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Steps Forward

steps-forward

 

Today I stepped back in the coffee shop I visited on the morning we got that Monday morning jaw-dropping positive surprise. I was able to walk in without tears, without anxiety, without heaviness, and without despair.

This winter has been such a stark contrast to last. There’s sunshine where there was once darkness. There’s more joy than sorrow. There’s scars where there were once open wounds.

“God always seems bigger to those who need him the most. And suffering is the tool he uses to help us need him more.” – Joni Earickson Tada 

It wasn’t the road I would have chosen for us, and I am far from comprehending the reasons. We like most who haven’t experienced this type of pain were blind to it. But through it I know He has used my brokenness, my struggle, my my grief, my loneliness, my perseverance for my good.  There are already stories emerging of how my pain has been able to strengthen another’s journey.

It was not in vain.

We’ve left a trail that shows where we’ve come from and the lessons along the way. There’s baggage left along the side that we’ve been able to let go, and some that we continue to carry, but the burden has been much lighter when we let the Guide carry it for us.

His grace has always been enough. Never something we had to save. Never short for the day. Daily increments of sufficient grace. 

A dear friend who I look up to greatly dropped a meal off around this time last year. I was still suffering greatly physically and facing another potential surgery. She took me by the arms and looked into my eyes and promised me that God WOULD use this. That He would write His story, and that His glory would shine through it. I can say with more confidence than ever that I believe her. 

I don’t know how He will continue to write our story. Perhaps this was just a glimpse of suffering that may help prepare us for something more. Perhaps I’ll never know this side of heaven the many ways He’ll weave His grace into this part of our journey, but I know He was present then and He’s present now. I know He has been and will be faithful. I know that He is sovereign even when He takes away. I know that He is good. My steps ahead can land solidly on these truths. He will redeem even the darkest of times.

A road through the wilderness has led to a quiet waters of restoration. 

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Turn By Turn Decisions…

turn-by-turn-decisions

Hiya, Friends. Still there? All tan, refreshed, and summerfied?

Remember me? The quad mom with 4 boys. Yeah, the crazy one.

I know I’ve been quiet. It’s been summer, and crazy, and different, and the ole blog got the shaft.

Thanks for stickin’ it out. I’ve missed this space, and hope I can write a little more frequently now that things are headed back into more of a routine.

We’re in the midst of one of those major life decisions this week. And right now I have no clue how it will turn out. There are no sky writings or signs, just a lot of praying and conversations that go late into the night.

I was on my way to teach an essential oils intro class today, and I had Google Maps navigating me the whole way there. Is that not the best invention of our time? I mean, really, People. A voice tells us by using satellites which street to turn on, how far ahead to turn, when to exit, how long it will take to arrive at the destination on your phone. The dinosaurs would be so impressed.

I couldn’t help but thinking how much I wish God would hack into my app and tell me specific turn by turn directions for the decision we are facing.

So which way do I go? How long? Merge? Exit here?

“You have arrived at your destination.”

Jesus took the wheel.

I know sometimes decisions are more clear than others. God prompts us to act in a way that is obvious. Perhaps He will do so for this situation as well. But other times, we just have to seek to glorify Him, follow His Word, and know that there might not be a “wrong” decision.

And even if we go the wrong way, there are U-Turns allowed and grace on that road back.

If our motives are to honor Him we don’t really have to fear messing it all up, do we?

The longer Brad and I live this life together, the more we realize we are just passengers. We’re along for the ride, and it’s ultimately not in our hands.

We can make all the plans in the world, but it’s God’s ultimate purpose that will stand.

I can rest my heavy head on my pillow on that one.

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When Words Are Harsh

Always thankful when Brad shares his words here…

when-words-are-harsh-parenting




Since the day the Lord blessed us with four baby boys, I feel like I have been on a parenting crash course.  There is no class each year to prepare you for the next phase of parenting, you know?  Have you ever woke up one morning and said, “Wait a minute, this parenting thing isn’t going so well right now, what happened?”

A while back, Jen and I were noticing that our children were not speaking kindly to one another.  Sometimes, they were being flat out hateful in their speech and actions.  Angry words, kicks, slaps, and screaming ARE NOT fruits of the spirit last time I checked.  We would sit down with them and have long talks about how the Lord expected them to treat one another.

No matter how many times we shared this Bible verse with them, it didn’t seem to carry any lasting impact.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

So, I asked myself a few questions:
Am I demonstrating the things I am teaching?  Are the commands I am giving my children reasonable?  Am I treating them how I would want to be treated?  When you fly by the seat of your pants in parenting, you tend to react harshly rather than reasonably.

I suddenly realized that my own actions were probably at fault.  When I had asked them for the 5th time to do something, I was becoming irritated and spoke harshly to them.  Our God, in his infinite wisdom, was trying to give me the answer to our problem in the very verse I had been teaching my children.  Was it possible that my harsh words were stirring up the anger in our home?

The answer was yes.

I committed to keep a kind tone {“a soft answer“} when I rebuked my kids, and to actually lower my tone a bit to remind myself to maintain self-control.  I still disciplined and reproved them for their failure to obey, but I did so firmly in a kind and calm voice.  It’s amazing, they have been so much more sorry for their disobedience, and they reacted more often in sadness than anger to my rebukes. (Important: These results were not immediate, but after several days of practicing a softer tone.)

Sometimes doing this took great patience, and at times I have failed to maintain control.  The first few times, they continued to get angry at my rebukes. However, as I consistently remained calm, I saw a miraculous change in them.  They are calmer, kinder, and more willing to take a rebuke than ever.

We want to remember that our kids are human too, and while they MUST obey us as parents because the Lord says so, they are still primarily Gods children who are made in God’s likeness.  He has given them to us as a gift, but they are his children.  They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  Too often in the past I have treated them with such disdain in my speech.

Today is a new day, let us give our children every opportunity to please their Lord.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Have you ever, like me, suddenly realized it was your own problem manifesting itself in your kids?  Tell us about it in the comments. ~Brad

 

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