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When I Live My Faith

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10

Jesus came searching for me!
Jesus came to save me!
It was part of His plan when He chose redemption for the world.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Love was written all over our Savior’s heart.
His compassion is unmatched.
Jesus did the ultimate in pouring out; He gave it all.

When I Live My Faith

This is the kind of love, compassion and sacrifice that I want to make sure my children place their faith in. This requires me to talk about my faith in God, believing who Jesus says He is, and how the Holy Spirit is our Helper and Counselor.

Our children are very receptive, and I’ve found that they develop an appetite for Jesus when we present the truth to them. When I live my faith for my children to see, they develop a yearning to know the Lord. They see our faith in action; how well we trust God. Once they develop a relationship with Jesus, they have just as much right to Him as we do as their parents. THAT is a great relief.  All of the burden isn’t on us to be their El Shaddai.

The Holy Spirit Will Guide Them

Now, our children still need earthly parenting. We must never be hands-off with that. But just think of the dynamic partnership that we’ll have with them and God.

When solving an issue with a child, I’m learning to incorporate this phrase, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
It’s God that brings the solutions. They see it for themselves, and it bolsters their faith.

Whenever we’ve needed to believe God for a prayer to be answered, it’s God’s word again to the rescue. We find a Scripture promise that supports what we’ve prayed for (this is praying God’s will). When the answer comes, the children get to rejoice because they experience it first hand. It bolsters their faith. This also aids in long-term remembrance of how God answered them.

living faith

I’ve even seen this carry over into a married adult child’s life. She recalled the times that God answered our prayers of faith when she was younger which gave her a foundation for how she needed to presently pray for herself.

Mom, we won’t always bat 1,000, but we’ll hit some when we swing. I learned that I couldn’t leave their faith up to chance. It made me more aware of my own faith in Jesus, and what I truly believed about Him. When I live my faith I gain experiential knowledge that carries our family closer to God.

We can start today by asking God to bolster (support, strengthen, prop up) our own faith so that we can continue to lead our children in faith.

Contagious Joy

Recently a flu-like virus was rampant in my home. It was horrendous. Starting on a typical Monday afternoon with a child slightly coughing and warm to the touch, it quickly turned into five of us down with high fevers, body aches, and all the other unpleasantries of flu.

I was simply amazed at how quickly it spread. This was obviously a very contagious virus. It took over the body of each person in its path, and it was unrelenting.

joy

Oh, how I wish the same for the contagious joy of Jesus! Too often, we look at something that is contagious as a bad thing, but let’s refocus our lens for a bit and think about how we can be contagious in our joy! Because if I could have something spread through my family as quickly as that flu, let it be for Jesus!

The Bible says,

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:2-3 (NIV)

We are filled with joy as a response to who God is and what He has done. When we look to the cross, we have joy. When we look to our Father’s love, we have joy. When we look to our eternity, we have joy. No matter what our circumstances, there is always joy in Jesus.

“My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you. – 1 Peter 4:12-14

In a world where sin and darkness and cynicism abound, and those things seem to spread like wildfire, let our joy be known among all. When those around us see our joy, they will naturally be attracted to it. Let that joy be spread to all those around us!

joy

Joy is a result of the Spirit at work in us.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Dear heavenly Father, fill us with your Spirit that produces joy. Let our joy spread through our homes, our communities, and our world. Let the joy that comes from knowing you, be evident in our lives, so that others may come to know you and the joy that comes from Jesus.

Amen.

Finding Joy in the Ordinary

Yesterday was a rather ordinary day in our home. My husband was at work, we had finished our morning work for homeschooling, and the kids were off playing. Joy.

The baby and I were living it up in the kitchen. He was happily watching me from his bouncer as I prepared mass quantities of food that would be gone too quickly and the dishes were piling up. I began to notice the happy chatter in the other rooms turning to bickering. And then the baby started fussing. 

finding joy

Sigh. Well, it was good while it lasted. 

I glanced at the clock and couldn’t help but wonder if, for the second time in human history, there was a battle going on somewhere and God had stopped the sun in the sky. Why in the world was time moving so slowly today? Why did I feel so tired? And why, suddenly, did the ordinary work of Mom and homemaker feel like a mountain to climb? 

Then it happened. That merciful and quiet voice that spoke to my heart the words I needed to hear: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

Oh. Right.

You see, I have been praying for joy in myself and in my family, and studying what the Bible says about it. Do you know what I found? I found that there is great joy in the mundane.

Do you struggle to find joy in the ordinary days? Do you get weighed down by the mundane? 

Whether you are overwhelmed with the hard repetition of mothering and being a keeper of the home, or are facing situations that are particularly challenging, I can tell you this with certainty: there is joy for you! 

As followers of Christ, our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. It comes from knowing  the Lord and His character – from abiding in Christ and the Word of God. 

The joy of Lord is a deep and unshakable joy in spite of our circumstances.  The more we know God and spend time with Him, the more we are transformed by the Holy Spirit. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, after all, and not something we just drum up on our own effort. 

His Joy

As we abide in Christ and spend time studying, meditating on, and praying the Word, the more we experience the joy that is HIS becoming our own. We abide, He transforms. We focus on Him, He fills us with His joy. 

So, thinking on these things, I scooped up the baby and headed off toward the escalating conflict. I took a deep breath and prayed “Lord give me wisdom and give us Your joy… and please help me remember where I put my coffee.”

As busy moms, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Remembering that He is present with us as we clean the floors and teach the math changes everything. Even more so: remembering that He asked us to do it! He takes great joy in being our Lord, our King, and our constant companion through the Holy Spirit. That joy – the joy of the Lord – that is our strength, dear ladies! 

May we abide in Christ and be transformed by the Spirit! In whatever mountain you are facing today, I pray that the joy of the Lord permeates your days and fills your heart as you dwell in His presence.

Loving Even When It’s Hard

There is a time in every relationship when it is easy to love someone else, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a spouse.  Loving another gets put to the test, when it is no longer about relying on the feeling of loving someone but loving someone in spite of how they make us feel. 

Loviing when it's hard

When, not if, you find yourself in this situation, remember a few things:

1. Believe that truth outweighs your feelings.

The devil loves to make us think our feelings are more valid than the truth.  He will fan the flame of our hurts and try to get us thinking that we are justified in how we feel.  Even if someone has deliberately hurt us and brought us to the brink of emotional turmoil, we should not let our feelings dictate our actions.

Christ says to pray for those who mistreat you, not to give them what they deserve.  Oh, if we received what we deserved, salvation and redemption would not even be available to us!

When those feelings of hurt overtake us and all we can see is their wrong, stop and pray for them.  Beg God to give you Jesus’ perspective and see that person through his eyes.  Ask him to soften your heart so that God can be glorified.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 6:27

2. React and talk to that person like you are dealing with one of God’s children.

I love the analogy that Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, used in a video series I watched several years ago.  It has forever stuck with me.  If you are having a moment of intense fellowship with your spouse (or someone else), picture Jesus standing right behind them.  Take a breath then continue talking to that person like you are talking to Jesus.

Well, the same should be true for the child of God standing in front of you.  S/he is created in God’s image and is precious in his sight…even when you feel hurt by him or her.  If we keep our focus on Jesus and act like we are speaking to him during these heated conversations, the end result will bring us closer to God and to each other.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right had, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:8

3. Remember love is an action word that is not dependent on others actions.

Ouch!  This is one of the hardest lessons for my kids…and myself to learn.  What about you?  How many times has this phrase (or something similar) flown out of our mouths:

“Just because someone treats you badly, doesn’t mean you should treat them badly.”

or

“Did you treat ___, like you would want to be treated?”

showing God's love

I, too, have to take that step back and remind myself that my love is dependent on God’s truth, which is everlasting and does not show favoritism.

Did you know we will show we are true children of God by showing our love to others, even when they mistreat us?  Just as God does! Remembering this when our emotions are high is vital.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45

Being a visual person, 1 Corinthians 13 always helps me to see where my love needs more action and truth and less feeling.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,
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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Prayer to take Loving Action

Is there something in this list that runs counter to your feelings.  If so, take some time to pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to help strengthen your heart in truth instead of these feelings.

Oh, how amazingly patient you are with us, Lord.  Your love and grace are truly astounding.  With humble hearts, knowing that we are not perfect,we ask that you show us where we can love more and rely on our feelings less.  We thank you for being merciful with us as we mature in our relationship with you and seek your wisdom and truth above the wisdom of this age that tries to trigger our emotions into action.  May we stand on your truth and share your love with all we come in contact with.   In the One who is the living example of true love – Amen!

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 God causes the sun to rise…and He loves you!
Be blessed! 

My Junk Drawer

my junk drawer

A dried up glue stick
One chopstick
A used band aid
Half of an eraser
15 pennies
An empty chocolate wrapper
An unused tea bag
An unsharpened pencil
One envelope
A small spring
Post-its
A comb
Lots of crumbs
Several pieces of chalk
A package of ketchup
A plastic fork
A ball of twine
An empty Chapstick
Two small tubes of lotion, both empty

 

The official Carman Family junk drawer is in the kitchen. It is supposed to have handy writing utensils, a post-it pad, some scissors-yeah, right-some tape, maybe a Sharpie, you get it, miscellaneous stuff. But those things are not usually in there.

It’s supposed to be a place we can go to quickly to grab some essential tool to complete a task. It’s not supposed to be hard to open. It is. It’s not supposed to be filled with trash. It is. It’s not supposed to constantly be disorganized. But it is.

It’s supposed to be neat, clean and handy.

Instead in our junk drawer contains things that should be in the trash. Why do we even bother to open the drawer and put these things in? The trash can is right beside it. Why do we stuff the drawer full? Why do we avoid cleaning it out? Why do we put it off till we can’t close it out anymore?? Why do we hope someone else will do it and we won’t have to?

Our family junk drawer is like my heart, my mind. It’s supposed to be a place where useful and helpful truths are stored. It’s supposed to be neat and clean. It’s supposed to be full of God’s love and His praise. It’s supposed to be easily opened not jammed shut. But it isn’t.

Often my heart and my mind are full of trash, things that are polluting my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I have stuff there, I put stuff there that contaminates me. Instead of being pure in word and deed, my thoughts and my heart become trashed.

This happens when I don’t practice discernment about what I put in. When I just allow whatever to enter into my mind–whatever music, whatever television show, whatever movie, whatever book, whatever whatever. When “whatever” sets my standard, I’ve chosen to passively poison my heart and mind with junk, useless, broken, worthless junk that needs to be in the trash.

Capitol One currently has a successful advertising campaign featuring Samuel L Jackson who simply asks, “What’s in your wallet?” For many, bank accounts, credit limits and other financial assets are what’s most important. But Scripture tells us, it’s a heart issue.

God asks, “What’s in your heart?”

guard heart

Junk Does

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. My junk hinders me. Junk does that. It gets in the way of our ability to function. It inhibits our focus and often frustrates us too. I can’t find a sharpened pencil in the drawer for all of the broken ones there, can’t find a clean piece of paper for all of the wadded ones, can’t find a piece of tape for all of the empty rolls.

The last time I cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer, I determined to pause before I put anything it. I decided to resist the urge to just stuff something in, to avoid thinking it doesn’t matter, to throw away trash. So far, so much better.

Now, about my heart. Scripture admonishes me to “guard my heart”. To store up for myself “treasures in Heaven”, to “love the Lord with all of my heart”, and in doing these things, there’s not any room left for junk.

The best way to guard my heart is to be intentional about what I allow in it, to actively resist allowing junk in. Storing up treasures in Heaven is best achieved by filling my heart with His truth and serving others. And loving the Lord starts with how we live each day, acknowledging and worshiping Him in all we say and do.

Do you have a junk drawer or closet or garage that you are putting off cleaning out? Why are you avoiding the task? Make an appointment with yourself to get it done. What about your heart? Is it overflowing with the love of God or is it crammed with junk? Make of list of things that need to be cleaned out.

Take some time now to pray and praise Him, this is the first step to cleaning out your heart.

 

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…make a plan for actively guarding your heart and keeping the junk out.
Be blessed! 

Praise God for His Steadfast Love!

For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!Psalm 117:2

 

It’s February. Write about love. Great.

I’m perfectly happy to write about loving God, loving your family, loving your neighbor as yourself. But think about love in February, and romantic love is the first thing that springs to mind. And I can think of at least 3,497 topics a single mom would rather write about than romantic love.

Back at the turn of the millennium, I was a typical homeschooling mom, married with four sons under age nine. When my husband left us in early 2001 to live with another woman, I was shocked, angry, and scared. How could this happen to ME?

I was embarrassed to be divorced. I felt as if a scarlet D were fastened firmly to my dress. Mostly I felt rejected. Being unloved quickly shifts into feeling unlovable.

 

God's love never changes

But our lovableness—our worth, our value—does not come from man. It comes from God, who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to save us (John 3:16). THAT is love!

I searched the Bible for the word love, and it shows up 551 times in the English Standard Version. That was no surprise. What really grabbed my attention was the frequent appearance of the word steadfast to describe God’s love. In fact, the phrase steadfast love shows up 194 times!

Other translations describe steadfast love as lovingkindness or unfailing love. The dictionary defines steadfast as “firmly fixed in place; immovable; not subject to change.” How wonderfully reassuring! God’s love for us is firmly fixed, immovable, not subject to change.

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.Isaiah 54:10

In this fallen world, human love often changes or ends. But God’s love never changes and never ends.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!I Chronicles 16:34

When people fail you, remember that God is always faithful. When you feel unloved, rest in God’s steadfast, unfailing love!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

steadfast love

Like the Psalmist, may we praise God for His steadfast love!

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

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. His steadfast love never changes.
Be blessed! 

Slowing Down Long Enough to Love

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14

Bible study was in a half hour and I was rushing the kids through getting ready. Coats, hats, Bibles, waters, diaper bag, purse, sanity, check! As often happens with 6 kids and a need to get somewhere, somebody started crying. Tear-filled eyes met my own and my daughter said “Mommy, I’m having big feelings.” 

Sigh.  

slowing down

I was running late getting dinner put together (again), the baby was fussing, and the to-do list in my head was out of control. Then the phone rang. It was a good friend who had had a hard day and was reaching out for the first time in a long time.

Breathe.

The day was over and I. was. done. Choosing to ignore the dishes for the next hour I sat down to rest (sort of) while getting some planning and curriculum research done. My husband walked in the door and sat down, obviously having had a rough day.

Pause.

These are common scenes in my life. I’m betting they are in yours as well. Yes, the day still needs to get done, the to-do list still needs our attention, and the dinner still (always) needs to be made. And sometimes a busy mama needs to rest! But when these little opportunities arise, we have a choice to make.

Will we slow down enough to love? 

 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind…” The Father is fully present and attentive each and every moment. His patience and kindness surrounds us. When we hear that still, small voice to hit the pause button and attend to love on His behalf, will we heed it? When the opportunity to bless our neighbors and have compassion on our loved ones arises, will we take it?

I confess, too often I just barrel through and miss the chance.

Sometimes loving others is just a small, simple sacrifice of time and attention. They may seem insignificant, but when they are intentional and consistent, they are powerful, forming heart strings that cannot be broken and changing us into the gentle, joyful mom we long to be.

attend to love

In Matthew 14, Jesus hears that John the Baptist, who was so dear to Him, had been killed. He withdraws to a “desolate place” to be by himself. Can you imagine the grief? Can you imagine the emotional exhaustion? He goes away to be alone and seek His Father. Yet when the crowds follow Him in desperation, does He send them away? Does He say He’s busy? Does He say “can’t I get 10 minutes alone?!” No. He has compassion on them and cares for their needs.

Maybe you feel like you have a crowd following you all over the place, too! Maybe you just want 10 minutes alone in the bathroom, for crying out loud (that’s what the lock is for, I always say). You have things to do. You are busy. Let me tell you, I completely relate! However, the Lord is teaching me how to slow down long enough to love.

Jesus is our example. When crowds pressed in He slowed down to love the woman who touched His robe. When surrounded by His disciples He slowed down to heal the Canaanite woman’s daughter. When He just wanted a few minutes alone to grieve and pray, He had compassion on the crowds and cared for their needs.

Jesus knows. He has experienced the same trials and temptations we have. We are not alone!  And thanks be to God, He doesn’t shake His finger at us and say “you aren’t loving enough!” Instead, He gives us His love so that with it we may better love others. He empowers us by the Holy Spirit to love others with the love of Christ! 

Dear ladies, let us pause when we hear that small voice telling us to slow down to love. May we seize those moments every day and overflow with the love of Christ!

 

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. You are loved.
Be blessed! 

Ordinary Love

“I knew motherhood was going to be hard sometimes, but no one told me how mundane it would be.”   Our married daughter, who is in the midst of raising a toddler and a baby, was sharing her struggles in this season of motherhood. Now mind you, she is the oldest of 8 kids, so she has experienced the baby stage all the way through high school as she watched each of her siblings join our family and grow up over the years. She’s familiar with motherhood.

Somehow when YOU’RE the mom, though, it’s so much different.  You feel the full weight of responsibility for everything concerning your children.  It can feel like a daunting task…and yes, often very mundane.  Sometimes you feel like you may just lose your marbles.

ordinary love

Somewhere in the diapers, potty training, eating, sleeping, and cleaning up, over and over and over again you feel like you have lost yourself.  Remember her?  She was cute and fun and energetic and full of ideas and now the highlight of her day is to be able to pee alone.  She was romantic and flirty with her husband, but now she is more attracted to him than ever when he volunteers to change a poopy diaper, brings home dinner or does the dishes.

Ordinary Love

I’m not gonna lie.  Motherhood is NOT for the faint hearted.  But what if I told you that the most mundane things you do actually COUNT for something?  What if I told you that every small (and big) act of kindness and service you give to your family is an act of LOVE that matters to God?

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’

 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”  

God loves and values children.  

He knew that our children would be a humbling example to US in so many ways.  Kids are honest, they are loyal, they are loving and they call things as they see them.  Yes, they have a sin nature that we have to frequently address, because that’s what good, godly parents are called to do (Proverbs 13:24), but overall children are unpretentious, full of wonder, trusting and, for lack of a better term, organic in so many ways.  They represent the opposite of what the world calls GREAT…they are helpless and vulnerable and yet Jesus calls this good and encourages us to come to Him LIKE a child and to embrace and love these children right here, right now as though they were him.

Luke 9:46-48 says:

“Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest.  But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side.  Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest’.”

Did you catch that? “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me.”  Another translation reads, “If you do this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.”  Every act of motherhood can be a sweet sacrifice to God as though Jesus were in the room and we were serving Him personally! Changing diapers, giving hugs, kissing owies, fixing meals, doing laundry, dishes…all of these are ways to LOVE HIM!  

Many of the greatest acts of love are the ones that no one sees…and we all know that motherhood is FULL of those!  Those secret, ordinary love sacrifices we make are a sweet aroma to God and are holy in His sight.  It’s a special something we share just between God and us.  

coloring page - love

We can love because He first loved us.

Be encouraged.  We can love because NOTHING ever separates us from HIS love…not sick babies, stubborn toddlers, difficult teens, mountains of laundry, a boatload of dirty dishes, or a never ending to-do list:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

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 dwell on the truth that every loving act of motherhood, no matter how ordinary, is, indeed, a sweet act of service to the Lord. Be blessed! 

The Orange Juice Will Keep

I found myself reflecting, recently, on the immeasurable depths of God’s love. In 2006 I penned these thoughts in my journal. With a tender heart I gained new appreciation for the beautiful love the Father has for us, His wayward children. I hope these thoughts bless you as we begin our month-long look at this precious love. 

It’s happening again.

I had just changed Ben. It had been a doozie. And with it packaged and disposed of, I just wanted to hold my little boy. I just wanted to remember back to when he was just a little wad, less than ten pounds. Back to when we would snuggle and nurse. Back to when sleep was elusive, but the midnight feeding was more precious even than rest. Back to when he lived on my breast or hip, when he totally depended on me, when I was his world.

That is no longer true. No, now he weighs twenty-five pounds and gaining. He loves to run and jump and play. He drinks from a cup, feeds himself and sleeps through the night. And I miss his dependency on me.

So as strange as it might sound, I am not too anxious for him to be out of diapers. I mean I am but I’m not. I am for the obvious reasons, but I’m not because I love talking with him in the process and hug that follows.

Just a couple of days ago, when I had finished changing him, I picked him up and turned out the light in the laundry room. I wanted to hug him, just to snuggle with him for a minute.

orange juice will keep

But he was squirming. “I want some orange juice,” he said.

“Okay,” I replied, “Lets just cuddle for a moment.” And I pulled him close.

But he wasn’t interested. He put both hands on my chest and said, “I want some orange juice!”

“In a minute, let’s just be quiet for a moment.”

Reluctantly, he put his head on my shoulder and then popped it back up. Thoughtfully he told me, “It’s in the ‘frigerator,” as if I did not know.

“I know,” I said as I slowly rocked him back and forth to the Mozart in the background. But he wasn’t falling for it. He was singularly focused on orange juice. He did not want to snuggle, didn’t appreciate my memories of his infancy, and couldn’t imagine the depth of my love for him. He just couldn’t. He didn’t even try.

Do You Get it?

As I stood there hurt by this realization, that my moment with my little boy, inhaling his scent, rubbing his head, enveloping his little body in my arms, was going to be interrupted by something as trivial as physical thirst and a desire for orange juice over a hug with me, I got it. Do you see it?

I am baby Benjamin. I want God to take care of my stinkies, but then I want to run off and play. I want Him to get me some OJ, without the hug. I want to tell Him exactly what I want and where He can find it, and I want Him to get it for me now. I don’t want to wait, not even to pause. I am not particularly interested in waiting even a little bit for Him to fulfill my request.

Snuggle? In the darkness? Couldn’t we do that later, like after He gets me the OJ? And the part about being quiet together…why? Listen to what? The dryer run? The birds sing? The train in the distance? His heart beat?

Yes, His heart beat.

Just Listen

I am convinced that far too often we know what we want, where it is and we know Who can get it for us. And we are more interested in getting it, than getting Him. We even sometimes rudely tell Him what He can do for us, as if He hasn’t already done enough. I mean after all, wasn’t the sacrifice of His Son enough? Forgiveness of sin, debt paid, mercy extended enough? But there’s so much more.

Grace.

The gift of heaven.

Forever with Him.

God's Love

His Love

And here is where we miss it. At least where I miss it. We want to put off those hugs with our heavenly Father until eternity. He wants to start now. But why wait? He wants to hold us in His arms and rock, just the two of us, He wants us to be so quiet that we can hear His heart beat as our head rests on His chest. But we put Him off, content for someday when He wants to get started today.

I had to sit Benjamin down on the island of the kitchen to retrieve his juice from the refrigerator, right where he said it was. And He was grateful- complete with a juicy ‘thank you’. But I had wanted to give Ben more than something, I had wanted to linger with him, just to be with him, unencumbered by any thing.

And so does my heavenly Father. He wants more from our relationship than to merely act as my personal cosmic genie, who grants my every wish or whim. He wants for me to be satisfied with just being with Him, resting in Him, trusting Him completely.

He wants me to be more interested in the love in His eyes than the gift in His hand.

He wants me to listen for and hear the beat of His heart and ultimately for our hearts to beat as one.

Does this all mean that He is uninterested in hearing about what I want or need? No, of course not. Just like I appreciate it when Benjamin, or any of my kids, makes me aware of their desires, God likes to hear from me too. That is the kind of relationship He wants, the kind of relationship where we are in constant communication about everything.

The Catch

But just like I don’t mind knowing or even fulfilling (as appropriate) Benjamin’s desire for some OJ, I would hope that as he grows up and matures, he would come to appreciate our relationship more than stuff. So does my heavenly Father. All too often I am asking Him for things that I should have out grown, the “stuff”, instead of requesting the character qualities first exemplified in His Son, the One to whom I am to be conformed.

Still He Loves

Right now my husband Davis needs a job. We have bills to pay like everyone else. We need health insurance. We need to be putting money away for college. And the good news is that our heavenly Father knows all of that, even before we ask. He knows. In fact He knew all of this would go down and we would be here.

That we would bring our needs to Him is not calling His attention to them, but rather submitting them to His good and perfect will.

I know that what He wants from us now is that we would linger in His arms, head on His chest, listening for His heart. He wants us to relax and not panic knowing that He knows, cares and is in control. He wants us to focus on getting to know Him more intimately, to gaze into His eyes. Just love.

The orange juice will keep….

 

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 dwell on the truth that what He wants, truly and verily, is that you would simply linger in His arms and listen for His heart. Be blessed! 

Resolutions on Repeat

Let’s talk about all those repeating New Year’s resolutions. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Every year I get to the New Year, excited to make a new start and then look at the list from last year and just sigh. So many of the things I put on my list remain undone.

It’s really important to take an honest look at this whole New Year’s resolution thing. For some of us it’s exciting and we’re just thrilled and motivated to have a new blank sheet of paper or a new blank calendar so we can try again with a clean slate. But some of us lean into discouragement, and we’re like “Ugh, I don’t want to do that again, I failed, I failed, I failed, I failed, I failed.”

Resolutions on Repeat

Before we go any further, I just want to affirm one thing: all of us are failures.

All of us have put things on our New Year’s resolutions that we haven’t gotten done. Anyone who tells you that they got all of it done exactly how they wanted is really not being honest. I have never known anyone who got done everything they wanted to do.

So I think we need to give each other a really big hug and embrace the fact that we’re all not getting it all done.

That’s not the point

Writing all. the. things. on a New Year’s resolution list just to go and do them all is REALLY not the point. Instead I want to suggest to you, and I really want to encourage you today that the point, of doing the New Year’s resolutions is to set a focus so that we can aim at something.

I happen to travel a fair amount, God offers me different opportunities to speak across the country or around the world and I have children and extended family that are pretty scattered across the country so I get to go visit. When I get on an airplane, I know that pilot has a  a flight plan. I know he is going to follow that plan to deliver me from point A to point B. You can rest assured that I would not get on a plane with a pilot that’s just going to go for a fly that day and was hoping that I would come along for the ride… No. I wouldn’t do that, I want to get on a plane with a pilot that not only knows where he’s going, but has a plan to arrive there.

Like a pilot, I realize that in life it’s important to have that plan, and to be headed in a direction.

The primary direction that we should be headed in is to honor God in all that we say and do.

We need to make sure that we’re focusing on Him. And it would behoove us to plan a few steps along the way that will help us achieve this.

I want you to realize that I’m not coming at this as someone who does it perfectly AT ALL. I’m not coming at this as someone who accomplishes it all, in fact some years are much better than others. Some years, I can look at my list and think “Wow, I’ve really gotten a lot done” and other years I look at the list and go “I didn’t do any of that” and the reasons I don’t get them done are the same reasons you don’t get them done.

Life happens.

Sometimes life interrupts the best laid plans, or we get distracted and allow other things to come in and shift our focus. But in either instance I want to encourage you to not take those momentary failures as an excuse not to sit and make your list of New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I want you to take a fresh approach.  

This year, prayerfully seek God as you lay out what you will focus on.

I thought this list from Neilson was interesting and I want to share it because I think you’ll probably relate to these top ten resolutions for New Year’s.

  1. Stay fit and be healthy
    Most everyone wants to put something like this on their New Year’s resolutions. We want to do better than last year. I find it funny that we write New Year’s resolutions right after the holidays and get tempted by all of those sweets that are still hanging around the house. Of course I’m going to put eat healthy on the top of my list! For the last month I have
    not been doing that. So that’s at the top of 30% of people’s New Year’s resolutions lists.
  2. Lose weight
    Of course we want to look better and stay fit and trim. But I would suggest that it’s not always the physical weight we need to lose, but the stuff of life, I think we all have those responsibilities that we’ve taken on that God would not ordain but we went ahead of him and took it on anyway. Or maybe it’s the stuff that clutters our minds and our houses that’s the weight that we need to lose this year. Take an honest look at your own life, is there something you need to shed?
  3. Enjoy life to the fullest
    This one really resonated with me even though I had already written my New Year’s resolutions for this year. B
    ecause so many of us, myself included, get caught up in the doing, that we miss simply being and enjoying those moments that God puts out in front of us every day.
  4. Spend less, save more
    I would have added at the side of this one to
    Give more. Not just financially, but give more of ourselves to the people around us and not give as much to the computer or our digital lives.  
  5. Spend more time with family and friends
    Oh how I would encourage you to do this. This is actually one of the things that I want to do more. This year I have resolved to spend more actual face time with my people. I really hope that in this new year that you and I will take time to be with real people in real time including our husband, children, and friends.
  6. Get organized
    Well my good friend Kristi Clover can help you with this one because this is not my forte. I really do strive to be more organized and file more, my file pile is about 3 inches tall and I’m hoping to get it down to nothing. We can do this!
  7. Learn something new or have a new hobby
    This year I have resolved that I want to become more in touch with my artistic side. I have a son that’s in art school and I just love what he is able to create and I have another one who’s an artist and my daughters write beautifully and I just really want to take time to slow down to take some time to step away from the computer screen and be a little more artistic this year.
  8. Travel more
    I just want to enjoy staying and being around town here in Charlotte. I travel a lot to the airport and I love to be home but we’re actually going to be doing some fun things in our area this year and I’m really looking forward to that.
  9. Read more
    If you’ve been around here for a while you know I am passionate about reading. I recently read some statistics on the amount of people that read and I was actually really disappointed that so very few people actually read after they graduate high school and even less after they graduate from college. That’s so sad to me to know that so few of us are growing our minds by reading. I’m working on a post to share soon that’s my reading list for this year and I really want to encourage you to be growing your mind through reading. One of the books on my list is Love God with All Your Mind by J.P Morlin. He advocates the importance of Christians to be reading across the disciplines to become better people and better advocates for the faith.

There’s more to it

That was a great look at the popular resolutions, and there are really are some important things on that list. But I want to challenge you to take it a little further. I have another list for you.

I want to encourage you to dare to dream.

Sometimes resolutions feel like just a dream that we dare to put on a list. But really, that’s exactly what a resolution is.

What could we dare to dream what we could accomplish by the end of this year with the strength of God.

“The world is yet to see what God can do with a man or a woman fully consecrated to him.” – D.L. Moody

That takes dreaming, friends! What has the Lord put on your mind this year? To change, or to be, or to start. Spend some time listening for a word or two from Him in this area of resolutions.

I also want you to dare to attempt. 

It’s really easy for us to want our kids to do great things for God. But mom, what about you? What amazing things are you going to attempt?

For my fiftieth birthday this last October I actually went and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. And while that’s not for everybody, one of the reasons that I did it is that I want to do hard and daring things so that I can continue to inspire and motivate my children to do hard and challenging things.

We need to attempt because it’s in the attempting and in the dreaming is where we find that we’re daring to fail.

There’s a really great movie called “Meet the Robinsons”, it’s a very unique view on how a family deals with failure. Believe it or not, in this movie the family actually celebrated failure. If we’re going to dare to dream this year and if we’re going to risk and attempt we’re probably going to fail, and how we model failure to our children is going to be really important.

I think often we start cutting back on the things that we want to risk, but I really believe that we have an amazing opportunity to continue to risk, to attempt, to dream, and yes fail. And in all of that, we have the blessed opportunity to navigate failure in a beautiful, God honoring way.

I want to dare you to grow. 

Grow in the spiritual roots that are laid out Galatians five. Dare to grow in the fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. Look at that list! Where are your strengths where are your weaknesses? Would you dare with me this year to grow your weaknesses and your strengths?

Be free

Submit to him and live intentionally

I know all this talk of lists and change and growing and daring can be overwhelming. But trust me friends, it’s not meant to be.

Scripture is heavily laden with pointing us to living intentionally.

 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who believe in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

If you are feeling down and discouraged and even under condemnation from the enemy because of your past failures, scripture clearly says that is not of God. Rather, His grace is sufficient in our weakness. You are free.

It’s hard for me, a recovering perfectionist, to admit that I didn’t get it all done last year. But by the strength of God alone I can face 2017 and write some of the same things I wrote last year and go forward with the strength that comes from God alone.  that is what he calls us to.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed” Joshua 1:4

Go forward in God’s strength and look forward to what He’s going to do through you as you submit to Him and live intentionally.

Write it down one more time, and let’s trust Him to work through the list this year.

RachaelCarman.com