Devotionals

The Art of Letting Go

There are a million little moments I want to tuck away in my pocket to pull out and relive. But life doesn’t pause, leaving me to be content with the memories made. 

People. Places. Events. There are so many things God has used to shape the person I am and mature me into who He has created me to be. It’s a daily process. A daily surrendering. And a lifetime of growth. 

Recently I sat in my favorite spot of our house, looking around the room at the pictures hanging on our walls and my candle and books creating the centerpiece for our coffee table and I simply reminisced the gift of the past season. My heart ached at the upcoming goodbyes but was comforted by God’s reassuring Presence. In that moment, He reminded me that I didn’t have to say goodbye to Him. 

He has been with me in every move, every transition and every season. He is my constant and He is never leaving. An overwhelming peace and joy settled in my heart as I celebrated this part of the journey with Him. Releasing anything we love is hard but when we know God is moving us on, there is comfort in the change and strength in the letting go. 

God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Remembering this gives me courage to embrace each new horizon. I can let go of what I know and walk toward the unknown because I walk with the One who knows not only my current end but also my new beginning. 

Devotionals

Stress Relieved

I’m not sure what a panic attack actually looks like, but if it’s an overwhelming feeling of stress in my gut that leads to tears every time I think of a situation then I had a mini panic attack this morning. Even while I prepared my tea and excitedly sat down for my moments of quiet before the household woke up, it took every effort to still my pounding heart. 

I’m a pretty transparent person, but this morning I’m going to leave out the details of how I arrived at this moment because that is not the point. (However, if your curiosity gets the better of you, just ask and I’ll gladly share. I’m basically an open book.) 

What I want to focus on is what happened when I sat down. It’s cliche, I know, but it was as if Scripture came alive. The “peace of God that transcends all understanding” (check out Philippians 4:32 in the Bible if you aren’t familiar with this verse) settled in the room and gently took my stress. In the short time that I sat there, God worked on my heart, shifted my perspective and gave me joy for my upcoming day. 

I write this to encourage you in your struggles. Whatever burdens you wake up to, let Jesus carry the weight and teach you how to navigate them gracefully. It doesn’t have to take a long thought out action plan. It simply takes asking God for help. 

If you’re a list person, like myself, here are some bullet points to remember when you feel overwhelmed:

-Be still

-Ask God for help

-Open the Bible

-Let go

It’s that simple. 

So, I leave you with these thoughts and trust you have a wonderful week. Come good or bad – with Jesus’ help, YOU GOT THIS!

Devotionals

Never be content

I hate being satisfied and content. Before you think I’m turning into an egotistical gal, please read on. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly high speed motion picture that we live in and put our relationship with God into neutral, but I feel a tugging in my spirit to fight this tendency, to reach for more and to challenge you to do the same. I never want to be satisfied with how close I am to God. There is always more. There are more things to learn, more ways to change and more areas in which to grow. And God is desperately waiting for us to want this enough to do something about it.

Do you ever just look around and wonder at God’s handiwork? It’s in everything around us. The mountains, the ocean, the intricate detail of flowers, the variety of personalities, a child’s smile. And in the midst of His grandeur, His voice speaks when we are listening. He is drawing us to Himself. 

My heart’s cry is to know God more. I want to hear the whispers which can only be heard in the close moments of intimacy where His love is spoken over me and I feel the deep beatings of His heart. I want to see the brokenness in this world through His eyes causing me to throw away my comfort in order to do something about it. 

Sometimes we don’t want to listen because we are afraid of what it will cost us. And often times it will cost a lot. But what we will receive in return, both now and in eternity, will far outweigh anything we sacrifice.

Even as I write this, I feel an urgency. Wherever you find yourselves today, I dare you to abandon whatever is hindering you from surrender (fear, doubt, materialism, laziness, stress, busyness, etc.) and run after God like never before. 

You may say you have no idea where to start. Open the Bible, open your heart and watch what God will show you. It’s that simple. 

My prayer for us all:

“Lord, You said that if we draw near to You, You will draw near to us. Give us hearts that desire to know You more. Give us courage to let go of temporal things that hinder a relationship with You. Teach us to slow down. Help us surrender. Mold us into Your likeness. Take us to new levels of friendship with You. Show us Your glory.”

Parenting

Real Mom Life – Part 2

Ok, so let’s talk real life as a mom. It’s busy, fun, messy, hard and absolutely wonderful! 

In my last post, I gave you a look into some of my hectic moments of motherhood and a peek into what God has been showing me through it. Today I want to show you the other side. 

If you walk around my house, you’ll find a leaf on our shelf above the sink, a pine cone in one of our baskets, a heart that shows up on the bathroom mirror after hot showers and random dying flowers at any given time. I wish you could see our four year old’s smile every time he picks little flowers and holds them up to me at the door. Or hear our little one say, “Hold you, mommy,” as he looks up with expectant eyes. I love our special songs, handshakes and memory making traditions. 

But you have your own. 

As mothers, I think we all have tendencies to fall into the comparison trap but it’s important to remember that each family is a unique unit with its own traditions and ways of doing things. And that is so awesome. With that said, when we allow God to guide us as we guide our children, then we can glean from each other and share ideas of what works and what doesn’t. 

My litmus test for a successful day of mothering has much more to do with my attitudes and reactions than the kiddos’. And truth be told, when my heart is in the right place, it usually flows over into their responses as well. But along with this I have a mental list, now an actual one because of this post, that I aim for each day. When I accomplish these things, I go to bed feeling satisfied with another day under my belt as a mom.

Every day I strive for…

  1. Time alone in prayer and Bible reading
  2. Gentle responses with my kids
  3. Limited screen time for the kids (except for special “game days”)
  4. Getting the kids active (park, trampoline, sports, etc)
  5. Spending time with them

It’s a full time job but one I would say yes to over and over. 

So to all you moms out there, remember that no matter how many bad days you’ve had, each day is a new day to try again. We can never be perfect on our own but we can be so much more than ourselves with the help of Jesus. (So spend time with Him.) And we need help because we have little eyes looking at us to be their heroes. 

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope we will all enjoy time with our kids and remember how blessed we are to own the title “Mom.”

Parenting

Real Mom Life – Part 1

Some days I have it together if I must say so myself. Other days, well, not so much. In this post I’m going to deal with the latter. Stay tuned for part two, which is a much prettier display of motherhood packaged with a little more sanity. 

Oh and spoiler alert…I’m now 2 days past the writing of this post and…I survived.

This morning my alarm went off more times than I’d like to admit and my quiet time was shortened significantly. Why do I do this to myself first thing in the morning?

I rushed around getting all three kids ready because it was a full day and Jake and I were going in different directions. I sent him off with our youngest while I wrapped up the last few morning routines with our two older boys before taking our oldest son to school.

We are in the middle of moving houses and I hadn’t been to the grocery store so my son’s packed lunch options were limited and he was less than thrilled about those options. I informed the boys that we were eating breakfast in the car because not only were we out of time but the bag of pop-tarts and cereal (don’t judge our well balanced menu) was left outside in the moving process. Only then did I realize that my keys were missing and breakfast was locked in the car. My thoughts, “If I don’t find these keys in 7 minutes, our son will be late for school.” I started a frantic search. Nothing. My panic started segueing into ideas of what we could do together if we couldn’t find them. Then we found them, well, Jake did. He accidentally took them and he wasn’t coming home for at least an hour. I called a friend who graciously came, picked up our son and took him to school. 

Problem solved. Now on to the next one. It was 8:15 and I found myself looking at our middle son who was smiling up at me, waiting for me to tell him what we were going to do. The only thing is that I had nothing for him to do (all of their toys and games were packed) and breakfast was still locked in the car. So I went into mommy mode of how I could make this an adventure. 

And so my day started…

In the midst of errands, packing, ministry, moving, meetings and office work, I’m “mostly” a stay at home mom. And with that comes a lot of refereeing, playing judge and teaching. Currently, we are teaching our youngest son not to hit and bite, our middle son to have patience with our youngest and our oldest son that he has to pay attention when we are talking to him. Sometimes I think I’m going to go crazy. I’m not sure how many times I’ve prayed, “Jesus, help me” in the past few days. 

I’ve had a kaleidoscope of emotions from anger to love to frustrations to “I’ve gotta have a moment of silence.” Just one, please! 

And then came that still, sweet voice of Jesus that always teaches me things in the chaos. 

Yesterday I was talking to the boys and wondering if they were even following me or if their stares indicated they were in another world all together. I wanted them to get along. To be kind to each other. To help each other out. 

In that moment, God reminded me that He wants that too. He wants them to know Him personally and while they, ultimately, have to choose for themselves, God has given these children to us to reflect His character to them. 

My patience, my gentleness and my kindness is what they are learning. This season is their classroom and no matter what I say, my actions are teaching them something. It’s a sober thought, but it leads me to pray, “Lord, mold my character to reflect Yours!” 

In the heat of the moment when everyone is calling my name at once, asking questions, telling stories, pulling on my shirt, I don’t usually feel patient and gentle.

Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all…” It’s not too difficult to let my gentleness be evident in public, but “to all” includes my family. This is the class I’m currently taking. 

Now that you know what I’ve been ruminating on, back to my adventure. While, internally, I wrestled with my emotions for the next 12 hours, the day actually ended with sweet memories made. My middle son and I took a walk that ended with breakfast at a bagel shop, the afternoon was filled with more packing and responsibilities and that evening the boys and I had reading time while we ate chocolate drizzled popcorn. 

At the end of the day, these are the moments we will remember.

Stress is so normal in motherhood but we can’t get stuck in the attitudes it naturally produces. May we allow God to stretch us beyond our own abilities into the best moms we can be. And in the process, let’s enjoy every moment we have with our kids, come good or bad. 

Devotionals

Influencers

I’m in the middle of a great book, Refiner’s Fire. It’s a compilation of ODGs’ (Old Dead Guys’, as we call them) words, written down by members of their congregations and unedited.  Every time I pick it up I walk away with a challenge whether I read for ten minutes or thirty. Here is an excerpt from my morning reading and some thoughts it evoked. 

“God forbid that the sheep of His pasture should ever cling to any word that proceeds from our mouth that did not first of all proceed out of the mouth of God. God forbid that any of His sheep should willfully follow any one of God’s ministers in any manner of behavior or teaching, that did not originate in the heart of God.”

It is through union with Christ and a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit that we can truly walk and live and work in His power and anointing. I’m reminded of the Scripture in Isaiah 50:4 that says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.”

As a parent, a minister, a musician, a writer and whatever other title I’m carrying in a day, I desire to be led by the Holy Spirit in every ounce of my communication. I pray that my words and actions are empowered by the presence of Jesus and that out of that flows change, encouragement and Kingdom advancement. I desire that my life glorifies the One – Jesus – who loves me immeasurably.

What could change if we all walked with the knowledge in the forefront of our minds that within the mundane of the day to day God has equipped us with a purpose that is so much greater than ourselves? We are light bearers called to illuminate the darkness. What could happen if we all woke up and lived out this Scripture? An equally crucial question can be asked. What if we don’t? 

Either way we answer these questions for ourselves, someone’s life will be changed, along with our own. 

I feel so passionate about the fact that there are people waiting for the hope we possess and we have the responsibility to share it. We must daily stay connected to the Source in order to properly portray His character and His life to the hurting.

To all my readers, I hope you will chew on these thoughts along with me and let God speak to you in the place you are at. If you’d like to share, leave me a comment below and I’d love to dialogue about what God is doing in your heart through these ideas and this verse. 

Devotionals

Trusting in the Dark

When we speak of our relationship with God, trust and surrender are so intertwined that we can’t really have one without the other. I’ve grown up hearing the Scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight,” so many times that it’s easy to skip over it while reading, forgetting the impact of what that really means. 

To trust means to have a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Other definitions include 1 – allowing someone to have, use or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence 2 – commit (someone or something) to the safekeeping of  3 – have faith or confidence in.

This past year I can think of three major moments in my life where I had to choose to trust. One regarded our uncertain future, another was when God asked me to give something up and the last was something that was taken from us. Each moment required a conscious decision to trust preceded by the decision to surrender. 

We cannot trust God with something that we are still holding onto. It’s only when we get to a place where we come with open hands that we can say we trust Him with all of our heart. Our heart is home to our dreams, hurts, hopes, fears and the deep, hidden thoughts that surround these things. So trusting God with our heart is trusting Him with everything dear to us. 

Learning to trust has not been a one time lesson for me but a lifetime of allowing God to teach me how to let go in each season. 

There’s a kids’ show, Daniel Tiger, that has an episode where the children are afraid of a shadow in the dark and the parents come in to show them what it actually is. They start singing this song, “See what it is, you might feel better. See what it is, you won’t be so afraid…” This is great advice in the natural sense but we don’t always get this luxury in the spiritual realm. 

I love the moments when I can look back and see why God did something a certain way, but the definition “firm belief in” comes strongly into play in the moments when we have no idea why He did what He did. 

As hard as it is sometimes to accept things that have happened in my life, I would rather be at rest by the peace God gives when I surrender than live with a striving spirit, trying to have things my own selfish way.

If any of you are in a season of needing to surrender and trust, I encourage you to just let go of what you are clinging to. Sometimes it’s easier than others and, honestly, at times it’s a daily choice. There have been moments in my life where I have told God, “I choose to obey today. Tomorrow, You will have to help me say it again.” Fill in the blank for what you need to pray. Then choose to obey, trust, surrender or follow in this moment and He will give you strength to do it again in the next.

I imagine Father God takes great delight in our trusting as well as in seeing us walk in peace. Certainly the peace that follows surrender will far outweigh the stress of trying to hold on to anything. 

Cafes, Shops and Stops

Rudy’s Music

My husband searches out music stores in every city we visit and New York City was no exception. Located in Manhattan, Rudy’s Music store was a quaint, two story shop filled with pedals, amps and stringed instruments. We easily spent an hour and a half there looking at gear and talking with the staff. If you’re a music lover and in NYC, check it out.

Cafes, Shops and Stops

Katz’s Delicatessen

The original Katz’s Delicatessen is located in Manhattan and is a must for all visitors. Established in 1888, this restaurant is still going strong, offering delicious food as well as a glimpse of history.

We stopped here during a recent visit to New York City. We ordered the pastrami, per a local’s advice, and it did not disappoint. The portions were more than generous (my husband and I split a plate) and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for good food and tradition.