Oceans

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
Lyrics by Hillsong

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
Oceans
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mineOceans
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start nowOceans
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Oceans
Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you will call me
Take me deeper than me feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.
Oceans The words to this song have been my prayer for a few months now for no other particular reason except to grow closer to Christ.  I sing it as my prayer to him…”Lord, lead me to a place where my trust has no boarders, no limitations to what you can do.  Let me walk upon the waters, in faith, wherever you want me to go.  Take me deeper in my faith with you, so much deeper than my feet could ever wander.  Don’t let my influence be wider than my character is deep.  In that, I know my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”
Oceans What I failed to remember is that He will answer prayers in his own way.  He is answering that prayer right now.  He has called me out upon the waters, the stormy waters, of watching my brother fight for his life in ICU.  This is a place where my feet will fail.  It is out of my control, my knowledge, my experience.  My faith in Him to take care of my brother is being exercised to trust without any boarders.  It’s simply, “I trust in you God. PERIOD.”  No if’s, and’s, or but’s.  I am LIVING this song right now.  I am calling upon his name, when oceans rise, I keep my eyes above the waves, and I rest in his embrace.
OceansJust like in Matthew chapter 14 when Jesus called Peter out of the boat to walk on the water with Him, he was able to through faith.  When Peter saw the wind around him, he started to sink.  Jesus came to his rescue and asked, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  I don’t want to be a Peter.  I WILL decide every time fear sets in to keep my eyes above the waves…on Jesus.  Because I am His…and He is mine.  The deepest waters are where His grace abounds.  His sovereign hand will be my guide.  I will have child like faith to trust that my Daddy will not fail, because he never has.
OceansAfter thinking about how God parted the Red Sea for Moses to lead his people away from the Egyptians, I had a vision.  There was a storm, with dangerous waves tossing about in the ocean.  Jesus was in front of me, holding my hand, pulling and guiding me through the waters….on dry land.  The waves parted and were still violently raging, but we were safe.  I was following Him.  My eyes were fixed on Him.  And I was ok.
Oceans

Why Am I Suffering? It’s A Part of God’s Will.

Two months ago, the day after Christmas, I made a notebook for myself to be used as my spiritual journal.  I don’t like the word ‘journal’ (it’s too emotional and sappy) but really the notebook is where I write down everything that the Lord is teaching me through his Word.  It’s more of a study that I am doing and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my fingers through the bible and teach me about him.  The first lesson I studied in scripture I titled “Goodness in Affliction”.  Verse upon verse was coming up about affliction, and how it was ‘good’ to be afflicted.  At that time, I WAS NOT afflicted.  I was fine.  However, I dug in because I knew the Lord was teaching me something.

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Here I am today…afflicted.  I’m afflicted for my brother’s life, his well-being, his survival.  If you need to get caught up…check out what happened.  God was preparing me for this through my obedience in spending time with him and studying his truth.  The series of my study went from “Goodness in Affliction” to “Suffering Leads to Sanctification” to “God’s Will.”  Isn’t that the billion dollar question? What is God’s will?  I believe I know now.  It’s to be HOLY.  Here…I’ll let you take a peek into my notebook.

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GOODNESS IN AFFLICTION

*Psalm 119:7 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn from your decrees.”

-Pain is a teacher.  It forces us to look beyond ourselves for help.

-Coming to the end of our rope is a hidden GIFT.

-We allow God’s strength to work, not our own strength.

-We learn, we grow, we operate out of Christ, not ourselves.

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*Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

-When you are suffering, it is for a reason.  Try to list positive things that could come out of it.

-Trust that God has your very best at heart.

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

-God uses EVERYTHING – most often the difficulties – to remake us and transform us into the likeness of Christ.

-The easiness, difficulties, grief, pain, and joy all have ONE purpose – to make us more like Jesus.

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

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*2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-We may always have a thorn in our side so we will rely on God’s strength and not ours.

-God heals in his own ways.  Death can/may be a healing because as a Christian, death brings new life – no pain – and life in heaven.

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IT IS THROUGH AFFLICTION, WHEN WE ARE DOWN TO NOTHING ELSE, THAT THEN…AND ONLY THEN…WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE BUT GOD.  What else does affliction and suffering do in our lives?  It brings sanctification.

SUFFERING LEADS TO SANCTIFICATION

Sancitification (noun) : the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion

Sanctified (adjective): to be set apart for a sacred purpose or for religious use

Sanctify (verb): to make something holy

Holy (adjective): belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power (God); sacred; set apart for a religious purpose

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*1 Thessalonians 5:23 “May the God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

-Suffering brings us to a place of need.  Suffering shows us how to depend on God.  Suffering reveals the sin in our heart and how little we really are and how big God really is.

-Like gold being refined by fire, it is through the trials, affliction, tests, difficulties, and FIRE that the impurities in us, just like the gold, are being refined and made pure.

-Sanctification, being made holy, doesn’t happen the moment we become a Christian.  It’s a process.  It happens through life. It happens mostly through the trials.

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WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S WILL? I’m glad you asked;)

GOD’S WILL

*Ephesians 5:17 “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

*1 Thessalonians 4:3 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified; …”

*1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this God’s will for you.” 

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*Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed my the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good pleasing and perfect will.”

*1 Peter 1:13-16 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, But just as he who called you is holy, SO BE HOLY in all you do.  For it is written, “Be HOLY because I am HOLY.” 

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-IT IS GOD’S WILL FOR US TO BE HOLY, AS HE IS HOLY.

-BEING HOLY REQUIRES SANCTIFICATION.

-SANCTIFICATION REQUIRES SUFFERING.

-THERE IS GOODNESS IN AFFLICTION…BECAUSE IT LEADS US TO GOD’S WILL…BECOMING HOLY.

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So when God says in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the GOOD of those who love him, he means it.  Even when the situation looks horrible, he’s doing a work in you to transform you into the image of Jesus and to be more like his son.  Now, I’ll call that a good deal any day!

My Little Brother

My little brother is sick.  He is in ICU 3 states away from me.  I haven’t seen him since November and certainly haven’t seen him since he went to the hospital yesterday morning.  Please pray for his healing and full recovery.

Jacob

His name is Jacob.  He is 29 years old and has had more health issues than most people do by the time they’re 75 years old.  He’s diabetic.  He’s had open heart surgery.  He spent 3 weeks during Christmas in the hospital with a staph infection in his foot.  The list goes on. He is now fighting for his life after being found unconcious from seizures over night.  There is a lot of poison in his blood from more infection and bacteria in his body.  Please pray for his healing and full recovery.

Jacob

When he arrived to the emergency room yesterday the doctor said he is very very sick and he might not make it.  They struggled to get an IV in him, but fortunately were able to put in a pic line so antibiotics could be administered.  Last night his fever was up to 107.  Ice packs covered his body in attempts to lower his fever.  It wasn’t working.  They decided to flush icy cold fluid through his stomach to cool him from the inside.  Around 3 am this morning, his fever was down to 97.  It’s around 102 now.  It keeps going up every 15 minutes.  Please pray for his healing and full recovery.

Jacob

My mother drove all day from Georgia to Louisiana to be by his side.  He had been sedated to keep him calm, but he did respond to her voice by moving his legs.  Since then, he has been fighting to get out of bed, kicking off the ice blankets and moving his arms.  He even sat straight up with his eyes open in attempts to get loose.  I see that as a good sign.  He’s moving, he’s fighting.  The nurses increased the dosage for a heavier sedation and tied down his arms and legs.  We are waiting on an EEG to determine how much brain activity he has.  Please pray for his healing and full recovery.

Jacob

I’ve never been more scared in my entire life.  He’s been in and out of the hospital so many times in the past 7-8 years, but nothing has been more serious than this.  I was bracing myself yesterday for the “phone call.”  The phone call that told me he didn’t make it.  I just sat in the floor praying, and praying, and praying, and praying.  My sweet 4 year old Avery came to console me with tissues, water, a blanket, pillows, the TV remote and a book:)  She understood I was upset.  She told me she would do anything Jesus and I told her to do in order to make me feel better.  I asked her to pray, and she did.

JacobAs a believer in God, I know the tools to use to keep my mind, heart, and soul focused on HIM in the middle of the chaos.  I prayed…in the name of Jesus.  I reached out to friends and family to pray.  I turned on praise music.  I quoted scripture.  Because even though I was in shock and felt the rug being pulled out from underneath me, God was not shocked.  He was not shaken.  He was not broken.  He has it together.  He knew this would happen.  He is my refuge, my fortress, my strength, my peace, my comforter, my breath when I can’t breathe on my own.  I focused my attention on him.

JacobThe waiting part yesterday was excruciating.  Waiting on a phone call.  Waiting on a text.  Waiting on ANYTHING.  I prayed for him to live.  I prayed for his heart to keep beating.  I prayed he wouldn’t die.  Please don’t let him die.  Please let me talk to him again.  Please don’t take him.  More importantly I prayed he wouldn’t be in pain, he wouldn’t be in fear, and he would feel nothing but peace.  I don’t want my little brother scared.  Please pray for his healing and full recovery.

Jacob

I know without a doubt God is in control.  I know he is near.  I know he is the ultimate physician.  I know he will provide the peace that passes understanding.  I know he tells me do not fear, because he is God and he is with me.  I know, I know, I know.  So when my spirit is fearful, and my mind starts to worry, I have to speak the truths that I KNOW…and God’s word moves in my soul and brings serenity when I want to scrape the tile off the floors and hide in the ground.  It is only God’s word that I have read, over and over again, that keeps me calm and peaceful in a scary time.  Life is a war.  I have to be trained in my weapons in order to be prepared for the battle.  If I don’t know how to fight against worry and turmoil with the WORD OF GOD, (my sword), then I will be defeated mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Jacob

I pray that he will recover, I believe can God do it.  I also know that God’s will is going to be done.  Whatever he knows is best will transpire.  I rest in him.  I find solace in him.  Though the mountains shake and the world around me may crumble, he never changes.  I will praise him regardless because he NEVER changes.  My praise to his GLORY and GRACE isn’t conditional on whether he answers my prayers or heals my brother’s body.  He will be praised and thanksgiving will be given because he is God, and he is awesome.

Isaiah 54:10 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 41:10 “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 hand.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.”

((EDIT FEB. 18, 2014- If you’d like to follow the updates on Jacob’s condition, please follow Jacob Armstrong Updates on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacob-Armstrong-Updates/1462759363943006?ref=hl))

According to Avery

My first born, Avery (4.5), is so stinking hilarious.  I think she’s the funniest kid on the planet, but I’m her mom…I’m supposed to think that;)

Avery

Avery

Really though, the imagination that God has given her is above and beyond anything I’ve ever tried to conjure up even on my best day.  She LOVES to play dress up.  Always has.  If she doesn’t have the costume, she makes one from articles of clothing and props in the house.  Every day is play day.  Every hour she wants to pretend something.  Her mind creates these story lines and you have to participate, regardless if you want to or not.

Avery

Avery

Within a week’s time, she can dress up as many as 20 different characters.  She’s been Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, Aurora, Merida, Elsa, Mulan, Ariel, Mary Poppins, Little Orphan Annie, Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy, Ninja Turtle, a cheerleader, a monster, a bear, a dog, the pizza lady….

Avery

Avery

I can’t name them all.  And guess what I am?  The prince, the vilan, the witch, the bad guy…whatever she COMMANDS me to be:)

Avery

Avery

She says the craziest things, too.  They come out of nowhere and crack me up.  Her perspective on life is so unique.  Seeing the world the eyes of a child brings back the innocence that is lost when you grow up.  Start paying bills.  Lose jobs.  Lose loved ones.  Experience hurt.  Experience life.  Life ACCORDING TO AVERY seems so much more fun!

Avery

Avery

Here are some doozies from when she was only 2 years old:

*Me: “I hope you were nice to Alyssa when y’all played together. Did you hit her?”

Avery: “Nope.”

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

Avery: “Nope.”

*She passed gas and I said, “Avery…what was that? There’s a frog in your diaper!”  She said, “No, it’s a poot in my diaper”.

Avery

*When we were in the food court at the mall, she pooted. I said, “Avery, you shouldn’t poot in public.”  She told me, “No I didn’t poot in public, I poot in mall.”

*The other morning she was sitting in her high chair waiting on me to fix her breakfast, and said, “Uh oh mommy.  I smell poo-poo from my breaff”. First lesson on morning breath…learned.

Avery

*While holding her Cinderella princess doll, she kissed her and said, “I lubz (love) her.  That makes my heart all better.”

*I told her, “You’re so cute I could just eat you up!”  She replied, “No, you already had chicken nuggets!”

AVERY

*Every time I tell her, “You’re my sweet baby.” Her immediate response is, “No, I’m a princesssss!” (And she believes it, too!)

 *Michael over heard Avery introducing herself to some new friends at the beach with this killer intro… “My name is Avery.  I know how to tee tee in the potty.”

Avery

Fast forward to more recently at the age of four and life ACCORDING TO AVERY gets more interesting:

Avery

Avery

*Avery: “Why isn’t Maw (my mom) awake yet?”

Me: “She’s used to sleeping late. She doesn’t have kids to wake her up early every morning.” (said condescendingly)

Avery: “Well I can wake her up!” (As if she was doing her a favor)

Avery

AVery

 *”Mommy, I love Chucky Cheez-its”.

Avery

Avery

*”It’s ok to poot. As long as you say ‘Excuse Me’ bc it’s good manners. But don’t poot in front of other people. Like…don’t poot in their face or on their belly button bc it might go in their body and make them sick.” 

Avery

Avery

*Me: “Avery, how do you know daddy loves me?”

Avery: “Because you’re his wife! And he tells you he loves you by rubbing your booty.”

Avery

Avery

*Avery asked what Aloha meant. I told her that in Hawaii people say hello and goodbye using Aloha. She looked at me and said, “Helloha.”

Avery

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*Avery: “Mama, where’s that jar I put cookies in?”

Me: “I gave it to Goodwill”

Avery: “BUT I DONT WANT A WHALE TO HAVE IT!”

Avery

Avery

*On the way home Avery really had to go to the bathroom. I told Michael to stop on the side of the road. She protested in a terrified voice, “No! What if a stranger tries to take off my hair?! And makes me bald!?” Uhhhh…. 

Avery

Avery

*Through Avery’s crocodile tears about having to go into the dark bathroom all alone, she said she was “scared of monsters, strangers, and LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS.” Oh my!

Avery

Avery

*Avery: Mommy how old am I?

Me: You’re 4.

Avery: Ohhhh…when am I gonna be 5?

Me: May 22

Avery: (sounding disappointed) May 22 AGAIN??!!! What??!!!

Avery

Avery

* “I don’t like to sneeze. It makes me miss the TV.”

Avery

Avery

*”Are strangers nice when the sun is shining? Are they only bad at night? When we see a stranger, can I ask him to make cupcakes for my pool party next year?”

Avery

snowavery

*Chick-Fil-A forgot to give us ketchup. Liam (my sister’s boyfriend) drove across the street to Arby’s and runs in to get ketchup and I said, “Yaaay! Liam saved the day!” After realizing it was Arby’s sauce and having gone to the Wendy’s drive thru for…ketchup…Avery whispers to me, “Actually, Liam didn’t save the day”.

Isn’t she a mess??!! Art Linkletter was right, kids do say the darnest things.  She’s has some pretty interesting and insightful things to say about God and Jesus, too.

When looking at a full moon one night, she told us, “Me and Mommy and Daddy and Cotton can go live on the moon and see God and Jesus on Tuesdays.”

Avery

Every morning I always ask her if she dreamed about anything and what?  She always says “Yes…Jesus”.  The other day she told me, “Jesus talked to you (mommy) and told you to go make me some breakfast.”  Well….I can’t argue with Jesus!

Avery

While we were eating lunch in the mall’s food court, she sees a young college age boy with medium length hair…looks at me….and says, “Mommy, that’s God.”

Avery

Around Christmas time she was learning about Jesus, baby Jesus, and how it was his birthday.  She poked her belly out and told me, “I have baby Jesus in my bellll-yyyyy”.

Avery

*Avery: Are princesses real or are they people dressed up in costume?

Me: What do you think?

Avery: People dressed up.

Me: (hesitantly) You’re right.

Avery: (crying) No! I don’t like it. I want them to be real!

Me: You’re 4. It’s ok to believe they are real. Do you know who really IS a real princess ?

Avery: Me. Because God is my father and he is a king.

Avery 

*Recently Atlanta experienced “Snowmageddon” after a few inches of snowfall shut down the traffic.  People were stranded on the roads between 8-14 hours trying to commute a few miles home.  Children were left to sleep in school and babies had to stay at their daycares overnight.  I told Avery about it and she dropped to her knees and prayed “Jesus, please move the snow off the driveways so the mommies and daddies can get to their children.  Amen.”

Avery

According to Avery, God is accessible.

According to Avery, Jesus is real.

According to Avery, they are both the strongest men in the universe.  They see everything, know everything, and nothing is impossible with them.

According to Avery, when she prays, they listen.

According to Avery, Jesus died on the cross because he loves her.

According to Avery, if you ask Jesus into your heart you go to heaven.

She knows these truths because we have taught her.  God and Jesus are common words used in our home.  They are real people to her because we make them real.  She communicates with them regularly. She has a childlike faith that means believing without a doubt.  The kind of faith that a  child has when she’s standing on the edge of the diving board looking at her daddy waiting in the deep end and he says, “Jump! I’ve got you!”…she jumps because she trusts in her daddy.

When was the last time you prayed?  When was the last time you got on your knees put your forehead to the carpet?  When was the last time you stepped out into the deep waters because you knew your Father was there to catch you?

It’s not that hard, you know, to trust in God…according to Avery.

Luke 18:17  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Matthew 18:3  And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Psalm 71:5-6  For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

 

I Live For The Applause

“I live for the applause, applause, applause

I live for the applause-pause

Live for the applause-pause

Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me

The applause, applause, applause.”

Man.  I love that song.  Lady Gaga’s voice has been stuck in my head for a week now.  Every time I hear it the first thing I want to do is dance.  Or make up a killer routine.  (For those who don’t know me personally, I used to dance, cheer, and choreograph.)

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The second thing I do when I hear that song is think about how I used to…

Live for the applause.

And still battle now not to…

Live for the applause.

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I like winning.  I like being the very best at anything I do.  Some people call that “being competitive.”  My dad called it “being an Armstrong.”  It was my life.  Win…or…well, that was the only option for me.

In school, I wanted to make straight A’s.  In cheerleading, I wanted to be better than I was the week before.  In track, I wanted to run faster.  In pageants, I wanted the crown.  I wasn’t a cut-throat competitor whom everyone hated (I think!), but I liked the applause.  It gave me joy.  It gave me worth.

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Fast forward to college graduation.  School was over, cheerleading was over…marriage was beginning and so was a new job. Without me realizing it was happening, my sources of joy, praise, and worth were vanishing.  There was no one to clap for me or for my accomplishments.

My job consisted of office work.  Not very glamourous.  No one gets a trophy for filing papers and doing inventory.

My role as a wife consisted of household chores and cooking dinners.  I never remember Michael coming home and crowning me “Queen of the Dirty Clothes” because I totally rocked that laundry.

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Where were my “thank you’s”, “you are so great at that”, or “no one else can do that job like you, Paige!” ???

Yea, NOWHERE! That’s because I was in the real world doing what I was EXPECTED TO DO.  I lived for the applause.  I wanted the applause.  I was used to the applause.  There was no applause and I was searching for a source.

Something changed.  Something in my heart and spirit got turned upside down, and Jesus showed me where my true intentions were.  I wasn’t doing my daily tasks with joy and thanksgiving simply because it was HONORING CHRIST, I only did them in hopes someone would notice and thank me for it.  If nobody noticed, I felt the urge to tell them.  (like for real…WHO CARES???!!!)

Applause

It’s truth found in scripture like these verses below that I had to ingrain into my mind, and let them transform my heart, which allowed my actions to be pure and honorable, without ulterior motives.

Galatians 1:10 
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
 
John 12:43
For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
 
Colossians 3:23 
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
 
Romans 12:1-2 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
 
John 5:44 
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
 
1 Corinthians 10:31 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
So whatever you DO…whether it’s file papers, sweep floors, wipe down countertops, fold clothes, cook dinner, change diapers, scrub toilets, take out the trash…DO IT ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
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I realized that if I only did something because I was hoping to get a THANK YOU out of it, I was doing it for the wrong reason.
Now, I have to remind myself when I’m picking up toys to do it because God has given me this blessing, and it is mine to take care of.  To whom much has been given, much is required.
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I look to Christ for my source of JOY and WORTH because you know what, I am his daughter, and that makes me ROYALTY.  It wasn’t until I knew WHO I WAS IN CHRIST that I handed over the fight to prove WHO I WAS TO OTHER PEOPLE.

Are You Wishing Away What Someone Else Is Missing?

Two kids.  Two blessings.  Two girls.  One is 4.5 and the baby is 9 months.  I love them both, so so much.  I would’t trade the world for them.  

However, I have moments.  Moments that aren’t my most glorious moments.  Times when I’m at my lowest, worn out, running on fumes, frustrated kind of moments. These are the times when I WISH for things to be easier.  I wish for things to hurry up and move along.  I wish I wasn’t in this SEASON of life right now.  These wishes come into my mind…I speak them out of aggravation…and then they leave and I return to the thankful mother I am.

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My friend Tracy is in a different SEASON of life.  Two kids.  Two blessings.  A daughter and a son.  One is 20 and the baby is 17:)  She wouldn’t trade the world for them. 

However, she has these moments.  Moments of a longing, a missing, for something that once was.  Times when the house is quiet, lonely, peaceful kind of moments.  These are the times when she MISSES what used to be there.  She misses the little hand prints on the window, and she longs to go back to the season THAT I AM IN NOW…the season I want to rush through.  To wish through.  

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No matter where you are in life as a mother right now, listen to our hearts and see what God is telling you.

I wish I could get a full night’s sleep without anyone waking me up.

I miss when they would “sneak” into my room at night and climb into bed beside me.

I wish I could sleep in until 8 a.m.

I miss that early morning “MA-MA-MA-MA” when they were learning to call for me once they woke up… and then seeing them light up and get so excited and hold out their arms for me as I came in their room.

I wish Charlotte would just walk so I don’t have to hold her all of the time.

I miss how they would hold up their arms wanting me to pick them up and hold them. I miss how she would say “hold chu , hold chu”  meaning “hold you” because we would say “do you want me to ‘hold you’??” 

Charlotte at 5months

I wish I could just hop in the car and go without packing a diaper bag, food, and snacks.

I miss driving them everywhere. The best conversations always happened in the car. And I miss singing with them to “their music” and watching them laugh at me.

I wish the girls would take longer naps so I could get more done around the house.

I miss sitting in that big tree in the backyard with her singing and telling stories for hours and hours.

Charlotte

I wish I could wear cute clothes without spit up or snot on them.

I miss dressing up and having elaborate tea parties.

I wish I could go to the bathroom without an audience.  Or holding a child.

I miss being able to hold them on my hip or on my shoulders.

I wish when I sat down at the computer I could get an email completed before little hands tried typing everything for me.

I miss holding their hands.

Mommy with girls

I wish my house wasn’t such a wreck half of the time.

I miss the days of playing trains and construction site and cars for hour and hours and hours.

I wish I could get a pedicure.  It’s been MONTHS… (9 months to be exact)

I miss those tiny little feet and hands and those “squishy” little legs… oh my sweetness.

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I wish Avery didn’t scream across the house for me because she’s out of milk.

I miss hearing him say “I Wuv you” or “Can I have Wunch”  … we had to work on those “L” words… but oh so cute.

I wish bedtime didn’t take so long.

I miss telling stories, reading books and saying prayers together when I put them to bed. I miss laying with them in bed as they fall asleep.

I wish I could just lie on the couch, watch a grown-up show in its entirety, and eat a snack without sharing.

I miss Disney movies and cuddling on the couch.

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(Update on February 6, 2014: I failed to recognize the women with mother’s hearts who have not been able to have children, or have lost a child. Every aspect of having children, the good and EVEN the bad, some women will never experience. Count it ALL joy, dear mommas.)

A note from Tracy:

As I thought about the days of “I wish” and my days now of ” I miss”, it made me think about the days of “I am so excited for”.  There is a season and time for everything, and they are all perfect and beautiful. We need to relish in the moments of “now”, the present time. Take it in. Enjoy each and every piece of it…good, bad, difficult, tiring, fun… all of it. For there will never be a time like NOW.  I starting thanking God for all my “I miss…” days  instead of missing them and wanting them back.

What a blessing to have all those memories and so many more. What a blessing I have to enjoy today, this day that I have and this season that I am in. What a blessing I have to think about what is yet to come. There is so much to be excited for and look forward to. So I need to not hang on to the past, or wish away today but enjoy the moment.  Each season and time of life that we are in is beautiful and wonderful in its own way.

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And I know that God has been and is and will be with me through each season, each step of the way and everyday helping me, strengthening me , equipping me and preparing me for all of it. He is the one constant that I hang on to.  Enjoy today , the now , the present.  Be thankful for the past. Look forward to what is yet to come. There is a time for everything.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and  a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace… He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

 

How Expectations Can Ruin a Marriage

If I could give advice to an engaged or newlywed couple right now, I would say:

“God didn’t create marriage to make you happy.  He created it to make you holy.  God chooses marriage in the bible to show the relationship between Jesus and the Church.  The bride represents the church, and the groom represents Jesus.  The relationship between the two is meant to grow, stretch, develop, and strengthen one another to be more and more like Christ…to be HOLY.”

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I would also tell them:

“Don’t expect anything out of each other beyond the requirements to love each other unconditionally and seek ways to build up one another. Focus on your walk with God and ask him to show you how to love your spouse better.  Don’t put your focus on what the other person can do for you.”

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You see, Michael and I got married straight out of college.  We knew it all.  Really…WE KNEW EVERYTHING.  We were Christians, about to receive a college degree, and had jobs and a house already lined up.  All we needed was pre-marital counseling…because that’s what Christians do…duh! ;)  We were ready to be ADULTS! (can you sense the sarcasm?)

The biggest impression that pre-marital counseling left on me was the quiz on what “chores” we each thought the wife and husband should do in the home.  Mowing the lawn.  Washing the dishes.  Cooking dinner.  Paying the bills.  Doing laundry.  Raising children.  You get the picture.  Can you see where this is leading?  Let me just say it – PERFORMANCE BASED ACCEPTANCE.

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It started out great, except for the fact that a lot of the “chores” and “responsibilities” that fell under my category weren’t executed often.  Or the way Michael wanted them done.  The things that I expected Michael to do, I’ll give it to him, he was pretty darn good at.  Where did that leave me? Feeling guilty, worthless, unaccomplished, incapable…and unloved.

Frustration surfaced.  Throw in bad communication (silent treatment, eye-rolling, sleeping in other bedrooms) along with the disappointment of unmet expectations and we were digging ourselves a big hole.

Did we love each other? ABSOLUTELY!!! Were we showing each other how much we loved one another? Not 100% of the time, and not the way we needed it.

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You see…I felt like Michael loved me more and was proud of me when I accomplished my list of chores.  When I failed at them, I truly believed that I was not a good enough wife for him.  It was a constant competition between us of: “Look at what I did”…”But look at how much I’m doing over here”… “I go to work all day so you can stay at home”… “I’m raising our daughter and you have no idea what it’s like!”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Does that sound familiar?

We had expectations.  These expectations were not met because we are human and we fail.  This “performance based acceptance” was setting us up to lose.  Every time.

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Because I was not standing firm on the truth of who I was in Christ, I gave the devil a foothold to grab onto. The lies starting to pour into my head: “I’m not good enough for him.  He needs a better wife.  I can’t do what he’s expecting me to do.  He only loves me when I clean the house.”  They got worse: “I could’ve done better.  I don’t deserve this.  He’s made me settle and stay at home when I have more talents than this.  I can do this all, alone.”

It makes me cry to think I ever thought those thoughts, and then believed them.  That’s what the devil wanted.  He wanted to ruin our marriage.  And he wants to ruin yours, too.

By the grace of God…HE intervened…and through a series of events including starting a new church, meeting some great Christian mentors, and joining a women’s small group called Warrior Wives (coincidence…I think not), God started healing our hearts.  And our marriage.

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We needed a mind change.  A heart change.  An attitude change.

We needed JESUS.

The good news I can share with you now, is that going on 9 years of marriage, we are stronger, more loving, more affectionate, closer to Christ, and proud to say that God was the only reason our marriage is a million times better now than what it was 4 years ago.  Praise God!

The expectations have vanished. The cool part about it is that we actually go above and beyond what those original expectations were in the beginning to help each other out. We realize we are a TEAM…we are not each other’s competition.

We both have learned to put GOD first in our heart and look to him to fill us up with LOVE, JOY, AND PEACE instead of looking to each other.  We both have learned what each other’s love language is and try to practice it every day.  We both know that marriage takes work, and God can heal ANY MARRIAGE if you just put it in his hands. Some of the same struggles poke their ugly heads back up, but we know how to handle them and how to communicate through it and how to keep showing our love to each other.

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The power of forgiveness is life changing.  I thank God for what he has taught us.  The path we were on and our actions brought a lot of hurt into our hearts.  Had we known in the beginning what marriage was really created for…HOLINESS…not happiness…we might have avoided some of the heartache.

So that’s my encouragement to new couples.  Don’t expect anything but love.

My encouragement to couples who are in the middle of the mess…SEEK GOD…SEEK COUNSEL…HAVE FAITH HE WILL REDEEM YOU AND YOUR MARRIAGE.

Don’t give up hope and don’t give up on each other.  You’ll miss the blessings on the other side.

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1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”