I feel like I am always waiting for or on something. Can you relate? Maybe you are waiting for the right job, waiting to to go on the next mission journey, waiting to get married, waiting to get pregnant, waiting to deliver, waiting to buy a home, waiting to go on vacation, and the list goes on. I'll be the first to say that I'm not the best with being patient. I seriously found out each pregnancy what I was having at 15 weeks because I was anxious and couldn't wait until 20weeks to find out. My running joke with my husband Wesley is that I asked God for patience so He gave me him. Let me explain 1. If you know my husband, you know he is one who takes his time with everything and 2. he is a very patient person in general. So on one hand he can drive me crazy w/ his timeliness but on the other hand he is so calm and can patiently deal with life and with me and my rush to do everything, which I'm sure can drive him crazy as well. Thank God we balance each other out.
As I wrote out some of my prayers for this year, I realized just how much I am in a season of waiting and how much I am needing God's guidance and direction. Although I'm in a place where I am longing for change and answers, Im also super excited about what this year has in store for us. There is something exciting about not having all the answers, but knowing the One who does and knowing that He cares about the desires of our hearts. There is also something very emotional about not having the answers and attempting to walk by faith. Its hard! Especially for my personality. I am a doer and a planner. I love definitive and clear answers that make sense to me, however I serve a God who can create something from nothing, whose words hold such power that he can speak something into existence. He is a God who knows all and is all and I will never fully understand Him in all His glory. He knows my whole life story from begining to end, when I barely know just what tomorrow holds.
So as I continue on this journey of learning how to walk more by faith and not by sight, I will try to enjoy the process and learn as much as I can along the way. I have to trust that God knows what He is doing without my assistance. I also want to spend more time being grateful for what God has already done in my life, which is a ton.
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed," the Lord said, "you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. Luke 17:5-6
Sometimes I wonder if my real problem isn't patience as much as it is my level of faith... Increase MY faith Lord.
I'll just say Yes by Brian Courtney Wilson
I'll just say yes
You lead the way
I'm not afraid of what it means for me to say
That this life you gave
Is not my own
I'm trusting you to hear my yes and lead me on
Yes, Lord, Yes Lord, My life is yours
This song is so beautiful and heartfelt. I can put this song on repeat and listen to it all day. Listening to it makes me feel hopeful. I only wrote out a part of the song above, however when I really break down what is being said in the entire song I realize it is such an important yet hard declaration. Saying yes to God is sometimes a very difficult task. As I think of the words, I have to be honest w/ myself -Do I really say yes and let God lead the way in my life? Am I afraid of what he may ask of me? Do I really understand that my life is not my own? Am I really trusting God? I would love to say that my answer to all these questions is yes, but sometimes its not. Sometimes its no, sometimes its maybe, sometimes its yes but I fail and it ends up being a no.
I can look at many times in my life when God has told me to wait and I went ahead anyways. When God has told me to shut my mouth, but I felt the need to say something that wasn't fully thought out or tactful. When I should have taken the time to be selfless and help someone but I had something more important to do. I also said yes to fasting for a major need but shortly after was too weak to even finish. If you are anything like me, you can come up with many many more examples of saying no to the things of God. God has watched me fall flat on my face so many times its actually quite embarrassing. I can admit I am super flawed but I am extremely grateful that God still uses me in his kingdom- my flaws and all.
I can also look at times in my life when I've said Yes to God's will and what that has meant for me. When I said yes to coming to Tennessee from Germany. I came to a state I had never been before, nor knew anyone at, just to go to college alone from all family. God knew I would meet my future husband here and have life changing experiences being at a Historically Black University. I said yes to coming home from work and being with my girls. Wesley and I were not in the most comfortable financial place when I left my job, but we knew wholeheartedly it was what I was destined to do and God has continued to bless and show us favor. It has now been three years of walking away from a supervisor position, that I enjoyed and worked really hard to attain, to be with my amazing AND exhausting little girls. :-) I said yes to starting this blog and committing to posting weekly. I knew God was challenging me to figure out a way to use gifts and experiences in my life to help others. I'm actually crazy nervous each time I press that post button, thinking if by getting over my fears I can just touch one person it would all be worth it.
Saying Yes to God is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but ALWAYS necessary because he has our best interests at heart.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Many years ago I prayed to God asking for patience. It was a good, but really crazy request for me because seriously patience is not an area in my life that I want to be challenged in. I should have known that when you ask God for something such as this, he is going to allow many opportunities to work on that aspect in your life. I instantly had things in my marriage I had to practice patience on, stuff at work that pushed my lack of patience to the brink, and then trying to conceive a child which required a crazy level of patience. I desperately wanted to go back and say, Lord you remember that prayer... um how about we act like it never happened because I really don't want to grow in this area right now, maybe later when everything is going as planned...by me of course ;(. Maybe its just me but although some things do go well for me, a lot of things NEVER go as I have planned which is hard but probably necessary in many situations ;).
Although this was a request from many many years ago- I, in no way, have mastered this skill. I am constantly put in situations where I need to exercise patience and "the planned out organized" part of me takes a serious beating. I think sometimes we think that when God says something is going to happen in our lives or we have this belief of something changing we expect it to happen quickly or in a certain reasonable timeframe. Im learning more and more that although God has the ability to change any situation in an instant it just doesn't always happen that way. I sometimes worry God isn't hearing my prayers or maybe my desires aren't as important as the next but of course that isn't true. I clearly just need to work on my faith and patience. There are MANY bible stories that I should take into consideration. Here are a couple very well known ones but super great reminders:
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers around seventeen years old. God was always with him helping him along the way to fulfill His plan for his life but he was absolutely put in some tough situations along the way. He knew God had a plan for him from his dreams, yet it took about thirteen years before that plan came into fruition. I personally get impatient after a week or a month of waiting at times, so to wait over a decade...whew!!
What about Abraham and Sarah? We all love this story right!?!? At the ripe age of seventy-five God promises Abraham that he would be a father to many nations although he and his wife had no children yet. Fifteen years pass by and God reassures him that his promise will be fulfilled and it still wasn't until after another ten more years that Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Twenty-five years!!! Im exhausted thinking about that kind of wait! (its another whole topic to dig into what happens when we don't understand the wait and take matters into our own hands...Ishmael/Hagar)
It's rough when you want something to change and/or happen and it just isn't moving like you would want it too but please keep the faith. Although I would rather not "wander in the wilderness for 40years," I have to remember that God has a purpose for every decision he makes even if its painful to experience or doesn't make any sense to me. Like he really needs MY approval-haha! If Im honest w/ myself sometimes I know I bring on those unwanted consequences, doing things my own way. Just know that sometimes God's delays ARE in fact a real denial of something we want but may not need BUT sometimes it's really just what it is "only a delay" and will happen in due season. Easier said that done of course as I'm sure I'm absolutely the 1st person who constantly needs this reminder. ;0
Today was one of those days I had to sit down and re-evaluate myself. The past few weeks (shoot maybe more) I've felt like I was on one of those hamster wheels running super fast but getting nowhere. I do realize that with two children under the age of three, there are going to be many days like this so I should give myself some slack however today I needed to figure out what was really going on in my crazy world.
For starters, I've been super forgetful lately. For example, I had planned with a friend to meet up at a nearby church with the girls for "trunk or treat" fun. Ive had it on my calendar for at least a couple of weeks and I was really looking forward to it. I had the girls costumes ready to go and everything. Well I got a text today AFTER the event where my friend said "hey we missed you tonight" and added a super cute picture of her daughter in her costume and it was only then that I realized I put it on my calendar for the wrong date. She had thought something came up and I couldn't make it and this is not the 1st or 2nd time this has happened to me lately. I was sad I missed the event but thank God the girls are too young to really care right now and I that I didn't actually show up on the wrong day with the girls dressed in their costumes, me looking like a fool. :-0 Also with my friend's help I was able to find another fall festival to go to in a couple days. This example above was just a small problem but seriously if something is not on my running to do list and calendar it just won't get done no matter how important it is. I guess I probably need to make sure I put the right dates down as well...
Lately I've been emotional (well more than normal for me haha) and things I can typically do easily, I'm messing up completely because Im really just doing TOO much. As I approach November and December, the two busiest months of the year for me with the holidays, travel, and both girls birthdays, I know I need to get my life back on track and quick! I need some order because lately my most used phrases has been, oops sorry I forgot, I didn't know, or I'm sooo tired ANND if I drive out to one more store that either hasn't opened yet because I'm too early or has already closed because I got there too late Im really going to scream.
I finally sat down today and looked at what was going on and I realized that yes Im doing a lot of stuff (and not always well) but I'm honestly not focusing on the area that should be first in my life...GOD!?!? Sure I pray everyday, its part of my routine to just talk to God throughout the day and pray with the family, buuuut have I been reading my bible consistently and building up the most important relationship in my life? Nope, not exactly... For a while I was consistently getting up early in the morning and doing my devotion and having quiet time to just breathe and have rest in the Lord but I fell off and lately I've been getting up early and running to the gym (occasionally :-), running to the grocery store w/out children in tow, making breakfast, organizing or cleaning something, doing the budget, etc, etc, etc. This is probably why I am behind on my daily devotions and my life seems completely out of whack. The peace and rest that is written about in the bible, I am missing when I rely on my own abilities and put God at the bottom of my to do list...you know IF I get around to Him after ALL my errands and tasks are done, favorite show is watched, and then hopefully before my day has gotten away from me and Im not too tired to do another thing. Yes sad I know.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
I understand that this passage was spoken to the God-fearing Jews (before the crucification and resurrection) who woke up each morning with the burden of following 613 laws and not exactly the normal tired you and I would feel after a long day. I can only relate this to my everyday experiences and Yes, I sure do feel heavy laden, I really NEED rest for my soul, and I would LOVE to switch my yoke for an easier and lighter burden. I guess in conclusion it is absolutely time I get back on track, studying my devotions, reading God's word, and striving to live my life with Him as the focal point. I need a lot of grace and I also need to give it out freely to others. I believe from time to time I need to have these rock bottom moments so I can re-adjust my life and priorities and I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling in this area occasionally, so please feel free to join me :)
Let Brotherly love continue. Don't neglect to show hospitality, for doing this some have welcomed angels as guest without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2
What if the last person I had a chance to be hospitable towards was actually an angel? That scripture is thought provoking and makes me understand that God wants me to treat and serve people as if I were serving Him. Hospitality is an area of my life that I know I could work on. Don't get me wrong- I enjoy serving and helping others but hospitality in the sense of inviting people over, entertaining, and cooking meals for others does't come as naturally as I would like.
Last week was the last session of my Apple of Gold program (7 week program where older married women mentor younger married women), and it was another emotional one for me. This last week focused on Hospitality which is not one of my spiritual gifts. Our mentors live and breathe hospitality and they are amazing at making you feel loved and welcomed from the second you walk in the door. You feel special and like they took time to prepare for your arrival. They did a demonstration on flower arrangements and centerpieces for your table during mealtimes and decor for the home in preparation for guests. They showed and showered us with small gifts/trinkets and taught us ways to make your guests feel welcomed when they stay overnight and how to prepare the home for them. I have to say I was so overwhelmed because although I should have known all this stuff, I embarrassingly did not. Making my own flower arrangements is not something I ever do. Some of the younger women in the program grew up learning all of this so it wasn't that new to them, but for some reason all I could think about was how much I had failed in this area over the years. How many times I forgot to even ask if someone wanted a drink. :-(
When I became a wife and then a mother my ultimate goal was to have a warm and loving home for my family. I wanted my kids and husband to feel like home is their safe place, where they will always be loved and accepted no matter what the world throws at them. I think in this area I am doing well but now I really need to spread that warmth and love to others around me as well.
I think the reason my hospitality hasn't spread to others as much as I would like is because at some point I got more caught up in what I had and did not have. I've made excuses like... well when I get a bigger house, bigger kitchen, bigger table (w/out drawings on it haha), a better/ nicer guest room, a huge backyard, etc...then I'll invite people over more. When I figure out how to decorate better (OMG-I really have no clue what Im doing and Im definitely NO Martha Stewart) and have more money to fix the place up like I want THEN I'll be more hospitable. I'll just be real but sometimes Im just too tired and don't want to be bothered entertaining others. The kitchen might be a mess, toys all over the living room and Im the type that wants to clean everything before guests come by adding to my stress level haha. Trust that I completely understand that all of these reasons are selfish excuses. This means Im thinking more about myself than I am thinking about serving others but this is the truth of what has caused me to not grow in this area.
I know that I don't have this area of my life perfected but I am striving to get better. Im a working progress in MANY areas of my life :-0. Im learning it is not about what you have or don't have that should keep you from loving on others and inviting people over to fellowship. I have to continue to pray that God helps me in this area because I know this is big to HIM. Jesus spent His time on earth dining with others, feeding others, staying at people's homes, serving, healing, and teaching others. People showed him great Hospitality and I am certain that is expected of me as well.
A page from my Apples of Gold book. What words would describe your home? I circled the ones that best describe my home. Think about the ones you would have wanted to circle or ones you circled that you wished didn't apply to your home and what you can do to fix that moving forward ;-)
This past weekend I attended a women's retreat with ladies from my church. We stayed at Deer Run Camps and Retreats, which is a lovely location out in the woods. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life. Although I did have my phone with me, it was nice to not use it for social media, taking pictures, watching shows, Youtube or anything of that nature. I would not call myself an outdoors-type of person per se, but I enjoyed the short hike some of us ladies took, and our scheduled quiet time w/God where I had the opportunity to just sit outside on a beautiful day, journal, and relax. I really wish I did that more in my life but the excuse that comes to mind is that Im just too busy to sit still and do nothing. (definitely an excuse/ topic for another day :0)
The retreat's theme was, Are You Ready for a New Road? I won't go into a ton of detail about the weekend but I loved the super cute goodie bags that had some sweet reminders for us, and the idea to think about the different road signs and traffic lights we may see as we drive and what that can mean for us in our lives. Think about it- some of us really do need to make a detour, a u-turn, maybe even slow down or come to a complete stop in some areas of our lives. Sometimes we may need to yield, do not enter, or don't park in some areas as well. Maybe we really need to Goooo because God has given us the green light but for some reason we are stuck on red. Whatever that is for you it was a great way to think of these signs of caution and direction to help us on the road and how God gives us signs in our everyday lives as well, that we can only understand through a relationship w/ him.
The best part of the weekend was spending quality(drama free) time w/ ladies who Love the Lord. We laughed, many of us cried a TON, shared our stories, and I was especially excited just to have a short time of ZERO responsibility!! We roasted s'mores by campfire and I slept on the top bunk of a bed in one of the cabins-something I haven't done since I was a small child. I got to sit and have lots of conversations with some ladies I knew and many I didn't know and I thought as I was driving back home how important it is for women to build quality relationships w/ other like-minded women.
I can remember a period of time in my life where having relationships with other ladies was stressful, drama filled, and depleting. Im sure at some point we have all been around or witnessed those type of ladies and/or friendships. You know the "friends" who drain you emotionally, maybe someone who just won't grow up, or a person who is always in the middle of some type of drama. Shoot- maybe at different stages in my own life that might have described me, but I am so grateful for the place I am in my life now where I can actually say that I have quality friendships. Im not focused on the quantity part as much anymore.
I want to DO Life with my friends. I realize that the place I am in my life right now I don't have as much time to just hang out all the time, but my true friends are the ones where we can just pick up where we last ended no matter what. I think I might have read or heard this somewhere but I liked the thought behind it..."my next best (or close) friend MAY be someone I haven't even met yet." Thats pretty exciting to me. I try to remember what my husband taught me when I was struggling in the friendship department, which was simply "that I needed to be the type of friend I want to have in my own life." Wesley has been a great example to me of what it looks like to be a good friend to others. Sometimes you have to give/do more than the other person but that doesn't mean it will always be that way and I have found that to be true in my own life.
Friendships especially with other women is a working progress for me, as I know I am still working on myself when it comes to being a good friend and not being overly sensitive ;). One thing I consistently ask God for, is to bring people who are very different from me into my life. I don't want to stay in my own bubble of race, economic status, interests, etc. I think I can better relate to what is going on in the world when I get outside of "my own world."
The cute and thoughtful goodie bag
Currently my husband and I are being mentored by an older married couple from church and I finally joined a seven week mentoring program at my church called Apples of Gold. I say finally because I have been wanting to do this program for probably five plus years but the timing never fully worked out for me. Honestly the timing now is a bit crazy too but Im starting to realize there may never be a perfect time in my life right now. This program is led by older women who have a passion for helping younger married women.
The two main focus scriptures is Proverbs 24:11
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver
Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in their behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic,kind, submissive to their husbands, the the word of God many not be discredited.
Many of the women have been married for forty plus years and you can feel the love and their gift of hospitality as soon as you walk in the doors. It is held at one of the mentor's home and they teach many different lessons that I sum up to "how to be a good wife, mother, and woman of God." They cook a full sit down meal for us each week, give meal prep demonstrations, recipes, bible study, and host a sweet couples dinner/date night with our husbands. So far it has been such a blessing to be apart of and I am so thankful my church offers this program.
At a recent Apples of Gold session, as prayer requests were circulating, I noticed that a common prayer among us younger ladies was for God to help us to not be so hard on ourselves. There was a feeling of not being enough; some in our work lives, at home as wives, or as mothers. It wasn't that anyone was telling us that we weren't doing enough, it was our own minds tricking us to believe that we were not. I know I personally question if Im being a good enough mom to my girls.. Am I letting my daughter play on iPad too much or do they watch too much tv. I'm guilty of using sesame street just to cook, shower, breathe! Are they getting healthy foods to eat? Am I praising her enough when I feel like I am always in the middle of some reprimand about not sharing with sister, or begging for her to finish her food, and pick up her toys . Society tells me that I am supposed to be this strong woman who can do it all. Im supposed to be able to work full time, be a mom full time, be a wife full time, AND have a booming social life, all while looking great the entire time. Sure there are women out there that can DO IT ALL but that doesn't mean that is what God has intended for my own life. Its ok for me to focus on the season I am in now and NOT be SUPERWOMAN all the time. I am learning how to embrace God's plans for me without comparing myself to others.
One of the ladies said, "that if we believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, can create something from nothing and that He created us in his own image, how could we ever feel that what He created IN US is not good enough FOR US, without saying that God made a mistake." When God knit me together in my mother's womb he made me important and good enough from the start. If we start looking at ourselves the way God looks at us and stop comparing our lives to others we would understand the love and purpose He has for us. I don't say this to say that we can never strive to do more with our lives or fulfill God's purpose whatever that may look like for you, but please don't think God made any mistakes when he created you just the way you are. Just strive to be the best you!
I grew up hearing "I am too blessed to be stressed" and don't get me wrong I completely understand the phrase. I know that if I focused solely on all the good that God has done and changed in me, I wouldn't have as much time to stress about the things I can't control. I also know that high levels of stress and worry in your life is unhealthy and definitely not the way I believe God would want us to live. Soooo now that I got that out of the way. The other day as I sat in church, I randomly thought about that saying and how I truly feel blessed in my life but I also have some stressors too. Can I not be blessed and sometimes stressed all at the same time?? Is it possible that some of the many blessings in my life can cause some level of stress as well?
Well I am a mother of two children under the age of 3 (need I say more??)
I am so blessed to have two beautiful daughters who are healthy and smart. I am grateful to God for allowing me to be their mother but lets keep it real parenting brings a certain level of stress in and of itself. My husband and I just dealt with about two weeks of the typical childhood virus that ping ponged between both girls. Between birthday parties, library and park visits, nursery, school, and play dates there is NO escaping those germs. It was an exhausting couple of weeks getting them back to normal only to know that the next germy virus may be right around the corner.
What about the messes that children make? After having children I have relaxed my OCD standards on clean a bit. I would have to clean up every twenty minutes just to keep everything in its place and in the words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time for that!" The play dough bits under the table, the crumbs to feed a brigade of ants, the purple ink drawing on my dining room table that Im too lazy to sand out, not to mention about 75% of the time snack, lunch, and dinner (when Im able to get my two year old to each anything other than french fries, goldfish and fruit snacks) ends up someplace on the floor. For my personality this SCREAMS stress. I've even put a large smock on my daughter before she ate ravioli, which she now calls a "raincoat." Laugh if you want but seriously less than five seconds later (After this picture) the whole bowl of ravioli fell and spilled all over that smock and none got on her clothes. I was prepared this time!!
How is it that I had no clue of all the explaining, repeating, and repeating some more I would have to do as a parent. I thought I had it all figured out-you know before I had kids when I was an expert in child-rearing and discipline. Yes I was THAT person who knew what everyone else needed to do to have well behaved kids out in public. I mean seriously how hard can it be to get a two year old to listen?!?! HARD! I'll just say God has truly humbled me. I am blessed to have a head strong little girl who is not afraid to speak up, but I would be lying if I said it was never stressful. Only God knows how she has the ability to bring me to my knees in prayer just to make it through some days. My babies bring me such joy and my life is full with them and no matter how many times I have to sweep up goldfish crumbs, I know that I am blessed too.
There are many other factors in life that can bring stress: marriage, extended family, work, friendships. Wesley and I have been married eleven years and its sometimes hilarious (well only after the fact) the dumb things we get into "heated conversations" over. For example which route to take to get from point A to point B and then when its all said and done we finally realize that we were both essentially saying the same exact thing but in different ways after we've already wasted 10 minutes of time. I sometimes feel like we are in that Geico commercial, where the couple is in the jungle arguing over directions. Im sure I can come up w/ many more examples of the blessings in our lives that create a bit of stress as well. The next time you are having a particularly stressful day or in the middle of a stressful situation know that it doesn't make you any less blessed. It may seem like a bit of an oxymoron to say that one could be blessed and stressed at the same time but SERIOUSLY that's just the place I'm at in my life right now and Im sure many others can relate.