Purposeful Faith

Author - Abby Mcdonald

When Your Past Returns to Haunt You

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Are you a pagan?”

I sat in a body-piercing studio with the owner gazing at a tattoo displayed on the nave of my back. It was a gnome, sitting on a mushroom and playing a fife. Everything about it screamed pot-smoker, hippy and apparently, pagan.

And to think I got it because I thought it looked cool. To me it said, “Outsider,” a label I gave myself during my younger years.

The man’s question caught me off guard. I was twenty-one at the time and wasn’t sure who I was, let alone what I believed.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. The artist seemed as surprised by my answer as I was. Immediately, I felt ashamed.

Who was this person, anyway?

I spent the next eight years trying to figure out the answer to that question. Eventually, I realized all of the places I ran to seek my identity were fickle and fading.

It wasn’t until I started with the One who gave me my eternal name that I would know my true self.

These days, my tattoo is usually hidden. But the other day, while on family vacation, I was changing into my swimsuit and my five-year-old saw it.

“Mama, what’s that on your back?”

I told him what the picture was and explained how a tattoo is like a permanent picture on your skin. Then, my mind went back. Back to the person I was. Back to the mistakes I made and the years I spent wasting my life. Things much bigger than a silly tattoo that shape the person I am today.

For a little while, I let the voice of condemnation darken the light in my soul.

Scenes of things I wish I’d never seen replayed in my mind. Faces of people who left this life for the next one burned in my memory and left my heart heavy.

Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking in the new life Jesus freely gave you, and then all of a sudden you’re hit with a blatant reminder of the mess you used to be? That, despite your best efforts, some days you still are?

In those dark moments when I’m not sure I can escape my past, God often gives me a reminder. This time was no different.

We arrived at the pool and found it closed because of an incoming storm. After playing for a while in the arcade next door, we made our way back to the campsite. As we made dinner, a beautiful site caught my eye.

A spectacular sunset over the river.

The sun was big and radiant, dipping to the horizon in a circular blanket of clouds. I hurriedly got my camera and ran down to the beach.

I must of snapped a dozen pictures, but when I flipped through them in my viewfinder I was disappointed. This huge ball of light and fire looked tiny and dim. I couldn’t capture its draw. It was uncontainable.

As I sat in our camper later that evening, I felt that gentle whisper in my spirit.

Don’t try to put limits on my grace, Abby. It’s more limitless than the sun.”

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16 ESV

I was putting God in a box again, thinking I could somehow run outside his grace. But it doesn’t just cover me. It drenches me.

We can’t put finite limitations on the grace of an infinite God.

And the moment we stop trying to put God in a box, we find we don’t want Him there. We find freedom. We find joy and rest.

So today, if your past is trying to haunt you, take a lesson from my tattoo. Remember it shapes you, but it doesn’t define you.

God can take the shattered pieces of your life and turn them into something far more spectacular than a sunset. He does it each and every day. Sometimes we just need a reminder of who he is.

Sometimes we have to take him out of the box and come to the altar. 

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Has God Forgotten Me?

Forgotten Me

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

As soon as we walked in the home, a musty, mothball smell hit me. I looked around at sawdust and unfinished projects.

The place reeked of forgotten potential. It was like Fixer Upper gone bad.

While the bathrooms were redone, the floors desperately needed refinishing. The roof and deck were new, but holes gaped in the unpainted walls.

All of it spelled a big fat “no” in my mind, but my husband saw possibilities. I saw a long list of work, but he saw a future home for our family.

Less than two months later, that’s exactly what this abandoned house became. We painted, put up fixtures, and stained floors. We brought lots of love, sweat and tears.

Our family of three eventually grew to a family of five, and we’re still adding projects to a list that keeps growing. When one job is finished, there is inevitably another one waiting. But you know what? We keep pressing forward. Day by day, moment by moment.

When I think back on my first impressions of this place, I see lessons waiting to be learned. I start projects, get distracted and lose momentum. As a stay-at-home mom and writer, I face isolation and loneliness, and then let discouragement convince me to place my dreams on a shelf.

Like an old, abandoned fixer-upper, I forget my potential. More than that, I forget where my potential comes from: Christ in me.

A few weeks ago, I confided in some close friends how I felt shelved and forgotten. Like an old, dusty knick-knack left next to a book you bought but never read. At one point I was brutally honest about how I was feeling and came to God with my troubles. Do you know what I found? Feelings are often liars.

There is a well-known character in scripture who may have felt forgotten by God too. His name was Noah. We read about him and see a hero and a giant in the faith. We picture a man who heard God and stepped out in obedience. And he was.

But there was a period when Noah didn’t hear from God. At least, there is no record of God speaking in him in scripture. After telling Noah to get in the ark and sending the flood, for all we know God is silent.

When I heard this story as a child, I always thought the rain came down for forty days and then the rainbow appeared, but that’s not what scripture says. In addition to the forty days of rain, the waters flooded the earth for 150 days.

That’s a long time to be tossed in stormy waters and hear nothing.

Do you think Noah felt forgotten? He had no one except his family and a bunch of wild animals as his companions. Do you think he wondered where God was?

I know I would have. But God didn’t forget Noah or his promise. Not for one second.

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

Genesis 8:1 NIV

Whenever scripture says “God remembered” it means he’s about to take action on his promises. In other words, he didn’t forget or take a vacation. He’s true to his word.

God can use seasons when we feel forgotten to help us remember the Author and Finisher of our faith. 

To help us remember our faith isn’t in results or happy outcomes or lack of struggles. Our faith is in a living, breathing person who will complete the work he began.

It isn’t up to us to do it on our own. And aren’t you glad? Our job is to take the next God-ordained step. And then the next one after that.

Even when the waters rise, he is there. He goes with us. And when the sun comes out and the flood recedes, he’ll be there to show us the way home.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Why Our Attempts to Create Our Own Personal Jesus Will Fail Every Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I used to approach friendship with a long list of expectations. Things I thought a friend should do. A space I thought my friend should fill.

Instead of extending grace, I was disappointed when friends didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do. I didn’t care whether they had kids and or whether the unexpected happened.

All I saw was my set of rules.

“A true friend wouldn’t do that.”

“If she was your friend, she would keep her word.”

What’s even sadder is I approached my relationship with God the same way. Instead of coming to the throne of grace wanting to know him, I came with my expectations.

But my expectations weren’t based on promises in his Word. They were based on my notions of what he should be and what he should do for me.

“If he is God, he will answer this prayer.”

“He didn’t answer this prayer, so he must not care about me.”

All this time I walked around feeling lonely and defeated, God still loved me. He still heard my prayers and you know what? He still answered them.

He just didn’t answer them in the way I wanted or expected. During a season, I didn’t see his hand at all because I was so razor focused on certain details of my life.

When we try to create our own personal Jesus, we will fail every time. Because God is not a god of our creation. He is infinite, going far beyond our limited minds.

But what’s amazing is we can have a relationship with him. When we want more of him, he meets us where we are. He gives us his Word as a living tool to guide us and show us his heart. Take the story about Mary and Martha, for example.

Most of us know this story, and Martha often gets a bad rap. This pains me, because what Martha did wasn’t wrong. Serving God and wanting help was not the issue.

The problem was instead of expecting Jesus to be God, Martha expected Jesus to do what she wanted. She came with her expectations and preconceived ideas of what a Messiah who cared would do. When he didn’t meet her expectations, she was disappointed.

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Luke 10:40 ESV

In other words, “Lord if you cared you would not let her leave me here.”

And Jesus corrects her not out of condemnation, but out of love. He says Mary chose what was more important. Mary chose knowing him.

Friends, we will always have expectations. It’s how our brains are wired and God knows this.

But freedom comes when we’re willing to hold loosely to our expectations and come to him in surrender. When we say, “God, I may not understand what you’re doing but I trust that you love me anyway.”

When we let go of our notions of who we think God should be, we can know him for who he truly is.

He is faithful to give us glimpses of his character and love. He shows us his ways and his plans and gives us hope.

Let’s lay our aside our expectations today and come to him with open hands.

Let’s have faith in what we don’t see, and bring glory to the One who sees us.

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Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song I Wanna Go Back came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me. He sees me as a beloved daughter and a new creation, not a messed up kid who can’t ever get anything right.

But often, I’ll hit a road bump in life or a detour and say, “What?” Just like my kids. I think, “God must be punishing me for something I did wrong.”

I think, “Oh snap, God is watching me again. He must have seen that time I raced past the meet and greet or the time I avoided the prayer meeting.”

I don’t notice all the days he’s kept his eye on me and delivered me from harm. I race past the time he showed up through an encouraging note on an awful day and a friend’s offer to help.

What if we spent each day looking for glimpses of God’s love? Instead of fearing his rebuke, what if we looked for evidence that he’s watching us with admiration in his eyes, the same way I watch my kids?

If I see my kids with the joy of a mother’s heart, I know he sees me with a joy that surpasses my understanding. I know because the same God who created them created me. He created you.

When I got home from the market, I picked up our baby girl and put her on the bed. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was watching her.

I smiled at her and she smiled back, her eyes all bright with the newness of an infant. As I took in her sweetness, I realized that’s how I want to be.

I want to smile back at God with the confidence of a daughter. A daughter who knows I’m worth more than many sparrows.

A daughter who knows he watches me with love.

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Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

When Rest Feels Like a Prison Sentence

“Take the keys and go,” my husband said.

It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.

After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.

I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.

But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.

One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and my five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.

Will you continue reading? Today Abby McDonald is hosting the #RaRaLinkup and we’d love for you to join us at her place! Click here to join us!

Why the World Needs Your Voice and No One Else’s Will Do

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My son’s face spelled frustration. He tried to get his classmate’s attention as we left the birthday party, but skating rink noise drowned his voice.

After he called her name several times with no response, he gave up.

“It’s loud in here, buddy,” I said, trying to reassure him.

And it was. I practically ran to get out into the sunshine after two hours of musty air, loud bass and sticky floors. But I also knew he felt defeated.

For better or worse, he inherited my quiet demeanor and his voice doesn’t always project. When he has something to say, he’s intentional, but his words sometimes get lost on those with a short attention span.

I can relate in more ways than one. All it takes is a few minutes on social media for me to feel overwhelmed by the influx of voices.

“What do I have to say?” I ask myself. “No one is going to miss my words.”

There is an article on every topic under the sun. I can find something to make me feel good about neglecting my health, yelling at my kids, and being snippy with my husband. I can find encouragement for any season.

What more does a person need, right?

If we need a good argument to walk off the rink and give up, we don’t have to look far. No one will tell you it’s easy to be heard in a world where everyone is shouting for attention.

This week I read the through the gospels and do you know one thing I love about Jesus? He noticed those others overlooked. He went out of his way to bring hope to the reject, outcast and the lame. It didn’t matter whether others thought he wasting his time.

And do you know what he did for these overlooked people by paying attention to them? He gave them a voice.

He visited the Samaritan woman at the well and gave her words of life, and because he did, she brought truth to an entire village. Many were saved because she didn’t keep what she’d learned to herself. It didn’t matter whether she had prestige, education or social status.

What mattered was the message she shared.

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” John 4:39 ESV

You may be the exact, one-of-a-kind expression of God’s love someone needs today.

It doesn’t matter how loud your voice is. What matters is using the one He gave you.

It doesn’t matter how much speaking experience you have or how many Bible verses you know. What matters is sharing your own unique story.

No one has the exact same passions, experiences and disposition you do. You are positioned within your community and family to offer something only you can.

A few weeks ago, my firstborn spoke about what he’d learned at cub scouts in front a large group of people. The microphone gave him the extra projection he needed, and he expressed himself with confidence.

Afterwards, the pack leader told my husband how well our son did. He used the tools that were given to him and delivered the message he knew.

And you know what? That’s all God asks us to do.

When we step out in faith and trust the unique story he’s given us, lives change. Sometimes we just need the right tools and the right moment to do so.

 

Abby McDonald is a mom, wife and writer who desires to show women that the hope of Christ can be found in the middle of life’s messes. She’s learning each day to let his lavish love define her instead of the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing her two boys around or cuddling their new baby girl, you can find her writing about her passion for a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

When You’re Afraid You’ll Never Achieve Your Goals and Dreams

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I listened to the interview with the popular Christian writer, my mind reeling with questions. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was, “How?”

This woman had a slew of kids running around, and she homeschooled all of them. Her writing was not shoddy. Each syllable sang with an effortless harmony as you read.

So how? How were there enough hours in the day? Did she have on a superwoman cape I couldn’t see as I listened to the podcast?

At the time I had two kids. Now I have three, the last one two months young. There are days I barely get the laundry done and the food made, much less worry about doing anything creative.

I see women on social media who, in all the bright lights and glow of the computer screen, are pursuing their goals and dreams. They are achieving milestones I dare to think about as I’m nursing my sweet babe at night.

Before daybreak, the fear takes over and says, “You’ll never get there.”

Comparison is such a lonely place to live.

When we compare, we fear never being like someone else when God simply wants us to be the person he created.

We live in a toxic state of thinking we have to achieve the next rung on our self-made ladder instead of embracing the season we’re in. But friends, we weren’t made to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or anyone else.

We were made to live our own unique lives, each of us working together to create a beautiful God-story.

During the moments I’m tempted to exchange my story for someone else’s God is showing me a better way. Instead of spending my time in fear and comparison, I bring it to him.

I say, “God, today I only have a half hour to work on this project. I don’t know how it’s going to get done, but I trust you.”

And in ways only he can, he multiplies my efforts. He takes that little sliver of time and makes it enough.

One day it was raining non-stop and the fog on the mountain where we live was thick, reflecting my tired mental state. I was feeling discouraged, so I brought my concerns to God. I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t always my first inclination.

I told him my concerns and worries, how I wanted to get back to assignments I knew he’d given me to complete, but I didn’t see how.

A few days later, an opportunity dropped in my lap. It wasn’t something I was pursuing or even knew was a possibility, but in that moment I knew God was answering me.

With this email from an editor that popped into my inbox, he said, “You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do months from now or even next week. Just make the most of the time I’ve given you. Right here, today.”

And in doing so, I not only honor my family, but God. I can stop trying to keep up with the person next to me and focus on the task in front of me. One step at a time.

I felt like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders.

I know there will be days I’m tempted to look in the other lane. Chances are, you’ll be tempted too.

But can I tell you something? The ride is so much more enjoyable when, instead of seeing how far we have to go, we look at the view around us.

Instead of fearing we’ll never make it to the next destination, let’s look at how far we’ve come.

Order Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today!

 

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Pinterest, and Facebook.

 

 

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people.

As I repeated the mistakes I made with my firstborn, God brought me to some timely words from a fellow sojourner. And I realized in my sleep-deprived state I was assuming this battle against depression was purely an emotional one.

I was negating the spiritual side all together.

We have an enemy who loves to use our seasons of physical and emotional weaknesses to whisper spiritual lies. We are so much more gullible when we’re tired. We’re more likely to accept his lies as truth when we our bodies are healing from surgery, illness and pain.

But you want to know the beautiful irony in all this? Those times when the thief creeps in are also the times when God can do his mightiest works.

His power works best when we’re at our weakest point. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I tried to wrestle with God and walk in my own strength, but He just wanted me to let him carry me. Sure, I could take my vitamins, drink my coffee and catch cat naps here and there. All those things were needed.

But what I needed most was his grace. I needed it when I snapped at my husband and kids. Most of all, I needed it when I disappointed myself.

We can say his grace is sufficient for us, but change won’t come until we truly believe it. And it doesn’t just cover us enough for our shortcomings.

It drenches us.

The more I embraced this, the more the darkness shrank back and I saw the sun breaking behind the clouds.

The more I let him cover me, the more I saw that I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. I could just be me, imperfections and all. And because of Jesus, that was enough.

Order Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fear Fighting today! Or, get all her blog posts by email. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

A few days after the phone call with my husband, we put the kids to bed and sunk into the couch, watching mind-numbing TV on Netflix. He told me our son had confided in him about what he’d heard.

“I’m afraid Elise’s heart rate will drop, Dadda,” he had said.

When my husband asked why he was worried about this, big brother said, “Well, Mama is worried her heart rate will drop, so I’m worried too.”

My heart nearly broke.

I realized my son was becoming a mini version of me, fretting about the unknown neither one of us could control.

I thought about all the time I spent racing down endless trails of what-ifs. Now my son was adapting this habit that would only add to the circles under his eyes. The thought of it made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t his baby sister.

A few days later, my mind went to 1 Peter and his thoughts on anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

I’ll admit, many times I’ve heard these words and thought, “What does that even mean?” The command seemed good in theory, but putting it into practice was vague and muddled to me.

But this time as pondered the verse, I thought about what Peter did for a living: fish. He cast his net repeatedly out into the water, hoping for a catch that would sustain.

Then I thought about how heavy those nets must have been. Like all of our problems we carry day after day, and how releasing that net must have felt like releasing the weight of the world.

Peter was a skilled fisherman, but once he released his net he ultimately had no control over the outcome. The fish could come or swim away. They could fill his net or fill someone else’s.

Casting our cares carries the same concept.

The cast is the release of control. Instead of fretting and running through endless scenarios in an attempt to micro-manage, we release the problem to God.

All the troubles we carried in our net become God’s to bear. The One who was in control all along takes the weight we were never intended to endure.

When I unknowingly cast my worry on my firstborn, he tried to carry it, but his tiny frame was too small. He was never meant to bear its load, so he and I both had to release it to the One who holds the future.

As we cast our nets, we still can’t see what lies ahead. But we know baby sister will be just fine.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Only Sure Way to Multiply Your Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“We recommend an ultrasound around thirty-two weeks for women thirty-five and older,” the doctor said as he helped me sit up on the exam table.

I wanted to see baby girl’s sweet face, but my first thought was, “Do I have time for this?”

I had to pick up my son from school, and the procedure wasn’t scheduled.

I wish I had more time.

I looked at the time on my phone and decided if they were quick, I could make it. And less than fifteen minutes later, I marveled at growing life, seven months young.

Don’t blink.

I stared at the tiny figure on the screen, amazed at how her features had changed in twelve short weeks. She was almost ready to make her entrance into the world. I ignored the growing pressure on my bladder and enjoyed every inch of her.

The tech noticed my discomfort.

“Don’t worry hon. We’re almost done.”

At this point, the clock was no longer important.

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, shifting my position slightly.

Take your time. This moment will never come again.

After a few minutes, she finished up and wiped the sticky gel off my belly. I held the series of snapshots she’d captured, grateful to have a keepsake of this time.

Time is all we have in this life, isn’t it? And lately, pregnancy has me in a constant flux of slow down and hurry up.

I’m so tired of being pregnant. I can’t wait to meet our little girl.

Oh wait! The nursery isn’t ready. Slow down, baby. Just a little while longer.

A few days after my doctor’s appointment, my oldest son lost another tooth. His first one on the top and another milestone. I snapped a picture of his smile with my iPhone and thought about the first time I held him in my arms.

Now I can’t pick him up without paying for it with back spasms.

In every moment I want to grab and freeze a while longer, I realize that I can’t slow time. I can’t stop my kids from growing up or keep them in their toddler beds until they’re teenagers.

I can’t stop them from asking questions I am completely unprepared to answer like, “Where do babies come from?” or “Can I be in the delivery room when she’s born?”

When a dear friend is offered a job in another state, I can’t stop her from moving away. I wouldn’t want to.

And as the warm air turns brisk and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, I know I can’t slow their fall.

Time will not slow down, but I can.

I can stop and look people in the eye. I can put down my phone when someone is talking to me and listen to what they’re saying instead of rehearsing how I’ll respond. When someone seems distant, I can reach out instead of pretending nothing is wrong.

Time is all we have.

When you’re growing a little human inside of you, you’re made painfully aware of the ticking clock. Each kick and discomfort reminds you time is not only precious, but short.

I see countless articles on social media about ways to multiply your time, multi-task and get the most out of each second. But the longer I carry this baby, the more I see the truth.

Perhaps the only sure way to multiply our time is to savor it.

It isn’t by rushing from one activity to the next or trying to do twenty things at once. It’s by being intentional, slowing down, and seeing the blessings right here in front of us.

A well-known passage from Ecclesiastes beautifully describes the seasons of life and how there’s a time for each one. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3)

As I read the passage today, what struck me is how the writer doesn’t say, “A time to rush through life. A time to multi-task.”

Because a life spent rushing isn’t a life at all.

Time is all we have, friends. Let’s spend it savoring the things that matter most.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.