Author: Sherri Seligson

When Can I Start Doing IMPORTANT Things?

Several years ago, I remember pondering my purpose as I was standing in the middle of our living room with a stunned look on my face. I was holding a crying toddler who had painful molars breaking through her gums. My feet were surrounded by toys that had been dumped (for the fifth time that day) onto the floor. The couch was filled with unfolded laundry, and I was staring into the kitchen where one of my sons had just accidentally knocked a glass jar of honey onto the tile floor…true story!

purpose

Let me tell you that my purpose in life was not in the forefront of my mind at that moment. I could not see past where I was right then, and frankly, it did not feel important or worthwhile. After all, how can cleaning up sticky, broken glass and disciplining a child who didn’t obey my instruction to not dump out toys be significant?

I know…being a mom is a wonderful blessing. But those moments made that hard to believe.

Have you ever felt that way? Well, let me tell you something you already know but probably need to hear again: They won’t always be this little. They will grow up. And when they do, you will see that this work was not for nothing. It was worthy and beautiful!

Interestingly, as quickly as your children enter your household, that is how fast they will move out as adults. We had four children within 6 years. Those were busy times, indeed. But within another short 6-year period, they all graduated from high school and moved on to do other things.

My husband and I were stunned at how our dinner table dynamics changed so rapidly. What happened to the sweet, lovely mayhem? I caught myself with those thoughts. Was it really always lovely and sweet? It is interesting that I only remembered it that way…

So was I doing something important during those days of raising and teaching our children? Yes!

Was it easy? NO.

A Wonderful Purpose

Was it indeed a wonderful purpose – a blessing given to me by God? Absolutely.

You see, raising children is the BEST purpose we as moms can have. It is an opportunity to train and pour into little minds and hearts. It is a mission field in itself. We are stewards of these little humans God entrusted to us. We are charged with the critical job of loving them, modeling for them how to love their Lord, and preparing them for what God has ahead in their lives.

This brings glory to God. It is a precious and worthy purpose. And I know that it’s not always a beautiful process, but anything worthwhile will involve less-than-glamorous work.

In John chapter 5, Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches the Father prunes and trims so we may bear fruit. Then he says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

When do we start bearing real fruit? When do we do IMPORTANT things and fulfill our purpose?

Sweet mama, it is right now where you are. It is wiping the tears from your little one. It is washing the dishes and keeping the home. It is reciting spelling words. In doing this, you are living for the purpose for which he saved you. He prunes and tends you as a vine so the fruit you bear will richly blossom and grow.

What an awesome (and IMPORTANT) purpose!

Hope: Expecting God’s Future Grace

Do your kids ever ask the same questions over and over? One day, I remember my children continually asking me if we were going to the park in the afternoon. I had already told them during breakfast that we were going. But they kept asking me.

“Are we going to the park today?”

expecting hope

We had a regular park day every Friday morning as part of our weekly routine. It wasn’t a new activity, but this day they kept asking me as if I would forget about it.

Then I realized what was going on. We had just come off of a few weeks of sickness. You know, that really ‘fun’ stomach bug that gets passed from one child to another. And, no, they don’t get it at the same time…they take turns with the throwing up and the diarrhea…just to prolong the excitement!

Well, because of that and some other things, we had missed park day for a few weeks. I realized that this was a big deal. They felt that they had to keep asking me because we had been inconsistent in our schedule.

Moms are like that. Not because we don’t plan and not because we are fickle. But our crazy life as parents sometimes causes our plans to change. That means we occasionally promise one thing and then have to do another. The promises given to our children are given by a flimsy promise giver (even if that flimsiness is unintentional).

I began to think about that, regarding hope. You see, we are all hopeful creatures and need to place our hope in something, whether it is our bank accounts, our husband, or our abilities. However, if the object of our hope is insecure or unstable, then our lives will be characterized by insecurity and instability. All of those things (yes, even your husband) are not completely sure. We are all fallen beings who struggle with sin. Thankfully, though, God is not flimsy like us. He remembers his promises to us and keeps them. And that is our comfort and hope in life.

Psalms 119:49-50 says, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

You see, we are only as secure as the object of our faith and hope. We know that God does what he says he will do. Hebrews 6:18 says, “so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” He is the ONLY person we can completely trust at his word.

And to go further, he is the one who “fills us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit [we] may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

To be full

You see, if our hope is in God, we will be full…filled to overflowing. Some people call this a peculiar hope because it doesn’t start with us but comes from the Holy Spirit. We can’t manufacture our own hope. It is given to us. As we read through God’s word, we can actually see hope on every page. That is because it is an inherent part of God’s grace. It is the grace he promises to us for the future.

So, hope is the posture that our faith takes. It is our trust that God will do what he says he will do, both in the past and the present. He wiped away tears from long ago and will wipe away every tear in the future. Well, that changes the way we live in the present, doesn’t it? In the midst of suffering, hope won’t allow us to despair. We can lament while we are hopeful.

I don’t have to keep asking God, “Are we going where you said you would take me? Are you keeping your promises?”

As non-perfect parents in a fallen world, we can’t always keep our word to our children. And we cannot expect others to never let us down, either. The ONLY person we can completely trust at his word is the one who has filled us with joy and peace so that we can abound in hope.

Indeed, our hope is in the One who will never disappoint. It is trusting in the future grace he has for us. And that brings me comfort and joy, even when we have a household of stomach virus and a skipped park day.

Take some time today to read Hebrews 6:17-20 and be encouraged that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope [God’s future grace] set before us.”

Mom Guilt, Forgiveness, and Rest

Mom guilt.

We all have it. Things we have done or shouldn’t have done with our kids. You all know what I’m talking about. Cold pizza for breakfast because I didn’t get enough sleep last night (teething baby) and I didn’t have the energy to make a fresh, nutritious breakfast.

forgiveness

Or the time my child was the only one on the homeschool field trip who didn’t have his jacket (and his pants were inside out – how did that happen?). How about the time I forgot to get a card for my husband’s birthday and frantically instructed the kids to make a “Daddy card,” in a feeble attempt to convince him that THAT was my Plan A?

It seems we moms are always feeling guilty about something. Let me ask you right now. Is there something (big or little) nagging in the back of your head right now as you’re reading this? Can you think of something that happened recently or in the past that you keep replaying in your mind, wishing you could have done it differently?

Let me tell you. Having raised four children, homeschooling them from K-12 grades, I am constantly having to deal with those thoughts even today. Things I did in the past keep popping up in my brain, and I have to deal with the regret or frustration of trying to push those thoughts out of my mind.

In a sense, that crazy, over-sung movie theme is useful…Let. It. Go.

Self-forgiveness is a tough thing. Moms, in particular, often carry a heavy load of guilt. And sometimes it goes way beyond the guilt of serving cereal for dinner.

If you do a quick search in the Bible to find verses addressing “forgiving yourself,” you might not find any. That doesn’t mean it isn’t in there. There are lots of passages that talk about the sin of unbelief. Think about that. In Romans 8:1, Paul says that there is “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

He goes even further in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

So if you are a Christian, you have received the complete grace and forgiveness of Christ. When God looks at me, for example, He sees the finished work of Jesus covering over me, and thus He sees Jesus’ righteousness as if I have never sinned. So my sins are forgiven. I believe that.

Well, although that’s something that makes me want to sing and praise the Lord each day, and I am truly grateful for what Jesus did for me and God’s forgiveness of my sins, why do I keep beating myself up when I think back to things I didn’t do perfectly in my life? Why don’t I believe 2 Corinthians now?

In a sense, I am denying the work of Jesus. God forgives me, so why can’t I forgive myself? I mean, I DO forgive myself in my head, but my heart keeps bringing up the guilt and regret.

That is NOT forgiveness. That is rejecting what Christ has done!!

When you live in guilt, you have no internal rest. We can sometimes push that guilt away for a time, but like a horrible weed, it will keep coming back unless we can eradicate those roots.

And to do that, I have to turn to the power of God’s word. Paul says in Hebrews 4:3,
“For we who have believed enter that rest.”

forgiveness

We need to understand the rest that comes with the forgiveness and salvation in Christ.

We find rest when we really accept that our sins have been washed away and are forgotten. If the God of all creation who upholds everything in His hand made it so you and I are able to have a relationship with Him – made it so we can come to him as one who is perfect (thanks to Jesus), then who am I to say otherwise?

Who am I to say I know better than God? I don’t have to dwell on those guilt-bubbles that keep rising to the surface. When they pop up in my mind, then, I just remind myself that God is big enough to deal with them. In fact, He already has dealt with them. So why do I keep fertilizing those weeds? He pulled them out, and I can joyfully go forward.

Moms, let Him do that for you. It doesn’t mean you will never feel guilt, but you DO have a means to address it. You have the awesome goodness of Christ’s work and His overwhelming love for you.

Embrace that.

Especially as you dress your toddler in yesterday’s clothes.

A Reason to Pray

“I’m asking for prayer today.”

“On our way to the hospital – please pray.”

“Feeling frustrated this morning…”

a reason to pray

Have you ever seen these types of posts on Facebook or Twitter? The comments that follow are filled with intentions to pray (And, yes, there is even an emoji for that!). In-person conversations with friends can involve constant prayer requests, too. Indeed, we are surrounded by prayer requests.

Yet, that should be expected.

James 5:13a says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.”

We are instructed to pray with and for one another. But, why? What can we expect when we pray? Why are there difficulties in the world? Why is their pain? Why is there loss?

For His Glory

Well, I am not going to get into all the theological issues that address those questions, but these all are a part of the Fall – a result of sin entering the world. Yet, God uses these difficult experiences for His glory.

You see, pain and hurting can be for good.

First and foremost, we meet God in our pain in ways we wouldn’t if we didn’t have any trials. Why is it that when things are going well, we tend to spend less time with God, but when things are difficult, we are more often on our knees? Well, one reason is that going through trials forces us to draw closer to Jesus. It continually reminds us that our Lord is the one who upholds all things. We so easily forget that, don’t we?

Additionally, by going through trials, we can minister to others in ways we otherwise couldn’t. I experienced terrible morning sickness during each of my pregnancies (7 months of continual sickness – “morning” was a misnomer!). So now, I am particularly sensitive to those who are going through the same thing. I have walked through that difficulty and can better understand those challenges. I am more likely to specifically pray with and for women who are going through what I went through. And by walking along with them, it deepens those friendships.

You see, praying for one another is something that brings the body of believers closer together. We come alongside others and experience the challenges they are going through. And when we see God answer those prayers, we rejoice along with them.

How Can I Pray for You?

There is such a sweetness that comes when you ask someone, “How can I pray for you?”. Sincere prayer for others shows them you are concerned for them. It opens up relationships.

Have you ever thought to ask your children how you can pray for them? Believe me, they will think of something for you to pray for (even if it is that squashed butterfly outside). And if you purpose to pray and then follow up, you will be surprised to see how much deeper your relationship can be.

when we pray

Prayer builds relationships with others as well as with God.

That’s because when we pray, the ultimate goal is not necessarily for healing, but for growth in grace and building relationships.
So pray first for your relationship with God. Ask others to pray for you so they may share in what God is doing. They are working as the body of Christ should.

And again, as God answers prayers, you can rejoice with one another like the rest of James 5:13 says:
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

When We Can’t See God’s Provision

I was so excited. A new school year was starting, and I had all our curriculum in order. With several weeks already planned out, things were going smoothly.

Then it happened.

provision

Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Late summer hurricanes are always a possibility when you live in Florida. However, this one caused a few huge trees on our street to fall, bringing down power lines with them. Of course, I can’t complain. No one was hurt. In fact, no one’s home was damaged.

But we had no electricity.

Now, if you haven’t been in Florida during August, you may not realize the intense heat. I know there is a difference between dry heat and humid heat, but let’s just say that the humidity in Florida’s August is so high that you are almost able to swim in the air. We were without air conditioning and were expecting up to two weeks before power would be restored! How could we do school? There was no way we could be in the house during the day, because it was unbearably hot.

I was so frustrated. We had such a great beginning to our school year.

Part of my frustration was with God. I really felt He had called us to homeschool, but it seemed that I never was able to meet MY GOALS for the year. And this year was starting out the same way. WHY did God allow for a hurricane to mess things up? Wouldn’t He want ME to successfully teach MY children according to the lesson plans *I* had carefully planned?!?

Well, you can probably guess what happened. God knew what was better for us than I did.

Really. He did.

In order to endure the heat each day, we would pack up our books, papers, and lunchboxes and go to the local library. On that first day, the librarian noticed how we were camping out, so she came over to ask if we needed anything. I explained our situation and that we were doing our homeschool work there. “What are you all studying?” she asked us.

And that began one of the best two weeks of our homeschooling journey.

You see, once she learned what we were covering, she told my children all about what the library had in the way of books that would go along with our subjects.

The next day, she asked if they would like to go downstairs into the resource rooms and learn about microfiche (for those of you too young to know what that is…it’s an old-school type of projected viewer showing printed materials like newspapers and magazines, many from years and years ago). Each day, she excitedly came up to us to ask if she could help us. Some days we were fine and other days we asked her what she could show us. She set us up with historical videos, educational games, interesting magazines, and even a few crafts they had left over from some summer programs.

After two weeks of that, my children became true library professionals. They could navigate their way around the computer card catalogs as well as the “ancient” hard catalogs, too. They boldly went up to our librarian “friend” to ask questions and also came to realize that librarians REALLY are a wealth of information and (for the most part) LOVE to help.

No amount of Mom-planned field trips would have given them this lesson. They truly learned a skill I wanted to teach them but never could find the time to add it to our “busy” days: how to learn how to learn. Not just memorize things, but how to research and discover information they do not know.

Indeed, the Lord provided.

provision

He set up the circumstances to require us to camp out at the library for 10 days. He knew this was an important skill for my children to learn that would help prepare them for the future.

Now, I know that this provision seems small. I could share “bigger” times of provision with you: a time when my son was horribly injured and had to endure several surgeries, a time when we had to care for my sick father by having him move in with us, and many more. God indeed provides for us in the big things. But this provision came during a time I least expected it. It showed me that my Lord provides even the little things in ways I cannot orchestrate myself.

He cares so much for us that He knows our needs before we know them. Rest on that. Know that the things that “get in the way” of our plans do not take our loving Lord by surprise. It may be our Plan B, but it is ALWAYS His Plan A!

True Peace Is Likely More Than You Think It Is

Peace.

What a wonderful word to us moms.

With vocal toddlers, noisy washing machines, electronic toys, and outdoor-voices in the house, we seem to never have peace.
But, believe it or not, true peace is NOT complete quiet and a lack of disorder. I’m not saying those things aren’t wonderful, but there is a different type of peace we should be seeking and spreading.

true peace

Take a look at Matthew 5. In this chapter, Jesus is amongst a crowd of people and went up to a mountain in order to share with them. In this sermon, Jesus speaks blessings to those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger, as well as those who are meek, merciful, pure in heart, and are persecuted. These are all things we struggle with in our fallen world…things we face as a result of sin entering the world.

And among those verses, he places this jewel: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Peacemakers.

How does that fit in to all the others? Well, we get a clue from the paragraphs following this section. Jesus goes on to say that we are the salt of the earth and a light to the world. Why are we compared to salt and light right after the long list of the challenges we can face in our lives? It is so others “may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven”(Mt. 5:16). You see, it has to do with our testimony…how we share with others the Good News of Christ’s salvation.

What exactly is a peacemaker, then? It is much more than someone who breaks up two toddlers fighting over a toy. It is even more than keeping two people or two countries from fighting with each other, too.

Peacemakers are those who spread the gospel to others, pointing them to the One who brings the ultimate peace. Peacemakers help those who are lost, suffering, or struggling in this fallen world to make peace with their Creator!

Let me tell you. Once we have that awesome peace with God and have been reconciled to Him, we can face any struggle in this world with His strength! We can mourn, we can hunger, we can even be persecuted with a peace that passes understanding, not because we are necessarily happy, but because we have His joy and know that He is our comforter, our redeemer, and our salvation! Nothing can take that from us!

blessed peace

So, yes, as moms we need to “keep the peace” in our households and help our children to get along with each other. But what a privilege it is to introduce them to the One who brings the ultimate peace. The One with whom we need to be reconciled.
How do we do that? By being salt and light to our children in the best way we can. Reading God’s word to them. Teaching His principles as we go about our days and as we teach them during school-time. Praying for their hearts. This is one of the greatest things we can do for our children.

We can be a peacemaker between them and our Lord and Savior! What a privilege it is to lead them to peace with their Creator!

Humility Is Not the Same As Unimportant

As a mother, I have been hearing that my position is an honorable one, a selfless one, and a humble one. In fact, I often encourage other moms with those very statements. We can go on Pinterest and see beautiful images of a mom and kids at sunset on the beach or cuddling on the couch, along with a sweet statement about motherhood written in swirly gold letters…all this to encourage us in our position. It’s mentioned so much in Christian circles that sometimes I wonder if we are trying to convince ourselves even as we are saying it!

humility is not the same

Well, because we are studying humility this month, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to the scriptures and see exactly what they say about the humility of motherhood.

1 Cor. 1: 26-28 tells us,

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.

Though this passage doesn’t specify mothers, I love how we can get a glimpse of our Creator’s character. He chooses what is foolish to shame the wise. He chooses the weak to shame the strong. He chooses the lowly to bring to nothing things that are. It doesn’t make sense to our worldly minds.

Yet we see this thread throughout the Bible. When Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, was carrying Jacob and Esau, the Lord told her the older would serve the younger (Gen. 25:23). Now Jewish tradition held that the first born…the oldest…would receive the double blessing and extra inheritance. God’s choice of the younger Jacob discounted that.

Jacob had twelve sons, yet God chose one of the youngest (Joseph) to rise up and become second in command in Egypt (Gen. 37 and 45). He chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to become king after Saul. Samuel said in 1Samuel 16, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

It is clear that God’s ways are not man’s ways. He looks at things differently than we do. Our culture looks at the outside: the strong, the important, and the famous.

God looks at the heart.

And that got me thinking about something else. Matthew 6:28-29 says,

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Lilies are pretty flowers, but they are simple ones. When poets speak of superlative flowers, they usually go to the showy or fragrant ones like roses, birds of paradise, dahlias, and irises.

Not lilies.

Even in the botanical world, lilies are considered simple flowers in their structure and biology. But God chooses to clothe the grass (Matthew 6:30) with these humble lovelies!

Do you see a pattern here? In His great wisdom, God chooses the things that the world’s eyes would not choose in order to do His work.

What does that mean for us as moms?

“Humble” is not a bad word. A humble spirit is something the Lord desires in us. And humility is not the same as unimportant. Humility is lovely. It is desirable. It is God’s beautiful adornment on us.

Well, I am the first to say that motherhood can be a humbling experience. But I often thought of that in a negative way. There were days, especially when my children were younger, that I felt like a lily walking among women who were roses. I remember going grocery shopping with one child in the kid’s seat of the cart, another inside the cart, and others in tow. I would be scrambling up and down the aisles, trying to find the best purchases, gather my coupons, and get out of there as soon as possible so we could get back home and finish school for the day.

humility is lovely

Definitely. Not. Glamorous.

And we would walk by them: quiet, composed, perfect hair, and sipping on Starbucks as they slowly walked through the store. They were the roses and dahlias that made me feel unimportant.

But it wasn’t anything THEY actually did. It was MY incorrect perception of them (They were probably nice roses!). Yet their presence made me and my job as wife, mom, and homeschooler feel lesser, or in my mind: humble.

That is wrong. Humility is NOT the same as unimportant! The humble position of motherhood is anything but unimportant, too.

Consider the character of God. He chooses the humble and exalts them for His glory. He considers who you are and what you do to be a highly exalted thing. When we meet someone and they ask what we do, don’t mumble through your lips that you are “just” a mom.

God, in His wisdom, has chosen YOU to do the amazing work He has for you. So be that gorgeous lily and bloom to adorn those around you!

Faith, Bread, and Carbohydrates

Well, folks, I’m going to go there. This month’s theme is Faith, and one of the dearest verses to me in the Bible regarding faith is John 6:35:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”

What? Jesus is the bread of life? You mean bread is a good thing? Today, bread has been pretty demonized in all its gluteny goodness and its hip-growing carbohydrates. So why does Jesus refer to himself as bread? After all, he didn’t say He was the KALE of life.

Faith Bread and Carb

Thank goodness….

Anyway, why bread? Well, bread is life-giving. It fills us up and satisfies. Practically every culture on earth and throughout history has some type of bread as an inherent part of its diet. In fact, across nearly every race, country and religion, bread is seen as a peace offering. There are countless Biblical references to growing, processing, and baking wheat for bread, both leavened and unleavened. The ancient grains they used, along with the natural yeasts made bread easy to digest and almost a complete, balanced food in itself.

Now, the second part of that verse addresses our thirst. Water is the ultimate thirst quencher. Our bodies need water to live. It is the medium in which all our life-giving processes occur.

But we are never permanently filled with bread or water, are we? Physically, our bodies will always hunger and thirst for more in order to sustain us.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had performed two amazing miracles: feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. Because of the first miracle, the crowds were amazed and followed him. They wanted their bellies full. However, when they reached him, he further explained that there were two types of bread: perishable bread and eternal bread. They were asking for more perishable bread that would just leave them hungry again.

But Jesus went on to say in verses 47-50,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”

Jesus was trying to tell them that He is more than the world. We need to have faith in him. He did feed them perishable bread and fill their stomachs temporarily. Yet he did it in a way that transcended the way the world works. Through a miracle. He even showed the disciples that He goes beyond the natural laws that water follows as He walked out to their boat.

So one miracle had to do with bread and the other with water.

Do you see it? Jesus is the eternal bread and eternal water! We need to be seeking Him for that kind of filling. I know that on a day-to-day basis, particularly when I am overcome with all that I have to do, it is difficult to seek more than just the perishable bread of the day. Lord, just help me get through this moment. Help me find a parking place. Help me have the patience to teach that spelling list one. more. time.  I am living in the physical world and not seeing past it.

But that is where faith comes in.

faith hungers

We need to hunger for the eternal bread of Jesus! And we need to have faith in the life-giving water He is. He is eternal. He is life-giving. He fills us up and is the only way we can be satisfied.

Do you want that filling? I know I do. Frankly, I need to hunger for Jesus the same way my flesh hungers for that soft, delicious loaf of bread at the bakery. Yet even more. I need to have faith that Jesus can and will satisfy, and I need to daily seek Him for it.

Do you wake up hungry each morning? Hungry, I mean, for Jesus?

Read the entire chapter of John 6 and ask God for the faith to believe that Jesus can satisfy us! He is able! Come to Jesus…you will not hunger. Have faith in Jesus…you will not thirst.

Finding Joy in Dormancy

It’s the middle of March, and I am pretty sure those of you in the northern parts of the world are really looking forward to spring. I live in Florida, so I am actually LOVING this time of year, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s and very little humidity. Don’t get jealous…we southerners are bracing ourselves for the upcoming season of huddling inside during the extreme summer months, hiding in indoor air conditioning so we don’t blister and burn!

joy in dormancy

Yet in the “official” winter months, we do have trees that lose their leaves and plants that slow their growth, just like the rest of the North. Things turn brown and even look dead.

This is called dormancy. However, though plants look dead on the outside, there is much going on in the inside. That’s because times of dormancy are when internal growth is happening. The brown grass and barren trees are working inside to prepare for warmer spring weather. At just the right time, there will be a green and multicolor explosion of sprouts, buds, and glorious blooms!

Well, that poetic picture also can describe how we can go through spiritually dormant seasons. Those “winters” in our lives can make us feel like God is being silent. We feel stagnant and can’t see any progress. Life feels dark, cloudy, and cold. In fact, from the outside, we might even feel that we appear spiritually dead.

I have been there. Particularly during the repetition of training and educating my children. It seems never-ending with continual laundry (Will I EVER see the bottom of those hampers?), repetitive meal prep, and perpetual diaper changes. I cannot tell you how many times I had to teach the same math lesson over and over again to a little one who just wasn’t getting it. And don’t forget the discipline. Spoiler alert: My kids aren’t perfect.

I really didn’t feel like God was there in those dormant days. I was pretty sure there was no progress, whether it was in academics, character building, or even in my spiritual life. Morning quiet time? I had to laugh, or I would cry. There were many times when I questioned how I could do this wife/parent/Christian thing with joy.

Yet I eventually realized that it was during those very times that God was working in me. You see, He is always upholding us and desires to transform us to make us more like Him.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

God works in ways we don’t expect, but when we look at His Creation and how it works, it often gives us clues to His character. Just like dormant trees, we need lots of internal and spiritual changes to be prepared for what He has for us in the future. That’s because He has a plan for us, both in the immediate and even in the eternal.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

God focuses on building our inner character. So while I have served sick and dying parents, worked on building a marriage, and lived through financial challenges, sickness, and parenting — all of these required a level of spiritual strength that I didn’t initially have. I felt like I was walking through molasses…no progress, no joy. Just moving step by step, doing the next thing in front of me. Sometimes my heart felt empty. Dormant.

Can anyone else relate?

blossom with joy

There was no joyful song in my heart, but I would just keep moving on, doing something because I knew I should do it. Kind of like when we tell our children to eat their veggies because it is good for their bodies. They might not feel the benefits right away, but it is a good habit and in the long run will be helpful.

So during my dormant times, I would read my Bible like it was spiritual broccoli. It really didn’t make me feel energized, but I knew it was good for me. It was there inside my heart, ready for upcoming challenges. And during difficult times, I had those verses to hang onto. They brought strength and even joy. They helped me walk through trials with a courage I didn’t know I had.

Well, God has great plans for you! So if you’re not seeing progress and feel spiritually dormant, continue to move forward on the inside. Fill your mind and heart with His word. Build yourself up during those dormant times as a preparation for the spring bloom God has planned for you.

During those times you are like a dormant tree, standing firm, even though it appears dead on the outside. It is churning on the inside, building up its proteins and holding its nutrients so that it is ready to blossom at just the right time.
This process involves being consistent. Day-by-day doing the things that are set before you: making breakfast, quizzing spelling words, mopping floors.

It may not look exciting and may even be boring. But remember, God wants you to be fulfilled in Him and have joy! And He is doing this by working to transform you into a beautiful creation.

So as you look outside at those barren tree branches, be encouraged that growth is happening inside. As God works in His world, He is working in you so that you can also blossom with joy!

Rich, Sweet, Chocolatey Love

I remember hearing someone say that the 10 commandments are just like Hershey’s kisses. Well, THAT got my attention… chocolate always does!

What they really meant was that all the commandments in the Bible are just LOVE wrapped up in different colored foil wrappings – same thing on the inside, but different packaging on the outside. You see, if you truly love God, you’ll not take His name in vain. If you have love for your neighbor, you won’t covet anyone’s things. And you’ll certainly not kill them, will you?

That’s why Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment…and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Just like chocolate.

chocolate love

It’s all chocolate …just wrapped up in different scenarios.

OK. Well that makes it easy, right? Well, not so much.

Love is more

That’s because it’s hard to love others and sustain it. Real love is more than an emotion. It is something we purpose to do, regardless of what the other person does. Real love is selfless and sacrificial, not depending on what our spouse does for us, how our children behave, or how that guy in the car next to us drives.

Now, we get it when it comes to our family. When our children disobey us, we still love them. We may discipline them, there will be consequences to their behavior, and we might feel sad because of their disobedience. But we still love them. Why? Because love is not based on feeling happy.

Love is intentional. We have to purpose to love others. God pursued and purposed to love us (Jn. 3:16-17). And he did that even though we were not worthy, not lovable – Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Why does he love us when we don’t merit it? Well, we can see Jesus loving those who were outcasts or unlovable in the Bible: those with leprosy, the Samaritan woman, tax collectors, and even those who crucified him. It is because God purposes to love us and pursues us even when we are not worthy of it. Love is intentional.

Love is foolishness. Unconditional love does not make sense to the world. Yet it is the wisdom of God. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

God works through us broken believers to make it clear that the power to love lies with Him. We can love our spouses, our children, and others not because we are exceptionally wonderful people, but because we can trust that the Lord will enable us to love them. That brings Him glory! Indeed, love is foolishness to the world.

chocolate love

Now this can sometimes be hard, particularly when our children are struggling to obey while doing their chores (or while our teens are dealing with raging hormones). But success comes from allowing the love of the Lord to work THROUGH us. I am fallible, but He is strong. He gave me my children and my husband, and He desires me to call out to Him for the strength to love and serve them.

It is a daily thing. It is a humble thing. It can even be a difficult thing. But it can be the greatest action we can do.
Love lays down what I want and lifts others up. Love has no personal agenda, but serves those it purposes to serve. That is what I see my husband do for us day in and day out. Slowly and steadily. Going to work each day, fixing the broken dryer, teaching one of our children to drive…

Moms, when you go through the regular, day-to-day motions of wiping children’s noses, doing laundry, quizzing spelling words, and encouraging your husbands, you are exhibiting love.

Because love is not a feeling. It is selfless, intentional, and even foolish. But through God’s omniscient design, it is also rich, sweet, pleasing, and even refreshing!

Like chocolate.

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember love is rich, sweet, pleasing, and refreshing.
Be blessed!