Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You've got somethin' to say, and no one can say it like you do.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speak truth over your fear.

"Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty,
for He is God, the Holy One.
If you fear Him you have need for nothing else."
-Isaiah 8:13

Why doing your part matters more than you know: Part Four?

This is a Four Parter. For Part Three, go here.
For Part One, go here.

Okay, here's my wrap up on this one, and then I will be done for today...I think.

Your circle of influence is unique. I mean, sure, my circle overlaps Sally's, and Sally's overlaps Cindy's, and so forth, but YOURS is truly unique. To think that someone else is going to deliver YOUR message for you is not accurate. YOU are a special person in someone's life. (and many people's, for that matter) You have a specific message (and probably many messages) to carry.

There was a time when I thought, "God has people like Beth Moore, and Susie Larson, and Angela Thomas, and Pam Anderson. He doesn't want to use little old me. I have a messy house most of the time, and I don't brush my kid's teeth everyday. I'm not even a good mom half the time...." Here's the thing about that. Each person has their specific role to fill, and they have specific lives they are meant to touch. If I stay stuck here, in this thought pattern, Satan wins. If I continue to drive into my head that I am not good enough, that my message isn't strong enough, my hair isn't big enough, my house isn't June Cleaver enough etc. etc. then I will be content to just sit on my couch eating ding-dongs day after day, because that is what I am worth. As long as my worth stays there, Satan wins. My God calls me off of my couch. And you too. And the person next you to you. And the person next to them.

If ALL of God's believers boldly stepped in and shared the message God placed on theirs hearts, there would be a whole lot more hope, and a whole lot more love happening. Each person is to do what they are uniquely called to each day, regardless of what anyone else is doing. AND, if everyone did that, God's word would take this world by storm!

Yesterday I started this topic by telling you about my friend, a fellow blogger. She jumped into blogging and had instant success. Well, then, what does that say about me? Nothing. It's her story, and yet, I sat here looking at my 100 some hits on my blog, comparing them to her 5,000 some hits in no time flat. Why do we do this? I'll tell you why. Because we're human. We compare our success to the success of those around us. As long as we're doing better than the people around us, we'll plunge forward, but as soon as someone else comes out on top, we slink back. This is not God's will for us. That's why we keep coming back to God with our insecurities and hang-ups, which is exactly what my friend did. As long as she looked to her right and her left, she felt inadequate to carry a message for the Lord. As soon as she turned her gaze back toward the one who gave her the nudge in the first place she was empowered again, and her mental state shifted from, "Who am I?" to "Whose am I?" As humans, we're going to lose sight of our focus. It's inevitable. Don't stay there. Get back up. Pray it through, and charge ahead. Don't doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.

If God is who He says He is, and can do what He says He can do, what would you be able to accomplish today? Now, go do it. ;) YOU ARE LOVED!

Why doing your part matters more than you: Part Three

This is a four parter. For Part Two, go here.
For Part One, go here.

You don't know the importance of what you do today, but you do it faithfully anyway, trusting it in the hands of the Father who gave you the nudge to do what you do. In an effort to really drive this point into the ground, I would like to introduce you to Andy Andrews, a speaker I had the privilege of hearing at a Women of Faith Conference I went to back in August with a good friend of mine. Check out this video clip of what he calls the Butterfly Effect.



"There are generations, yet unborn, whose existence depends on the choices you make and action you take, because everything you do matters..."

Why doing your part matters more than you know: Part Two

If you are interested in reading Part One on this topic, you can do that here.

In my post yesterday I told you about an awesome friend of mine who reaches tons of people just by being who she is. She was struggling through an episode of self-doubt and insecurity. This, in itself, is not always a bad thing. For one thing, we are not supposed to have confidence in ourselves apart from God, so when (in life) we struggle through a time of self-doubt it can be a renewing time of getting us back to the point, which is that any good in us, and done through us, is all for God's glory and not our own. I believe that as humans we are all prone to put ourselves higher and lower on the scale of worth than we really belong. Life has a way of building us up and knocking us back down again, doesn't it? If we really knew all the good we did for the Lord, we might be tempted to give ourselves the glory, or we might be tempted to get scared and overwhelmed, and possibly even give up. Sometimes it is probably all for the best that we not to know everything, isn't it? What we see, feel, and experience is not all that there is, so we can trust God even on our bad days. I believe it works like this:

1. God gives you a sort of mental picture of something grand He could do with you.
2. It's big, and it gets you excited, and you wonder, "God, is that you? Are you calling me to this thing? Because, if it's you God, I'll do it."
3. Prayer time, seeking time, and waiting on God, to see if the nudge you had was really God speaking to your heart, or just a sugar high. ;)
4. You put yourself out there. You take the first baby step of faith, saying, "God, if this is you, I will set one foot in front of the other and trust you to be at work"
5. It feels good at first, especially when you start to see God blessing the very thing He told you to do.
6. Something happens to make you doubt. "Hmmm...wait a minute. Was that really God?"
7. Stop right here.

Yes. It was God. He's not done. God is thinking bigger picture. It's not about this one solitary moment in time to God. "Do not doubt in the dark, what God tells you in the light." -Susie Larson. Check out this little clip from Susie Larson on what she calls the "valley of preparation".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why doing your part matters more than you know: Part One

I have this really silly friend. She just started a new blog a couple of weeks ago in an effort to be an encouragement to moms. Within a month she had over 5,000 hits on her blog and 70 some followers. WHAT THE HECK!?! This blog that you are reading right now...yeah...I count as one of my 7 followers! :) People showed up out of the wood work to read her blog, and daily they tell her how much her writing has meant to them. I got on her blog today to read this...
"so i'm puttering around on facebook and i see a couple links posted by friends - their favorite christian author's blog, a friend's blog, another amazing Godly woman's blog and then that creepy little voice starts rattling in my head. (i can't stand that voice) "wow. these women are awesome. i mean, they're really REALLY good. there are SO MANY amazing writers, amazing women out there. what the heck am i doing just adding another blog to the mix? what's the point?" i was discouraged. i clicked on a link that led me to another link of another website and their amazing stories and i was overwhelmed by just how much wisdom and talent and really cool stuff was out there. again i hear "i mean seriously, what ARE you doing? God doesn't need you doing this - it's been covered. it's been addressed. just move on."
Sounds silly, doesn't it? What? It doesn't sound silly? Do you want to know why it doesn't sound silly? Because we ALL do this! That's why! I mean, we don't all have people flocking to a blog we are trying to create, but we ALL struggle with some level of insecurity when we decide to put ourselves out there and do something bold for His sake. By the end of her post she was clearly on the right track...trusting God's plans for her, and diligently setting one foot in front of the other as she has felt led to do. (If you are interested in reading this post in its entirety, you can go here.) I am not concerned for my friend's spiritual well-being...she is obviously on the right track. I'm going to tell you why I think that tomorrow after I have gotten a good night's sleep. :) Cliff hanger. Sorry. I gotta get some sleep tonight though.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.

An excerpt from one of my favorite books, Growing Grateful Kids, written by one of my favorite authors, Susie Larson.

My life Stunk. At least that's what I thought. I looked up at the IV bag hanging from our broken mini-blinds. My eyes followed the tube down to my arm and then to my hand. I noticed the varying shades of red and some bruising from my previous catheter sites. I was in my twenties, but I felt like I was ninety. I rolled over onto my left side and looked up at the garage sale clothes hanging from a rope that was draped across our living room. Our dryer was broken. Where in the world would we find the money to repair our dryer? I breathed a heavy sigh and looked up at the old rope strung across our living room. I stared at my kids' ratty clothes and wondered if we'd ever have enough money to buy name brand anything. Our house was falling apart. We owed many thousands of dollars in medical debt. I battles Lyme disease while my husband worked two and three jobs to keep food on the table.

My friends made life look easy. They had beautiful homes, dependable cars, and nice clothes. They went out to dinner on occasion and even enjoyed a bit of travel. Best of all, they had their health. I always marveled when I called to see how they were doing, and more often than not they'd reply, "Great!"

I couldn't imagine waking up six out of seven days a week feeling healthy, normal, and strong. In the depths of my being I wanted the kind of lives they lived.

My pity party was set. All I needed was a party hat and some food. Just when I was about to let my mind take another detour, the front door burst open, and my giant of a husband stepped into the entry way and said, "I'm hoooooome!" Like a big bear that found his favorite back-scratching tree, he bounded in the door with glee. All of the sudden I heard a loud thump! I lifted my head from the couch to look down to the entryway only to find Kevin standing in a gaping hole up to his armpits!

Seconds after Kevin stepped into the door, the floor beneath him gave way, dropping him through a sizable hold in our entryway. He looked as shocked as I was. With his arms in the air, and his feet in the downstairs closet on a pile of boxes, he looked up at me, and then down at himself, and then up at me again. He was at a loss for words.

We burst out laughing at the same time and he couldn't stop (it was either that or break down and cry). Still hooked up to my IV, I leaned over so he could see me from the entryway, and I spouted, "We are the pathetic losers! We live in the money pit!" Kevin laughed, shook his head, and climbed out of the hole in the entryway.

Within a few minutes he was out in the garage looking for a piece of plywood to cover up our gaping hole. I pulled out my journal and started to write what was on my heart. I actually surprised myself. Here is a paraphrase of what I wrote that day:

Thank you, Lord, that we have a roof over our head. And thank You, Lord, that we have running water we can freely drink any time of the day. Thank You for food in the cupboards. Thank You that I have a husband who comes home every night. He could so easily abandon us in this whole mess, but day after day he stays and he loves. Thank You, Lord, that we have three little ones playing in the bedroom down the hall who don't even know that we're in the crisis of our lives. They just know they're loved. Thank You, Lord, for loving us like You do. And though my eyes can't see it, I know You will make a way through this terrible time. I know that one day our lives will be better, and things won't feel so hard. You are good, and You will come through for me.


I closed my journal, sat up, and looked out the window. I was the richest woman alive. At that very moment, I had everything I needed to thrive. I lacked no good thing.

But every time (before and after that day) that I committed the sin of comparison and acquired my perspective by looking at what Others possessed...I became the poorest woman alive.

"But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me." -Psalm 50:23 NLT

Meet Kelly Asbell.


I met Kelly a few years back, before she had any children. From outward appearances, she had it all. She was in her young twenties, had a sweet little body most girls would envy, matched up with a perfectly beautiful face. She was madly in love with her recently married husband who was strong in stature, and equally strong in who he was in the Lord. He was proud to be by her side. They came to our "Young Married's small group" talking about all kinds of things they were excited about, but the one thing that stuck out to me most was their urgency to have children. They had not even been married for a whole year at that point. I learned about how Kelly had struggled with her breathing all her life, how she didn't think she would live to be as "old" as she was. Kelly has battled cystic fibrosis all her life. (You can read about cystic fibrosis here) Her big dream in this particular season of her life was to overcome the odds and have a baby. She felt God had given her this desire to bring life into this world, and she was more than determined to see it through. She has spent all her life beating the odds, so why should this be any different?

Anytime Kelly feels a leading from God she is quick to take action, and determined to see it through.

I can't tell you all she had to go through to have a child, and she probably wouldn't want me to, but I can confidently tell you that she endured things that most moms will never have to endure in all their years of parenting, just in the pregnancy journey alone. She was told she would not be able to get pregnant. Doctors could never assure her that she would live through delivery if she did get pregnant. She was aware of these things from the beginning. None of these things stopped her from trying.

Kelly was willing to lay down her life for the calling she felt God had placed on her.

I haven't been well this weekend. I suppose it's probably just a really extreme cold or something. I'll probably see a doctor tomorrow when the office is open. The doctor will probably give me medicine that will open up my airways and allow me to breathe better again, or something like that. It's been an interesting weekend. I'm tired and it's hard to get things done around the house. I pretty much just decided to let my kids run loose since I can't yell at them and don't have the energy to stop them. I am operating out of a mindset of, "Welp, guess I will just get through this weekend until I am feeling better, and then I will get off my butt and clean up this mess". For me, any time I am ill, it is only for a short time and then I am back on my feet within a week or so...back to carrying on with life as usual, complaining about my 3 year old's latest shenanigans.

Kelly does not complain! Did I mention that? She is a believer. She believes in the power of prayer. When she talks about her hardships, it is not an attempt for everyone to feel sorry for her. She speaks on her hardships so others can lift her up in prayer, because she has faith that God hears those prayers. She falls down, and she gets back up again...and again...and again. She does not rely on her own strength alone. The truth is, her physical strength, on her own, is that of a great grandmother, even though she is just celebrated her 33rd birthday.

Whatever physical strength Kelly lacks she makes up for with spiritual strength and mental strength. She uses a walker now days. She and her husband, Scott have twins...a boy and girl. The twins are 3 years old now. I watched the other day as each one grabbed onto one side of Kelly's walker to get across the street. I had the opportunity to observe them running around at the park. They are healthy, vibrant, and adorable. They know they are loved without a shadow of a doubt.

These past few years of getting to know Kelly have taught me a few things, although I have yet to master any of them as eloquently as she has. Here they are: LIVE THIS DAY! Make this day matter. Seek God. Do what you can, leaning on God's strength today. Make a difference in the lives of the people around you, right now, while you still have a chance.

Kelly Asbell is going to be crossing the finish line of a 5K this weekend, with her walker. It's just another one of her crazy ideas that she is determined to accomplish. She has all kinds of people supporting her too. Several of us are walking, or running, in the 5K, with her. If you are in the area, and are wanting to cheer her on at the finish line I am providing the information below. I'm sure she would love to have you there!

Date: Saturday, 2 April 2011, 9am Central/Chicago time

Location: Valparaiso Family YMCA, 1201 Cumberland Crossing, Valparaiso, Ind.


You can also go here to donate money to her cause. Read more about that here.

Watching my church from my basement.

Our church does "livestream" every Sunday and Wednesday for people who cannot make it to church, but do not want to miss the service. WINNING!!

Watch live streaming video from valponaz at livestream.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Dear God, momma get better. Amen"


These were the words of my precious little 3 year old Keely each time I answered her questions of why we weren't doing things today with, "because mommy is sick." Gotta love her!

Cheese Stuffed Pasta and Sauce

Mmmmmm...YUM! LOVED this one! WAY EASY and oh so tasty!
This recipe also comes from my "Kid Approved Meals" notebook that I bought when I was at a Mothering conference. For more meals by Christine Steendahl and Jenn Caligado, you can go to her website, www.kidapprovedmeals.com

Ingredients:
1 pkg. manicotti or lasagna noodles, cooked drained and cooling in water
1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup spaghetti sauce

Directions:
If you are using lasagna noodles, get those cooking first. (My opinion: I think you should either use half of the box of lasagna noodles, or you should double the cheese mixture if you are using a whole box. I had quite a bit of noodles left over when my cheese mixture was all used up)Once they are cooked, use tongs to take them out of the boiling water and put them in a bowl of ice water so they can chill enough to touch them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cheeses with egg and Italian seasoning. Stuff manicotti or lasagna noodles rolled up. Place stuffed pasta in large baking dish. Top with spaghetti sauce and bake for 30-35 minutes.Serve with veges. These are delightful, btw!!!!!!!!

Interesting: How about decreasing your vocabulary?

I've been encouraging you to increase your vocabulary. Check out this video I found today, encouraging you to do just the opposite.

Negative personalities made positive when placed in the hands of our Father.

All negative personality traits have a positive spin when they are placed in the redeeming hands of God. We want to offer edification to others, seeing the best in them. God sees the best in people from the time they are born. He is fully aware of the strengths people possess that have not been tapped into yet. Allow yourself to take a moment to read over some of these negative personality traits I found, and the ways they can made positive under the leading of the Lord...

A person who is thought to be stubborn would also someone who would remind us to be persistent and persevere.

Hebrews 10:36
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
A person who is critical would teach us to practice discernment.
Proverbs 3:21
My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;

A person who is thought to be bossy has potential to be a great leader.

Proverbs 11:14
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.
A person who comes across as arrogant will not be as likely to shrink down when they are called to speak boldly for the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:12
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
A person who is controlling is usually decisive and has the ability to take the lead when a need presents itself.
Exodus 32: 34
Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you...
A person who is timid and fearful will usually exhibit caution, weighing situations and seeking wisdom before taking action.
Hebrews 5:14

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

A person who is blunt can deliver a steady directness, and a stay-the-course truthfulness.

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Any negative trait you see in yourself, or in others, can be turned into a positive trait that can be used for glorifying God. We should practice discernment, continually seeking God's will in our lives. We should be laying down our strengths at His feet, giving Him permission to be at work in our lives, understanding that any good in us was put there to bring God glory. Trust that God is at work in your life. Trust that God is also at work in the lives of those around you. He is in the business of fine-tuning. God is patient with us as we develop our understanding of Him, so we should also be patient with others. Have an awesome day! God sees you right where you are at, He loves you, and wants GREAT things for you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting back to some of the basics.

We all have been given special gifts to use for God's glory.

The greatest gift you can give to anyone is the gift that goes beyond yourself. In 1 Corinthians we are reminded the "most excellent way" to give of ourselves. When we give the pure love of Christ, the love that asks for nothing in return. Agape love (the love of Christ) points people back to God and is a sustaining, life-changing kind of love that is bigger than ourselves and carries on even after we are gone. Seek to find the "spiritual gift" God has blessed you with and do that with all your heart, for His glory.


1 Corinthians 12:4-12


"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

1 Corinthians 12:27-1 Corinthians 13:3

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

  • Love is patient,
  • love is kind.
  • It does not envy,
  • it does not boast,
  • it is not proud.
  • It is not rude,
  • it is not self-seeking,
  • it is not easily angered,
  • it keeps no record of wrongs.
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • It always protects,
  • always trusts,
  • always hopes,
  • always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."


1 John 4:16

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."


I have a question...


It dawned on me, last night, that I have a lot of questions I am still seeking answers to these days. One of them was almost addressed in my MOPS group this morning, and I got excited about that. I wanted to carry the thought out further, but I was losing my voice and didn't feel like talking. :)

My topic of interest right now is this: I want to be bold for the Lord. I do not want to shrink back and hope that someone else will speak out on God's behalf when He is calling me to share a message. Sometimes God gives us messages to speak. Other times we are supposed to take the thought, and pray it through, and wait on God's timing. (that was one of the many messages shared at MOPS this morning) God will make it clear when, why, and how to share a message, if He is laying it on your heart.

Having said that, what is your criteria for knowing when to speak out and when to hold back? What are the questions you ask yourself before you decide to share a message boldly?

Just to get your mind going, one of my questions would be,

"In speaking this message, am I bringing God glory, or am I trying to bring glory to myself?"

Post a comment. Please, please, pretty please, with cherries on top. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear your ideas on this!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The song in my head, and my heart, today.

I think I learned this one way back when I was a kid at camp. It still comes to my mind on a semi-regular basis. It's short and simple. Here it is:


Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you.
Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you.
I will seek you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways,
and step by step you'll lead me, and I will follow you all of my days.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This song just keeps going through my head today.

It's just such great news for anyone who has ever done anything less than admirable. Soak in the freedom of this message. You are more...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Humility+Boldness=Winning (Part Three)

I just found this and I just wanted to pass it along.

I LOVE THIS! I hope you do too.

The Next Time You Feel Like God Did Not Make You For A Grand Purpose, Remember:

Noah got drunk, Genesis 9:20-22.

Abraham was too old, Genesis 17.

Jacob was a liar, Genesis 27:19.

Leah was considered ugly, Genesis 29:17

Joseph was abused, Genesis 37:24-36.

Moses stuttered, Exodus 4:10.

Gideon was afraid, Judges 6:21-23.

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer, Judges 14.

Rahab was a prostitute, Joshua 2:1.

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, Jere.1:6-7 and 2Timothy 1:2.

David had an affair and was a murderer, 2Samuel 11:3-27.

Elijah was suicidal, 1King 19.

Isaiah preached naked, Isaiah 20:2-4.

Jonah ran from God, The book of Jonah

Naomi was a widow, Ruth 1:3.

Job went bankrupt, The Book of Job.

Peter denied Christ, Matt.26:69-70.

The Disciples fell asleep while praying, Matthew 26:40.

Martha worried about everything, Luke 10:40.

Mary Magdalene was cleansed of seven demons, Mark 16:9.

The Samaritan woman at the well had five husbands, John 4:18.

Zaccheus was too small, Luke 19:3.

Paul was too religious, Acts 8:1.

Timothy had an ulcer, 1Timothy 5:23.

Lazarus was dead! John 11.

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God desires for you to reach your full potential.

You are not the message. You are the messenger!

Believers, trust God to be at work in you, and in those around you. Offer grace to one another as you seek out what God is trying to do through you. Encourage each other. When we all, coming from very different places, can come together with a similar focus of reaching others for Christ, God will be glorified! Amen?



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Humility+Boldness (Part One)

Have you ever thought that the only people who could speak out about God were the evangelical leaders of the world, and occasionally their spouses? :) If you have been telling yourself, "I am not equipped to speak out boldly on God's behalf because of x,y, and z" then guess what? You are wrong! It's not about you. You're imperfect. God knows that. News flash: Everybody on this side of heaven is imperfect. God is not looking for perfect people. He is looking for willing hearts.

Quick story and then I will get back to my point.
I was a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) leader at my church. At the same time I was a leader at MOPS, I was struggling with depression and was consumed with guilt for not loving being a mom. I was opening up to a dear friend of mine one day, who asked me this question: "Do you think you should be a MOPS leader when you are dealing with this?" The question implied that a person with my issues should not be trying to help other people. I considered her question. I prayed it over. I did not feel led to stop ministering to moms, so I didn't stop. I kept talking at our MOPS meetings. I told people how I felt about mothering. A handful of people related to what I was saying. Not all of them, but some of them. Some of them probably thought I belonged in the loony bin, but you know, that's the chance you take I guess. :) I was vulnerable. It's not always fun to be one of the first of a crowd to who steps into the role of "vulnerable", but I really did not feel I had any other choice. I had a need to be real with people. I felt like I couldn't change what I didn't acknowledge, and staying stuck where I was seemed like a really bad idea. I needed to stretch myself to be more of who God wanted me to be. Being an extrovert, closing off and trying harder to do it on my own was not the best course of action for me, and I knew that.

I think it's not unusual for us to put ourselves down, get real critical, and mull over all the ways that we do not measure up. Can I just tell you that this is NOT God's plan for you?

Here is what I want to tell you today: Satan will plant lies in your head that will mess with you. It might sound something like this:
-Do you really have any right talking about God when you sinned most of your life, and still are sinning?

-Who do you think you are? You don't even make sense half the time, and you talk with that nasally voice that only a Michigander could appreciate. People would want to listen to you a lot more if you were the girl with the Southern drawl, saying "y'all" instead of "you guys".

-What would all your college buddies say when they hear that you are a Bible thumper?

-Nobody wants to listen to what you have to say. You're not anybody special.

-People are going to think you are annoying.

-You're going to mess up God's word. You don't have all the background knowledge that a seminary student has, so you're going to take a verse out of context, get everybody all confused, and ruin any good that God could have done with that verse. You're better off just sitting and watching reality TV every night and posting on facebook what you think of Brad, who didn't give a rose to Charlotte, when clearly she was the one for him. :)

What? I don't say any of these things with a spirit of condemnation. We are all prone to look inward and find the things in us that make us unequipped to do any good for God's kingdom, from time to time. The truth is, you might say something stupid, you might annoy someone, and you might cry and look silly. Does that matter, though? I mean, really, if God told you, "when you share this message you are going to cry and look silly, but when you are done someone is going to come to know me and experience freedom they have never experienced before", would you do it?

Any lies that Satan whispers in your heart, telling you to wallow in your inadequacy, need to be fought back with the truth of God. When you are tempted to shrink back and look inward at a time when God is calling you to reach out and be a blessing, consider this: It's not about you. Trust God. YOU can be bold in speaking out God's message of love. Build on your faith of WHO God is, and then trust HIM more than you trust yourself. This is not about you having all the answers, or being good enough. This is about bringing what you have to the table, and saying "God, do what you want with what you have given me. I trust you". He has been building your story. He has given you a message that YOU are supposed to share. Lean into Him, and be open to what He is trying to do through you. Take one small leap of faith, sharing just a little bit of your testimony with someone, or a group of someones, today. Tell them what God is doing, what you heard at church, what God did for you in the past, anything that gives God glory. Just do it. Make it a habit. Practice your discipline of boldly speaking about God in your life. If this is a new territory for you, begin by sharing with someone you trust. As you learn to trust God more and practice this discipline of speaking boldly in His name, you will find that it comes easier and easier for you to trust Him in the future, speaking more and more. You will see God at work, and it will build your faith all the more, empowering you to do even more than you ever thought possible. You are called to be a blessing. As you boldly reach others for Christ's sake, you will be blessed more and more! :)

Some messages that God wants to speak over us...

Matthew 28:19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 31:6
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

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.

Be strong in the Lord today! Be bold, knowing that God is going to go before you, and will guide you gently along the way. YOU are loved. YOU are cherished. YOU are going to do great things, as you lean into the strength of God that He has already made readily available to you. TRUST HIM TODAY!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How building our vocabulary increases our beauty


When I was younger my mom had a conversation with me about what words I chose to use. It was not a conversation about cussing. At this point, we had already established the idea that I would not be someone who was cussing. She was referring to my everyday vocabulary. Her idea was that we would determine how we saw things in life, and our take on life, by the words we chose to use to describe life. Her example was that she was going to start using the word, "beautiful" more, because she wanted to SEE beauty in her life. I liked that. It made sense to me, as a child.

There were times I reflected on that, and times I didn't give a CRAP! :) CRAP! Ya hear me!? :) There were times when it was harder for me to express gratitude, and see beauty, in my life. Right after college, when I did not get offered a job...and then, right after having kids who made me feel like I was going insane, I experienced, a raw feeling of "Is this all there is?" Here's the thing. I have read the verse that talks about "thinking on what is praiseworthy..." I love that verse on a good day. But on a bad day, (deep sigh) it's a lot harder to muster, isn't it?

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Philippians 4:8

There have been days my kids all slept through the night and I had a shower, put on make-up, had a clean outfit to wear that makes me feel good, ate a great breakfast, had a few compliments thrown my way, etc. etc. On those days, I feel like saying things like, "Isn't God so good?"

Then, there are those days when I stayed up past midnight on facebook, got woken up three times in the night to a whiny, hard-to-understand baby, didn't have anything healthy in the house for breakfast, couldn't find an outfit that fit well and was clean, and didn't have any coffee to make. :( Those days make me want to say things like, "CRAP!" :) I'm smiling now, of course, because I am very aware of how ridiculous I sound, but in that moment, I am not usually smiling.

Sometimes I need to switch up my vocabulary. Sometimes I need to trust my feelings less, and trust my God more. I need to develop a discipline of talking in a way that pleases God even on a bad day. There was a time when I thought, "Well, that is fake, and I don't want to be fake" so I let myself rant and rave and go on and on about my frustrations, worries, hang-ups, and other garbage in my heart. It didn't feel right, though. I would tear through the house like a Tasmanian devil just so I could "be real". What's that about? Who I REALLY am, is not always pretty. Who I want to be is someone who IS always pretty. The more I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity, describing my life with words that referred to the drudgery I was experiencing, the worse I felt, and the less good I was capable of accomplishing. The longer I stayed stuck there, the worse it got for me. If I keep thinking, "I'm just being real" and never stretch myself to be anything more than "real" then I am denying myself of being GREAT for God. At some point I had to say to myself, "this being real stuff is not all it is cracked up to be. I want to be better than real. I want to be authentic, but at the end of the day it is more important to me to be uplifting, encouraging, strong, obedient, and loving."

Here's where I am at now. Lord, Thank you for this day. You provide a roof over our heads, and even a roof over our cars. You provide food in our stomachs, and we even have enough food that we can throw some of it away when my one year old dumps it on the floor. You provide GOOD things in our lives. All good things come from you. I will develop my vocabulary today, as a means of honoring you, as the Lord of my life. You will search my heart, and weed out the offensiveness that is not coming from you, and I love you for that. I love your grace as I continue to strive to put your will above my own. I will speak out of love today. I will use words like, "abundant, extravagant, gracious, precious, and hopeful" rather than "sucks, stupid, crap, and hopeless". Thank you, Lord, for redeeming the ugliness that is hidden deep inside of me that only you know exists. You truly know what is best for me. It is for that reason that I give my life to you and your calling for me. Amen?

My mom is someone who is FULL with joy, and it spills out onto everyone around her. She has created a discipline of speaking what is hopeful and beautiful in her life. It is second nature to her now. On my bad days when I call her up and ask her what I can do to be more like her, there are times she cannot even tell me how she does what she does. It's not what she DOES anymore; it's become who she IS. Who she IS, is beautiful.

May we create discipline in our vocabulary, so that God can honor that, and change us into who HE wants us to be...which will increase in beauty with time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

100 THINGS…

My name is Alisha.

I was the third child in my family.

I was the last child born into my immediate family.

I was the only girl in my family.

I love my brothers very much.

One brother lives in California and the other in Michigan.

I was born in Michigan.

I spent most of my childhood in Lansing, Michigan, and loved it.

I live in Valparaiso, Indiana now and love it.

I am trying to get my parents to move to Valpo.

I really enjoyed second grade and fifth grade the most.

I always liked school.

College set me up nicely to be a teacher, but I have yet to get a teaching job.

I am not looking for a teaching job right now.

I was a substitute teacher for about a year and I did not enjoy it.

I was a children's pastor and I found that to be VERY rewarding.

I have always loved children…even when I was one.

Fourth and fifth graders are usually my favorite.

I am a mommy now.

I have a hard time spending an entire day in my house, even when little sweeties are over.

I got married the year after I graduated from college.

As much as I love my children, my husband is the biggest blessing in my life.

I tell him that.

My husband makes me laugh harder than anyone else I know.

My husband made me chocolate covered strawberries for Valentines Day one year.

I love chocolate covered strawberries.

The well being of my family is more important than any career I will ever have.

I know how to hem jeans so that they look like they weren't hemmed.

I am not very good at sewing, but I do enjoy projects that allow me to be creative.

I am typing on a computer that is hooked up to two screens.

My husband knows a lot about computers.

My husband works at a church.

I am a Christian.

I have been a Christian since I was very young.

I LOVE spending my time pouring into the ministries at our church.

The two cars we have are paid off.

Our student loans will never be paid off.

Our house has a basement.

It's pretty much always a mess.

I am learning a lot about God's grace lately and I LOVE it!

Eating out with people I love is one of my favorite things to do.

I bought McDonalds with my first dollar.

My brother bought a funnel with his first dollar.

I think that says a lot about us.

If eating out was healthy, and we could afford it, I would do it every day.

I love El Salto.

I was sad when Chi Chi's went out of business in Lansing.

I am not a huge shopping fanatic.

I get a big kick out of getting awesome deals on things that other people paid lots for.

I don't drink anything alcoholic, and never will.

My reason for not drinking is the fear that I could turn into a drunk someday.

I think I would make a terrible drunk.

I also could not afford to the support the habit.

I also don't smoke.

I considered smoking once when I was 6 years old and it was offered to me.

Someone stuck up for me and I never had to make the choice.

I am grateful for God's hand of protection in my life.

I am 5'7".

I like the words to hymns.

I have bought CD's with hymns on them.

I eat more chocolate than I should.

I also love coffee when it is all sweetened up, and as white as I am.

My friend introduced me to Starbuck's white chocolate mocha and I am glad she did.

I think young people who help older people are fabulous.

I think young people who are patient with older people deserve to be praised.

I love being 30.

I was not all that wild about my 20's. (understatement)

I lacked a lot of self-awareness as a child.

I liked it that way, but I think I frustrated many people.

I had a lot of friends in spite of the fact that I was frustrating.

I give God credit for that.

I prayed to be cool as I walked to school as a child.

I also prayed whenever the teacher would ask us to partner up with someone in the room.

Now I pray for my kids, but never that they will be cool.

I pray that God will help me raise my kids the way He wants me to.

I believe that God can, and will, answer that prayer.

I read a lot of parenting books.

I ask other moms for advice a lot.

I hate changing stinky diapers.

I admire girls who care enough to pick out several shoes and actually wear them all.

I will never be that girl.

I think TV is a waste of time.

I watch it anyway.

I think video games can decrease motivation in children when they are older.

I bought my husband an XBOX 360 anyway.

I believe we will be held accountable for what we do here on earth.

I look forward to heaven.

I don't believe heaven will have much comparison to our experience here on earth, and I am good with that.

I think that for unbelievers, this is as good as it gets.

I think that for believers, this is as bad as it gets.

I love God's grace.

3's of me.

Three names I go by:
1. Mom
2. Mama
3. Alisha

Three Jobs I have had in my life:
1. Chuck E. Cheese hostess
2. Substitute Teacher (would much rather be a REAL teacher any day)
3. Stay at home mom (by far, the most challenging)

Three Places I have lived:
1.Lansing, MI
2. Bourbonnais, IL
3. Vale of Paradise

Three Favorite drinks:
1. White chocolate mocha blended with a shot of caramel (NOT from Gloria Jean where they dunk a truck load of caramel into your little cup...bleh)
2. Coca Cola slurpee...oh man! I can't drink them anymore, but I still love them.
3. Water...that sounds good too, I think I am dehydrated.

Three TV Shows that I watch:
1. Undercover Boss
2. America's Funniest Home Videos
3. Whatever show happens to be on PBSKids

Three places I have been:
1. Mt. Baldy
2. The Portage Super Kmart when they do double coupon days
3. Lansing Lugnuts Stadium

People that text me regularly: (okay, well, maybe not regularly...more like, "on occasion")
1. Sarah Anderson
2. Jennifer Crane
3. I don't really text, so people don't usually text me unless they just had a baby. :)

Three of my favorite foods:
1. Cheese dip at El Salto
2. Steakburgers with cheddar cheese and A-1 sauce
3. Snickers Ice cream bars

Three Things I am looking forward to
1. getting a glass of water
2. when my kids all go to the bathroom by themselves, wipe, flush, and wash their hands without having to be told to do so
3. My Mom to Mom meetings where I sit and chat with other moms while my children are lovingly cared for down the hall.

A message to my precious teenage friends, who are called to great things.

"God does not call me to a career; He calls me to be faithful."

-Theologian David Timms

Be faithful in the little stuff now, so the big stuff will make more sense when you are older. Many young people float around through high school thinking it is all about just getting through school so they can move on with "real life". Don't wait for "real life" to happen. This is it. You are developing your story. Lean into God's plan for you now by being faithful in the little things...friendships, school work, your family life, your part time job if you have one, the money you make, etc. etc. Decide what you will stand for, and what is not worth getting worked up over. (which is very rare for anyone who is young, in my opinion, and many adults for that matter) Devote yourself to developing your natural strengths. God gave them to you for a reason. You are not who you are by mistake. You cannot know now what you will be doing when you are 30, but what you do need to ask yourself now is "what is God calling me to today?" If you spend 18 years thinking, that someday life will just "happen", then guess what? It ain't gonna happen. :) You reap what you sow. Have fun, enjoy your youth, but seek God in all you do. It's in seeking Him that you will find your purpose in life. Trust God with your life. He knows what is best for you, according to His plan for you. If you tap into His plan for you, there are GREAT blessings around your corner.

May the choices that you make today be building blocks that you can stand on in the future, with pride and grace.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25:21

P.S. YOU ARE LOVED!!!!!!!! So proud of you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

My kiddos.

In a previous post I referred to "a line I put down in our driveway to keep the kids from going into the street". My kid's reactions demonstrated their response to authority over all. You can read about that experience here if you want to. I finally had a chance to upload the pictures from that day, and thought I would share them. Here they are.

Here's Preston, my first born. 5 years old. He always stopped himself before he got even remotely close to my line, and threatened anyone who attempted at disobeying my orders in regards to the line.
Here's Keely, middle child. 3 years old. She joyfully lifted her feet high in the air and let herself go as far as she could. She would have loved if the car would have "accidentally" taken her past that line.
Then, there's Kipton. The baby of the family. 1-1/2 years old. He played on the line for quite a while, while looking up at me occasionally to make sure he still had to stay on that side of the line.
Cute as a button.

If you are wondering where all the recipes have gone, we have good news. We'll be posting more soon. As for myself, I have a ton of great recipes to share along with the Weight Watchers Points Plus values tacked on to them. I even have the pictures taken already. I just need to get around to posting them is all. They'll be coming soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My strength comes from the Lord.

Have you ever met someone who totally changed who you were, just by being who they were? I am blessed with inspiring and motivating mentors lately, close and far. I always have, actually. I just didn't always know to call them mentors. It isn't that they are all sitting down with me for coffee once a week. Some of them I sit down with and I ask them questions, and others I learn from by simply observing and listening closely when they talk. Some of them I sought out, and others I just happened to bump into along the way. Most of them don't even know how much they are influencing me just by being who God is calling them to be. I guess they cannot know unless I tell them. Lately, God has given me eyes to see who some of them are, and the desire to give a handful of them an extra thanks.

One of them is Susie Larson. She is an author, speaker, and a radio host. I just cannot say enough good about her. I mean, REALLY, I cannot. From miles away, she spreads wisdom and encouragement to anyone who wants to listen. Having said that, I read a clip on her blog today that I thought would strike a chord with many, many moms..."tapping into the strength God gives, and that is readily available to us all". Please read a little blurb about a dream she once had. If you are interested in reading the post, in its entirety, click
here.

"Lord, I don't know what just happened at this event, but I do know this: I want more! More of You! More of Your power and Your presence in my life!"

I fell asleep with those words on my tongue. And I had a very vivid dream.

In the dream people were busy with their daily lives, rushing to and fro - totally unaware of the power that hung overhead, completely within their reach. The 'power' looked like rolling colorful clouds with bolts of lightning shooting through them. Every once in a while, someone had the presence of mind to pause and look up. Then they'd reach up and grab hold of the 'power' and place it on their children or their wallet, or their own heart. But then they'd go along their way and not look up for a long time after that. But in my dream there was one woman who camped in the presence of God. She lived there. She reached up with great regularity and accessed what God made available to her. And the result? Her life glowed with the power made available from on high.

I woke up from my nap absolutely stunned. As I snuggled in my bed for just a while longer, I pondered this vivid dream, and the Lord whispered this across my heart, 'Most of My people only scratch the surface of what I've made available to them.'


Isn't Susie wonderful? Of course, she would probably prefer that I say, "Isn't God, working through Susie, wonderful?" ;) She is always quick to give God credit for the good she is able to accomplish. Either way, I hope her words inspire you, like they do me. For the rest of her post, go here.

God's blessings on you, mommies, as you continue to daily muster the energy to serve your families. :) Moms, May you not grow weary in doing what is right, for at the proper time, your family will reap a harvest. Love you all.
Thank you for visiting our site today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

For praying out loud: Part Two.

How are you measuring up this week? Did you make a "Mom Plan" at the start of this week?

For those of you who did not read my other post, (because it was really long...I know, I understand) I am trying to conquer an issue in my home....anger. Fighting back anger with prayer, in front of my children. Not waiting until my anger builds up and festers, but rather, taking care of my heart issues, right then and there.

Here's how it's going for me.
My kids like it. It's opening up conversations that my four year old can understand. We talked about how the Bible says that a "soft answer turns away wrath", and how mommy has to pray so she can have a soft answer. He gets it, and he likes it...obviously. I think we can all understand why a mommy who isn't flipping out would be a good thing to a four year old. :0)

Another thought.
Everyone struggles with something. If you have little kids in your house, it might feel like the things you struggle with are in your face on a regular basis. Learning to deal with those things and letting your kids join you as you learn to deal with them can be a healthy thing. Consider inviting them in when it is appropriate. Say things like, "Mommy feels really upset right now. We should stop and pray, because God does not want mommy to act out of her anger." Intermingle, and quote verses to your children that back up the truth in what you are saying, like this, "The Bible says that we are not supposed to be anxious about anything, but that is hard for mommy right now. The Bible also says we are supposed to present our requests before God and that He hears our prayers and will answer them, so we should stop and pray." This particular lesson, when shared with your children, will teach them that when they feel anxious they can pray and God will hear them too.

p.s. It just dawned on me that I am talking to all of you like you have a four and a half year old in your house. Sorry if that is annoying to you. :0)

Sidenote:
LOVE YOU MOMMIES!!! Thank you so much to those of you who have taken a moment to let me know how you are relating to this issue, and any issues we bring up on here, for that matter. It brings us joy to know that our site is meeting a need. We are more than happy to join you in your parenting. We want to be encouraging to our readers, and it helps to know where you all are coming from. Keep posting, emailing, messaging. We LOVE to hear about your lives. LOVE it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

For praying out loud: Part One.

Why do we meal plan?
To make the week run smoother. To ensure that we are getting important nutrients into our family's bellies throughout each week. To ensure that at 4:00 when our kids start to remind us that they are going to be hungry soon, that we are not irritated (as much) with coming up with a dinner for them within a reasonable time frame.

What happens if we don't meal plan?
Perhaps more trips to the fast food joints in our area than we would like to admit. Frustration with our children every time they announce they are hungry. Pulling meals together only to find that you are missing one very important ingredient that brings the whole meal together. Getting to 4:30 in the afternoon and clenching your teeth when your kdis start nagging for food, and you realize the one meal you can make is actually going to take one hour to bake in the oven, and you will have to not only whip up that meal, but also manage to entertain, and distract, your kids while it cooks to keep them from nagging relentlessly. What? That's never happened in your house?

Anyway, this post is actually about a different kind of plan.
A Mom Plan. Because being a confident, controlled mom doesn't always just happen by accident. What is a Mom Plan? Anticipating, planning ahead, identifying what "habits" (for lack of a better term) will continue to repeat themselves in your house, and then creating a plan to avoid those things, and be prepared for those things. (I believe that this process comes more naturally for some moms than others. Some of you type-A moms out there are probably wondering why I would even take the time to post this. For the rest of you, read on...)
Sidenote: I am blessed with many wonderful influences in my life right now. I seek advice, and encouragement from the women around me on a daily basis. Here are just a few tips I have been taught along the way that I plan to implement as I carry out this (new-to-me) idea of creating my "Mom Plan"....
Ask yourself: What negative cycles do I see repeating themselves in my home?
(BTW, it's also a marvelous idea to reflect on the positive cycles in your home, and give yourself a pat on the back for those) One of our readers pointed out that when moms are tired, they will become very irritable very quickly and reach their boiling point much quicker. One plan of attack, in that regard, would obviously be to get more sleep. But how? Create a plan. I will be in bed by such-and-such a time even if the dishes are not done, I will set boundaries for myself, I will lay down when my child takes a nap, etc. Find what will work for your unique family, and life situations.

Try just adding one new idea to your "Mom Plan" each week.
Trying just one idea at a time will allow for two things.
One: You will not feel overwhelmed with trying to change everything at once.
Two: You can evaluate if what you are doing it actually helping you or not.

The phone call to my mom that started this thought process.
I cried to my mom this Saturday morning over the phone. "They're driving me crazy. I just made them a PB&J english muffin sandwich, and then they started begging for oatmeal, and Kipton was crying, and bleh blah blah." She lovingly, and patiently listened as I carried on and on. It was 9:00 in the morning and I felt like I had already suffered through a full day. When I was exhausted and at a loss for words she interjected, "I think you should rest. Take a nap, Alisha." :) (she also suggested I might be having my period soon...which was ruled out last week...TMI, I know) Her answer wasn't enough for me. We continued talking. She reminded me how she would stop everything (sweetly, I might add) when I was a kid, and pray, out of nowhere. She did too. I remember as a kid times when we'd all be worked up, and my mom would get down on her knees and make us pray with her. We always felt better after we prayed. Even if the problem was still in front of us, it didn't seem as big anymore. She prayed with me over the phone. I love my mom.

Anger has been my issue lately.
I always keep it real on here. I don't mean to beat this one into the ground, but anger towards my children for acting their age, is definitely one of my personal struggles in this season of my life. It was not always been my struggle. Three kids, under the age of five, all living under one roof, have managed to bring this side out of me that I never knew existed. It is the struggle that I have not quite come to the other side of yet.

My Mom Plan for this week.
Fight back anger with prayer and worship. Out loud prayers. Not mumbles under my breath, or yelling out, "GOD, HELP ME!" prayers. Just, earnest, stop everything, get down on my knees and pray out loud with my kids, kind of prayers. Each time anger rears its ugly head this week I plan to bring it before the Lord, before it gets out of hand. Rather than clenching my teeth and letting anger fester until I am yelling at my kids, I will stop. I will pray. I will listen to worship music that will remind me who is in charge. I am hoping to let you know how this goes for me throughout this week.

YOUR TURN
What's your struggle? What do you need to create a Mom Plan for? What is your Mom Plan? We'd LOVE to hear from you, and possibly even encourage you and pray with you as you seek to be the best mom you can be! Please take a second to share.

Oh yeah. I am going to post some meals this week too. :) All of them from my "Cooking Light: 5 Minute, 15 Ingredient" cookbook.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prayer of a worn out Stay at Home Mom


Lord,
Ephesians 3:19 says that I can be filled with all the fullness of you. Filled? I have been just barely running on empty for far too long now. I got burnt out long ago, and fell into auto pilot...each day feeling like the same day. I tried hard to be productive and I tried hard to work so that my life would bear fruit, but I was on empty. I tried to give much, but I had little to give and the result was desperate frustration. If I am going to bear much fruit today, I am going to need you to fill me up first. Strengthen me today, through the power of your Spirit. Renew me today, and give me the focus and determination to carry out the work you have before me today. Instead of just barely getting dinner on the table, today, help me to be mindful as I joyfully set the table with a smile and love in my heart toward my family. Fill me up with you today, so that the mom that my children see is not tired and frustrated, but hopeful and strong.

Amen.