time.

Still feeling unqualified? Say a prayer asking God to equip you.

Dear God

Please give us grace where our abilities are limited. Show your power through our weaknesses. Help us guide our children to you and please soften and shape their little hearts for your glory.

Amen

How Do I Start Teaching My Child About God

 

Why Should I Teach My Children About God at Home?

It is 5 a.m. and I am in front of my computer, this has to be a God thing right? Who wakes up at 4:45 unless they have to?! Obviously I am pretty excited to do this life thing together, so let’s dive in.

This summer we started attending a new church and right away we felt like it was a perfect fit. Immediately we felt the draw to become connected and it just so happened that the annual “get involved’ campaign started shortly after we began attending.   God timing! I have had it on my heart to help with a ministry, but up until this point, I just didn’t feel the timing was right.  So after prayer and a nudge from the Spirit, my hubby and I signed up to help with Awanas. (Side note- I am so proud of him for helping!!) Last night was the annual volunteer meeting, and boy was I inspired and humbled at the dedication to God’s work I saw in the years of service and enthusiasm of some of the volunteers. Several individuals had served for 20 plus years in children’s ministry. One couple had been volunteering since like 1961. 50 years of leading children to Christ! Amazing!

For those of you who do not know about Awana Clubs – Awana stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed and lines up with 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Awana is a Christian program designed to help students fellowship, memorize scripture, and disciple others . You will find it at tons of churches as it seems to be the most popular Wednesday night program out there.    I really like this program and think it is a great stepping stone to help parents start teaching their children about God at home by using the weekly “homework” as a starting point. Many programs start at age 2 and most – if not all – churches do not require you to be a member to attend so be on the look out for one near you!

So let’s get to the heart of why I am talking about children’s ministry. I have come across this question several times recently and thought I could use my blog as a platform to address it – Why should I teach my children about God at home? The simplest answer is because God tells us to. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us that we should love God with all our heart, soul, and might and that we should keep God’s words on our heart (memorizing scripture). It goes on to tell us to teach God’s word diligently to our children and gives an example of this by saying you should talk about it as you sit, as you walk, as you go to bed, and when you wake up. Not only should you talk about it – you should physically surround yourself with it (v. 8-9).

The other answer that weighs on my heart comes from a quote I saw on the internet and have adapted for my use here – If we do not diligently teach our children to actively follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. You are preparing your children for failure in faith if you are not making a point to teach them how to have a relationship with God through prayer, scripture and worship, that Jesus is the only way to an eternal life in Heaven, that the devil is real and he attacks us no matter our age, and that God gives us weapons to defend ourselves. That is heavy; our job as parents carries a heavy responsibility. I want my children to be armed for the attacks I was unequipped for in life.   Plus, I believe God’s word to be true and Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  I am believing that to be true for my children! I want my children to be future warriors of the faith, not bystanders.  Some day we will stand before God and answer for what we did with the most valuable gifts we have been given – our own life and the lives of our children – and I desire to hear “Well done.

So what are you doing with your time? God has placed a feeling of urgency in my heart for teaching my children about Him.   My time of influence on them is short in the big picture of their lives. My children and your children are not going to pick up strong faith by going to church two times a week or by osmosis.

Here are some questions for reflection:

  • How are you using your time of influence on your children?
  • What are you teaching your children?
  • How are your actions showing your children what is important?
  • How are you managing your time and theirs?
  • Is there anything taking priority over God?
  • Are you making a point to pray with them and read scripture with them every day?
  • Do they see you reading scripture or hear you praying/praising God?
  • Do they see you sharing Jesus with others through prayer, service, or in conversation?

These are questions that can make us uncomfortable, but we should be frequently reevaluating our lives to see if anything has taken time or worship away from God. God does not ask for part of our lives – he wants our whole life.   As Galatians 2:20 says  I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Finally, I know the struggle of active parenting in faith all too well. It is hard to find a good fit on timing with children and also hard to know what to teach them. Just know that God is all powerful and will fill in where you are ill-equipped. All you need to do is ask. You are not your children’s savior but you can show them to the Savior.

I also know we live in a society that pressures us to make our children excellent in some sort of activity (music, sports, dance, acting, education) and that pressure never stops. I know that every time I talk to another parent it seems like their child is doing “more” than mine. They are involved in karate, t-ball, soccer, dance, swimming, foreign language lessons, music lessons, art lessons – you name it – you can pay to have your child excel at anything. What I do not hear, even from Christian parents, is how their child is excelling in relationship with Christ. Once in a great while, someone will share something their child wanted to pray for or asked to do to serve someone else. As Christians in America, this is sad. It is actually pathetic. We have God so wrapped up in the Sunday morning and Wednesday night boxes, that we feel that is good enough. I get so much indignation built up in my heart when I think of how we try to cookie-cutter God in our lives.

On the flip side -it gives my heart great joy to hear stories from missionaries in other countries about how children at young ages are bringing people to Christ and leading songs of worship, and organizing small groups to learn together.   I long for that for my children.  I long for that for our children, which is why I have volunteered in children’s ministry. I pray for Christian parents in America to rise up and have courage to step out and be different.  To show others that God is our priority; not having ourselves or our children look great in the world’s eyes. In a time where our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are willing to die by the sword (yes, an actual sword) instead of forsaking the name of Jesus – it is despicable that “first world” countries will only pick God up when they need him or on a certain day.

Please join me in praying for change. Also, please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted around the world, who live Philippians 1:21 – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” May we be ever mindful of the importance of our faith.Teaching Our Children About Christ

New Beginnings

Six months ago I shut down my blog and started contemplating whether I wanted to continue sharing my writing. Comments exchanged during a conflict with someone close to me made me reconsider whether I was even “qualified” to talk to people about strengthening their walk with Christ. If you are a Christian who has ever stepped on another person’s toes, righteously or not so much, you have likely encountered the “Who are you to judge me?” accusation that is usually followed by a carefully calculated list of your sins. These comments were retracted, forgiveness was asked for and given, but the damage had already been done.

After a long hard look at my life, I was soon in agreement with those comments. This was much to Satan’s pleasure, I am sure. As I came to this conclusion, I started to believe I had a lot of work to do before I could share my writing publicly. That thought alone lends itself to being a great example of how focused I was on myself. We know our own deep, dark secrets and struggles all too well. Who keeps better tabs on our sin resume than us? Paul went so far as to say he was the worst of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15. All I needed was a little push to allow Satan to bring my list of sins to the forefront of my mind. We may say we are great examples of God’s patience and mercy as Paul did in 1 Timothy 1:16 but we definitely do not all always feel that way. I was caught in one of Satan’s traps that led to me to believe at some point I could be righteous without God tipping the scales. I was trapped even though I knew we all fall short. I was trapped because I wasn’t looking at the big picture from my Creator’s view. I will never be righteous on my own account. We are all saved by grace, through faith, not by the things we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). After many long talks with Jesus and many long lessons, I finally had a revelation and I felt the nudge to go for the writing thing one more time but this time I was drawn to share it with the public.

The only reason I was able to get back on track is because Jesus got a hold of my pride many times within the last six months. Many, many, many times. It seemed like I encountered situation after situation that just enforced my decision to quit writing. Sheesh, the more I looked at my actions, the bigger of a mess I saw that I was. I went into writing my blog knowing I was a sinner in need of my Savior daily and I had hope that people could learn from my struggles, but I forgot somewhere along the way that it was about Him, not me. I forgot that my writing, my success or lack there of, had nothing to do with my abilities. It had everything to do with sharing Christ.

My problem started shortly after I started blogging. I started out with a public blog and then after spending a small amount of time thinking about all the people who could potentially see it and judge me; I made it private. Pride. Satan – 1 Nancy – 0. Then I decided to be very careful with what I wrote because I definitely did not want to offend anyone, and for a while I focused on the “likes” and the “comments”. More pride. Satan – 2 Nancy- O. It was very quickly becoming about me being reassured by others that I was doing the right thing. What started out as me sharing my love for Christ quickly morphed into a golden calf of immediate approval and comparison. I was looking for man’s approval and not the approval of God. As Paul puts it perfectly in Galatians 1:10, if I was looking for the approval of men, I would not be a servant of Christ. At this point of needing a continuous boost to my self-confidence from man, I took my eyes off Christ. Enter the “who are you to judge” comments and with a few strikes of disapproval my self-confidence was demolished and I was done. Game over or so I thought.

Fast forward six months and many lessons later and God has finally got through on this certain issue with my pride. He has taken my self confidence issue and revealed how detrimental it can be for a Christian to be confident in their own ability. I know there are many other lessons on pride for me to learn, but this was a big one for me. I tried to run from my lesson, believe me, but our sovereign and patient Father wasn’t going to give up easily. He showed me through many situations that I am not perfect and never will be. I need a Savior, we all do. I need correction, so do other people. I need to get refocused at times, so do other people. My problem wasn’t with my imperfection, because I will never arrive at a point where I am really qualified. There was never going to be a point that I could check off “Self-Sufficient” on my spiritual resume. My problem is that I forgot that God can take that worthless resume and my inability and make me able. He qualifies the unqualified. He makes the inadequate adequate. He uses the simple to confound the wise. He uses the weak to humble the mighty. No one can accomplish anything without Him. No one.

So I learned a lot about pride within the last six months. If I didn’t have utmost faith in God I would have actually been overwhelmed with the amount of negative I could find in myself. I actually believe that was Satan’s plan. There were days I seriously shouted at God, wondering when He was going to eventually give up on me because of my lack of self-control. I pretty much was so self-focused that I forgot that I wasn’t alone in my human struggles. We all have worldly struggles. I sat alone at my pity party wondering why God would give me all these weaknesses and how he expected me to deal with this load alone. I was so inwardly focused. But God…. My favorite words…. But God had a plan. He knew what he was doing step by step during my revelation process. He took all of that negative and brokenness that was piling up and with what seemed like the flip of a switch, just when I was at my weakest, His light shone through. If I was not broken – how would others see Him through me? It was amazing when that moment of clarity came. The calmness was comforting. I am always going to be broken. I am always going to need a Savior. We all are. There is nothing amazing about me, but there is something about Him.

I have nothing really astounding to offer. I am not a theologian. I am not a scholar. I am not a preacher. I have never attended seminary. I am not a professional writer or blogger. I am not perfect. I fail often and miserably. The one thing I do have to offer that is of worth is a relationship with Christ. I have a Savior who takes all of those I am not’s and makes them I am. He is my I am. In Him I am saved. In Him I am righteous. In Him I am justified. In Him I am sanctified. In Him I am worthy. I am all of these things because He is the great I am.

2 Corinthians 12:10 pretty much sums it up and should be my life motto: “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” And that’s that. With that long journey behind me, I look forward to learning with all of you, even if it is just one of you, and sharing the rest of this wonderfully imperfect journey with you. This time I pray and hope you will pray for me that I can keep my eyes on the everlasting instead of the momentary.

2Corinthians12:10