Monday, January 19, 2015

Embracing the Unknown...

So much of parenting is trial and error. There have been more times than I'd like to count where I got it terribly wrong, and moments when I realized we got it right. But who's keeping count?

And anyway, God's goodness intersects our every parenting moment, both good and bad. But over the last five years, if He has taught me anything about parenting it's that if my confidence as a parent is in the Lord, then He will bless my children and bless our efforts. It has been in the times of feeling secure in myself or a parenting book that I read, or a blog, or even advice from another wiser more experienced parent, that I have stumbled and realized my confidence cannot be in my fleshly wisdom but simply in the grace of God.

Celebrating Emmalyn's 5th birthday last week had me thinking a lot on our parenting journey thus far. I'll be honest, Emmalyn hasn't been that difficult to parent. She truly is a joy and while I know our share of trying stages and chapters are ahead, she has given us more joy and laughter than anything thus far. But in thinking about what lies ahead and the unknown, I realized that I'm always doubting and always fearing the next thing, the next chapter, or the next step.

I had to get honest with God about my place of uncertainty and if my emotions were overwhelming me due to Emmalyn's little milestone, or if I was overcome with fear over a new chapter that is yet unknown to us?

God reminded me of the story of Gideon in Judges 6. Gideon overcame his doubts and fears by focusing on what God thought about him. First though, he had to process his doubts with God honestly. He told the angel of the Lord that he questioned God's presence and doubted His promises because of recent conflicts and defeats.

My personal evaluation had me realizing that conflict, criticism, and comparison often leads be into fear and doubt. Conflict will tell me that I'm disqualified to do what I do, criticism paralyzes me from believing I can do certain things, and comparison will convince me that someone else can do it better than I can.

But God says... I am calling you out of the darkness. Turn toward the light and truth of what I say about you.

You are a chosen (woman) and a royal (priest), a holy (daughter), God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

So, you can embrace the unknown not because of what qualifies you as a parent, but because of WHO qualifies you as a parent. He's given us this amazing privilege of shepherding our sweet gifts, so I'll do so with confidence in who he says I am.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why I'm Aiming for Less this Year...

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

Every year my husband and I try to steal some time away to ring in the new year. During that escape we set goals for the coming year. They vary- from financial, health and wellness, faith-based goals, relationship and career goals, etc...

I didn't set goals this year.

It's not that I didn't want to or because I'm an under-achiever.

I just didn't want to corner myself into specific goals. If there's one thing 2014 taught me its that sometimes my specific goals can get in the way of the Holy Spirit's leading in my life. I've learned that I long to be completely led by God and not driven by goals I've set on my own.

I totally believe goals are helpful tools for accountability along the way... reminders of something bigger God wants us to achieve for His purposes. But they're just that- reminders. Not directions.

In realizing only He directs my every step, I'm committing in 2015 to focus on the small daily goals- the ones I know I can tackle and grow from there. I love what author Holly Gerth says:

A small goal that actually happens and can grow is better than the grandest one that remains a fantasy.

Less lofty? Maybe. I'm not throwing away my big dreams, I'm just stepping one foot at a time fully into the small. Because He can grow whatever we begin into more than we can imagine!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Understand What You Don't Know

God is working on me to screen my words through my brain before I allow them to spill over into my attitude. My thoughts, when controlled by the external, throw my pursuit of joy off balance. He is always working to perfect us, to complete us, and my awareness of thought is more in tune to this now than ever. Our desire to love Him with the understanding of our minds should be pursued as much as with our hearts. You can read more about this subject on a former post I wrote about loving God with your mind.

It was early. I had just dropped my children off at preschool and was heading to the office to celebrate several colleagues' birthdays in the midst of a busy day.

Dang it. I forgot the cupcakes.

While my full intention was healthy, sugar-free baked from scratch for the Gluten-free on my team, Publix deli was just going to have to do. It hadn't been a smooth morning thus far and I was determined to refocus on the way to work.

I was trying to maneuver around her massive stroller and Michael Kors diaper bag. I can empathize with over-sized baby gear as much as the next mama, but she seemed completely oblivious that I needed to be where she was standing.

And how can you be aware when you're on your cell phone?! Obviously a deep conversation that occupied her full attention and blinded her peripheral vision.

Really?! I mean, not all moms have time to grocery shop in our stilettos! Who shops at Publix at 9am anyway? This is my thought process...

Completely over it all, I headed in a different direction to search for an alternative. Donuts. Girl on a mission. 

But because the Lord has a brilliant sense of humor I landed behind stiletto girl in the check out line. Ahhh...

Because she was still on her cell phone and my position had made sure I was standing still, I could hear her conversation. 

"I just needed to get out and do something normal, you know? I even made a to-do list last night just to have something to look forward to today. It's the first time I've worn make up and real clothes in 3 weeks. How sad is that? Grocery shopping is something I always dreaded and he was so good at it. I guess I just wanted to see if I could do something normal without thinking of him."

From what I was allowed to hear, I assumed she had just lost someone near and dear to her. Could it be her husband or this sound sleeping child's daddy? 

Suddenly, I felt sick to my stomach and at my ability to so quicky let the disruption of my agenda affect my mind to make assumptions based on what I didn't know. 

In our daily efforts to cultivate joy, peace and to emulate christ, we must be serious about loving God with our mind and our thoughts. We've got to be mentally tough to cut through layers of surface level judgements and understand what we do not know. 

He requires us to express our love for Him by looking deep into our minds to consider our thoughts before we let them shape our attitude and response to the hurting. 

Psalm 64:6 says, "Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep." What happens in the secret place of the mind matters. I want to be the kind of woman that shows the people God places around me the love of Jesus. But the fact is I can lose sight of how to exemplify the kind of patient understanding Christ gives to me when I'm overwhelmed or too focused on my agenda to try to look past what I don't know. 

This little personal lesson was timely for me as we're approaching the busiest time of the year. Don't allow the overwhelm-ness of life to blind your understanding of what you don't know. Look at everything around you with the eyes of Christ and dig deep into your mind to consider how you can love Him well with your thoughts!