This is not a test…..or is it?

This year 2019 has certainly come in like whirl wind as our family and home endured trials and challenges from about every direction possible. With everything we are facing time is just flying by…And just like that March is almost over….

One of verses I have been studying for this month has been James 1:3.

testing= challenging, requiring considerable effort

Steadfastness=form in brief, adherence, not subject to change, constant

So I can have comfort and peace in knowing that all of these trials we are being challenged and tested by are perfecting me and will help me to be firm and constant in my faith.

So in our whirl wind of tests, trials and challenges that 2019 is bringing to us we will count it all joy.

Staying strong in our faith, staying in God’s word, fervent in prayer.  Blessed in our trials as we are perfected into steadfastness in our faith.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-12‬ ‭

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Hitting RESET

We have had a whirlwind of the last few months in our home and lives.  I have been taking a step back for over a week now as I reset and refocus.  Started with social media fast, haven’t been on Facebook for over a week.  I have had some things, like my runs,  upload directly to Facebook but have not tapped on the app to look at anything or spent anytime online.

This has been quite refreshing to experience to do this.  I would like to say I have taken all the time saved from looking facebook to something productive like memorizing scripture or catching up on reading  but I haven’t.  I have however have been able to catch my breath emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Not so much from the time I would have been looking online but more from refocusing my thoughts and energy.

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord who walks in His ways.”  Psalm 128:1

Something that I have been focused on during this time is that God is faithful, He is always with us and He is always in control. He promises to be there and provide peace even in the most distressing circumstances however I must LET GO and surrender to Him to receive His promises. I need to trust in His will over all things in my life not just when I feel like it.

This is a tough one for me sometimes (ok a lot of the times). I am your typical ‘type A’ personality, (some may say even OCD!) As a result this causes me have the natural desire to control things. So the surrendering completely part is where I struggle. 

For me surrender is an everyday moment to moment challenge. I have to consciously choose to let things go to God, choose joy, choose to be positive. Some days it is so much harder to make these choices and I fail, fail miserably at times when I need Christ the most. Fear, anger, selfishness all these sinful things pull and direct my emotions and I fall guilty of not being thankful in all circumstances, of not honoring God with my love and obedience.

I make the same mistake over and over in different situations and trials, I don’t turn the situation over to God immediately, I hold onto and try to “fix” it myself and oh boy does this backfire! I have to fall flat on my face from trying to do it my way and then I turn to God for help. And yet I do this over and over. During the more difficult struggles I am human, I am weak and the enemy knows this. This is when he strikes, plants doubt and fear in my mind and heart, sin separating me from God. I know that am most weak when I am not as dedicated or intentional with my scripture reading and prayer life and yet at times I will let day to day life take priority, GUILTY!

Now I don’t do this every trial in my life and I’m certainly a work in progress.  I learn from each mistake and each failure.   Every time I fall and He lifts me up and carries me I am closer to Him.  I am not who I was, and will continue to grow in Christ.  Thank the Lord He doesn’t except me to be perfect, He knows I am human and sinful and yet He loves me and He forgives me.  What an AWESOME God we have!

 

So this week while I am refocusing I am renewed and refreshed by these wonderful reminders and truths.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm‬ ‭25:4-5‬

God’s forgiveness

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. ‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭

God’s grace

“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” John‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭

His mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭

“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” Romans‬ ‭9:18‬ ‭

His love

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬

Capturing the WINS!

Being a mother is one of life’s greatest blessings and I am so grateful to be on this journey. However some days are harder than others, some moments bring heavier challenges. There are days as a parent it feels like one defeat after another with an overwhelming blanket of failure closing in. The day when everything little thing seems to be going wrong, all of the kids are having a rough day and it all bubbles into one disaster filled day. The day that you know the sun is there hiding behind the clouds but you cannot see it or feel it. I don’t think I am alone, I am pretty sure that any parent can relate to what kind of day this is, thankfully these days are few and far between.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’ James 1:2

Sometimes it may not be the whole day but just parts of a day that weigh down and burden you with feeling like you have failed in some way and it feels like the sunshine is a million miles away instead of just behind the clouds.

‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ Job 8:21

To help stay focused on the positive and keep me to be more aware and sensitive to God’s blessing in my life I have been capturing the wins each day. This has helped to break through the clouds and see the sunshine even on the more difficult challenging days. Some days I am not as good with this, I fall to the negative feelings of defeat.

But overall capturing the wins has really been encouraging and quite rewarding.  For several months in my journal I have a space everyday for writing down my ‘WINS’. So as I go through my day I am making a conscious effort of looking for the positive things and then writing them down. Some days I am able to find more wins than others. Some days I struggle to find the wins however I am always able  find something positive to write down.  This has helped keep my heart and mind focused on seeing God’s blessings in my life, small and big.

Some days my wins are as simple as ‘5 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time’.

A beautiful sunrise on the way in the morning.  

The way our youngest snuggles in my lap to play.

God’s forgiveness.

Sweet note from my loving husband.

As I have been capturing these positive moments and details of my life it has been most rewarding to go back and read the wins from weeks and months ago. My heart and mind are filled with these precious moments in time. Capturing my wins as turned out to be wonderful rays of sunshine in the stormy days.

‘Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.’ Psalm 100:1

‘You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.’ Psalm 30:11

‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’ Psalm 94:19

Heavenly Father,

I pray to keep my eyes focused on You.  I pray our marriage, our family, our home will keep You in the center of everything.  I pray for your will to be done in our lives, I pray to glorify You especially in our trials and struggles.  Help me to focus on the big and the small blessings in our lives.  I pray to keep my eyes and my heart open to Your blessings and the good being built within our family and home and to not dwell on the negatives or the struggles.  I am human and I make mistakes and fall short all the time, I pray to learn from my mistakes to grow stronger because of them.  I pray for direction and guidance.  Please Father give me courage and strength to be the wife and mother You have created me to be.  Thank you for my family, for blessing me with an amazing husband, for blessing me with the awesome adventure of being a mother.  ~~~In Jesus name, AMEN

 (un) prepared.       (Un) positively. (un) joyful.

It’s seems like just when I think I have things a little figured out, small handle on the chaos of our busy blended adventurous life there’s another bump in the road.

I finally feel like I am going to be able to stop and catch my breath and bam the wind gets knocked out of me again.  Whether it’s one big thing that knocks me down or several small at the same time.  It seems to be the inevitable cycle of life in this fallen world.

This week has knocked me down hard, several small blows have taken a toll.  Challenges of parenting intertwined with complications and emotional hurt caused by ‘the other parent and home’.  Little hearts that are hurting and needing guidance and support.  Exhausted parents after minimal sleep carried into difficult and challenging days at work and busy demanding evenings caring for kids and keeping up with housework.

The circumstances and struggle of our day to day during a more demanding week blow by blow has dictated my moods and reactions and knocked away my joy and stole my smile.

Fighting the moment by moment internal spiritual battle.  Distracted and overwhelmed by the circumstances and  powerful emotions that are threatening to take over.  Not one big trial but many small storms.

The enemy never backs down, he is always trying to steal our joy.

I did not do well this week.  I am weak and tired.  I did not have a good attitude or joyful heart.

I can quote you the verses and tell you the ‘church’ answer of how I should have handled it all.  But in the heat of the moment when I’m tired beyond tired, hungry, pulled in 10 directions and feeling very overwhelmed and out of control I do not act or respond the way in my heart know I should.  My sinful selfish self takes over with a toxic negative attitude and responses.

 

This photo sums up how I felt this week!

And then it happened…..scrolling casually through my Facebook feed and there is this tiny precious fragile baby who has been born much much too early, strapped to all kinds of tubes and life support machines keeping him alive.  A true miracle to still be alive despite all odds at this point and still facing a lifetime of disability when he does grow stronger.  His parents full of fear and questions but yet living positively and with BOLD FAITH!!!  After considering the pain and worry of his mamas heart suddenly my disaster of a day at my office and tired kids just does not seem that bad anymore.

In this moment…..time stops briefly…

My eyes burning to cry.

My heart mourns and prays for this baby and his family.

My spirit is condemned and my heart convicted.  Tornado of emotions shake me to my core, guilt for being so selfish, awe mixed with a huge surge of thankfulness for my husband and our family and our abundant blessings.

Convicted………guilty……ashamed……..a couple of bad (not ideal) days and I open myself up and allow the enemy to come in and steal my joy, this not the first time I have allowed this and this not only effects me it impacts everyone around me.  I allow the circumstances , being tired, having to wait 10 minutes for a treadmill at the gym, awful day at work, cranky kids drive my mood and actions.  SELFISH!!!  This sweet precious baby and his family are holding on in joyful faith as he fights to stay alive and I’m having a bad (not ideal) day and I cannot be obedient to God in how I respond and act!?!?  


This realization shakes me to my core, my spirit and heart immediately soften and I turn to God.  Not any more, I refuse to let this go on any longer.  This is not who I am or who God created me to be.  

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭

I am truly humbled, call out to God confess my transgressions and beg His undeserved forgiveness.

This week will not need end way it started.  The enemy will not have his way with me or my family.

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭108:13‬

I will be prepared, study and memorize God’s word and truth.

“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11

I will be faithful and remain close to the Lord in prayer.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.” Psalm 61:1

This is not new information or realizations for me like I already said I have known all along what I should be doing, and have actually been doing most of it.  I read God’s word most days, pray daily, I go through the motions.  But the difference is in the heart when I am doing these things.  My heart needs to be God-centered.  If Iam going through the motions but my heart is cold and cut off then my efforts are essentially useless and meaningless, I see the fruit and evidence of this in how I started my week and where my heart was and where my heart is now.


I need to be prepared…. For the ongoing and endless daily battles I will continue to face.  The enemy knows my weaknesses and will continue to use my circumstances and prey on my humanity and try to steal my joy 

 

 

 

“For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

 

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes its you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4

I need to keep a positive heart, mind and spirit in moments and circumstances that are more demanding. I choose God, I choose joy.

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.   Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 66:1

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and the your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

 

—> NOT ANY LONGER!!! satan you lose, God wins, I have victory in Christ and will not sit back and willing allow you to take my joy or delight, God is my source of great happiness, I am truly blessed and will keep my heart and mind focused on the Lord and take delight in His love.<—-

—>It’s complicated <—

Being a parent is basically hard, challenging and just out right impossible at times.  Being tasked with the responsibility of being a mom is quite possibly the most difficult task I will be given in this life.  Children unfortunately don’t come with step by step instruction manuals.  There’s parenting advice galore out there especially these days with all of our social media, good advice and bad advice everywhere you turn and filtering this advice that comes at you from all directions.

 

As I sit back and look at how much goes into being a parent and just how much responsibility lays in our role it is quite overwhelming.  Then top off all the basic parenting tasks and add on the extra element of being part of a blended family or single parent role to the mix and you have taken complicated to a whole new level!  Co-parenting is difficult and intense with a cooperative parent that has the same belief and values.  Unfortunately more times than not the co-parent will not being any of those things and makes being a parent 10 times more complicated and challenging.


 

I feel like my husband and I are constantly scrambling and searching for this fine line to walk—-> raising them in this world and teaching them how to not be part of this world.   As much as I long to put my kids in a bubble and protect and shelter them from everything, it is just not possible to shelter them completely and protect them from all the evil and ungodly influences of this world.  And even if it were possible that would place them at a huge disadvantage to be sheltered in that way.  So you need to allow them to be in the world at the same time keeping them from becoming part of the world at the same time you are leading them to know Christ.

 

I was deep in thought pondering this daily dilemma earlier while running away taking out my frustrations on the treadmill at the gym.  This happened to be a family gym day and we had our crew of kids with is at the gym today.  Today is one of those days it was a struggle to get some of them to come to the gym. A little bit of whining about not wanting to go, questioned on why do they have to be dragged to the gym to exercise.  I find this battle quite frustrating and feel like it’s a losing battle most of the time. We have our good days when they come to the gym willingly and put forth good effort and leave the gym smiling after enjoying their workout asking when we are coming back.  But then we have the bad days when it’s struggle, and it is on those bad days that I am so tempted to give up and tell them fine just to stay home while my husband I get in a good uninterrupted work out without distraction.  But giving up is not the answer.

We certainly cannot force them to want to exercise and most definitely cannot force them to enjoy it.    This really leaves us with one option; what we can do is continue to bring them and set the example, lead them and teach them by showing them how it’s done.  We can simply show them that we enjoy exercising and being healthy and let them see the positive results from this. Then praying that the example you set takes hold and one day they can recognize the importance of exercise and maintaining the health of their body.

We can face our children’s salvation in the same manner.  The best we can do is be a good witness, to set the example for them, show them how to live a life for Christ, pray for them to be saved and LET GO, get out of the way and allow God to handle the rest.  Put down on paper it sounds so stinking simple…

Not so simple though, not for me anyway.  I struggle each and everyday and fail in many ways in my witness to our children.  I get so frustrated when I fail, I have really good intentions but am human and frequently fall short.  One of my biggest downfalls is not being joyful in all circumstances, letting my emotions and circumstances of the moment control my words, actions, facial expressions and moods.  I am working at this, slowly giving it over completely to the Lord and I am His work in progress, some days I do better, but each day a step in the right direction.


 

“Come follow me” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people”  At once they left their nets and followed him. —Matthew 4:19-20


  
I don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes I made.  I don’t want them to know God in their mind but not truly know Him in their heart, I don’t want them to be consumed by this fallen world and slipping into the darkness before living in the Lord’s light.  So with each day I will continue working on allowing God to strengthen and mold me into the mother and wife He created me to be and let my witness and example be what our children need to come to know Jesus. And I will fight for them on my knees in PRAYER…..


 

Heavenly Father above, please guide me and give me strength and courage at a mother and a stepmother.  I pray my witness will be true and bold.  I pray that our children will be able to look to me and see You, that I will let Your love shine in all areas of our life, I pray for a joyful heart even on the trying days when I want to be short tempered and rude, please soften my heart and strengthen my spirit to let go and let You take over.  Lord You know my heart and the areas that I truly need to surrender and allow You to take over, please God take all of me and let me be the woman, mother and wife You intended me to be, I pray to have the courage to chose Your way over everything else in this fallen world.  God thank You for the honor, privilege and responsibility of being a mother, our children are truly a blessing directly from You, let me never take this for granted and always treasure being a parent even during the difficult moments, let me praise You and bring You Glory.

In Jesus Name- AMEN


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus   1Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Because I SAID SO!

  
When I was little and my mom said those dreaded words “because I said so”! I vowed to myself that when I was a parent that I would never use those words with my kids. Yet here I am 12 years into this parenting job and sure enough there have been those times when in the heat of the moment those words I hated so much have come flying out of my mouth to my own kids! As much as I hate that I have done this I now truly realize, understand and appreciate just why my mom used this phrase at times with me and my brothers. There is not always a reason other than I am the parent and you are my child and I know what is best for you. I am not in any way required to provide an explanation or reasoning to my children when I have instructed them, I am their mother and ultimately will determine what is in the best interest of my children whether they like it or not…..so with that being said the only reasonable way to say this is especially in the heat of the moment is none other than, “because I SAID SO!”.  
So as I sit here I cast my eyes up towards God with an open heart and reflect on a few things. Our Heavenly Father has given us very clear instructions on how we are suppose to live our lives and glorify Him. He is so wonderful and has such love for us that He cares so much that He even gives us clear reasons to following His direction.  

He tells us to love others because He first loved us.
o Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 John 4:19

Forgive each other as He has forgiven us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
o John 3:16, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:2

Do not be afraid, be strong God is ALWAYS with you.
o Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10

Do not worry, pray and give thanks, God will always answer
o Phil 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Trust in God, He is ALWAYS faithful
o John 15:7-8, Romans 8:28

Our lives our covered by God’s promises, love, mercy and grace, He guides us and gives us direction, He is true and loving and forgiving and He is ALWAYS ALWAYS with us. We are so sinful and selfish in all that we do. Look at our fallen world, how bad things have gotten, how everything in our society is so quickly becoming evil and depraved and it is happening SO FAST! Yet He is here with us in all this, how comforting is that,

HE IS HERE WITH US IN ALL THIS! 

All we need to do is sit back and let Him love us and protect us, all we need to do is love Him and obey Him joyfully. It sounds so easily when I put the words down here, yet I fail at this every day, every hour, every minute of every day- shamefully I fail God in some way but He still loves me and will never leave me. That is awesome and humbling. 

I am guilty of not obeying God, I am like my 3 year old kicking and screaming on the floor crying out in disobedience, over and over I throw tantrums and come up with excuses and am led by my own selfish and sinful desires and heart. 

This is why I need Jesus as my savior, I am guilty, He died for my sins and yours, He gave himself freely and with unconditional love so that I can be forgiven. Thank You Lord for sending Your Son.
I will do what I can to grow and to walk closer to God, grow in my relationship with Him, become more obedient to Him not because it is what I am SUPPOSE to do but because I desire to please Him, glorify Him in how I live my life, let myself be an example of His love, mercy and grace a little more with each breath, each moment and each day. Lord please give me strength, courage and wisdom to grow closer to You, mold me into the woman, mother and wife You created me to be. 
God does not need a “because I said so”, He has so given us so much more, He has given us His Son, His word in the Bible to direct us.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’ 

Matthew‬ ‭6:9-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬