The REAL Purpose…

The alarm went off at 5am, I pressed snooze and back to sleep I went, hoping that another 10 minutes of sleep would take away all my tiredness but knowing it really wouldn’t.  Next thing I knew, it was 6am…ugh…slept through the snooze again.  I woke up quickly and my day of insanity started.  Making sure the kids were up and getting ready for school…that they were moving along and getting what they needed done…as they dragged their feet every step of the way.  My stress level was already at 60% even before the day had begun and I felt it climbing as the seconds went by.  So goes most of my days lately.  There is not a day that I don’t feel stress.  Now, the big things don’t stress me out…not sure why…finances, sickness, the craziness of our government, etc…those don’t cause me stress.  Maybe that is because I realize they are too big for me to deal with or control…they are better left to my big God who can do anything!  But, it is the day-to-day stuff, the situations that are right in my face that cause me the most stress.

I have been struggling to make time for God and studying His Word lately, and I knew this was not helping me in the “stress department”.  I was looking for something structured but flexible that could help me to draw closer to God.   Proverbs 31 Ministries was starting a new online bible study, using Tracie Miles books called “Stressed-Less Living”.  Obviously, in my present stressed-out state, the title of the book caught my eye.  After looking into it more, I realized that it might help me with my present struggle.  The study seemed to provide structure and flexibility…I was sold!

As I was reading the first chapter this past week and doing the homework assignments, there were a few things in the book that Tracie said that hit me like a ton of bricks.  She wrote, “So if the truth be known, all of my stress was really self-induced”.  Oh boy, did that hit home.  Was I actually causing all of my stress?  Did the finger that I was pointing at everyone and everything else, really need to be pointed at me?  How convicting!  Well, that really opened my eyes to what I had been blaming my stress on….my kids, not enough time, other people’s schedules, expectations of others, etc.  After thinking  and praying about it, I realized that in trying to control everything around me, I was creating the stress inside of me.  Yuck…I didn’t want to admit that.  It was so hard to own up to that, but I needed to.

The next line in the chapter that jumped out at me was, “You have complete control over whether you spend life stressed and depressed or happy and fulfilled, despite the circumstances you face”.  Well, that seemed to go along with my discovery that all my stress has been my own doing!  I have tried to teach my kids that the only people/situations they can control and changes is themselves, but obviously I seem to have forgotten that for myself lately.  I have some learning to do and I am excited!  I am praying that as I learn to keep my stress in-check, I will be able to teach my children to do the same thing.

I am looking forward to these next 11 weeks or so, as I continue on this journey of letting go and letting God.  I am excited to be studying, learning and growing in this online study along-side over 6000 Christian women located all over the world.  How amazing technology is…it can truly be a blessing at times!

Find the purpose for our life…

Purpose…how do we find out what our purpose here on earth really is?  What does purpose mean?  Well, when we look it up in the dictionary…oh wait, there are no dictionaries in my house anymore, let me just google it. 🙂
Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. 

So, my question is: how do I find out what my purpose is here…what is God’s plan for my life?  I mean, He must have a plan, right?  Well, God never does anything by accident and all that He does is for a reason…His actions are always deliberate.  I take comfort in that, knowing that there is a reason for everything that happens in my life even if I can’t see it, know it, or may never know it.

I do find it hard sometimes though, when I see those around me who seem to have “arrived” in life, that seem to have discovered their purpose.   Don’t get me wrong, I am truly happy for them.  It is wonderful and so reassuring to see God working in the lives of the people around me.  But, if I am not careful, I can take my eyes off of God and off of what He is doing in my life and “strands” of jealousy start creeping their way in and I begin to listen to their lies.  The lies tell me: You’re obviously not good enough or not spiritual enough, You haven’t been praying enough, God doesn’t find you special enough to be worthy of His attention, and the list goes on and on.  I start to feel deflated, depressed, and the doubts start to take hold of me.  It is in that moment that God’s voice whispers to me and tells me that I AM precious to Him and He DOES have a plan and purpose for my life…but I will know it in His time, not mine.  I am always amazed that God can correct me in such a loving, tender way.

I was thinking about my purpose lately and I am still wondering what it is.  I see glimpses of what I think it may be and honestly, I was hoping for more…an “important” purpose, one that would be known by others.  But I know that desire is worldly and vain and I am learning to find contentment in what God wants me to be right now…in this moment.  It is so important to learn to live in the present.

I was actually discussing this very idea of what my purpose was today with a close friend of mine.  As we were talking, I was thinking about all the “greats” in the world…all the people who have made history in one way or another.  They all didn’t just arrive in the spotlight, it took effort to get there.  God has a purpose for me, but I have to be willing to work with Him to achieve it.  I have to be pliable and moldable…like the clay on the potter’s wheel.

God reminded me today that maybe…just maybe…my purpose here on earth is to help those around me, those directly in my life, achieve their purpose.  How convicting and exciting that thought is!  God has partnered me with an amazing man who is my husband of almost 18 years and also my best friend.  I am learning every day how to be a better wife and friend to him.  God’s purpose for me as his wife is…to respect and love him, encourage and support him, and to be there with him in all the ups and downs of this life.  I have also been blessed with four awesome children…all so different, so unique.  God has entrusted them to me, to nurture and teach them and ultimately, point them to Jesus…the One who died and rose for them.  If that is God’s only purpose for me here on earth, then so be it!  I need to stop judging myself by the world’s standards and learn to be content with what God has given me.  Now, I am not saying those doubts and jealous “strands” won’t try and creep their way in again…I am human and imperfect.  What I do know is that God made me, He loves me and His plans are far more perfect than mine will ever be.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Old Path, New Path

Life is funny…just when we get used to the path we are “traveling” on, our path changes and becomes new all over again.  With the change of the path comes a mixture of emotions…excitement, anticipation, trepidation, fear, worry, tiredness, etc…you get what I mean.   For those who face these changes without God… I really don’t know how they persevere without losing hope. God is in all things…especially in the situations that deeply affect us.

I am so grateful for a loving and caring Father, who finds the time to care for each one of His “sparrows”.  We are all important to Him…so important, that He sent His ONLY son to die so that we might have eternal life…how amazing…what a sacrifice!  Thank you Jesus!

As I travel down this new path that God is leading me on, I will be praying for all of you who are in the same “boat”…remember that God will never forsake us!

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”.  Deuteronomy 31:6

Things You Just Don’t Plan For….Just Make Sure You Have Windex On Hand! :)

It’s never a dull day in a house full of kids!  You have opportunities at every turn to call on God to give you grace, mercy, strength…anything that is going to help you keep your cool and show God to your children.  Yesterday was one of those times…

I came home from work to find my oldest daughter, 13 years old, crying in the kitchen.  I asked her what was wrong and all I got was “Your going to kill me”…”You are going to be so mad”.  As she started sobbing and heading down the road to hyperventilating, I took a deep breath and asked God to help me keep my cool.  Again, I asked what the problem was and as she started to try and tell me, a strong smell caught my nose…the smell of nail polish.  OH NO!!!!

So, I asked her again, what happened?  She pointed to the family room.  I have to be honest, I was ready to hyperventilate myself!  Nail polish on carpet….my family room carpet!!!  I took a deep breath and walked into the room to where the nail polish had spilled….bright pink and grey nail polish on a beige rug.  🙁

I maintained my cool and assessed the situation.  She had tried to clean it up before I came home and it had made the situation a little worse…but I appreciate the fact that she tried to fix it.  She felt bad and she knew she had made a bad decision when she tried to paint her nails in the family room.  I told her to follow me to the computer as I googled “how to get nail polish off carpet”.  Thank goodness for the internet!  I was going to grab the nail polish remover but am so glad that I didn’t…it would have made the stain worse.  Everywhere I turned, google said that Windex or any window cleaner would take the nail polish away.  I figured I had nothing to lose…it couldn’t get any worse.

It took me about an hour of scrubbing the carpet with Windex but the nail polish was gone!!!  I was ready to buy stock in Windex.  🙂  I was so relieved and my daughter was even more relieved than me.  She stayed by me the whole time and helped me out with whatever I needed…she even made me tea!  Such a sweetheart!

I am thankful that I was able to keep my cool and set a good example for my daughter.  There have been so many times when I have blown it…but God is faithful even in those times and has enabled me to apologize and ask for forgiveness.  Parenting is the hardest job ever but the greatest blessing!

Holiday Traditions…

Christmas time came quickly this year but we were ready for it.  The decorations are up and the tree is decorated so much earlier than any other year!  Yeah!!!  So happy to be able to enjoy the decorations and the “Christmas feeling” in the house for a longer period of time.  🙂

My husband showed how much he loved me by setting up the tree and straightening all the branches for me…the part that I hate to do!  Love him so much!  Then the fun began!  All the kids enjoyed taking out the ornaments and finding the ones that meant something to them and placing them on the tree.  After all the ornaments went on, then all the other decorations went on…the different colored balls, the red stars, the red bows and the gold leaves.  Oh how I love traditions!  It was so much fun with the kids and I find as they get older, it just gets better and better!

Now to get ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus…on to the advent season!  Merry Christmas!

Unconditional Love

Dogs are amazing creatures, one of God’s best special creations…but I guess I am biased.  🙂

My family and I own 3 Great Danes.  Actually, sometimes I feel as if they own us, LOL!  Great Danes are a very special breed of dogs…extremely loyal and loving to their owners.  My dogs actually have no idea HOW big they are…they try and sit on our laps all the time!  They also like to back up and sit down on the chairs at our kitchen table…it’s really very entertaining!

I am constantly amazed at how much these dogs love us…their owners.   The more I think about it, I realize that they model unconditional love to us.  We may scold them when they do something wrong but the next minute they are right there next to us looking for us to touch them and pet them.  There are times that we aren’t able to give them the attention that they need, and in those times, they seek us out and “make” us notice them…which is not hard to do considering their size.  🙂

They love to play with us, chase the balls we throw, tug on the rope we are holding, obey our commands so they can be rewarded with the treats we are holding, etc.  They never “hold a grudge” and sulk.  Our dogs constantly look to be where we are.  They are just so full of love for us and never get tired of showing it.

Their example of unconditional love is but a shallow reminder of the love that Jesus has for us.  As we begin the Christmas season, let us all be mindful of the unconditional love shown to us by our Savior.  He came as a meek baby, born in a stable, slept in a manager, grew up as a carpenter, endured hateful criticism and unspeakable acts of violence at the hands of the people He came to save, just so He could die on a wooden cross for ALL of our sins.  All we have to do is believe and follow Him!  How blessed we are to be loved that much!

Thankfulness…

Definition: conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks, well pleased

What is thankfulness to you? What do you have to be thankful for? In this day and age, thankfulness is a lacking attribute in the people around us.  It is not promoted in our schools and that makes it extremely hard to teach our children how to be thankful.  We can model it at home but we have to be vigilant about what we allow into our homes…tv, computer, social media; all those “inputs” can counteract our best intentions as parents.
Our society is all about “what can I get”…”I deserve”…”I need”…”I’m more important”…we can easily become indoctrinated into thinking that same way unless we consistently refocus our attention and thoughts.  But how do we do this?  How do we fight against the norm of “me, me, me”?
Colossians 3:12-17
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
As you read the passage in Colossians, you can get overwhelmed by what you need to “do”.  But in reality, if your eyes are continually focused on Jesus, if your hearts and minds are bound to Him, then all that this passage commands of you will become second nature.  We are to model ourselves after Christ.  If we are to be meek, compassionate, humble, etc, then thankfulness just comes naturally.  Remember, we are called to live IN this world but NOT become PART of this world.  We are just passing through as we journey to our permanent home with the Lord Jesus.  Thankfulness should be pouring out of us because of what Jesus did on the cross for us.  He took the bullet, the punishment, the ultimate sacrifice….for that I am eternally THANKFUL!!!
Please join me as I endeavor to be a better example of thankfulness to everyone around me…and when someone asks why you are so thankful…be bold and tell them why…I don’t need to tell you what to say though, right?

Whispers…

Whispers are all around us.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, television, etc….all vying for our attention.  They can distort our perspective if we let them.  They also drown out the whispers of the people in our lives.  Most importantly, they drown out the whispers of God.  Vigilance and discernment is needed to differentiate between all the different whispers.  Peace and quiet is also necessary,  both in our physical surroundings and our emotional and spiritual state.

The more we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, dedicate time to deliberate prayer, and intentionally fellowship with fellow believers, the clearer we hear the “right” whispers.  Also, the more peace we will feel in our lives!
So, go ahead and decipher the whispers…pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance…that is what He is there for!

A walk in the garden…

The “still, small” voice of God in the midst of our daily chaos.  You know that voice…the one that your hear in the your head when your ready to raise your voice at your child…the one that whispers quietly as you begin to loose your cool in the check out line…that voice that tries to get your attention before you get angry when you are cut off on the highway…that is the small still voice of God…we need to start paying attention.

The “still, small” voice of God is really not “small”.  In the midst of the chaos and noisiness of our lives, we can’t hear God’s voice clearly.  It’s only when we step into the quiet, after the chaos and noisiness has died down, that we can hear Him.  It is in that moment that God’s voice seems small and quiet but it really isn’t.  God’s voice is always clear and present.  It’s just hard to hear Him when we are caught up in the day to day of our lives.

Learn to escape the chaos and embrace the quiet.  Be still and know that He is God.  Just listen and be with Him in the quiet.  He longs for our attention.  He wants to “walk in the garden” with us again.  Won’t you sit and stay awhile in His presence?