life

My Faith Grew

It’s been two months since I sat in that hospital bed and my faith grew.

Over the time-span of one year our family had been turned upside down and inside out. My health had declined due to pain and medication (for the pain I had been enduring). At the same time, a financial hardship had fallen on us.

It did not make sense (financially) for me to be in a hospital bed. It did not make sense that I had surgery on my spine by a neurosurgeon I had just met.

My faith grew

Faith

But, it did make sense that God had orchestrated the 24 hours that changed my entire perspective on life and my faith grew.

  • While I had spent the past year praying for God to
    • take my pain away, he had not done so
    • end our financial problems, he had not done so
  • While I had attempted to return to work and help resolve our problems, I had been unable to…

Every path we had taken seemed to lead to a dead end. But Faith woke us up every morning to a new day.

Persevere

God… gave me faith to persevere, just as he had given it to Jesus the night he fell to his face three times and begged for the cup to be taken…

And in his weakest most difficult moment, Jesus said “Not my will, but yours be done.”

For so long, I have wanted to really show my children what it’s like to live in this world without being of it. I’ve wanted to give them an example of a Mother who holds onto the faith given to her by a loving Father.  I’ve wanted to show them that everything around them is only here for us to use for His glory…

That is what I wanted and that is exactly what the Lord has provided.

He gave me the gift of faith. The gift of faith has given me the ability to persevere through some dark moments. It is easy to say “you’ll make it through and God is with you…” But you really can’t say that until you have walked a road that is similar to one another person has travelled on.

grow faith

Faith Grew

God has given me this journey, to grow my faith for his glory. I know that.  I also know he has given me this beautiful gift because you might need someone to sit and say:

“Mama, you are NOT alone. My road is similar. There will be days when you just can’t stand or walk because the pain (physical or emotional) is too much… but you are NOT alone and God is with you. He has not abandoned you, nor has HE forsaken you. Just hold on and let go. Hold on to his hand and let go of the idea that you can control this.  Just let him love you and give you an amazing gift of faith that He can’t give you in any other way….”

 

Faith as a Mustard Seed

I’m #NotAFan of processed mustard. In fact, I hate the stuff. I can’t even stand it if it’s on my plate or near anything that I’m about to consume and I cringe when I serve it to my husband and my boys. For years, I had a hard time processing the parable of the mustard seed because of my distaste of the processed condiment.

But in the many verses where Jesus talks about a mustard seed, he’s giving us so much more than a condiment. His words are delivering some of the meatiest bread of life through scripture! Because of my dislike of mustard- yellow, Dijon, brown, honey, spicy, any kind you can imagine- Jesus’ choice of seed description has always fascinated me. Why mustard seeds, Lord, why not marigold, dill, orchid, or even carrot for that matter?

“Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20  NIV

faith mustard seed

When I was a little girl, my mom gave me a little necklace that had a little round mustard seed inside of a square glass casing. It was kind of like a locket that was always visible in a window but didn’t open. I never really thought about that necklace again until this month, when my nine-year-old miracle son Luke started helping in the garden.

Luke loves being out there with daddy, elbow deep in the dirt, sowing tiny seeds and collecting the fruits and flowers of his labor. He also wants to take after mom and big brother and have a website. He’s decided he wants to sell his garden herbs, flowers and seeds to give the money to kids in need. The thought, feel, sounds and scents and work to get to the abundance of a garden and these heirloom seeds have led me to contemplate that mustard seed story again. (We have a ton of beautiful dill growing in the garden. Not a fan of dill, either, but wow are the dill plants gorgeous- and HUGE!)

Deeper roots of faith are becoming deeper rooted in my heart through the work of a nine-year-old sower and my husband. The thought that one plant, and all of its collective one seeds- can produce thousands of new plants, even without work from us at times, it quite frankly miraculous.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:6 NIV

But, Jesus, why mustard? I did some digging. In Bible times, the Palestinian farmers whom Jesus was surely addressing when He talked about mustard would have highly valued this crop. They likely sowed it in their fields for its edible green leaves (kind of like chard) and it also propagated itself by the winds. Its flowers would have been key for pollenating and attracting bees, which then produced sweet honey.

Have you ever seen a field of mustard growing? It’s astonishing. On one of our adventures to Napa Valley, one of the premier wine regions in the world, I had a life-changing encounter with mustard.  Another reason for this crop’s immense value was revealed to me.

Mustard growing in Napa Valley

I could hardly breathe the pollen from the mustard was so intense. I don’t typically suffer from allergies but the pollen was so intense I was sneezing, itching with burning eyes. Yet I spent hours just thinking, sitting and praying in fields of mustard. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the scene, even beyond my sneezing itchy watery eyes.

You see, in the vineyards, mustard is a crucial part of growing a great crop. The farmers are so thankful for the mustard that  acts as a cover crop to protect the grounds in between their main crop to produce the years best fruit. We know ancient farmers also grew grapes. Could it be that part of Jesus’ reference to mustard was also because it abides in the vine?

It really hit me – if Jesus is the vine and we are the branches,  abiding in him to bear fruit – the mustard is also a literal representation of that. The mustard (our mountain-moving faith) is alive while abiding in the vines, between the branches! The branches of the vines thrive with these fields of mustard. The best fruit of the valuable grape harvest is produced by having a symbiotic relationship with essentially, the mustard weed. Our faith.

Isn’t that just like our faith sometimes – full of so many weeds – things that we can’t even stand the taste of, like my dislike of the mustard. If we’re honest, don’t we have bitter places in our faith? But yet, even with a tiny seed of faith,  we are hanging out as covering for others, even if we may not know it, allowing our surroundings to produce the best fruit. That’s radical grace. And oh, Jesus, I’m so grateful!

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19, NIV  & also Matthew 13: 31-32 & Mark 4: 30-31

I think that’s why Jesus use the illustration of the mustard and our faith. Come on, friends. The mustard seed parable is in the Word THREE times, so it will really sink in! Let’s continue to grow deeper roots that abide in Him and even blossom between Him, ultimately producing the best fruit.

faith mustard seed

It even makes me wonder why we all have such different tastes, and how vast our God is to create even our preferences differently. We don’t all like the same things, whether that’s food, music, art, nature scenes or even versions of the translated Word of God. Maybe, just maybe, things that seem bitter, or so tiny, to us may in fact become huge blessings to ourselves and to others through this amazing Kingdom of God where we reside when we abide.

There’s so much depth in comparisons to nature in the Bible, including the mustard seed. The deeper we dig, the more rooted in faith we become. I pray your journey takes you to new and profound depths, perhaps even to a field of mustard, and allows you to be a covering to many by your mountain-moving faith.

Stepping out in Faith

I am not a risk taker. I don’t go searching for adventure. I like to have a very detailed plan and a backup plan. I find comfort in not having to guess about anything. I want to know exactly what I need to do to get from point A to point B.

God doesn’t always work like that.

In my experience God just says go or do.

I want to be obedient to His calling on my life. I want to serve and be a blessing to many people. But I also wants to know all the details. I have a hard time taking that first step when I don’t know the end game.

Stepping out in Faith

This season has been a lot of me learning the value in stepping out on faith. This is good. 

I feel like I’ve been standing on a the edge of the cliff waiting for God to do something wonderful in my life.  Over the past year there have been times when He has given me clear and specific directions to follow. But the closer that I get to the edge of the cliff the less of the plan He chooses to share.

Honestly that has caused a lot of fear and anxiety. I’m worried that I have misheard His directions. I’m worried about failing. I’m worried about making a mistake.  I’m afraid that if I take that step off the cliff I’m going to fall.

I’m having a crisis of faith.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT

I definitely believe that God is going to fulfill every promise that He has given to me. I know that He is able. But I have been struggling with those things that I can’t see. My human eyes are having a hard time catching up with my spiritual eyes.

LaToya Edwards - Faith

I have to remind myself that God’s ways are not my ways. And that if I could figure out the way to victory on my own I wouldn’t need Him.  That’s where trust and surrender come in.  Those are two keys to blind faith in God.

So I keep walking, one baby step at a time towards the voice of my Heavenly Father. He simply says “Come, my daughter”.   I know that like Peter, as long as I keep my eyes on the Lord I will be safe.  And I also know that if I fall He will be right there to catch me. Stepping out on faith is a blessed thing.

If God has promised you something, hold onto His word. Trust that He knows the way even when you can’t see it. Take that leap of faith knowing that you will be safe in His loving arms.

When Faith is Hard to Come By

Faith can sometimes be hard to come by. It’s hard to have faith when our prayers seem to go unanswered. When our children suffer from long term illness that God doesn’t heal. When we don’t understand why.

The truth is that I used to call my own faith into question when God didn’t heal my daughter of autism. It truly shook my faith and made me question God and His goodness. I simply (honestly) didn’t understand why God would choose not to heal her of her suffering.

When Faith is Hard to Come By

Over the years, though, I’ve learned some things about God and our faith. And while I’m certainly no expert, I’ll share with you my thoughts.

Thoughts on Faith

  1. God knows better than we do. We can rest assured that, no matter what we think is best, God knows what’s best for each of us. Even though we honestly, sincerely believe what we want is good (even best) in a particular situation, only God truly knows best.
  2. Is it really faith if we only trust God when things go our way? You know, it’s easy to get along with people when they do what we want them to do, isn’t it? It’s easy to love our children, get along with our spouses or co-workers, and have faith in God when things are going along nicely for us. What isn’t so easy, though, is believing in God’s love and goodness when He doesn’t do what we want Him to do. Yet if we truly do have faith in God, we must have it whether or not we understand or agree with God’s plan for our lives.
  3. God’s grace is sufficient in all circumstances. Paul asked God to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” In fact, he said he pleaded with God three times to remove it. Yet God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” So how did Paul respond? This way: “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  4. If we knew God’s plans for us, then faith wouldn’t be required. If things always went along as we wanted them to, according to our own plans, we might easily begin to think that we have everything under control and that we don’t need God in our lives.

Choose to Have Faith

Choose Faith

I have to be honest and say that, if God were willing, I would have Him heal my daughter right now. However, I can also honestly say that my faith in God does not depend on His healing her. I choose to have faith in God and to believe in His goodness and His perfect plan for my daughter’s life whether or not He heals her. I choose to have faith.

How Rooted in Faith are You?

Faith is a gift given that must be nurtured.  Without proper nourishment, our faith will never be rooted deep enough to withstand what the devil throws at us.

Since the devil’s main objective is to rid us of our faith and destroy us for eternity, we would do well to focus on growing our faith and making sure it is properly rooted.

Rooted in Faith

To grow our faith properly we need to know on what kind of soil our “seed of faith” has landed, move it if necessary, then prepare and cultivate that soil for the seed to take root properly and grow!  Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower to help us understand this.

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.

Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had not moisture.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
Luke 8:5-8

Part of understanding what kind of soil we have is to understand where we are trying to plant our faith seed.  Faith is believing in the unseen, but too many times we put our faith in the wrong things that we can see.

People

We might put our faith in the people who shared Christ with us.  We put them on a pedestal, doing what they do, and looking to them to help steer our spiritual lives.  This person might even be a great Christian author, preacher, or speaker.

We must be careful of this and we must encourage those in our lives not to put us or anyone else on a pedestal in this way.  Why?  Because we are all imperfect and need Christ.  When the person we have put our faith in inevitably does something wrong, instead of working to bring them back, we may become disenchanted or confused and crushed in our faith.

The devil would prefer we fix our eyes on a person rather than Christ because then he can quickly snatch our faith away.

“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
Luke 8:12

We should only fix our faith on Christ and His Word, realizing that he alone is perfect and will never fail us.

Finances

There is an idea floating around that once we turn our lives to Christ and follow Him the blessings will flow.  Oh, dear sister, blessing do flow, but not always in the earthly, physical sense.

Our blessings come from heaven and an eternal perspective. Christ is able to bring us peace and joy in the most difficult of circumstances, when it makes no earthly sense to have peace or joy.  He gifts us courage to stand up for Him and what is right, in the face of opposition.  Christ even provides for us in the ways we need, when finances are beyond slim.

Jesus, many times, reminds us that we should not focus on the things of this world that will bring us comfort, but on the Lord who will bring us eternal comfort.  If we tie our faith to our earthly blessings, our faith will quickly be squelched when financial hard times come.

“The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
Luke 8:14

Let’s not let our faith be choked out by the worries of this life, but allow our faith to mature by giving these worries to Christ and letting Him provide for us and mature our faith in the process.

Health

When health starts to deteriorate, we often see one of two things happen:

  • People lose their faith or
  • People inspire others by their faith.

We all understand that one day we will pass away. Satan will try to use this, and any situation, to make us feel like God has let us down.  If our faith is deeply rooted, we can eventually overcome this lie with the truth.  But if our faith isn’t rooted in the truth, we will fall for the devil’s lies.

How to grow deep roots

Maybe there is another area of your life than those mentioned above in which the devil is more likely to attack.  If so, take time to do the following things:

  • Dig into the Scriptures
  • Write down the truths that correlate to the area where you need to grow
  • Memorize those Scriptures so you can defend yourself against Satan’s attacks
  • Persevere through attacks and difficult times by holding to these truths and encouraging others in their faith

When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Sower, he shared this same recipe for deep rooted faith.

“But the seed on good soils stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Luke 8:15

Nurture faith

A Challenge for You

Take some time to read over this parable and figure out where your “seed of faith” has fallen.  If the “seed of faith” is not taking root in the good soil then start prepping your heart to be good soil.  Once you’ve prepped it, continue to cultivate it.  Just like any garden, the soil, the seeds and the plants need continual nurturing.

Pain Brings Joy

It was an ordinary Monday morning after a soccer tournament. I had not felt that well over the weekend. But, I didn’t want to dampen the fun we had as a family. I wanted to embrace the joy of my youngest experiencing another great win at a tournament.

That day began as usual: up at 5:00, the oldest dressed and left with Dad. After they left, I lingered over my coffee and quiet time. I said a prayer that the pain in my body would not continue to increase and then I began my day.

Over the course of 2 hours, I began to realize that it wasn’t going to be like other days. It was going to be like the day I experienced last year. That day, I learned about praise… but today, I would learn that pain brings joy.

pain brings joy

It began in a subtle manner – the pain growing slowly and then fading. I thought it would pass. But, when my legs gave out and I was unable to stand, walk or sit down, I knew God had something other than ‘normal’ planned for the day.

So I lay on my bed in tears, wondering if this was my new normal. My husband came home, called my doctor and within 24 hours, I was in an operating room.

When I woke up the next morning, I was in the least amount of pain I had been in – in over a year.

I was also experiencing more joy than I had in a very long time.

It was then that I knew God was answering my prayer. But, it wasn’t a prayer just about pain, it was about our family and the trials we have been experiencing.

So, even though only ONE of my many prayers had been answered, I knew, God was at work and one by one, he was going to be answering my prayers.

My prayers, based on my faith that had grown as small as a mustard seed….and one by one, I knew God was going to be moving mountains.

Those mountains loomed large and had caused a darkness to cover my eyes.

But, when I saw the bright lights in that operating room, I began a new journey.

Inexpressible Joy in Pain… beyond comprehension.

joy

Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul talks about joy while he is in jail. He gives us amazing insight about experiencing joy through contentment in the worst circumstances we can imagine.

I had never considered how to have joy in jail until I began experiencing pain that threatened to take my life. Through that pain, God has opened my heart to enjoying every moment – no matter how hard or how beautiful: each minute is a gift.

Even pain is a gift because if we focus on God and giving him glory – Even PAIN can bring joy.

When Coming to My End Becomes His Means

I don’t know you, but I’m guessing since you’re a mom like me, that you have found yourself out of strength, weak, at the end of you?  After 26 years of parenting (8 kids), I can tell you that I have found myself in that spot countless times…sometimes daily.  It’s enough to bring any woman to her knees, which is right where God wants us.

His Means

You see, the world tells us we should be strong, self-sufficient, self-made, self-reliant (are you sensing a theme here?), but God has something very different in mind for us.  

Let’s start at the very beginning ( a very good place to start), when God created us, He created us with a deep NEED…a need to worship, a need for HIM and so we WILL worship something, someone, every moment of our lives.  If our worship is directed anywhere, but toward Him, we will feel restless. St Augustine said that God has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in HIM.  This restlessness is exhausting.  It can drain us and make us ever so tired.

Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha?  Jesus was coming to visit and Martha was both preoccupied with the practical aspects of having company and peeved at Mary because she wasn’t helping.  I’m pretty sure that would have been me…so caught up in the practicalities of life, I missed the most important thing…what Mary didn’t miss, and that was being mindful of where her worship was directed.  I’ve had lots of chances to practice and I still so often mess it up.  

But God knows that we are dust, moms.  He understands and He has grace.  He has strength for us and it’s in the power of the cross.  Exhaustion is a great warning flag that gets our attention.  It tells us that we have a need and it reminds us to pause and ask Him for wisdom and then repent of anything that isn’t right in our hearts. But it doesn’t stop there!  His redemptive work happens right in this very spot as we yield ourselves to Him.  

Sometimes it’s HARD, like grinding gears, but oh how God blesses our efforts because THIS is where we live out the gospel message for REALS!

Psalm 28:6-9

Praise the Lord!

For he has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and shield.

I trust him with all my heart.

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.

I burst out in songs of thanksgiving

The Lord gives his people strength.

He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.

Save your people!

Bless Israel,your special possession(that’s us!)

Lead them like a shepherd,

and carry them in your arms forever.

God has something different

I love that last part, you know, the one about being carried?  I can’t tell you how many times God carries me in my weakness and it’s always such a tangible reminder of how little power I really have, but how very much power our great, sovereign, mighty and GOOD God does have!!  His power knows NO end and HIS love for us also knows NO end, so lean HARD into Him, sweet mom and you WILL find strength for the journey

What Kind of Love

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. ~ 1 John 3:1

February is the month of “love,” and to be honest I was intimidated by the topic. I ran to my bookshelves to determine if there was anything I had read or needed to read so I could properly address the subject of “love.” I realized I had purchased, but not yet read Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, so I was determined to digest this book and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. Right as I was about to pour the coffee and break out my pad and paper, my past came back to haunt me. I’ve been weeping and praying for the past 24hours and determined that I would go ahead and share.

what kind of love

Present day: I am a married woman of 20 years (going on 21). I have the house, two kids and the fluffy puppy. One could argue that I am living the American Dream. I can attest to the fact that I never dreamed that this would be my life. I describe myself as a recovering Postmodernist Feminist but everyone that has known me for the past 23 years doesn’t realize what exactly that means. They’ve only seen the “sanctified” version of me. Truth be told, I keep God rather busy in my sanctification process on a daily, hourly and let’s just be honest, a minute-by-minute basis. Thank goodness He is Omnipresent!

In her latest book, Openness Unhindered, Rosaria Butterfield said what I live on a daily basis:

“In order to have real community, we need to tell each other the stories of our lives. And we need to listen when someone else’s story makes us uncomfortable… I want you to know from what country I emigrated, and in which country my citizenship permanently and eternally resides. I’m not a native speaker of this country. No real convert is. I will always speak in broken godliness, as new paradigms reread old feelings.”

With that said, let’s chat about that visitor from my old country. As I said, I had rifled through my bookcase and was ready to read C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves – between Lewis and my Bible, I thought I was ready to write this devotional. I receive an alert on my phone and I immediately recognize the name, and upon closer examination, the face. My husband happened to be home sick and I walk into our room and ask him if he’s awake. I tell him. It was my ex-husband, he found me.

There’s so many lessons to derive from this. One thing is for sure, the internet is forever! Don’t think I didn’t use that teachable moment on my girls, but I digress. I felt compelled to respond, but I wanted to talk to my husband first. He gives me the green light. I responded. I’ll spare you all the details and simply sum up our conversation. There’s a couple of things you need to understand about my immigration process.

Being a pro-life activist and looking back has afforded me a whole lot of perspective; perspective that had me weeping when our conversation was complete. When I met him, I was drawn to his story. My mother had me at age 15 only to turn 16 a week later; my biological father was 45. While the circumstances surrounding my birth were less than ideal, I was welcomed in my family. I was loved. My ex was born with “club foot,” making him what the current Progressive movement refers to a less than desirable. In family court, he watched his mother leave and his brother get adopted while he was left behind. Of course, I being young, vulnerable and for added measure let’s throw in some hormones, I felt that if I just “loved him well,” I could fix him. Therein lies the rub.

Dear friends, this is the ultimate egoism to think that I, a mere mortal, can love someone better than God can. His love is perfect, mine is far from it. Being a Christian, I now know that the only person capable of loving that deeply and healing all those hurts is Jesus. Not me, no matter how noble my intentions. But in my faulty humanity, I believed I could. I failed in epic proportions and naturally this led to our inevitable divorce.

Fast forward, I have before me a broken man, who is seeking peace and closure. During our conversation, I reminded him that I thought we had parted ways amicably and that we did in fact have closure. Then he reminded me of just how broken I was during our last meeting. I was headed to a far-away country; and just like a prodigal, I threw my fist up to the heavens and would listen to no one. I was willing to forgive his indiscretions and the abuse, but I wanted no part of what he had to say or offer. It should be noted that while present day, I advocate fiercely for the unborn and for the weak, I aborted this man’s child. Deeply humbling is all I can say.

1 john 3:1

He said to me, “I have had dreams that you were dead.” That hit me square in between the eyes. When I paused to reflect the country he was seeing me head into, it’s no surprise that he wondered whether I was even alive. He said to me, “You were so far gone!” and I gently replied, “Not too far for God”

I think Christians tend to forget that “but for the Grace of God, go I” we really do. We forget we were enemies of God. While I don’t recognize that person I once was anymore, this was the last impression I left with him and it left an impact. In our short interaction, I realized the footprints that we leave behind when Jesus is not at the center of our lives. In this new country, I seek to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. I offer up the only thing I can offer and that is the Greatest Love of All – and no, it is not loving yourself. It is full surrender to the One and only that can heal all your wounds and take a heart made of stone and soften it. Only He can make things new. I know. Here I stand, as the song[1] says, “Greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect but forgiven child of God”

 

 

[1] Gaither Vocal Band

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’s love makes all things new!
Be blessed! 

A Loved Life

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to love it. Let’s take a look at what a loved life actually looks like.

This isn’t really about “self-love” as something spooky or weird. It’s about being content and settled with your current season. As I mature, I’m learning that I see life as my “who” and not my “do”.

I like to take inventory of what’s most important to me. I easily do this with my social media bios. Don’t laugh! You have your things listed too!

loved life

Wander over to your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. What do you have listed? Could you say that those are the things, the ones that speak of the things you love?

Learning to love my life takes practice.

I didn’t even wake up one day and decide that I needed to. I felt that I was okay with doing life as “business as usual”, loving on everyone else, but I began to see that I didn’t see myself as an approved child of God.

I found that I needed to know something more, something deeper. I wanted to know my Father’s love so much that I went the to depths of that part of the heart that said, “Your Abba loves you to your core and you should spend your lifetime pressing into that.”

loved life

Can you feel the burn of passion of a life well loved?

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children.
– 1 John 3:1

My children have my love and they don’t question that. I should give my heavenly Father the same ready acceptance. It came down to not trusting His love.

I wasn’t living as if I knew His love.

I was quick to believe a lie of not being good, clean, righteous, or holy enough. But the Holy Spirit opened the door to my remembrance of the day I didn’t find shame in saying “absolutely YES” to the love of God through Jesus. On THAT day I became good, clean, righteous, and holy.

I am covered by the blood of Jesus! Ephesians 2:13

It took me many years of not “getting it”. It didn’t click until recently that I am wholly love and that I can live like it because I am being renewed in the spirit of my mind (Ephesians 4:23-24).

I can live a loved life

I could inform my heart that it can now overflow from that knowledge. I can love my life now because there are no chains on my understanding.

There are lyrics to a song by Hawk Nelson that I heard recently that brought clearer revelation to living like I know I’m loved by God. “So go ahead and live like you’re loved. It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free. His love has made you more than enough. So go ahead and be who He made you to be.”

I’m still learning what that looks like on a daily basis, but I can tell you that I’ve found such fresh and sweet freedom that I’ll never look back.

I pray that this has sparked your journey to knowing the truth of God’s approval and love for you, and that you can live like you’re loved,because you are!

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…live a loved life!
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