motherhood

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.

Parenting by Faith, Not Fear

“I’m a little worried that Johnny hasn’t accepted Christ yet.” My friend crossed her legs and switched the baby to the other side. “I accepted Jesus when I was four, I think, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but I do.”

I nodded, fully understanding that concern. I came to Christ later in life. I know that the Holy Spirit, not me, will lead my children to the Lord. I know that God loves my children, has a plan for them, and desires that they become part of His everlasting family.

I trust God with my children. I really do. And yet sometimes, well, maybe I don’t.

parenting by faith

“Yes,” I say, “It’s hard not to wonder if I’m doing enough, or if I’m doing it right! I wonder sometimes if I’m talking to them about Jesus enough, or if maybe my own issues are getting in the way.”

It’s then that I have this thought: If I really trust God with my children, why do I always mentally wring my hands over whether they are/will be saved? Whether I’ve done enough? Yes, I love them and want what’s best for them. But so does God- even more so – and in HIM is the power of salvation!

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” – Psalm 37:3

Salvation is of the Lord

We know it’s true: Salvation is of the Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts of our children. Not us. He calls us to diligently teach and train them in the ways of the Lord and to trust the results with Him.

Do we? Do you?

Fear-based parenting has no place in the life of a Christian. If we want our children’s faith to flourish, we should tend to our own, and regularly fall to our knees to pray for our kids.

Fear is NOT of the Lord

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

When God blessed us with our children and asked us to raise them for Him, fearful parenting was not on the work order.

  • Fearful parenting wrings its hands, fretting and worrying.
  • It is paralyzed by the “what-if’s” of life.
  • It is unsettled and even panicked by the idea that it cannot control choices and outcomes.
  • It makes fear-based decisions, betraying the fact that it doesn’t really trust God.
  • It reels hard with every sin and sorrow life throws its way.
  • It teeters on the edge of a works-based faith.
  • It is no faith at all.

Don’t ask me how I know fear-based parenting so well.

Author and Perfector of Our Faith

God does not want us to parent out of fear. Instead, He calls us to faith-filled parenting, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to look to Jesus, whom Hebrews 12 calls “the author and perfector of our faith,” to finish the work He has begun in our children.

  • Faith-filled parenting finds peace in the sovereignty of God.
  • It acknowledges the hard realities of life AND the power of God.
  • It rests in the fact that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts, watching for it with hope.
  • It is empowered and equipped by Christ to diligently teach and train, surrendering the outcome to God.
  • It lives on its knees, praying for the children’s salvation and faith.
  • It lives out a walk of true faith in Christ.

faith to flourish
Be diligent in your calling as a parent! Teach them to know and love the Lord. Run the race well. THEN rest in the knowledge that the results of your work are in God’s capable hands. Trust Him with their faith.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

Teach it and preach it, friends, in word and in deed!

Lord, help us to parent Your children in faith, not fear. Grant us a great peace and confidence that You are working in their lives and that Your plans for them are good. Please equip and strengthen us for the work you have called us to, helping us always point our children to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

Amen.

Nothing Wasted

With soccer season in full swing, Ben stayed in denial. The pain would surely go away if he just walked it off or maybe if he iced it or maybe if he stretched it some more. He didn’t even mention it to me or his dad for several weeks as it grew worse and worse. His play on the field led his team to an almost perfect record. He never left the field, often playing the whole game and usually scoring at least one goal and assisting on others. So, after the most recent victory when he should have been all smiles and energy, tears gently joined the sweat on his jersey.

have faith - nothing wasted

“What is it Ben?”

“It just hurts so bad. I thought it would get better. I thought I could work through it, but it hurt to even walk.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“A couple of weeks,” he replied.

“I think we need to check into it then,” I said as we slowly walked to the car. He was limping now with each step. Everyone who passed asked if he was okay. The coach expressed his concern about his star player. I said I’d keep him in the loop.

A painful silence rode home with us. Ben cried and I prayed. I didn’t know what was wrong with Ben’s heel, but I prayed for the doctor we would see and the diagnosis we would receive. And I prayed for Ben, for his heart and attitude. And I prayed for healing.

Soccer games are usually on Saturday for us, so Ben didn’t do much that weekend. Finally I secured an appointment for Monday afternoon. The doctor embodied experience and wisdom. The date on his diploma reflected maturity. Ben liked him immediately. Gentleness and kindness exuded as he spoke with Ben about his injury and his pain. He listened to Ben tell about how the pain had increased and how he had though it would go away.

After some x-rays the doctor returned. He said that Ben had calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s Disease. It is actually quite common in young athletes because of the repetitive stress and sometimes trauma they put on their feet. So, Ben’s pain had a name. But then the doctor told Ben what it would take for him to heal: 10-14 days of no activity. No running. No jumping. No track. No soccer. Ben’s interpretation: no fun.

The doctor spoke firmly, telling Ben that he had to rest to heal his heel. He said that Ben needed to take care of his body and that failing to do so could result not only in more pain, but more severe damage to his foot. Ben was fit for custom heel supports to put inside his shoes. These he would wear in all of his shoes until he outgrew them. The doctor’s words began to discourage Ben. Frustration and even anger began to grow in his heart.

Again a painful silence hovered in the car as we drove home. Tears fell on Ben’s t-shirt as he stared out of the window. And again I prayed. Finally Ben said, “Why did this have to happen? This means that I can’t play the game on Saturday.”

I had already thought through all of the implications of his injury. These next 10-14 days had the potential to be long and hard. I didn’t rush to answer his question, but let it hang in the air. As it did so, a list of my own hurts and pains rushed through my head. Loneliness and betrayal, misunderstandings and lies—none of it physical, but all of it painful. My own wounds had sidelined me too. Why did that have to happen?

We both wrestled with the same question as we drew nearer and nearer home.

He is faithful

God is always in the process of doing two things: glorifying Himself and growing us. This I know to be true. My issues, my pains I have wrestled through many times. I have called out to Him begging for the pain to stop, pleading with Him to heal and restore. And although I know He is able, eliminating the hurt isn’t always what’s best. He often uses the hurts and pains and losses to draw me nearer to Himself, to teach me, to grow me, to prove Himself faithful.

Now, with both of our faces wet with tears, I began, “Well Ben, this I know. God doesn’t waste anything. I’m so sorry about this. The doctor said that there is probably nothing we could have done to prevent it. So here we are with at least 10 days stretched out before us. I know that it’s hard and frustrating to consider all that you can’t do, but what if instead you focus on all that God might do? I don’t mean that it will be easy, but I’m betting God wants to show you something amazing.

My words were met with more tears and, “Oh, mom!” My heart was breaking for him. Ben just wanted to run and jump. He just wanted to go to practice and play his game on Saturday. Ben didn’t want to be still for 10-14 days. At 12, he knew God and His love, but this was a level of intimacy with which he was unfamiliar. He moped into the house and I followed, praying.

With each day, Ben grew grumpier and grumpier. The tension in the house built to a crescendo one morning at breakfast. Frustration erupted onto an innocent sibling. I had seen it coming and I understood it too well. I had done that too. I took him aside into another room. Tears again. Not angry, not furious. Broken. His tears were familiar to me too. Those same tears had run down my cheeks many times. Tears of hard fought surrender. He yielded and we hugged. He saw clearly what his unchecked anger had done to his brother and he sincerely apologized.

“So Ben, how can I help you? There are still at least seven more days. What can I do to help you trust God with this?”

“I don’t know. It’s really hard.”

“Yes it is. It’s hard to watch. That’s why it’s so important to remember what we know, that God loves you and that He doesn’t waste anything.” And even as I spoke these words to him they washed over the tender places in my heart, bringing comfort and peace.

As the days wore on, Ben’s attitude improved. He relaxed and even accepted his restrictions. We went to his soccer game to cheer on his team. His presence surprised them and they won their game. Now we marched toward the follow up appointment peacefully. The doctor commended Ben with his progress. Although he would be required to continue wearing the heel supports consistently, the doctor released Ben to resume his regular physical activities. He could run and jump again. And he could join his team to play their next game.

On our ride home Ben’s anticipation filled the car. He could hardly wait for practice and the game. We agreed he had never looked forward to running and jumping like this before. In fact, he realized that there were activities he’d taken for granted. Not any more. The week finished with yet another soccer game victory and smiles all around.

That Saturday night as I prepared for bed, Ben knocked on my door and asked to come in. “Of course,” I said.

“Mom,” he began, “I wanted to tell you what God showed me through this whole thing.” I paused folding towels. In my own relief of his healing, I’d forgotten to ask what God had shown him, what he’d learned.

have faith is his work

I turned around and looked at his bright blue eyes as he said, “Mom, God taught me that I can trust Him. He really does care for me.” Joyful, thankful tears now wet his hair as we hugged in celebration of His goodness. Ben felt so personally touched. We had grown in faith together and God was glorified.

What hurts or wounds or pains is God allowing because of His love for you? In what areas are you holding on to the hurt instead of leaning into His faithfulness and love? Surrender to His faithfulness. Worship His Goodness. Trust His will. Have faith. He knows. He cares. And He loves you.

Rejoice in the Lord Always

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

I can hardly believe that my boys have grown up. They’re 16, 20, 22, and almost 25, and only two of them still live with me. I treasure every moment with them, realizing that the opportunity is so very fleeting. I take great joy in spending time with them, learning what’s going on in their lives, hearing what’s on their hearts.

joy in the Lord

But it wasn’t always that way. I always wanted to be a mom, so I was delighted to be blessed with children and thankful for the privilege of being at home with them. Yet in the early years of motherhood, I was so overwhelmed by the exhaustion, the loneliness, and—yes, I’m going to say it—the drudgery of many daily tasks from diapers to dishes to dirty laundry that I seldom acted like a “joyous mother of children” (Psalm 113:9). I regret the time I wasted in weary work rather than cheerful service, focusing on the burdens instead of the blessings.

I know I’m not the only mom who has experienced this. And it’s not limited to the early years, either. One tired mom told me she had always enjoyed her children on a daily basis and had felt blessed and joyful with them, but lately her joy was being sapped by an overwhelming sense of not getting done what needed to be done.

Have you ever felt that way? Blessed in theory but burdened in practice? It’s so easy to focus on the urgent to-do list and lose sight of our highest priorities. Maybe you’re struggling with this very situation right now. If so, I urge you not to load on another burden of guilt but to change your perspective and focus on the tremendous blessings God has given you.

Focusing on the blessings instead of the burdens doesn’t change your circumstances; it changes you. And when your attitude changes, your experience changes.

Those diapers? A reminder of the children God has given you. You’re probably tired of hearing this (I was!), but they’re little for such a short time. Don’t wish away those labor-intensive baby and toddler years. Relish those coos and cuddles and depend on God for the strength to carry on during hard days. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Those dishes and that dirty laundry? A reminder that God provides your food and clothing, just as he feeds the birds and clothes the lilies (Matthew 6:25-34). Rejoice in His provision.

joy in the lord

Take joy in your children, yet remember that our ultimate joy is that we are God’s children. As David reminds us, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Whether your children are young or old, whether your days are easy or hard, whether you’re overwhelmed or productive, whether you’re feeling happy or sad—whatever your circumstances, whatever your mood, rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ~ Philippians 4:4

 

 

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.

What real love looks like

It had been a very hard day. Actually there had been many hard days recently. I was worn out and exhausted but my son needed to talk to me. There has been many sleepless nights in our little home over the past year and a half as we tried to heal and move forward from life with an unsafe person.

My sweet boy had looked evil in the face and he was struggling to understand why God would let this happen if He really loved us. And as the months have gone by with (what seems to him) no answers to our prayers he has been asking some really big questions.

Real Love

When someone tells you that they love you but they keep hurting you it’s confusing. Doesn’t matter if you are in your 30s or barely into your teens.  Our painful experience had done more than damage our hearts … it has made us question God’s love for us.

My heart broke for my son that night because he was echoing the cries of my broken heart as well. I had spent many nights asking God why He allowed so much suffering in our lives.  I pulled my boy close and I opened my Bible and began to read.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 ESV

 

We began to talk about the person that had promised to love us but then hurt us.  We asked if he had been patient or kind and worked our way through the rest of the verse.  It was something that we had done many times before. While this person had promised to love, honor, protect and provide those words ended being empty promises. When held up to the light of the scripture the truth was clear.

 

I turned the pages to a different verse:

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV
God wants more for you
My sweet boy looked up at me and sighed. “So God does love us Mama? And {that other person} did not?”  The truth of God’s real love was beginning to take root in his heart. And through a few tears we share all the ways that God was all the things that we read in 1 Corinthians.

 

Sweet friend, I don’t know what you are facing today. But I want to encourage you to remember what real love looks like. Teach it to your children. And when something less than comes around, hold on to the truth that God wants more for you!

 

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 wants more for you!
Be blessed! 

Trust God’s Unfailing Love When Life is Hard

In a world of here today, gone tomorrow love doubting God’s unconditional love is easy. When people we love fail us, it is easy to wonder if God’s love will also fail.

Trust God's unfailing love

When my marriage suddenly and unexpectedly fell apart three years ago, I doubted God’s love. How could a God who loved me allow something so awful? As I struggled to believe in His unfailing love, even as I cried out in anger at God, He patiently led me down the road of rediscovering His Love.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

How amazing is that? NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. In the depths of darkness, trusting in that love makes all the difference in a life of despair and a life of hope.

discovering God's love

How can you trust in God’s love through the hard times?

Remember the past. One of the best tools for keeping faith in crisis is remembering how God met needs in the past. Grab a notebook and start writing down all the answered prayers and provision of the past.

Lean on friends. When life is hard, ask for help. Allow your community to be the hands and feet of God’s love, whether through asking for physical help or simply for prayer and encouragement.

Count your blessings. In the midst of heartbreak, everything seems wrong. Train yourself to find the silver lining by listing your blessings. Start small with simple things soon you’ll find many things to thank God for, even during crisis.

Trust that God has a plan. It may feel like life is off track, but God does have a plan even through this hard time. Keep pushing ahead, eventually the good of God’s plan will become apparent.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

At the beginning of my own crisis, I couldn’t image that any good thing would come from the shattering of my family. What began with a woman questioning God’s unfailing love, has become a beautiful life in which God’s love and grace are evident every day.

The truth is, that even when life is hard, God’s love remains. In the midst of chaos and pain, His love is unfailing and He has a plan.

If you are going through a hard time I pray that you trust in God’s love to see you through to the other side of the pain. He has a good plan for you!

Cling to the knowledge that through it all God’s love remains.

Modeling God’s Love

It’s February, and love is in the air this month more than any other time of the year. When we step back to consider God’s love, really the entire Bible is his love letter to us. As moms, especially homeschool moms, we’re constantly showing our love to our families our husbands and others all around us.

Modeling God’s Love Through Service

The message of the God’s great love letter to us is LOVE and generosity, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  John 3:16

When we give to our families, our friends and others of our time, talents and resources, we are acting as God’s love in the flesh. When you feel like you just can’t give any more, moms. Remember that our Heavenly Papa gave us Jesus and Jesus gave it all. For us. So just keep giving and loving, holding fast to God’s promise in Proverbs 11:25, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Modeling God's Love

I have friends that ask me all the time how I keep going? I think it’s God’s super natural way of giving us more energy than the energizer bunny. In fact, I’m kind of tired of being compared to that silly commercial bunny, banging his drums together. Instead, I’ll hold fast to God’s word and promises. As I refresh others, He will refresh me. What God sends out will not return void. Just keep giving, mamas. It’s the Lord’s boomerang affect, only His multiples. If we keep refreshing others, then we ourselves are refreshed.

As a mama, what can we do for other moms and sisters in Christ, refreshing them to enter into God’s heart and love? It’s His promise, that we will be refreshed, yet it seems so impossible to give any more. Let’s face it ladies, this mommy thing. It’s hard. Add that with all the rest of the responsibilities of this nonstop society and we seem to be up against a mountain.

We’re all familiar with Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13: “ 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.”  In those same first letter to the Corinthians, 16:18, Paul reminds us, ”For they refreshed my spirit and yours as well. Show your appreciation,therefore, to such men.” I say the same goes for our sisters. Refresh others and others will refresh you, come along side you and partner in this thing called life. It’s God’s Kingdom life.

God’s Love

We showcase God’s never ending love for us by refreshing others.  What if we became extra super ultra generous with giving out God’s love? What If we started with giving more, a living example of God’s generosity to our children, to our sisters who we walk in this life with. We homeschool together in, hang out in MOPS groups, at co-op groups, Bible studies, park and play dates. In turn, are we giving our sisters more to take home to her own families, and being refreshed ourselves? I think so. In fact, I know so.

God's Love

As I’m writing this, I’m riding in the car with three dear Christian sisters on our way to our third #LetYourWriteShine retreat. It seems that the more energy I put into making these events special, to refresh my sisters in Christ, asking the Lord to fill their hearts with God’s love through our events and sharing that with my Christian sisters, the more energy I have to do things in my every day life. I guess it’s just supernatural.

God’s love for us is unending. It’s hard for us to grasp how deep and high and wide. To be living as He did, the more we press into loving others, the more He shows up with his treasures for us.

Where is God stretching you to give more, sisters? I’d love to hear from you!

Bon Voyage~

 

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 for us is unending!
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! 

Love is a Decision

Loving others isn’t always easy. Shoot, loving your own spouse and family can be challenging at times! As the mom to many, I can confirm that Love is a Decision. It would have to be because if you based your level of love on how you feel…there would be times you would not be very loving.

Early in our marriage, Gary and I read the book, Love is a Decision by Gary Smalley. We both learned so much from it about loving each other and others that we have made it a mandatory read for each of our children before they considered dating. You see, although the scriptures tell us that we are expected to love others, even enemies; I never read exactly how I was to do this in my studies as a young wife and christian.

Love is a Decision

Matthew 5:43-45 reads:

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Wait a minute. Hold it. Not only do I have to love those that are my neighbor and family, I have to also love those that consider themselves my enemies? Yeah, how is that suppose to work?

This was a real struggle for me. With seven children at home and a husband that traveled all the time; there were days that I could relate to the meme: “I should get a medal, I kept the crew alive today”!

Christian Mammas: it begins with you. I hear from so many young moms that they are tired and overwhelmed with the day-to-day. They can’t imagine stepping out and doing all the things they see other ladies of faith doing because… fill in the blank. For me, the reason was because I didn’t love myself first. It wasn’t until I learned to love myself that I could even begin to see ways to show love to others. Love is a decision…even when it comes to loving yourself.

Yes I loved my children. Not always my spouse…well that’s not true. My commitment to him has never wavered. There have been days when he wasn’t on my top 10 list and days when I could honestly tell him that I love you today…but right now, I really don’t like you much. Now my relationship with my husband is unique. We’ve both lost spouses and when we married, we cross adopted our children and then added to the mix with two more girls in two years. So to say things changed a lot in my life in a short time is an understatement.

love myself

Because we were a blended family, I felt the stress of making sure all of the children felt loved the same. Talk about added stress to a new relationship! One of my favorite verses on love is Deuteronomy 6:5:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

To me this meant that I had to dig into the Word every day. You have to draw close to Him in order to accept the forgiveness and learn to love not only yourself but others. First Chronicles 16:34 reads:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

My Lord and savior loves me! I just have to accept His love.

Psalm 6:4 has to be one of the verses that I call on daily.

Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.

So is Psalm 66:20:

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Learning to Love

Start by spending time in the scriptures daily. Dig deep into the Word. Bury it in your mind and heart so you can draw on it in stressful times. If you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, please talk to someone. You need to be assured of your position as a child of God before you can begin to see His love and grow in His grace.

Start with the small things. Start at home. Start showing your family love and kindness. Your words should be sweet. Proverbs 16:24:

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Strive to be a safe place for your husband and children to come to for comfort and encouragement when they are struggling.

February is all about love. However, not many of the commercials or promotions I see are for the “real love”, the one that will see you through the dark moments that do and will continue to come in your life. Give your life over to Christ and start living a new life filled with more love than you can imagine.

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 a decision.
Be blessed!