Purposeful Faith

Category - Regular Contributor

When You Feel Like You’re Running in Circles

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

On a cool afternoon in late fall, I mow straight lines across our long expanse of lawn. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it.

I see the neat rows of freshly cut grass growing with each trip across the yard. It is obvious when I miss a spot. As the strips freshly manicured section gets increasingly larger, I view my work with satisfaction.

Why do I enjoy this so much? It’s simple, really. For one, I get some quiet time of reflection without listening to kids bicker or ask me for snacks every five minutes. But second and perhaps more importantly, I see visible results.

I know when I haven’t done the job well because the results speak for themselves.

Other roles in my life are not this simple. They are complicated, and often leave me wondering whether I’m making an imprint.

I explain a complex subject to my six-year-old, but I’m not sure he understands. My husband and I make efforts to instill strong morals and character into our boys, but there are days when it seems as though everything we’ve been striving towards is falling apart.

On a bitter cold morning, I attempt to capture thoughts that go deep into the core of me on the page, but can’t quite grasp them. The cursor blinks mockingly and self-doubt creeps in before I’m able to type a single word. I wonder if I’m wasting my time.

I wonder if what I say resonates with anyone.

I see a pile of laundry looming in the corner and think, “Didn’t I just tackle that yesterday?” Before the day has even begun, thoughts of defeat overtake me.

Then, as God often does, he sends a reminder that strikes just the right chord. I realize my current state is temporary, but so much of me longs for the eternal.

My yearning for results often reflects a glory which will not be realized in this lifetime, but in the next.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

I am a planter of seed. I am a light in a temporary casting. I am a mere reflection of the One whose glory I will behold. A glory I long for so deeply at times it aches.

So often, I believe we become discouraged because it seems as though we are moving in circles. Saying the same things to our loved ones and kids over and over. Teaching the same lessons.

But friends, the truth is always worth repeating. People forget because it is their nature. We are still living in a flesh that continually pulls us away from what is true, what is eternal, what is lasting.

We continue to fight because the fight is worth it, even if we don’t see the result right away or even if this lifetime. We fight because we are more than conquerors through him who loved us first.

We long for that which we cannot see because of Him in whose image we were created.

Do not give up. Do not lose heart. You were made for more than anything this world has to offer.

As you lay your head on the pillow tonight, ask yourself this: Did I love? Did I open my arms in grace? Did I help someone who needed it?

If the answer to any one of those questions was yes, it was not in vain. Keep pressing forward, dear one. Your reward will be great.

 

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.

When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

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

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From Complaints to Thanks

Post By: Angela Parlin

I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.

I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.

I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping.

With a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby, my days looked like finding messes by the handfuls, like potty training and nursing and living chronically behind in housework. It was harder than I’d expected. I loved my babies so much, and yet I wished away the hard parts of those days.

One day, after lunch, I stepped in a huge blob of strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. When I grabbed for a dishrag to wipe it up, I ran my arm through more jam on the edge of the counter. I looked up to see this little trail of jam, smudged across the kitchen cabinets, and started to cry.

I felt mad about the mess, about the way I couldn’t stay on top of 6 sticky little hands, mad at my kitchen, mad at jelly, just mad.

And then, I noticed a verse I had taped onto the fridge, written in beautiful calligraphy:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

The phrase, “this is God’s will for you” wouldn’t leave me alone.

His will for me then included days full of messes, all waiting for me to clean them up.

His will included a jelly-coated kitchen some days, and jelly-filled hands to clean.

His will included loving and serving three little people, much of which would be done from the ground, on bended knees.

His will for me also included giving thanks, even in never-ending, sticky-mess moments.

It’s easy to thank God when life feels good, when the house is tidy and the days go as planned. But thank God in the middle of the mess? I didn’t even know how. I hated messes.

I decided right then, to try, even though I didn’t really feel it. So I thanked God for the day He made, for the home we lived in, for three little people with small, sticky hands.

The more I thanked God, for both big and small things, the less I complained. And the more I enjoyed being a Mom.

I have to admit, I sometimes fall back into a spirit of complaint. But whenever I realize this and confess it to God, He is faithful to change my spirit, from being full of complaints to repeatedly giving thanks.

When we practice giving thanks in all kinds of circumstances, He fills our hearts with peace and makes us light with joy.

Do you need to confess a complaining spirit today? Will you begin to make a habit of thanking God in every situation?

Thank you Lord, for changes in perspective, for the ability to offer You thanks, even in jelly-smeared kitchens.

I would love for you to connect with me at my blog, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

~Angela

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The Key to Freedom

Blog Post by:  Abby McDonald

“It’s not about you.”

The words hit me with a palpable force. My pride wanted to take over and convince me that the statement was a lie.

But deep down, I know it was the truth. How long had I been running from God? Months? Years? I couldn’t remember the last time I just rested in the comfort of his presence.

Like so many young adults, my feelings toward the church had become jaded after high school. Leaders who I looked up to had let me down. I’d been hurt by people I trusted, and projected their faults onto a perfect God. I turned my back on Him and the church and for many years, I ran.

Now I had a new baby and a husband, and I knew I needed to somehow get it together. I was trying so hard to behave, to be the perfect wife and mother, but I knew I was failing miserably.

We had recently moved to a new area and begun attending a church, and I attempted to play the role I thought I was supposed to play. I abandoned destructive habits. I watched my mouth. But my heart was still guarded and hurting.

A bitter root had planted itself deep within me, and I didn’t know how to displace it.

As I was sitting on the couch one chilly fall evening, I read those words in the opening chapter of a book about our life’s purpose.

“It’s not about you.”

Something inside of me unlocked. I realized that all of my focus for so many years had been inward, but freedom comes when we fix our eyes upward.

When I turned away from God my focus was on myself. When I strove to behave and be the model church attendee, my focus was on myself. Suddenly, instead of fixating on me, I centered my thoughts on the One who gave me life.

Our sacrifices will never replace what God desires from us the most: a surrendered heart.

James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Humbling myself begins when I say, “God I may not understand everything that’s happened in my life or what you’re doing, but trust you.”

I trust that He is God and that if I love him, he will work it out for my good. (Romans 8:28) I trust that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his ways higher than my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)

With a surrendered heart, I see that God is sovereign even in the midst of uncertainty, turmoil and heartbreak. I see that because we live in a fallen world, suffering is inevitable but also a means of growth.

As I focus upward and outward instead of inward, that bitter root begins coming undone, and what was once resentment turns into gratitude.

Is there an area of your life where you’re holding on to bitterness toward God? Can I encourage you to take the following steps?

Pray. Ask God to give you clarity. We serve a big God and our questions do not scare him away. You may receive answers and you may not, but presenting your requests to him will bring peace.
Be honest. God already knows your heart. Don’t be afraid to tell him.
Thank. Thank God for all the blessings in your life. One of the best ways to displace bitterness is with a thankful heart.
Read. Immerse yourself in God’s word. His Spirit will speak to you and bring you understanding.

Friend, as you read this today, I am praying for you. I believe that God is going to do amazing things through you. There’s only one step left to take: Surrender.  Find the Key to Freedom.

Until we meet again,

Abby

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